Childhood is an intensive learning period for cats. There are plenty of tasks and experiences they must learn, and the most important part of it is the stuff that kittens learn from their mother.
Interesting fact is that kittens may learn from any cat, but experiments show certain tasks are learned much faster when they observe specifically their mother, not some random cats. In this article, we are going to take a look at what kittens must learn from their mother.
1. Hunting is, probably, the best know task that kittens must acquire from their mother. However, to be more precise, we need to clarify, that this behavior is innate, that is kittens are born with it, and most cats would try to hunt a mouse even if they never saw one before. However, the ton of practice is necessary to make at least some catches successful. And this is where their mother steps in.
Kittens are taught hunting in a gradual process. First, the mother cat brings home a mouse and eats it in the presence of kittens, so they may observe her and understand it’s normal. Next, the queen would give them a small bite, which soon may become to bringing home wounded mouse and releasing it so they can try to catch it. In the later stages, she may bring home a lively mouse.
One more thing to clarify, as you may have understood from the above, the queen does not teach kittens how to hunt. She just provides opportunities to learn for themselves. And they are good at it.
2. Using the litter box is another task that kittens learn from their mother. While most sources cite that it is not natural for cats to eliminate in the litter box, there is also a side of the story that it is natural for a cat to use the same elimination locations again and again.
This is done in order not to pollute the environment randomly, but to keep it under control, so the smell of the feces do not give away the presence of the predator, which eventually would lead to prey no being anywhere near; thus – starvation.
In both, natural conditions, and household conditions, kittens learn where elimination locations are because of two things. The scent, and observing other cats, especially their mother using it. Of course, if the appropriate location is the litter box, there is a small part of human involvement in a form of providing the litter box and keeping it clean, but the rest training process is done by kitten himself and his mother.
3. Communication with other cats and humans is another crucial task what kittens must lean from their mother. It is learned in two ways, which both are important. One is the communication that kittens have with their mother directly. It’s how they approach their mother and how she responds, how she allows or does not allow the nursing and how she stops them if their begs for attention are too intrusive.
Next part is how the queen herself communicates with other cats, dogs or humans. It’s essential that kittens are close to their mother and that persons around not only do the basic cleaning but also bond with the queen, as kittens are extremely talented observers, and, if their mother communicates well with the owners and other pets, kittens accept that it is normal, and will be easier going themselves.
4. Self grooming is among tasks that kittens learn from their mother altogether. They observe how the queen is grooming herself, and try to copy her. Of course, the first tries are just licking their paws, and maybe sliding them behind their ears, after what young kittens assume the task is done. But as they learn, they become more skillful and will be able to do complete self grooming sessions themselves.
Again, while many may think it’s just an equivalent of taking a bath for humans, this task is essential for survival in the natural conditions. Why?
Let’s ask you a question: when do cats groom themselves. In the vast majority of cases, it happens after the meal. The grooming helps to get rid of any food leftovers in the fur of the cat, especially around the mouth and on the paws.
If it would not be removed, it would soon start to distribute a particularly strong smell, which would be traceable over a distance by other animals. In case this happens, cat would starve, as any prey he’d approach would know to run away long before the cat would be near within a pounce.
There probably are more things that kittens learn from their mother; however, the above four are the basic ones, and, if you are looking for a good kitten, you should check if he has learned above tasks.