National Kitten Day
Colleen Paige in 2012
National Kitten Day celebrates kittens and highlights the plight of those that are homeless in an effort to save as many as possible through adoption. It was created in 2012 by animal welfare advocate Colleen Paige as an adjunct holiday to National Cat Day, and it was first held the following year. For its first two years, it was celebrated in December, but it was then moved to July. For a few years in the mid-2010s, it was sponsored by BLUE Naturally Fresh Cat Litter, which appears to have been a collaboration between The Blue Buffalo Company and Naturally Fresh cat litter.
There are usually two to five kittens in a litter, but there can be as few as one kitten, or even more than ten. They go through a long process of growth, during which they must rely on their mothers. First and foremost, they must rely on their mothers for milk. During their first few weeks, they need their mothers to stimulate them so they can urinate and defecate, as they can't release waste on their own. During their first few weeks, they also need their mothers to keep them warm, as they can't regulate their own body temperature. Kittens can open their eyes after approximately seven to ten days, but it takes until they are about ten weeks old until they can see as well as older cats.
After kittens have some eyesight and can stay warm on their own, they begin to go outside of their nest. They go through a great amount of development between the ages of two and seven weeks. They gain more strength, coordination, and interact with their siblings by fighting playfully. During this time they learn how to clean themselves and they begin learning how to hunt. After three or four weeks they begin eating solid food and growing adult teeth; weaning is usually finished between the age of six to eight weeks. By three months they begin losing their baby teeth, and by nine months they have their adult teeth.
The social life of kittens expands as they get older. Between the age of three and four months, they begin playing more with other kittens, and by about five months they do more hunting and stalking on their own. Some cats leave their young on their own after they are three months old, while some look after them until they reach sexual maturity, which happens around the age of seven months. By about the age of a year, a feline is no longer considered a kitten, but is considered to be an adult cat!
How to Observe National Kitten Day
Here are some ideas on how to spend the day:
- Donate money or items such as food, toys, and blankets to a local animal shelter or to an animal welfare organization.
- Volunteer at a local animal shelter. Play with kittens, clean their litter boxes or cages, or ask what else you can do to help.
- Let others know about the many kittens that are in need of a home.
- Adopt a kitten.
- Focus on your kitten's health. Schedule a checkup for them, get them fresh litter, do a safety check of your home and make sure it's safe for them, or buy them a collar and have their name and address embossed on it.
- Play with your kitten or give them some treats or toys.
- Take photos of your kitten and post them on social media.
- Celebrate the kitten of a friend or family member.
- Write to your representatives and ask them to support the banning of kitten mills.