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Maine Coon Kittens – 4 days old – sense of smell

21 May, 2008

Maine Coon kittens – 4 days old enjoying mum’s bounty

The kittens are now 4 days old and (touch wood) doing fine, which is to say, they’re suckling loads and sleeping loads.

They seemed to have sorted out the teat hierarchy because they’re shuffling into place much faster now with fewer squabbles.  Occasionally I still hear them shouting at each other, but it’s much quieter. 

I peeked into the box yesterday and there they were, good as gold, two kittens on the top tier and three kittens on the bottom tier of teats, neatly interleaved like sardines in a can.

They’re beginning to take more notice of their environment, even though their eyes aren’t open yet and they can’t hear anything. 

When I’m nearby I’ve noticed that one of the kittens will lift its head, open its mouth and snuffle-in the air. 

I’ve discovered this snuffling action is called the flehmen reaction.  It allows air to pass into the mouth and contact a special sensory organ called the Jacobson’s organ which is located just behind the teeth on the top of the mouth.  It allows a cat to analyse the scent molecule by molecule, almost as though it is tasting the air.

Ananda, the mother cat, is a little bit more relaxed too because the kittens have sussed out where the teats are and are getting full bellies faster.  While they slumber she’s been taking time out to get out of the kitten box and lying outside and washing and cleaning herself.

This is the most relaxed she’s ever been.  In previous years I would open the bedroom door and she would charge frantically out of the box, shedding kittens from her teats, wanting to be let out.  So I was pretty much stuck in the bedroom with her as I didn’t want her to get agitated.  This year, by leaving the bedroom door ajar, she can still hear me wandering round the house and is happy to stay in her kitten box.

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