Coming to her senses
Just after they’re born, kittens are blind and deaf. To orientate themselves they have an incredible sense of taste, smell and touch. Before long, your kitten will be operating on all senses.
A nose for everything
Your kitten’s tiny nose is a miracle of nature. Containing about 200 million ‘olfactory’ cells, her sense of smell is about ten times more acute than yours. For a kitten to smell something really well it needs to be dissolved in liquid. That’s why she has glands in her nose, which produce moisture, and there’s often a drop on her nose just after she's picked up the scent of something really intense.
They can detect certain social smells using the Jacobson’s Organ, a collection of cells at the bottom of the nasal cavity, which are directly connected to the brain. If there’s a particularly interesting smell around, you'll notice your kitten push her upper lip up and suck in air with her half open mouth. This organ is used specifically for detecting social smells such as when a female is in oestrus.
Your kitten’s hearing is another small miracle. She's capable of picking up ultrasound frequencies that lie way beyond our own capabilities. Kittens are also very good at filtering and separating specific sounds from a mass of others. Hearing distant sounds is another speciality, made possible by the flexibility and funnel-like formation of their ears.
Ears are, of course, also very important for balance and, combined with a special reflex, enable kittens to turn around in the air and almost always land on their feet.
A matter of taste
Your kitten’s sense of taste is also finely tuned, but here we have one advantage over them. Although, like us, they can distinguish between sour, salty and bitter, they can't recognise sweet things.
Your little one’s tongue is very sensitive to temperature and she won’t enjoy food that’s too cold, probably because her wild ancestors ate their prey straight after the kill, when it was still warm. For the happiest of mealtimes serve her food at room temperature.