Sunday 20 September 2020

The reason why newborn kittens don't squabble over nipples

The picture is from Wikipedia Commons. The mother is Sugar. She gave birth behind the TV as it was warm. Her kittens were named: Channel 3, Channel 5, Cable 8, Circuit Overload!

Newborn kittens do not squabble over their mother's nipples because each one is labelled distinctly by subtle differences in smell. As Desmond Morris says, each nipple is labelled as if they were school lockers. I think it's a wonderful analogy. It highlights both the sophistication of the domestic cat and the wonderful sense of smell with which they are born. If you remove the distinguishing fragrance of a mothering cat's nipples, the kittens become disorientated and confused and start squabbling. Nature found a beautiful way to allow the domestic cat family to live in harmony from the get go. I love the thought of that.

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