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Newborn Kittens: When Do Kittens Open Their Eyes?

Cats are one of the most common family pets, and many families choose to raise their new cat from when it is a kitten. Today, our New York vets will discuss caring for a newborn kitten and when you can expect them to open their eyes.

Raising and caring for kittens is an adventure. When they are born, their eyes are closed, and their ears may still be folded. They are unable to stand or walk and are quite helpless. However, with proper love and care from their mother or caretakers, they are sure to grow up healthy and happy.

When Can You Expect Your Kitten to Open Their Eyes?

Kittens develop at differing rates depending on several factors, but most newborns will begin opening their eyes between the ages of 2-16 days. Their vision slowly improves during this time, though the two eyes may not fully open at the same rate. At about 2 weeks of age, both eyes are usually dilated, and by 3 weeks old, many kittens are able to focus with both eyes. All newborn kittens have blue eyes, and the eye color will change as the kitten ages, usually settling on the true color at about 8 weeks old.

How to properly care for the eyes of your newborn kitten

It's important to keep very young kittens away from bright lights that could potentially harm or damage their developing eyes. If the kitten doesn't have a mother or isn't being well cared for by their mother, it's your responsibility to ensure that the newborn kittens are kept clean and healthy. Use a warm, damp washcloth to keep their faces clean and remember to never try to force a kitten’s eyes open before the lids open naturally on their own. Patience is key.

When you should be concerned about your newborn kitten's eyes

Newborn kittens can develop a crust on their eyes that prevents them from opening. This is a common problem that a bacterial or viral infection can cause; yet another reason to ensure that your kittens' bedding and shared areas are clean and hygienic to stop infections from reoccurring or spreading to littermates. If kittens' eyes develop this matted crust, try gently cleaning their eyes with a cotton ball dampened with warm clean water. Avoid soap entirely! If your kittens' eyes show no improvement or worsen, call your vet right away to ensure that they receive care.

How to Care For Your Newborn Kitten

Newborn kittens, much like human babies, spend most of their time sleeping and wake up only for feeding and care. They rely on their sense of warmth and smell to find their mother's belly and need milk and warmth for their growth. Newborn kittens sleep for about 22 hours a day, while older kittens and adult cats need less sleep. At about two weeks old, kittens start to crawl, and their teeth begin to come in. By four weeks, they can walk, jump, and play more confidently. This is also the time when they become more mischievous, as they are curious and adventurous—and often eager to practice climbing

Raising a Kitten

Kittens are adorable and lovable household pets. However, they have specific needs that must be taken care of. These needs vary for each stage of their life. If something goes wrong or is missed, it can impact their overall health and longevity. Here, we will discuss how you can care for your new furry friend during their kitten years.

0-4 Weeks Old

When a kitten is 0-4 weeks old, they are considered newborns. They are still learning how to meow, walk, and even regulate their body temperature. If they have a mother, she will be able to do most of the work, including feeding. All you would have to do is make sure the mother is in good health and that they are in a warm and safe environment. Ensure the floor of their crate/area is covered with a blanket, and they have a warm bed to lay on.

If the newborn kitten does not have a mother, the first thing you should do is take them to see a vet. Your veterinarian will be able to determine the health of the kitten and provide you with detailed instructions on how to meet the needs of your tiny little friend.

5-11 Weeks Old

Around 5 to 10 weeks old, kittens should gradually transition from bottle feeding or nursing from their mothers to consuming high-protein meals about 3 to 4 times a day. You can introduce this by pouring the formula into a food bowl and possibly adding a bit of softened hard food or canned soft food to help with the transition. At this stage, their motor skills will be improving, and they will become more adventurous, so it's important to keep a close eye on them to ensure they don't get into trouble.

Kittens between 2-4 months old require a lot of supervision and hands-on playtime.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Did your cat have kittens or are you currently caring for a newborn kitten that is without a mother? Call our vets in New York to schedule an examination.

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