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Newborn Kittens: When Do Kittens Open Their Eyes?

Cats are a popular choice for family pets, and often people decide to bring them into their homes when they are still kittens. In this article, our Douglasville veterinarians will discuss how to take care of a newborn kitten and when you can expect them to open their eyes.

Taking care of and raising kittens can be an exciting journey. At first, you'll notice that their eyes are still closed and their ears might be folded against their head. They won't be able to stand or walk around, and they'll be quite dependent on the love and care provided by either their mother or caretakers. However, with proper attention and care, they're sure to grow up healthy and happy.

When Can You Expect Your Kitten to Open Their Eyes?

Kittens develop at different rates, depending on various factors. Most newborns start opening their eyes between the ages of 2 to 16 days. During this time, their vision steadily improves, but their two eyes may not open fully at the same pace. Usually, both eyes are fully dilated by the time they are two weeks old, and by three weeks, many kittens can focus with both eyes. All newborn kittens have blue eyes, but their color changes as they grow, with the true color usually appearing around the age of 8 weeks.

How to properly care for the eyes of your newborn kitten

Try to keep very young kittens away from bright lights that could potentially hurt or even damage their developing eyes. If the kitten doesn't have a mother or isn't being well cared for by their mother, it's up to you to ensure that the newborn kittens are clean and healthy. Keep their faces clean with a warm, damp clean washcloth and, most of all, 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 over their eyes that prevents them from opening. The problem is common and caused by bacterial or viral infection; all the more reason to ensure that your kittens' litter and shared areas are clean and hygienic to prevent infections from recurring or spreading to their litter mates. If your kittens' eyes become crusty, try gently cleaning them with a cotton ball soaked in clean, warm water. Absolutely avoid soap! If your kittens' eyes don't improve or get worse, call your vet immediately for treatment.

How to Care For Your Newborn Kitten

Much like newborn human babies, newborn kittens spend much of their time sleeping, waking occasionally to be fed and cared for. Kittens are able to sense warmth and use their sense of smell to move toward their mother's belly and are dependent on a source of milk and warmth to aid them in their development.

Newborn kittens sleep around 22 hours a day, while more mature kittens and adult cats need less sleep. Your kitten's mobility starts to improve at about the same time as her teeth begin to grow; by around two weeks, she's crawling, and by four weeks, she's able to walk, jump, and play on a more regular basis. This is also when his ability to get into mischief increases, as he's curious and adventurous - and often eager to practice climbing!

Raising a Kitten

Kittens are adorable and lovable household pets, however, they have very specific needs that have to be taken care of. These needs are different for every stage of their life, and if something goes wrong or is missed it can impact their overall health and longevity. Here we talk about how you can care for your new furry friend during their kitten years.

0-4 Weeks Old

When a kitten is between 0 and 4 weeks old, it's considered a newborn. They are still learning to meow, walk and even regulate their body temperature. If he has a mother, she'll be able to perform most tasks, including feeding. All you need to do is ensure that the mother is in good health and that the animal is in a warm, safe environment. Make sure the floor of their cage/space is covered with a blanket and that they have a warm bed to lie 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

When the kitten in your care is around 5 to 10 weeks old, he should gradually stop being bottle-fed or fed by his mother and start feeding protein-rich meals around 3 to 4 times a day. You can begin by pouring formula into a bowl, and possibly adding a little softened hard food or canned soft food to help him get used to the process. As their motor skills improve at this stage, they'll start to get more adventurous, and you'll need to keep a close eye on them to make sure they don't get into trouble.

Your kitten will require a lot of supervision and hands-on playtime while they are between 2-4 months old.

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 Douglasville to schedule an examination.

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Douglasville Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Douglasville companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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