Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing

Newborn Kittens: When Do Kittens Open Their Eyes?

Kittens are adorable when they are born, even with their eyes closed. Today, our Pleasant Hill vets talk about caring for a newborn kitten and when you can expect them to open their eyes.

When Do Newborn Kittens Open Their Eyes?

Caring for and raising kittens is quite the adventure. One thing to know about kittens is that their eyes are closed at birth. You will also notice that their ears may still be closed against their head. They will be unable to stand or walk around, and are more or less helpless - but with proper love and care from their mother or caretakers, they're sure to grow up healthy and happy.

Kittens develop at differing rates depending on many 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 two weeks of age, both eyes are usually dilated and by three weeks old, many kittens can 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 eight weeks old. 

How to properly care for the eyes of your newborn kitten

Be mindful of exposing very young kittens to bright lights, as it could harm their delicate, developing eyes. If the kitten lacks a mother or proper care, it falls on you to maintain their cleanliness and health. Use a warm, damp washcloth to gently clean their faces, and refrain from attempting to open their eyes prematurely. Allow nature to take its course, exercising patience above all else.

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

Newborn kittens may develop eye crusts, hindering their ability to open their eyes. This issue often arises from bacterial or viral infections, underscoring the importance of maintaining clean and hygienic bedding and shared spaces for your kittens. This preventive measure helps thwart the recurrence or spread of infections among 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

Similar to human infants, newborn kittens devote a significant portion of their time to sleeping, punctuated by intervals for feeding and nurturing. They rely on their innate ability to perceive warmth and their keen sense of smell to navigate toward their mother's nurturing embrace. Dependent on a steady supply of milk and warmth, these essential elements support their growth and development. Newborn kittens sleep around 22 hours a day, with more mature kittens and adult cats requiring less sleep.

If you are wondering "When do kittens open their eyes and start walking?" Our vets have the answer for that too.   Your kitten's mobility will start to improve at about the same time their teeth start coming in; at around two weeks they are crawling and by four weeks they can walk, jump, and play more steadily. This is also when their capacity for mischief increases, as they are curious and adventurous – and often eager to practice climbing! 

It is Crucial to Keep Your Kitten Warm

Newborn kittens can't regulate their body heat, which is part of the reason that they usually pile up near or on their mother. If your newborn kitten doesn't have a mother or littermates to keep their body temperature up, you will have to do more to help keep them warm by using something such as a heating disk in the crate or a heating pad on low heat underneath a blanket in their enclosure. You should also make a little nest out of blankets for the kitten to lay in for comfort.

Ensure the heating pad's temperature is suitable by testing it with your hands. Additionally, create a cozy spot in your kitten's enclosure that lacks a heating element, allowing them to retreat there if they become too warm. You should continue to provide your kitten with a heating source until they are about 6 weeks old because if kittens get too cold they will catch hypothermia, for this reason, their area should be kept at 85ºF or 29ºC.

Your Newborn Kitten Will need Essential Nutrients

If you're caring for a motherless newborn kitten, feeding and ensuring proper nutrition are essential. You'll need to bottle-feed the kitten with a specialized kitten formula every two to four hours. Since each kitten's needs vary, consulting your veterinarian is crucial. They can advise you on the most suitable formula, the appropriate feeding amounts, and the frequency required to nourish your kitten effectively.

In order for kittens to grow healthily, they will need to gain approximately ½ ounce (14 grams) per day or four ounces (113 grams) a week. Never give your cat cow milk and always make sure you are feeding them the same formula. And, for your kitty to digest food properly they will have to be kept warm.

The Importance of Preventive Care for Your New Kitten

Whatever age your kitten is, taking them for their first veterinary appointment when appropriate is important. Your veterinarian will evaluate the health of your kitten as well as inform you of their dietary needs. This also allows you to ask any questions you may have regarding the care of your new family member.

Ensuring your kitten gets routine preventive care is vital, including wellness exams, routine vaccinations, and parasite prevention.

Regular wellness exams allow your vet to assess the overall health and well-being of your kitten including their dietary requirements. Your vet will also be able to detect any diseases early before they become severe when they are easier and more affordable to treat.

You also need to ensure your kitten gets all their vaccinations and parasite prevention care on schedule. Your kitten should come in for their first round of shots when they are 6 to 8 weeks old, and you should have them spayed or neutered when they are 5 to 6 months old. This prevents any serious diseases or conditions from arising in the first place.

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.

Call our experienced vets in Pleasant Hill to schedule an examination. Having a new kitten can be exciting and we want to make sure you have all the information you need.

New Patients Welcome

Diablo View Veterinary Medical Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced veterinarians are passionate about the health of Pleasant Hill companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

Contact Us

(925) 942-4411 Contact