If you are bringing a new kitten into your household, it is interesting to know the key development milestones they go through during their life. And one of these is certainly when your kitten opens their eyes and sees the world for the first time. If you are looking for the short answer, a kitten’s eyes will open when they are between five and 14 days old. While their vision is blurred at first, it will gradually start to clear over time. If you are looking for more in-depth answers, that is what we aim to provide over the following sections.
Why Are Kittens Born with Their Eyes Closed?
If you have ever seen a kitten in the first stages of their life, you will know that their eyes remain tightly shut for the first few days after they are born. This is important in protecting their vision. Newborn kittens are hypersensitive to light and so need this shield to protect their vision. As well as this, newborn kittens are also born deaf and without the ability to eat by themselves or regulate their own temperature. For all these reasons, kittens in the earliest stages of their life are entirely reliant on their mothers for survival. This is why there is a limit on when you can adopt a newborn kitten into your life.
How Old Are Kittens When They Open Their Eyes?
Kittens tend to be between five and 14 days old when they first open their eyes, though sometimes this may happen a little earlier or later than this. In fact, it is shorter-haired kittens who tend to open their eyes earlier around 5 to 8 days after birth, while longer haired cats tend to be around 10 to 14 days old before their peepers are properly in action.
However, when their eyes first open, this will only happen gradually. It takes a little time to go from a world of darkness to a world of light. For this reason, you should never try and force your kitten’s eyes open. During these first few weeks, kittens are more susceptible to developing eye infections. When they reach their third week of life, kittens generally have wide open eyes and they are ready to start exploring the world in earnest! However, their depth perception does not kick in until the fourth week.
If a kitten has still not opened their eye as they move into their third week of life, this may be the stage when intervention from a veterinarian is required. They can also help if a kitten has one eye open but not the other yet.
What Color Are Newborn Kitten Eyes?
An interesting fact is that all kittens have blue eyes when they are first born. Over time, their eye color will start to change into different shades, but all baby cats started off from the same place.
What to Do if You Find a Kitten with Closed Eyes
If stray cats are common in your area, there is always the chance that you find a kitten with closed eyes, and it is important that you know how to react in this situation as it could prove to be a matter of life and death for the little ball of fluff. The most obvious thing to do is call animal rescue to get them picked up. These kittens need urgent veterinary care in order to stay alive.
How Do Kittens Communicate Before They Open Their Eyes?
One of the big questions that people ask regarding kittens and opening their eyes is how they communicate before they can do so. Kittens are initially born with just a sense of touch and smell. Their mother will move them around and help them to feed and go to the bathroom in these very early stages of life. As for their sense of smell, it is very adept at a young age – so much so that you may notice your kitten hissing at unfamiliar scents. This is to alert their mother that they are around something unfamiliar and to call for her intervention if it is required.
What Are Some of the Other Common Stages of Development in Kittens?
Now that you know a bit more about kittens and opening their eyes, you may also be wondering about some other common development stages in kittens. We have already established that their eyes tend to open around the second week of life. During the third week, this is when their ear canals will be entirely open. Kittens are also able to eliminate by themselves as their digestive systems properly develop. This is also when socialization starts to occur.
Around the fourth week of life, this is when depth perception starts to develop – as we discussed earlier on. Also around this time is the development of their sense of smell. At the same time, kittens will begin learning to walk without stumbling over. And this is when the early parts of socialization begin, so you may notice the kitten interacting with their brothers and sisters more and more. As for socialization with humans, this tends to happen more around the sixth week of life. At this stage, different types of food can be introduced in their diet and they will start to enjoy all of the taste pleasures that exist beyond their mother’s milk!
In this blog post, we have thoroughly answered the questions: at what age do kittens open their eyes. To recap, it is generally in their second week of life between five and 14 days old. Before this, they are entirely blind and reliant on their mother to stay alive. This is why you adopt kittens at a later stage in their life. If the mother cannot look after them for any reason, it is essential that a kitten is properly cared for in a facility that takes care of their health and wellbeing.
- Betty Lewis, What Can Kittens See After Opening Their Eyes?, The Nest
- Dr. Patty Khuly VMD, 12 Questions Owners Ask About New Kittens, Vetstreet