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Newborn Kittens: When Do Kittens Open Their Eyes?

If you've recently brought home a new kitten or your cat has had a litter of kittens, you probably have many questions about their care and what to expect in the first few weeks. Today, our San Mateo vets will discuss newborn kitten care and when you can expect them to open their eyes.

Having a newborn kitten can be both exciting and nerve-wracking for pet parents. However, we can help ease your worries by providing guidance on what to expect in the early days with your new furry friend.

When kittens are newborn, you will notice that their eyes are still closed, and their ears may be pressed against their heads. They are unable to stand or walk around and are essentially helpless. They are sure to grow up healthy and happy with proper love and care from their mother or caretakers.

When do baby kittens open their eyes?

Kittens develop at different rates depending on various factors, but most newborns will start opening their eyes between 2 and 16 days of age. Their vision gradually improves during this time, although both eyes may not fully open at the same rate. At around 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.

Caring for Your New Kitten's Eyes

It's important to shield your new baby kitten from bright light, as it can irritate their eyes. If the kitten doesn't have a mother or isn't being well cared for, it's up to you to ensure that the newborn kittens are clean and healthy. Keep their faces clean with a warm, damp washcloth. Most importantly, never try to force a kitten’s eyes open before the lids open naturally on their own. Patience is key.

Issues Affecting the Eyes of Newborn Kittens

Some kittens may develop a crust over their eyelids, causing them to stick together and preventing them from opening their eyes. A bacterial or viral infection can cause this common problem. It's important to keep your kittens' bedding and shared areas clean and hygienic to prevent infections from occurring or spreading to littermates. If your kittens' eyes develop this matted crust, gently clean their eyes with a cotton ball dampened with warm, clean water. Avoid using soap. If there is no improvement or the condition worsens, contact your vet immediately to ensure proper care for the kittens.

Caring for a Baby Kitten

Newborn kittens, much like human babies, spend most of their time sleeping and waking up occasionally to be fed and cared for. They rely on warmth and their sense of smell to find their mother's belly for milk. Newborn kittens sleep about 22 hours a day, while older kittens and adult cats need less sleep. Their mobility and teeth development usually start at the same time. Kittens typically start crawling at around two weeks old and can walk, jump, and play more confidently by four weeks. At this stage, they become more curious and adventurous and may start practicing climbing.

How to Raise Your Newborn Kitten

Kittens are adorable and lovable household pets; however, they have very specific needs that must be addressed. 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.

Newborn to 4 Weeks Old

When a kitten is four weeks old, it is considered a newborn. They are still learning how to meow, walk, and regulate their body temperature. If they have a mother, she will care for most of their needs, including feeding. You would ensure the mother's good health and provide a warm and safe environment for the kittens. Make sure to cover the floor of their crate or area with a blanket and provide a warm bed for them to lie on.

If the newborn kitten has no mother, the first step is to take them to a vet. The vet will assess the kitten's health and give you detailed instructions on caring for your tiny friend.

5 to 11 Weeks Old

When the kitten you care for is around 5 to 10 weeks old, they should gradually stop being bottle-fed or fed by their mothers and start being fed high-protein meals about three to four times a day. You can start this by pouring the formula into a food bowl and possibly adding a bit of softened hard food or canned soft food to help ease them into the process. Their motor skills will improve at this stage, and they will start becoming more adventurous. You will have to keep a close eye on them to ensure they don't get into trouble.

When your kitten is two to four months old, you can expect to spend a great deal of time giving them one-on-one attention 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.

If you have a new little kitty in your home, you should bring him in for a wellness exam. Contact our vets in San Mateo to schedule an appointment.

Contact Us To Get Started

At South Hillsdale Animal Hospital, our experienced vets are passionate about the health of San Mateo companion animals. Get in touch today to learn more about our services and becoming a new client with us.

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