How Old are Kittens When They Open Their Eyes?

Cat Center
Kitten being held by its owner with its eyes still closed

When you have an adorable new kitten, you’re sure to have a lot of questions as an anxious new pet owner. After all, gathering as much knowledge as possible about your kitten’s development will help you be the best pet parent you can be! One question that’s sure to be on your mind is, “When do kittens open their eyes?” 

Many people know kittens are born with their eyes closed, but educating yourself on when to expect their eyes to open is important. This information can help you understand your special kitten’s growth process and can alert you to any problems in your cat’s development. This way, you’ll be able to care for them to make sure they grow into a healthy adult feline. Note that the early weeks of a kitten’s life can set the foundation for their future, so invest in your kitten’s care right away! 

When Do Kittens Open Their Eyes: A Timeline 

Kittens aren’t just born with their eyes closed. Their ears are also folded over, and they still have their umbilical cords attached. While their mother will immediately sever the umbilical cord by chewing it, you’ll need to wait for nature to take its course for their eyes to open and their ears to unfold. 

As you’re cooing over your new kitten, you may be surprised to notice that their eyes may open as early as two days old. Don’t be alarmed if you notice your kitten is taking a bit longer to flash their baby blues. Some kittens take up to 16 days to reveal their eyes, and that’s perfectly normal. While you might be tempted to help your kitten see the big world around them, you should never try to force their eyes open. Doing so can hurt their eyesight. 

Once your little kitten’s eyes do open, their vision will continue to improve over the next few weeks. By about a month, they’ll be able to see you perfectly clearly! Until then, you can expect your furry friend to recognize you by your scent and feel. 

Kitten Eye Color Development: Changes Over Time 

Have you ever noticed that all young cats have blue eyes? If so, you’ve probably also noticed adult cats with eye colors that aren’t blue. Cats' eye color changes over time, which explains this discrepancy. 

Although your kitten will have blue eyes for the first few weeks, it isn’t until about the two-month mark that your kitten will start showing their true eye color. These permanent colors can range from a mysterious yellow (which is the most common cat eye color) to a brilliant orange often seen in Maine coons. 

Other cat eye colors include copper, green, and hazel. Your sweet feline might even exhibit a condition known as heterochromia. This means their eyes are two different colors, making them incredibly unique!  

Kitten laying on a blanket with its blue eyes open

Preparing for Your Kitten’s New Mobility and Growth 

When newborn kittens open their eyes, this is just one of many steps in their overall development. After about one week, your cat’s ear canals will also open. At around two weeks, get ready for your kitten to start showing off his or her acrobatic skills. This is when kittens typically start crawling around with the other cats in the litter. This also happens to be when they’re at their cutest, rolling around with their big milk bellies. 

After four weeks, your kittens’ limbs will be strong enough for them to walk and jump around. They’ll learn to play at this stage, which makes caring for them a handful! Cat owners have a lot on their plate as their kittens start getting curious about the world around them. 

This curiosity is natural and a good sign of their mental development, but you’ll need to keep a careful watch on your kitten. Don’t be surprised if they start trying to climb on anything and everything, whether its curtains, furniture, or even you! 

Caring for Your Young Kitten 

When your kitten’s eyes do open, it’s time to focus intensely on their care. This special stage in their life is when they are learning and growing, and they depend on your close attention. Because young kittens can’t regulate their body temperature, you’ll need to keep them warm.  

While kittens that are still with their mother can stay warm as they snuggle up against her, a kitten that’s been separated early needs extra support. Keeping their temperature at around 85 degrees or so is essential. You can use heating pads or heating disks to keep them cozy. A young kitten’s internal temperature should be between 100 and 102.5 degrees, so monitor their temperature closely. 

Also monitor your kitten’s weight. They should be gaining weight steadily and eating two tablespoons of a special kitten formula every 24 hours. Kittens two weeks old to four weeks old should be bottle fed every two to four hours. 

Besides feeding your kitten, you’ll also need to know how to bathe a kitten. While a mother cat will regularly groom her kittens, you’ll need to take care of that job for them. This process includes using warm (but not hot) water that’s gentle on their sensitive skin and fragrance-free feline shampoo. 

Kitten walking around with its eyes open

Veterinary Care for Kittens 

No matter what age your kitten opens their eyes, you’ll need to schedule their first veterinary appointment as soon as possible. During this appointment, you can expect the vet to make sure your new pet is in excellent health by conducting a wellness exam. This exam will ensure your kitten is an appropriate weight for their age and is developing as expected. 

Your vet will check for problems like parasites and fleas. If your kitten is infected, your vet may prescribe medicines. Your kitten will also need to get vaccinated against common feline issues including calicivirus and feline viral rhinotracheitis (FVR). 

When you’re budgeting for veterinary expenses, don’t forget to include fees like the cost to microchip a kitten and spaying/neutering when your cat is five to six months old. You’ll also want to purchase kitten health insurance as soon as possible and supplement it with a kitten wellness plan. Pet insurance and a wellness plan can help you prepare for all those first-year costs, both expected and unexpected. 

Early Care Helps Build a Healthy Future 

Don’t stress about exactly when your cat opens their eyes. As long as it’s somewhere around two to 16 days, they’ll be right on track for a bright and wonderful future! As a new pet owner, you can help ensure they maintain exceptional health by keeping a close watch on their weight and temperature. Keeping up with vaccinations and vet appointments will also build the foundation for healthy adult years. This way, you’ll get to spend many long years with your beloved kitten!