4 min read
How Long Does it Take for Kittens to Open Their Eyes?
By Aurus Sy
Published: 12/30/2021, edited: 12/30/2021
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Whether they’re jumping from spot to spot or just sitting by the window watching the world go by, cats are the epitome of elegance. But our feline friends weren’t born agile and graceful—quite far from it, in fact. Kittens are born with their eyes closed and their ears folded, which means that for those first couple weeks, they are blind and deaf and completely dependent on their mother for everything.
It's important to know the stages kittens go through in order to provide the best possible care for them. Milestones such as when they are weaned or take their first steps mean a lot of changes for them, and their needs will change accordingly. Opening their eyes and seeing for the first time is just the beginning of their amazing adventure.
So how long does it take for kittens to open their eyes and begin to explore their world? Let's find out!
At what age do kittens open their eyes?
Newborn kittens are hypersensitive to light as their eyes are still developing after birth, and their eyelids are sealed shut. But it doesn’t take long for them to start opening their eyes—most healthy kittens do so in the first 7 to 10 days of their lives, with both eyes fully dilated by the time they’re 2 weeks old. All kittens are born with blue eyes, and their adult eye color will show at around 6 to 8 weeks old.
Since each individual kitten is different, some might open their eyes a little later, while others might open one eye before the other. It’s important to note that a kitten’s eyes should never be forced open, as this could permanently damage their eyesight. If you’re caring for kittens whose eyes haven’t opened yet, it’s best to keep them in a darkened room away from bright light.
What to do if a kitten does not open their eyes
If you notice a kitten who is taking a longer time getting those eyes open, you may wonder if you should be concerned. While it's natural for some cats to take longer, or less time, here's a breakdown of what to do.
If only one eye has opened
Sometimes, a kitten will only open one eye. Should this be the case, check the closed eye for yellow pus. If present, take the kitten to the veterinarian. If there is no pus, try wiping the closed eye very gently with a cotton ball moistened with warm water or a weak chamomile tea. This will remove anything sticky that may be preventing the eye from opening, plus chamomile tea is soothing to the eye. If the eye still remains closed, take the kitten to the vet.
If both eyes are still closed
If a kitten does not open their eyes at all by 2 weeks of age, take them to the vet. Again, never try to open a kitten’s eyes.
Eye issues in kittens
Since their immune systems are still developing, kittens are very susceptible to eye infections during the first few weeks of their lives. Always watch their progress and look for signs of a problem. Never ignore gooey, runny, or crusty eyes, as these can lead to more health problems if left untreated.
Before the eyes open
Kittens can have eye issues even before the eyelids open. A bulge under a closed eyelid indicates infection and pus building up. This warrants a trip to the veterinarian, who will gently open the eyelid to drain the pus, clean the eye, and apply medication. You’ll have to clean the eye and apply medication at home as well.
After the eyes open
Kittens can also be affected by various eye problems after they open their eyes. These include:
- Conjunctivitis. The most common of all feline eye disorders, this is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the thin mucous membrane that lines the inner surface of the eyelid and coats the outer surface of the eyeball. Signs include squinting, frequent blinking, a discharge, and a swollen conjunctiva.
- Eye discharge. This can range from clear to pus-like. Your kitten may squint or hold their eye closed. The third eyelid, which is normally tucked into the inner corner of the eye, may also show.
- Corneal injuries. Scratches from play fighting, blowing dust, and more can cause painful eye injuries. Your kitten may avoid bright light, hide, or squint, and the third eyelid may come up as well. A minor eye injury can become serious very quickly, so be sure to contact your vet if you suspect something.
Other tips on caring for kittens with closed eyes
A kitten’s eyes can help you determine their age. Closed eyes indicate that they’re only less than 2 weeks old and at their most vulnerable stage; these little ones will require around-the-clock care. If you find an orphaned kitten with their eyes still closed, they will need:
- To be taken to the veterinarian.
- A gentle heat source to help regulate their body temperature.
- To be fed every 2 to 3 hours, including overnight.
Knowing when kittens open their eyes allows you to provide the best care possible for your little tiger. Before you know it, their eyes will be wide open and you’ll have a fur ball of energy on your hands!
Paying for your kitten’s routine shots, bloodwork, and tests can be difficult to budget for. Fortunately, Wag! Wellness plans reimburse routine care costs for your pet within 24 hours. In the market for a wellness plan? Compare wellness plans to find the right match for your pet!