behavior Blog

When do kittens open their eyes

March 6, 2018


When do kittens open their eyes

It’s pleasing to watch feline litter roam around their nest. The cat’s gestation period is around 60 days before the newborn arrives. Do you know for how long a dog stays pregnant?

Newborn kittens do not have the power of sight during the first few weeks. They make squeaking high-pitched sounds and mews to communicate with the mother cat. It takes several weeks when the furballs are blessed with the proper vision to see the world around them.

Kittens are born weak and delicate whose only source nourishment is their mother’s feed. They only crawl around their mother and explore their world through the sense of touch and smell. For around two weeks after delivery, they depend on the mother cat to move from one place to another.

The Hearing Power

Not only their eyes are closed, but also they are deaf for first few days. It’s a nature’s way to protect them from high-pitched sounds as cats have a sensitive hearing. Squeaking, shrieking and thunder like sounds can damage their hearing. Their hearing power develops slowly until 16 weeks of age– when they can hear clearly.

The Smelling Power

Besides the sense of touch, kittens like dogs have a strong sense of smell. They explore their immediate environment using their nose. The mother, siblings and cat owner carry a specific scent that kittens sniff to recognize their caretakers. The kittens hiss at an unusual smell, and they attempt to move away. When they are one week old, they develop a sense of self which helps them protect themselves. A kitten’s hissing sounds alert the mother that there is something unusual in their surroundings. A mother cat is vigilant and acts as a lioness in times of such danger.

Development of Feline Vision:

Kittens are born with their eyes closed. The eyeball buttons of tiny kittens are not seen for a day or two. After that, glittering eyeballs become visible as the eyelids widen. According to the research of Feline Advisory Bureau, your bundle of joy takes around 16 days to open its eyes completely. Moreover, all the cute little furballs are different, so they can take different time periods to open their eyes. One may open its eyes in a week, and the other may take a couple of weeks for that. Few kittens have their one eye shut and the other open. All of these behaviors are normal as their vision steadily develops.

The length of a cat’s fur shows that how long she will take to open her eyes. There’s no proof for this naturally occurring fact but it has been seen occurring in every breed. If a short haired kitten takes 5 to 8 days to open its eyes, the long-haired kitten may take 10 to 14 days to do that. Mixed litter can have differences as there are both short haired and long haired kittens.

Within three weeks of kitten’s birth, vision strengthens, and they begin to depend on their sight to explore the surrounding. They stop cuddling, smelling, and listening to sounds at one place close to their mother.

During week four, you will see your tiny kitties interacting and playing with one another. They will have fun in biting, pawing, and batting each other.  Moreover, the coordination of eyes and paws will not be perfect at first, so their walk will be clumsy, and limping one.

Until week seven, they will hobble around the house that can bring smiles to your face every time you watch them. After that, you can set targets for them, and you will see them running towards it and pouncing on it without falling.

Care for Eye Film:

A thin layer of film develops on the kitten’s eye to shield it from external harm. It is a natural protection against bright light, sharp paws of other kittens and acts as a layer to let the eye develop fully. Their tear glands set up after some time after birth. Eyes turn dry when the tears are not developed fully. The liquid layer of protection keeps the eye hydrated and lubricated for easy eyelid movements. It provides oxygen and nutrients that are necessary for the healthy formation of the cornea. Without the protective layer, the kitten eye may start to burn.

The eye film makes sure that the adult cat has 20/100 vision to assist her in hunting, agility, and defense. This makes the development process go slow but to complete properly. Cat’s eyes have an eagle-like vision that makes them see far away object very precisely.  

Care for Kitty’s Eyes:    

Kitten’s lack of coordination puts them at risk of eye injuries accidentally while swatting and pawing each other’s faces. These pawing games can cause childhood scars that last forever and may lead to vision problems. Find out if there’s any irritation after the kitten’s play. Symptoms of eye injury are unnecessary watering, redness on eyelids, or crystallized discharges. The kitten may be seen irritated, and will attempt to scratch her face. Isolate the injured kitty to avoid spreading of a contagious disease—in case it is one. Clean the eyeballs with a cotton ball and a low sodium nutrition is recommended . Consult a veterinarian to have a proper diagnosis and checkup.

Care for Kittens:

In general, a kitten shouldn’t be handled as long as her eyes are closed. Cuddling the little furballs can upset their mother as well as the kittens. You smell differently, and kittens are unable to understand the difference. Moreover, the cat may move her babies to another spot where she feels it’s safe for her babies.

It’s important to socialize the kitties with humans at an early age but refrain from cuddling them till the second week arrives, according to ASPCA. The mother has to become the first source of nourishment, love, and protection for her offsprings. Within first two weeks, she can strengthen her bond with kittens and will not perceive you as an intruder or threat.  

A cat litter requires eight to twelve weeks of mother’s protection, and then they are up for adoption. Afterward, the kittens will wreak havoc everywhere in the house. They will climb up the curtains, jump up onto the kitchen counters and dining tables, scratch on the carpet and couches, and leave their nail marks on the wooden window frames and furniture.

Final Words:

Cats have eagle’s eye, but kittens develop that sharp vision and alertness with time. Kittens don’t begin to crawl unless their hearing and sight are fully developed. It takes them four to five weeks to start wobbling around.


About the Author:

Fiona Appleton is a Labrador owner. She is the manager of that has been developed to help people solve the troubles of pet ownership. She is an active advocate of animal protection campaigns. She wants people to understand that dog-behavior is reflective of our behavior.

Katie Cohen is a freelance writer specializing in the subject of feline health and behavior. An avid dog lover and adoring owner of two cats. When she’s not working she loves going to the park with her two Weimaraner’s Lily and Bells
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