Did your pregnant cat just give birth to a litter of kittens? Is this the first time you are seeing newborn kittens? If you are nodding your head in affirmation, you must be pretty worried to see that all the kittens have their eyes closed and ears shut. You must be wondering if there is something wrong with your kittens. 

Well, there is nothing wrong with your kittens. If you take a quick look at our kitten growth chart, you will find out that all kittens are born this way—eyes and ears closed. All kittens are born blind and deaf (completely helpless), but before you know it, they will be ready to rule the world on their own. But before that, they have a lot of development to do. The question is, when do kittens open their eyes? When will your newborn kittens be able to see?

When Do Kittens Open Their Eyes?

Kittens are born with their eyes tightly shut. They only begin to open their eyes between eight to 12 days of birth. While most of the 10-days-old kittens would have opened their eyes, some kittens may take a bit longer. Similarly, some kittens may open one eye more quickly than the other. It would be hard for loving cat owners to resist, but it is strongly advised not to intervene. Let your kitten open its eyes on its own—your urge to help it may harm its eyes.

But if your kitten has not opened her eyes by the age of 2 weeks, you should contact your veterinarian.

Did You Know?

Kittens with short hair coats tend to open their eyes faster than longhaired fluffy kittens. 

Why Kittens Are Born With Their Eyes Closed?

As mentioned earlier, kittens have a lot of development to do even after birth. Their eyes are not fully developed as they come out into this world. So, their eyes remain shut to support the development of their eyes after birth. Besides, kittens’ eyes are hypersensitive to light, so they must remain shielded until they are fully developed. It is because of their hypersensitivity to light that even after two weeks of age, they might not fully open their eyes. As they get acclimatized to light, they will open their eyes gradually. It is advised that you keep your kitties away from bright light during their first few weeks in this world.

As newborn kittens open their eyes, their vision is neither sharp nor as clear as an adult cat’s vision. By the age of 1 month, kittens’ vision will be developed, and they will be able to clearly distinguish between the objects around them.

As the kitten’s eyes and vision are still developing, they are prone to eye infections during the first few weeks. Therefore, it is strongly advised that you should never try to pry open your kitten’s eyes. You should let them open naturally, which they will in a matter of two weeks after birth. Even if your kitten has not opened her eyes after two weeks of age, you should take her to a veterinarian instead of trying to open the kitty’s eyes yourself at home.

Watch For Signs of Eye Infection in Kittens!
Kittens’ eyes are very susceptible to an eye infection in the first few weeks. Therefore you must stay vigilant and take your kitties to the vet if you see the following signs:
1. Discharge (either clear or pus-like)Collapsed eyeball
2. Crustiness
3. Swelling of the eye area
4. Eyelids sticking to the front of the eyes

Is It Bad If a Kitten Opens Its Eyes Too Early?

It is not good for kittens to open their eyes too early—during their first week. Their eyes are still being developed, so if the kitten were to open its eyes too early, this development process would be disturbed. Similarly, in the first few weeks, kittens’ eyes are very sensitive to light and prone to eye infections. Closed eyes protect kittens from not only bright light but also keep infectious agents at bay. So, if a kitten opens her eyes too early, her eyesight might be damaged for a lifetime, and eye infections could even cause lifetime blindness in cats. 

Never Attempt to pry open your kittens’ eyes

You should let your kittens open their eyes naturally, which will happen between 8 to 12 days of birth. This process is normal and necessary for healthy kitten eye development. Therefore, you should never try to pry open kittens’ eyes as it would interfere with eye development and may even lead to eye infection, which could permanently damage the kitten’s eyesight.

However, if a kitten seems to have some gunk oozing out of the cracks of its eyelids, you should clean it with a soft and warm washcloth. And if the kitten is older than two weeks and still has not opened her eyes, even after cleaning the gunk, you should take her to a veterinarian. 

What to Do With a Rescue Kitten With Eyes Closed?

If you happen to recuse a kitten with its eyes closed, you should take her to a vet. Most vets would not charge a dime upon learning the story of rescue. You can also contact a local kitten rescue. If they have room, they will take in the kitten and provide immediate medical attention.

If you have brought the kitten home, you should not try to pry open the kitten’s eyes before confirming its age. If the kitten were younger the two weeks, it would not have yet opened her eyes. In this case, if there is no sign of kitten eye infection (swelling, puss, or crust under the eyes), and is breathing normally and is overall healthy, there is probably nothing to worry about.

Did You Know?

Kittens can develop an eye infection even before they open their eyes. This is called neonate ophthalmia and is often caused due to the presence of bacteria in the birth canal. Neonate ophthalmia could damage the kitten’s eyes and even make her blind; therefore, immediate action is required.

However, if there is a puss (green or yellow) or crust seeping out of the kitten’s eyes, the kitten is probably developing neonate ophthalmia. In this case, you will have to take action—open the kitten’s eyes, flush it with saline, and insert some antibiotics in the eye. Instead of trying to treat a kitten’s eyes at home, you should take her to an experienced veterinarian, especially if you have little to no experience with kittens. However, if you are unable to get an urgent vet appointment and have a little bit of experience, you can carefully do it yourself. Watch the below video of the Kitten Lady, in which she helps Hank (a newborn kitten suffering from neonate ophthalmia).

How To Help A Kitten That Only Has One Eye Opened?

While it is completely normal for kittens to open one eye before the other, if the other eye is not opened by the age of two weeks, you will have to intervene. Before taking your kitten to a veterinarian, you should check if there is any fluid seeping out of her eye. Using a wet cotton ball, gently wash anything sticky oozing out of the crack between the kitten’s eyelids. This would probably let the kitten open her eye. But if the kitten’s eye is still closed, you should immediately take her to a veterinarian.

Baby Blues Might Not Last Long

All kittens are born with blue eyes. But it is uncommon for adult cats to have blue eyes. Actually, with age, kittens’ eyes color starts transitioning into their adult eye color. Blue eyes first turn yellow and then gradually transition into the adult eye color by the age of 12 weeks.

Therefore, it is best that you do not get attached to the sparkling blue eye color of your kitten, as it might not retain it beyond 12 weeks. But if you are lucky and your kitten comes from one of the cat breeds with blue eyes, her adult eye color could be blue. 

If you are expecting or caring for a litter of kittens, you may find the following posts helpful:

Labor in Cats: Pre-Labor Signs in Cats and Cat Labor Stages

Pregnant Cat care Tips: How to Take Care of a Pregnant Cat?

Signs a Cat Is Pregnant: How to Tell if a Cat Is Pregnant?

Kitten Feeding Chart: From Birth To Senior Years

Weaning Kittens: What Age Should a Kitten Be Weaned? And How?

Kittens In a Litter: How Many Kittens Can a Cat Have?

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