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When do Kittens Open Their Eyes | Here’s What You Need to Know

Katelyn Son
By Katelyn Son
Medically reviewed by Ivana Crnec, DVM
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Are Kittens Born Blind?

are kittens born blind

Yes, kittens are born blind. In fact, they are also born deaf, and all kittens have blue eyes when they are born, similar to human babies.

So, wondering when do kittens open their eyes? Kittens start opening their eyes when 8 to 12 days old. However, they gain vision when they hit the two weeks milestone.

Other significant milestones in the young cat’s life are the development of the hearing sense, the eruption of baby teeth, and the ability to control body temperature.

What Happens if a Kitten Opens Its Eyes Too Early?

Kittens are born with closed eyes as a protection mechanism as their eye structures are not fully developed and are very sensitive. Here is what is can happen if a kitten opens its eyes too early:

  • Damage to Photoreceptors. A kitten’s eyes are extremely sensitive to light, especially in the early stages of kitten development. If a young kitten incurs damage to its receptors, it can impact its night vision in the future or cause permanent eye damage. It can also impact their pupil’s ability to contract appropriately to control the amount of light reaching the inside of the eye.
  • Kitten Eye Infections. A kitten’s eyes are especially susceptible to infection during this stage of life. If they open their eyes too early, it can be an invitation to an eye infection.
  • Light Sensitivity. If a new kitten opens their eyes too soon, it can cause a sensitivity to bright light. This light sensitivity can carry over into adulthood.
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Is It Okay if I Open My Kitten’s Eyes?

No, it is not okay to open your kitten’s eyes on your own.

Opening a baby kitten’s eyes before they are open on their own can cause permanent eye damage. You should never open a kitten’s eyes yourself and always allow them to open naturally.

How Long Does It Take for Newborn Kittens to Open Their Eyes?

It will take 8-12 days for a kitten to open its eyes. It will take a couple more weeks after their eyes open before they can see, and at around seven weeks old, their eyes change color.

After the first week, their eyes will still be closed, but some early bloomers may begin to show signs of their eyes opening already. During this time, kittens can only wiggle around and seek warmth.

They huddle with their littermates to keep warm while the mother cat is not present. Also, during this stage, if a mama cat is not present, the caregiver will need to bottle feed the kitten every 3-4 hours with kitten formula.

By the end of the second week, most kitten’s eyes will be open or mostly open, and you will be able to see the baby blue color of the iris. This eye color will remain until around seven weeks of age in most housecat breeds. Some breeds, like the Siamese, retain the blue color.

At his point in their life, a kitten’s sense of smell is improving, and they may be more mobile within their space.

At week three weeks, the eye should be open, and the kitten should be able to see. Things are now in focus for them, and they can see the world around them, even at a distance. At this age, some early developers may attempt pouncing for the first time as they are becoming more able to move around their environment.

The kittens’ needs during these developmental stages are specific and require extensive kitten care knowledge on the part of the caregiver or breeder. Luckily, by the time kittens go into their new homes, they have already developed basic skills.

What do Healthy Kitten Eyes Look Like?

Healthy kitten eyes should be clear and bright with no cloudiness, milkiness, or crusty areas built up in the corners. The pupils should be the same size and evenly dilated, and the area around the eyes should be pure white, not yellow or red.

At What Age do Kittens Start to See?

Can I Clean My Newborn Kitten's Eyes

Kittens start to see when around two weeks of age. A kitten’s vision improves over the course of several weeks, and by weeks 4-5, it should have a healthy and normally developed vision.

Can I Clean My Newborn Kitten’s Eyes?

Yes, you can clean your newborn kitten’s eyes.

It is important for pet parents to remember to consult with a veterinarian first because a kitten’s eyes are underdeveloped and susceptible to damage and infection.

When cleaning your kitten’s eye, you can use a cotton ball and sterile eye irrigation solution to gently dab the eye clean. After this, you can grab a rag and some warm water to rinse the area of the eye and prevent the possibility of complications.

When Should I Worry About My Kitten’s Eyes?

When examining your kitten’s eyes, pay attention to signs and symptoms indicating cat eye problems. Such examples would be:

  • Cloudiness or milkiness
  • Unevenly dilated pupils
  • Faded iris color
  • Red or inflamed third eyelid
  • Constant rubbing of the eye
  • Squinting
  • Trouble finding the litter box
  • Commonly bumps into things
  • Discharge around the eyes

Again, it is imperative to talk to your vet if your kitten is showing any of these symptoms, as any of these can cause lifelong eye damage in a kitten.