Caring for and raising kittens is quite the adventure. You will notice that their eyes have not yet opened and their ears may still be closed against their head. They will be unable to stand or walk around, and are more or less helpless - but with proper love and care from their mother or caretakers, they're sure to grow up healthy and happy.
When Can You Expect Your Kitten to Open Their Eyes?
Kittens grow and develop at varying rates, influenced by several factors. Typically, newborn kittens start to open their eyes between the ages of 2 to 16 days. During this period, their vision gradually improves, although it's common for their eyes to open at different rates. By around 2 weeks old, both eyes are generally dilated, and by 3 weeks old, many kittens can focus with both eyes.
It's important to note that all newborn kittens initially have blue eyes. However, as they age, their eye color undergoes a change, and by approximately 8 weeks old, their true eye color becomes more apparent and settles in.
The process of eye development in kittens is fascinating to observe as they transition from closed eyes to fully opened, focused, and revealing their unique eye color.
How to properly care for the eyes of your newborn kitten
Try to keep very young kittens away from bright lights that could potentially hurt or even damage their developing eyes. If the kitten doesn't have a mother or isn't being well cared for by their mother, it's up to you to ensure that the newborn kittens are clean and healthy. Keep their faces clean with a warm, damp clean washcloth and, most of all, never try to force a kitten’s eyes open before the lids open naturally on their own. Patience is key!
When you should be concerned about your newborn kitten's eyes
Newborn kittens can develop a crust on their eyes that prevent them from opening. This is a common problem that can be caused by a bacterial or viral infection; yet another reason to ensure that your kittens' bedding and shared areas are clean and hygienic to stop infections from reoccurring or spreading to littermates. If kittens' eyes develop this matted crust, try gently cleaning their eyes with a cotton ball dampened with warm clean water. Avoid soap entirely! If your kittens' eyes show no improvement or worsen, call your vet right away to ensure that they receive care.
How to Care For Your Newborn Kitten
Much like newborn human babies, newborn kittens spend much of their time sleeping, waking occasionally to be fed and cared for. Kittens are able to sense warmth and use their sense of smell to move toward their mother's belly and are dependent on a source of milk and warmth to aid them in their development.
Newborn kittens sleep around 22 hours a day, with more mature kittens and adult cats requiring less sleep. Your kitten's mobility will start to improve at about the same time their teeth start coming in; at around two weeks they are crawling and by four weeks they are able to walk, jump and play more steadily. This is also when their capacity for mischief increases, as they are curious and adventurous – and often eager to practice climbing!
Raising a Kitten
Kittens are adorable and lovable household pets, however, they have very specific needs that have to be taken care of. These needs are different for every stage of their life, and if something goes wrong or is missed it can impact their overall health and longevity. Here we talk about how you can care for your new furry friend during their kitten years.
0-4 Weeks Old
When a kitten is 0-4 weeks old they are considered a newborn, they are still learning how to meow, walk, and even regulate their body temperature. If they have a mother, their mother will be able to do most of the work including feeding. All you would have to do is make sure the mother is in good health and that they are in a warm and safe environment. Make sure the floor of their crate/area is covered with a blanket, and they have a warm bed to lay on.
If the newborn kitten does not have a mother the first thing you should do is take them to see a vet. Your veterinarian will be able to determine the health of the kitten and provide you with detailed instructions on how to meet the needs of your tiny little friend.
5-11 Weeks Old
As your kitten grows and reaches the age of 5 to 10 weeks, it's time to transition them from bottle feeding or nursing by their mother to consuming solid food. This process should be done gradually. Start by pouring the formula into a food bowl and consider adding a small amount of softened dry or canned food to help with the transition.
During this stage, your kitten's motor skills will be improving, and they will become more adventurous. It's important to keep a watchful eye on them to ensure their safety and prevent any mishaps. Their newfound curiosity may lead them to explore areas where they could potentially get into trouble, so maintaining a close supervision is key.
Remember to provide them with high-protein meals about 3 to 4 times a day to support their growth and development during this exciting stage of their life.
Your kitten will require a lot of supervision and hands-on playtime while they are between 2-4 months old.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.