Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing

When do baby kittens open their eyes and start walking?

Cats are the second most popular pets in the US. Most pet parents start caring for them when they are kittens. Today, our vets in Somerset will provide you with information on when newborn kittens open their eyes and other tips about their early development.

If you've never seen very young kittens before, you might be surprised at how different they look from their adult counterparts. They usually tightly close their eyes and fold their ears against their heads. They are mostly helpless and cannot stand, but with proper love and care from their mother or caregivers, they can grow up healthy and happy.

When do kittens start to see?

Various factors determine kittens' growth rates, but most newborns typically open their eyes between the ages of 2 and 16 days. During this time, their vision gradually improves, though they may not fully open both eyes at the same rate. The eyes usually dilate by 2 weeks of age, and many kittens can focus with both eyes by 3 weeks of age. Newborn kittens have blue eyes, and the eyes change color as the kitten grows, usually settling on the true color at about 8 weeks of age.

Caring for your newborn kitten's eyes

If you have very young kittens, keeping them away from bright lights that could harm or even kill their developing eyes is important. Additionally, if a newborn kitten is not being well cared for by its mother, it is your responsibility to keep it clean and healthy. You can use a warm, damp washcloth to keep their faces clean. However, it is crucial to avoid forcing a kitten's eyes open before naturally opening on their own. This requires patience, so take your time!

Issues to watch for & how to treat them

The crust can prevent newborn kittens from opening their eyes. A bacterial or viral infection can cause this common issue. Keeping your kittens' bedding and shared areas clean and sanitary is another reason to prevent infections from recurring or spreading to littermates. Gently clean your kitten's eyes if they develop a matted crust by using a cotton ball dampened with warm, clean water. You should avoid soap at all costs! Contact your veterinarian immediately if your kittens' eyes do not improve or worsen to ensure they receive treatment.

Other newborn kitten care tips

Similar to human newborns, newborn kittens spend most of their time sleeping and waking up occasionally to feed and receive care. Kittens can feel warmth and use their sense of smell to locate their mother's belly, and they depend on a source of milk and warmth to help them grow and develop.

Newborn kittens tend to sleep for around 22 hours per day, while more mature kittens and adult cats need less sleep. When their teeth start to come in, kittens will start to become more mobile. They will begin crawling at around two weeks old and will be able to walk, jump, and play more confidently by four weeks of age. This time is when they are more likely to get into mischief, as they are curious and adventurous - and often eager to practice their climbing skills!

Warmth is important for newborn kittens 

Newborn kittens require their mother or littermates to regulate their body temperature. If your newborn kitten is without a mother or littermate, you will need to take additional measures to keep them warm.

You can use a heating disk in the crate or place a heating pad on low heat beneath a blanket in their enclosure.

Make sure to create a small nest of blankets for the kitten to sleep in. You should check the heating pad's temperature with your hands and provide a comfortable place in your kitten's cage or crate without a heating item for them to go if they become too warm.

It is important to provide your kitten with a heating source until they are about 6 weeks old since kittens can catch hypothermia if they get too cold. For this reason, make sure to keep their area at 85ºF or 29ºC.

Newborn kittens need proper nutrition

If you find yourself caring for a newborn kitten without a mother, providing proper nutrition and feeding is essential. You will need to bottle-feed your kitten a special kitten formula every 2-4 hours. Your veterinarian can guide you on the best formula to use, how much to feed each kitten, and how frequently you should feed them. It's important to note that each kitten is unique and may require different feeding schedules. Kittens need to gain approximately 12 ounces (14 grams) per day or 4 ounces (113 grams) per week to grow healthily. You should never give cow milk to your cat and always ensure that they are fed the same formula. Additionally, it would be best to keep your cat warm to ensure proper digestion of food.

Preventive Care for Your Kitten

It is important to take your kitten for their first veterinary appointment regardless of their age. During the appointment, your veterinarian will evaluate your kitten's health and inform you about their dietary requirements. You can also clarify any concerns you have regarding the care of your new family member. 

Routine preventive care is crucial to ensure your kitten remains healthy. This includes wellness exams, routine vaccinations, and parasite prevention. Regular wellness exams enable your vet to assess your kitten's overall health and well-being, including their dietary requirements. Early disease detection is possible, making treating it more accessible and more affordable. 

Your kitten should receive all its vaccinations and parasite prevention care on schedule. The first round of shots should be given when the kitten is 6 to 8 weeks old and spayed or neutered when they are 5 to 6 months old. This will help prevent serious diseases or conditions from arising in the first place.

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.

Do you have newborn kittens in your household? Call our experienced vets at Midway Veterinary Hospital to book an examination for your tiny bundles of joy!

New Patients Welcome

Are you looking for a new vet in the Somerset area? Midway Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

Contact Us

Contact (606) 679-7319