Skip to main content

PawTracks may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

When do kittens open their eyes? This is what happens if they do it too early

Find out all you should know about kittens opening their eyes

Is there anything more adorable than a kitten whose eyes haven’t opened yet? That’s debatable. Although scientists have found that puppies are marginally cuter than kittens, cat people strongly disagree. Whether you’re a dog person or a lifelong cat aficionado, there’s something about tiny kittens that tugs at the heartstrings.

Have you ever wondered, “When do kittens open their eyes? What happens if they open their eyes too early?” You’re not alone. We’re here with the scoop on what veterinarians have to say about when kittens open their eyes, why you should never force a kitten to open their eyes too early, and what happens if your newborn kittens eyes open ahead of schedule.

Two people holding a tiny gray and white kitten whose eyes haven't opened yet.
Ludvig Hedenborg / Pexels

When do baby kittens open their eyes? 

Kittens are born blind and deaf, but their eyes open within the first two weeks of life. This usually happens when kittens are between 8 and 12 days old. Your new fur baby will have bright blue eyes when they first open, but their eye color is very likely to change as they age. However, cats with solid white or light fur are more likely to retain their baby blues, as the gene responsible for their white coloration is a dominant trait.

Is it bad if a kitten opens its eyes too early?

While kittens usually open their eyes in the first week or two of life, it’s not unheard of for kittens to open their eyes as early as 3 days old. The newborn kittens’ eyes are extremely sensitive to light, and young kittens are especially susceptible to eye infections. If your kitten opens her eyes when she’s only a few days old, she may suffer lasting damage to her vision.

Contact your veterinarian and keep your baby kitten in a dark room to protect her sensitive eyes. A kitten’s vision and hearing are weak at first, but your fur baby will develop night vision six times greater than ours, along with extremely keen hearing, within a matter of weeks. 

Can you force a kitten’s eyes open?

You should never force a kitten to open her eyes before she’s ready. Not only could you damage her vision for life, but you run the risk of causing an eye infection. Symptoms of eye infections include:

  • Swelling and inflammation
  • Pus or other discharge from the eyes
  • Eyelids sticking closed
  • Flaking or dry discharge around the eyes

Take your kitten to the vet if you suspect she’s developed an eye infection. Eye infections are treatable with antibiotics, but if the infection is left unchecked, your kitten may be left permanently blind in one or both eyes. 

Woman holding tiny Siamese kitten on a bed

How a kitten’s vision develops

Did you know your kitten’s eyes continue to develop after they’re born? Even when their eyes open, kittens are considered functionally blind for the first two weeks of life. Your kitten’s eyes will appear slightly opaque at first, but as the protective fluid surrounding the eyes turns clear, your kitten’s vision gains acuity. Once your tiny fur baby’s vision develops, she’ll be able to see well enough in your dark, cozy bedroom to pounce on your feet and demand food in the middle of the night. 

What to do if an infection develops

Even if your kitten’s eyes open on schedule, and you do everything right, kittens can still develop eye infections. If your kitten develops an eye infection, take her to the vet for a checkup—and likely a prescription for antibiotic eye drops. Change her bedding regularly to prevent the spread of infection, keep her in a safe, dark room, and if her eyes get crusty, clean her eyes gently with a cotton pad soaked in warm water. Note: never use soap or another cleaning solution around your kitten’s eyes.

You’ll also want to keep an eye on any other cats in the household. Whether you’re caring for Mama Cat and the rest of her litter or you have a cat from another litter already present in your home, eye infections are highly contagious. As tempting as it may sound, don’t isolate your kitten unless the vet recommends it. Separating a kitten from her mother while she’s nursing could be detrimental to her health. It’s also important for your kitten to socialize with her littermates at this stage of development.  

A tiny gray kitten sitting in a wicker basket
Pexels / Pixabay

Take great care with your new kitten

Caring for a newborn kitten is hard work, but it also creates a lifelong bond between you and your fur baby. Yours will be one of the first faces your kitten sees when she opens her eyes, so she’ll associate you with safety and love. (Sadly, research shows that cats don’t actually think we’re their parents.) Give your kitten time to open her eyes on her own, never force them open, and contact your vet if something goes awry. 

Editors' Recommendations

Mary Johnson
Contributor
Mary Johnson is a writer and photographer from New Orleans, Louisiana. Her work has been published in PawTracks and…
How much should a kitten weigh? Here’s what the experts have to say about the kitten weight chart
Does my kitten weigh enough? Experts reveal the optimal weight
Three tabby kittens snuggling in a gray cat bed.

Being responsible for a newborn kitten is a daunting task, but it's also an exciting and rewarding experience. Kittens go through some of their most impressive growth spurts during the first 12 weeks of life. But is your kitten hitting all the right milestones? Just like with human babies, there's a kitten weight chart they should reach at certain points in their growth process. Steady weight gain, opening their eyes at the right time, and increased socialization with littermates are all indications that your kitten is on the right track.

But how much should a kitten weigh at each stage of development? We've consulted the experts to find out the optimal weight goals for your kitten. We're here to share everything you need to know about the ideal kitten weight by age, what you should know about caring for kittens every step of the "weight," and when you should contact your vet for assistance.

Read more
These national parks are stunning in the fall – and allow your dog to visit, too
These 4 beautiful national parks have pet-friendly attractions
Couple looking at map on fall trail with dog.

With cooler fall temperatures just around the corner, pet parents dream of taking their dogs on long outdoor adventures. Some might even be planning pet-friendly getaways. Autumn is certainly a wonderful time to get outside and enjoy nature, and where better to do this than in a U.S. national park? Many of these wonderful parks are pet-friendly. Here we highlight four national parks that are incredible in the fall and perfect for both of you.

Are dogs allowed in national parks?
The good news is that most national parks do allow pets in some areas and under certain conditions. Only a few deny pets in all parts of the park — so you can easily plan an outing or vacation for you and your four-legged friend. However, it's important to follow the rules, especially when it comes to hiking and wildlife. The National Park Service uses the acronym B.A.R.K. to sum up the four basic principles you should follow while in the parks with your pets. It stands for:

Read more
5 incredible things to do with dogs in Florida this fall
Your dog can hit the beach, stay at Disney World, and learn to paddle board in the Sunshine State
Border collie catching yellow frisbee on beach

If you’re suffering from a bad case of wanderlust but aren’t crazy about leaving your favorite furry family member behind while you travel, consider booking a trip to Florida. Bordered on both sides by hundreds of miles of beaches, the Sunshine State produces the most oranges in America and is home to the most golf courses of any state.

It seems the state has literally rolled out the welcome mat for you and your favorite canine companion, too, with a variety of dog-friendly beaches, lodgings, restaurants, bars, parks, and activities to choose from. Don’t worry if you don’t know where to start — we’ve got you covered. These are the top things to do with dogs in Florida that will be a great time for both of you.

Read more