When Do Newborn Kittens Eyes Open?

Kittens' eyes are closed when kittens are born. Owners of newborn kittens may wonder when they can expect the eyes to open the kittens.

Why the Eyes Are Closed

Kittens are actually born before all of their senses and organs develop enough for the outside world. The owner of newborn kittens may notice that their ears are plastered against their heads at birth, too. The kittens are effectively deaf and blind for several days to weeks and rely on their mother's guidance, their sense of smell and their sense of feeling at first.

Kittens' eyes are undeveloped and overly sensitive to light when they are first born, so their bodies keep their eyelids tightly shut. Many cat owners do not notice, but cats actually have both inner and outer eyelids. The inner eyelids are more delicate and vital to keeping a cat's eye lubricated, clean of debris and healthy. Keeping these lids shut right after the kitten is born protects her eyes as they continue to develop.

Kitten Eyes Begin to Open in the First Week or So

The kittens' eyes are given adequate time to develop in about seven to ten days following birth. However, their eyes will still be overly sensitive to the light and must be opened gradually in order for the cats to become accustomed to exposing the eyes to the outside world. Therefore, the eyes of a kitten will only be partially open at first.

Kitten Eyes Completely Open after the First Couple Weeks

The kittens' eyes will gradually become wider after the first week or so of her life. They will continue to open further until somewhere between two and three weeks of age, at which point they will be open completely. A kitten's ears will also open about this time, but her eyes do open first, meaning that she will begin to develop first her sense of sight during these first few weeks of life.

Blue Eyes on Kittens

Most adult cats do not have blue eyes, although some do. Nevertheless, cat owners may notice that kittens' eyes are blue at first. Many kittens have blue eyes (although not all kittens do) during the process of eye opening that lasts the first two to three weeks of life. The eyes of a kitten, as they continue to develop, do not inherently have the color pigmentation necessary for her true eye color when she is young. A kitten's blue eyes may change to her permanent color over the next few weeks following eye-opening and she will lose the blue completely (most likely) at around three months of age.

Kitten Eye Care

Kitten owners should not rush the eye-opening process or prod at a kitten's eyes. The eyes will open naturally in time. If necessary the owner may gently, with cotton ball lightly covered in warm water, wipe any discharge away from a kitten's eyes or in order to help keep swelling down. If the discharge is excessive or the eyes appear red, a trip to the vet may be necessary in order to treat the kitten for infection. Kittens are especially prone to infection due to their weak immune systems and their exposure to other kittens and cats.