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Newborn Kittens: When Do Kittens Open Their Eyes?

Newborn Kittens: When Do Kittens Open Their Eyes?

Are you considering bringing a new kitten into your home or eagerly awaiting the arrival of a litter of kittens from your pregnant cat? If so, you may have some questions about the care of these adorable little creatures. In this post, our Pittsboro vets discuss when a newborn kitten will open their eyes, and how you can care for them.

If you haven't had the pleasure of being around very young kittens, you might be surprised to discover just how distinct they appear in comparison to their adult counterparts. Their eyes remain tightly sealed shut at this stage, while their ears are often folded against their heads. They are unable to stand and depend entirely on the loving care of their mother or caregivers. However, these tiny creatures can thrive and develop into happy, healthy cats with the right attention and nurturing.

When a Newborn Kitten Will Open Their Eyes

As kittens develop, various factors come into play that affect their growth rate. Nonetheless, it's typical for most newborns to begin opening their eyes between 2 and 16 days old, with their vision gradually improving during this time. However, it's worth noting that their two eyes may not open simultaneously. Typically, around two weeks of age, both eyes will be dilated, and by the time they reach three weeks old, most kittens can focus with both eyes. All newborn kittens have blue eyes, but as they grow older, their eye color will change, usually settling on the true color at about 8 weeks old.

Taking Care of Your Kitten's Eyes

When taking care of very young kittens, it's important to protect their delicate eyes from bright lights that may cause harm or damage. In the absence of a mother or if the mother is not providing proper care, it's crucial to ensure that the newborn kittens are clean and healthy. To maintain their hygiene, gently clean their faces with a warm, damp washcloth. Remember, never attempt to open a kitten's eyes forcefully; let their lids open naturally at their own pace. It takes time and patience, but allowing the natural process to occur is key to promoting their healthy growth and development.

Problems to Watch for & How to Manage Them

Newborn kittens often experience a common issue where their eyes become crusted shut, preventing them from opening. A bacterial or viral infection can cause this condition. Maintaining proper hygiene in their bedding and shared areas is essential to prevent the infection from recurring or spreading among littermates. To alleviate the crusting, it's recommended to gently clean the affected area with a cotton ball soaked in warm clean water, avoiding any soap as it can exacerbate the issue. However, if the condition persists or worsens, seeking immediate veterinary attention is crucial to ensure that the kittens receive the appropriate care.

Newborn Kitten Care Tips

Newborn kittens, like human babies, spend a substantial amount of time sleeping, only waking up intermittently for feeding and care. They rely heavily on their sense of smell to navigate towards their mother's belly for warmth and nourishment, while their small bodies are still developing. During this stage, kittens can sleep up to 22 hours a day, but their sleep requirements reduce as they mature.

As their teeth start to emerge around two weeks, their mobility improves, enabling them to crawl, walk, jump, and play more confidently by four weeks. During this time, their sense of curiosity and adventure increases, leading to a greater capacity for mischief, such as practicing their climbing skills.

Newborn Kittens need to Stay Warm

Newborn kittens require assistance to regulate their body temperature, making it crucial for them to stay close to their mother. However, if a newborn kitten is separated from their mother or littermates, it can be challenging to maintain their body temperature. One of the ways to help is by placing a heating disk or a heating pad on low heat beneath a cozy blanket in their crate.

Creating a comfortable and warm nest for the kitten to snuggle in is essential. To ensure your kitten's safety, it's crucial to check the heating pad's temperature using your hands before placing it in their crate. Additionally, it's best to provide a spot in the crate that doesn't have a heating item for the kitten to move to if they feel too warm.

To prevent hypothermia, it's important to continue providing a heating source until the kitten is about six weeks old. Keeping the temperature in the kitten's area at 85ºF or 29ºC will help them stay warm and healthy. By providing a warm, cozy environment, you can help your kitten thrive in their early stages of life.

Newborn Kitten Require Proper Nutrition

If you are caring for a newborn kitten that has been separated from its mother, it is crucial to provide them with adequate nutrition and care. To ensure that your kitten receives the appropriate nourishment, it's essential to bottle-feed them with a special kitten formula every 2-4 hours. Your veterinarian will be your best source of information on which formula to use, how much to feed your kitten, and how frequently they should be fed since each kitten is unique. 

In addition, it's important to monitor your kitten's weight gain, as they should be gaining around ½ ounce (14 grams) per day or 4 ounces (113 grams) per week to grow healthily. Remember, never feed your kitten cow's milk as it can cause digestive problems. Always use the same formula, and keep your kitten warm to promote proper digestion. By following these guidelines, you can ensure your kitten's healthy development and growth.

Kitten Preventive Care

Ensuring your kitten's good health is vital, and the first step towards it is taking them for their first veterinary appointment at the recommended time, regardless of their age. During this visit, your veterinarian will assess your kitten's health and inform you of their dietary needs, answering any questions you may have about caring for your new family member. 

However, preventive care doesn't stop at the first vet visit. Regular wellness exams are crucial for evaluating your kitten's overall health and well-being, including their dietary needs. They also allow your vet to detect any potential diseases early on, making them more treatable and less expensive to manage. 

Apart from routine vaccinations and wellness exams, parasite prevention care is also essential to keep your kitten safe and healthy. To prevent any serious diseases or conditions from arising, your kitten should receive their first round of shots when they are 6 to 8 weeks old, and they should be spayed or neutered when they are 5 to 6 months old.

You also need to make sure your kitten receives routine preventive care, including routine vaccinations, wellness exams, and parasite prevention, is crucial for ensuring their overall health and well-being. Therefore, taking your kitten for their first vet visit and continuing their preventive care routine as per your veterinarian's advice is essential.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. Please make an appointment with your vet to accurately diagnose your pet's condition..

Do you have a new kitten due for a checkup? Contact our Pittsboro vets to book an appointment for your kitty.

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Our vets at Hope Crossing Animal Hospital are now accepting new patients! Our talented veterinary team is passionate about caring for the pets of Pittsboro. Contact us today to book your first appointment. 

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