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Newborn Kittens: When Do Baby Kittens Open Their Eyes and Start Walking?

Newborn Kittens: When Do Baby Kittens Open Their Eyes and Start Walking?

Cats rank as the US's second most popular pets, and many pet owners begin caring for them when they're kittens. In this article, our Santa Clarita vets provide insights into when newborn kittens typically open their eyes and share other tips about their initial growth stages.

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

When do kittens start to see?

Kittens grow differently due to various factors, but most open their eyes between 2 to 16 days after birth. Their vision gets better during this time, even though both eyes might not open at the same speed. By 2 weeks old, both eyes are usually wide open. Around 3 weeks old, many kittens can see clearly with both eyes. All baby kittens have blue eyes, but the color changes as they grow, typically becoming their true color around 8 weeks old.

Caring for your newborn kitten's eyes

Ensure the safety of young kittens by avoiding bright lights that might hurt their growing eyes. If a kitten lacks a mother's care, it's up to you to maintain its cleanliness and health. Gently use a warm, damp washcloth to clean their faces and remember, never rush opening their eyes – let it happen naturally and be patient for the best results.

Issues to watch for & how to treat them

Newborn kittens sometimes get a crusty buildup in their eyes that stops them from opening. This can happen due to infections caused by bacteria or viruses. To avoid this, it's important to keep your kittens' sleeping area and shared spaces clean. If your kitten's eyes have a crust, you can clean them gently using a damp cotton ball with warm water – never use soap. If the eyes don't get better or get worse, contact a vet right away for treatment.

Other newborn kitten care tips

Just like human babies, newborn kittens spend most of their time sleeping and wake up occasionally to eat and be taken care of by their mother. They can feel warmth and use their sense of smell to find their mother's belly. They need milk and warmth to grow properly.

Newborn kittens sleep around 22 hours a day, while older kittens and adult cats sleep less. As their teeth come in, your kitten will become more active. Around two weeks, they'll start crawling, and by four weeks, they'll be walking, jumping, and playing more confidently. This is also the time when they get curious and adventurous, often trying to climb things!

Warmth is important for newborn kittens 

Newborn kittens rely on their mother's warmth because they can't control their body temperature. If your kitten doesn't have a mom or siblings, you'll have to help them stay cozy. Place a warm disc or a gently heated pad under a blanket in their space. Create a snug sleeping spot with soft blankets. Make sure the heating pad isn't too hot by touching it. Also, give the kitten a cool spot in their sleeping area in case they get too warm.

You should continue to provide your kitten with a heating source until they are about 6 weeks old because if kittens get too cold they will catch hypothermia, for this reason, their area should be kept at 85ºF or 29ºC.

Newborn kittens need proper nutrition

When taking care of a newborn kitten without a mother, it's important to feed them well. Feed your kitten with a special formula every 2-4 hours. Your vet will guide you on the right formula, feeding amounts, and frequency. Kittens should gain about 12 ounces (14 grams) a day or 4 ounces (113 grams) a week for healthy growth. Don't use cow milk and stick to the same formula. Also, keep your kitten warm for proper digestion.

Preventive Care for Your Kitten

No matter how old your kitten is, it's important to take them for their first veterinary appointment when appropriate. Your veterinarian will evaluate the health of your kitten as well as inform you of their dietary needs. This also provides you with the opportunity to ask any questions you may have in regards to the care of your new family member.

Ensuring your kitten gets routine preventive care is vital, including wellness exams, routine vaccinations, and parasite prevention.

Regular wellness exams give your vet the opportunity to assess the overall health and well-being of your kitten including their dietary requirements. Your vet will also be able to detect any diseases early before they become severe when they are easier and more affordable to treat.

You also need to make sure your kitten gets all of its vaccinations and parasite prevention care on schedule. Your kitten should come in for their first round of shots when they are 6 to 8 weeks old, and you should have them spayed or neutered when they are 5 to 6 months old. This prevents any 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.

Are there new baby kittens in your home? Reach out to our veterinarians in Sweetwater Veterinary Clinic to schedule a check-up for your adorable little furballs!

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Sweetwater Veterinary Clinic is accepting new patients! Our friendly and experienced vets are passionate about the health of Santa Clarita companion animals and horses. Get in touch today to book your four-legged friend's first appointment.

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