When do kittens open their eyes?

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Cats are born with their eyes closed and their ears folded down. But when do kittens open their eyes? Newborn cats are SUPER cute and very small, weighing only about 4oz! Newborn kittens need their mother to keep them safe, warm, and dry. The mother cat will lick them clean after birth. Then, the kitten will navigate by feel and smell to nurse from its mother. But when do kittens open their eyes?

A kitten’s first week of life

The kitten’s ears and eyes remain closed for most of their first week of life. During this time, they eat, sleep, and grow. At the end of week 1 of life, kittens will have increased their weight by 50-100%. Their little umbilical cord usually falls around day 3-5. Kittens this small even need assistance from the mother cat or human caregiver to eliminate waste.

Two newborn kittens with eyes shut and ears mostly folded down
These very young kittens have not yet opened their eyes. They are only a few days old.

When do kittens open their eyes?

Kittens’ eyes will remain closed until day 6-8 of life. Their eyes will open slowly over the second week after their birth, and should be fully open at between 8 and 12 days old.

Kitten eyes will be blue, and may look crossed early on. A cat’s vision is limited as the eyes learn to focus. By 3-4 weeks, their vision will be sharp and they will be quite mobile. Kittens’ eyes will start transitioning to their adult color (blue, green, yellow, gray, orange – or maybe even two different colors!) around 7 weeks of age.

When do kittens’ ears open?

Kitten ears start to unfold during the first week of life – usually around day 3 or 4 they will begin. The ears should be opened by day 7. But they will continue to unfold over time. The ears slowly open into a rounded shape that helps make kittens so darn cute. Between 3 and 4 weeks, depending on the genetics of the kitten, their ears will fully open and go from a rounded little bear-cub appearance to a pointy cat ear.

A young orange tabby kitten with open eyes and rounded ears
This 2-3 week old kitten has his eyes open and is starting to walk. His ears are also open, but still small and rounded.

What do I do if I find a baby kitten?

If you find a newborn kitten with its eyes or ears shut, do everything you can to keep it with its mother. Provide the mother with food and water and a safe sheltered environment. If you have waiting for the mother and a mother cannot be located, a kitten with closed eyes and folded ears needs immediate care. Keep the kitten warm, fed with formula in a bottle, and contact a vet or a shelter immediately for further guidance. Never try to open a kitten’s closed eyes or folded ears.

A mother cat with her young kittens who have only recently opened their eyes
Very young kittens with eyes not yet open should remain with their mother if at all possible, because they need round-the-clock specialized care.