A kitten will open their eyes at the age of 8-12 days old.
However, every cat is different. Kittens of the same litter may open their eyes at varying times. After the eyes open, a kitten’s sight continues to develop until six weeks of age.
The way kittens develop is fascinating to me. I always wish I had more kitten photos of the litter I raised from a stray mama cat! Although I do make up for it by always having a camera in their faces now, it just isn’t the same as when they were changing every day.
In this article I’ll discuss more about kittens’ sight and how it develops. I’ll also discuss how kittens navigate the world before their sight develops, what to do if you think your kitten is blind, and some fun facts about cat eye sight.
Kittens Eyes Open Between 8-12 Days Old
A kitten’s eyes open between 8-12 days of age. They may open at once or one at a time, and may or may not correlate to the timing of other kittens in the litter.
Once a kitten’s eyes are open, they don’t see everything clearly right away. At first, their eyesight is rather poor.
Most kittens have fully developed eyesight at six weeks old.
Every Kitten is Different
If you are caring for a litter, you may notice that some of them have their eyes open while others don’t. This is perfectly normal.
If you’ve been around human babies, you know that they hit milestones like walking, talking, and potty training in their own time—this is very similar to that.
As a matter of fact, in some kittens you may even see a difference between their two eyes. One eye may open before the other does, or be more open at first.
There’s no reason to worry over your kittens’ development or compare them to one another.
By the time they’re grown, you likely won’t even remember whose eyes opened first! It simply won’t matter once they’re all caught up.
Nothing is wrong with your kitten’s eyes unless they completely miss a milestone. Don’t stress yourself over a few days’ difference.
Kittens are Still Developing Sight after their Eyes Open
As we discussed previously, a kitten’s sight is still developing well after their eyes open for the first time. Gradually they will see more clearly and at a greater distance.
Most kittens will begin to see at the level of an adult cat at six weeks of age.
Some kittens may take slightly more time than this, but if your kitten seems to have trouble seeing a week or two after this, you’ll want to consult your veterinarian.
I’ll talk more about kitten blindness, its symptoms, and what it means for your cat below.
Newborns Communicate by Noise and Smell
Although sight is not the sense that cats of any age rely on most in their day-to-day life, kittens especially cannot depend on this undeveloped sense.
Instead, they communicate with little, high-pitched mews and through scent. Their sense of hearing is also completely undeveloped when they are born.
Although they will soon be able to precisely pinpoint an object using only their hearing, newborn kittens are not at this stage yet!
From the beginning of their lives, kittens use scent to communicate and to identify family. At this age, they are seeking to huddle with their siblings and find mama when they need food.
Later in life, cats will use their heightened sense of smell to identify who is part of their colony—whether this is a true stray colony outdoors, other members of your multi-cat household, or even their human family.
They do this through scent sharing, and it’s why your cat rubs their face, body, and tail on you, other pets, or objects in your home.
Kittens’ Eyes Start Out Blue
When your kittens’ eyes open, you will notice they are all blue. Although it’s possible they will stay this color, it is more likely that they change over time to another color such as yellow, green, or brown.
However, you won’t know each kitten’s adult eye color until it reveals itself at around 7 weeks old. By 8 weeks, a kitten’s eyes will fully change to their permanent color.
If you’re worried one or more kittens in a litter is blind, you should look for signs like bumping into objects or not interacting with visual cues such as laser pointers.
Of course, if you think your kitten is blind due to one or both eyes being injured, you should bring them to the veterinarian immediately.
Unfortunately, I’m not able to find much information when it comes to symptoms of kittens who are born blind. Most material focuses on cats losing their vision rather than those who never developed it in the first place.
It also seems that many symptoms are out of place in adult cats while being common in kittens. For example, your kitten is going to be a bit wobbly on their feet and probably bump into things as they learn to navigate the world.
This wouldn’t necessarily indicate blindness, but you should still watch them to see if it’s happening excessively.
Do keep in mind that sometimes sight takes a little longer than normal to fully develop, and also that blindness isn’t the end of the world for your kitten. It simply means they will navigate the world differently than a sighted cat.
Keep an eye on the kitten(s) you think are blind, and bring them to the veterinarian if you don’t see improvement in their sight.
While this typically isn’t an urgent matter, it’s not something you should ignore entirely either. Your veterinarian will likely run some tests to see if the kitten is actually blind.
Then, they may look for underlying causes of blindness to ensure the kitten doesn’t have any medical concerns that are contagious or harmful to your kitten. They’ll also check for eye injuries that could cause blindness.
In kittens, though, blindness is more likely to be developmental or genetic when the kitten’s eyesight simply never developed.
Breeds more prone to developing genetic blindness include Persians, Abyssinians, and Bengals.
Fun Facts about Cat Eyesight
A cat’s sight is much different to the eyesight of human beings. However, there are some misconceptions that we have about cats and their eyesight as well.
Here are some fun facts about cat eyesight that you might find interesting!
- Cats have a wider field of view than humans. While we see at 180 degrees, they see at 200!
- Because cats are more active at night, they need to be good at seeing in the dark. Luckily, their eyes are specialized for this! A mirror layer in their eyes reflects light, allowing them to take in more of it in dim settings.
- However, cats cannot see in complete darkness as some people believe. Instead, they simply see clearer than humans do in low light.
- Cats’ enhanced need for night vision means they don’t have as many cones (the parts of our eyes that see color). When the sun is shining, humans see clearer than cats and in more color.
- Cats see the world in muted colors and don’t see red or green.
- Cats have to be much closer to an object than humans in order to see it clearly, as they are more near-sighted than we are.
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