Kittens open their eyes when they are 8-12 days old. In a litter, it’s likely that the age in which their eyes open will vary between individuals.
Kittens initially have poor eye sight, and their full sight doesn’t develop until they are six weeks old.
You shouldn’t worry yourself too much over your kittens’ eyes opening. They will likely do so naturally in their own time, and it isn’t uncommon for this to vary.
One eye may even open before the other, which is completely natural.
In this article, I’ll discuss more about how kittens’ eyesight develops over time and the milestones to watch for. I’ll end with some other milestones, including when kittens develop their sense of hearing and when you should expect them to begin moving around.
A Kitten Opens their Eyes at 8-12 Days
At just 8-12 days, a kitten’s eyes will open for the first time. Some may begin to open sooner than this, and some a little later.
Kittens in the same litter will likely vary, with one having their eyes partially open while another’s are still closed, and yet another has fully opened eyes!
The eyes of the same kitten may appear different at first too, with one opening faster than the other.
Just like humans, kittens develop at their own pace. If you’ve been around kids, you may have noticed that one may learn to crawl or speak sooner than the others in their age group. Kitten development is imprecise like this as well.
Although we can know what to look for at a certain age, several factors are at work that may speed up or delay development.
There is no reason to worry if the 12-day mark passes and one kitten’s eyes aren’t completely open. Give them a bit of time, then call your veterinarian.
Once your kittens’ eyes are open, you’ll notice that they are all blue. This will likely change over time as your kittens develop their adult eye color of blue, brown, yellow, or green at 7-8 weeks old.
Sight Isn’t Fully Developed Until 6 Weeks
When a kitten’s eyes open for the first time, it’s a huge milestone. However, they cannot see picture-perfect at this point. They still have a ways to go until their vision develops to the point of an adult cat.
Their eyesight will be much better by 4 weeks old, but still not entirely developed.
A kitten’s eyes typically develop fully by 6 weeks old. However, there are exceptions to this and some kittens take more time.
There are also kittens who are born blind and never have the ability to see. This is typically caused by genetic conditions or injury.
How to Tell if a Kitten is Blind
If you are purposefully breeding kittens, you should always have the parents tested for genetic conditions beforehand. Certain breeds such as Persians, Abyssinians, and Bengals are more prone to these.
If you purchase a kitten from a breeder, you should always ask for veterinary paperwork as well as taking other precautions to ensure you’re dealing with a reputable breeder and not an irresponsible breeder or kitten mill.
Although these precautions can be taken, once kittens are born, we can only wait and see how they develop. Aside from this, most kittens are not bred purposefully at all!
It’s much more likely that your cat was simply unsprayed and allowed outdoors, or you’ve taken in a pregnant stray and now have unexpected kittens on your hands. The second one happened to me seven years ago!
So, what should we look for if we’re concerned about kitten blindness?
First, don’t worry until at least 6 weeks of age. This is when a kitten’s eyesight develops fully. If they are still showing signs of blindness at this point, you should address it with your veterinarian.
However, it’s difficult to find symptoms of kitten blindness in particular. Aside from the obvious like not reacting to light or bumping into objects, I haven’t found a detailed resource that is kitten-specific or addresses cats who are born blind.
Most resources focus on a cat who is going blind instead, which typically happens at an older age.
Can a Blind Kitten Live Happily?
If your kitten is blind, it certainly isn’t the end of the world or their little life. However, you should bring them to the veterinarian to ensure there isn’t an underlying condition or injury causing their blindness.
More likely, though, your kitten’s blindness will be due to a developmental or genetic reason. They are likely healthy, but their eyes simply didn’t develop like other kittens.
A blind kitten can live a happy, full life.
Remember, a blind kitten doesn’t even know that they are different to other cats. They are unaware what sight even is, because they never experienced it in the first place.
Another thing to keep in mind is that cats don’t rely on their sight as much as their other senses, even when they are sighted.
Cats have amazing senses of smell and hearing that help them to navigate the world. For instance, a cat’s hearing is so good that they can use sound alone to help pinpoint prey when hunting.
Domesticated cats also have the advantage of living inside where there are no predators and they have the help of humans to survive. Of course, this is a great benefit!
While blind cats can live outdoors successfully, I wouldn’t recommend this at all even for a sighted cat. This is due to the shortened lifespan of cats who are allowed outdoors and the many threats they face to their safety.
Newborn Kittens Communicate via Sound and Scent
Newborn kittens don’t yet have the ability to see or hear. For this reason, they communicate through making noises and through scent.
They will meow to get attention or food from mama cat or, in the cases of orphaned kittens, the human raising them.
They also use scent to navigate the world and to recognize their siblings and mama. This use of scent will continue throughout the cat’s life as they use it to identify their home and their colony.
In this case, a colony may refer to a true colony outdoors or other pets and humans in your home. If you’ve ever noticed a cat rubbing against you or other people, pets, or objects, this is why!
They are sharing their scent as a way to identify you.
This is also the reason that, in multi-cat households, you may notice one cat interacting with another differently after a vet trip as if they don’t recognize them! It’s because they don’t smell the same, and this goes away over time as the unfamiliar scent is replaced by the familiar.
Other Exciting Milestones
Lastly, let’s go over some other exciting milestones you can look forward to when raising kittens!
- Kittens develop their sense of hearing at around the same time as their eyesight, at six weeks of age.
- Walking begins at 2 weeks of age, and a kitten slowly develops more movement skills as they age.
- A kitten gets their first teeth at 3 weeks old.
- Claws are retractable at 4 weeks old.
- Also at 4 weeks, kittens learn to use the litterbox and begin to run and play.
- At 5 weeks, kittens are ready to begin weaning!
- Kittens should be spayed or neutered at 2-4 months, or whenever your veterinarian thinks it is appropriate.
- At 4 months, kittens no longer need constant feeding and can be put on an eating schedule the same as an adult cat. However, they should still be eating kitten food at this age.
- Teething is completely over by 6 months, when a kitten’s last adult teeth are fully developed.
I am a freelance writer who specializes in the pet industry. My full bio