When Do Kittens Open Their Eyes

icon June 20, 2024

Kittens are born into the world in a state of complete dependency, their tiny bodies still developing outside the womb. One of the most anticipated milestones for kitten caregivers is when these little bundles of fur open their eyes. This article delves into the stages of a kitten's early development, including when kittens open their eyes, how to tell their age, when their eyes change color, when they start walking, how to care for them, and when it is safe to start holding them.

When Do Kittens Open Their Eyes?

Kittens are born with their eyes closed, and they remain in this state for a brief period after birth. Typically, kittens begin to open their eyes between 7 to 14 days old. This process can vary slightly between individual kittens and breeds, but it generally falls within this timeframe.

The Process of Eye-Opening

The process of eye opening is gradual. It often starts with the inner corners of the eyes and then spreads outward over several days. Kittens may open one eye before the other, and it is not uncommon to see them with partially opened eyes during this period.

Why Are Kittens Born with Closed Eyes?

Kittens are born with closed eyes because their optical nerves and other components of their eyes are still developing. This period of darkness allows these essential parts to mature without the risk of exposure to light and potential infections.

How to Tell How Old a Kitten Is

Determining a kitten's age can be crucial for providing the appropriate care and feeding. Here are some key developmental milestones and physical characteristics to help estimate a kitten's age:

0-1 Week

  • Eyes: Closed
  • Ears: Folded against the head
  • Movement: Limited to crawling; dependent on the mother for warmth and nutrition
  • Weight: 85-115 grams

1-2 Weeks

  • Eyes: Beginning to open; usually fully open by the end of the second week
  • Ears: Starting to unfold
  • Movement: Crawling more efficiently, attempting to stand
  • Weight: 150-250 grams

2-3 Weeks

  • Eyes: Fully open; blue in color regardless of the eventual eye color
  • Ears: Standing up and becoming more mobile
  • Movement: Starting to walk shakily
  • Teeth: Baby teeth begin to erupt
  • Weight: 250-350 grams

3-4 Weeks

  • Eyes: Fully open and more focused; pupils react to light
  • Ears: Fully erect
  • Movement: Walking more steadily; beginning to explore surroundings
  • Teeth: More baby teeth emerging
  • Weight: 350-450 grams

4-5 Weeks

  • Eyes: Fully open and responsive to the environment
  • Ears: Fully functional
  • Movement: Confident walking, running, and playing
  • Teeth: Most baby teeth have emerged
  • Weight: 450-550 grams

5-6 Weeks

  • Eyes: Fully developed; still blue
  • Ears: Fully functional and alert
  • Movement: Active play and exploration
  • Teeth: Full set of baby teeth
  • Weight: 550-650 grams

6-8 Weeks

  • Eyes: Starting to change color from blue to their permanent shade
  • Ears: Fully alert and responsive
  • Movement: Highly active and coordinated
  • Teeth: Preparing for the transition to permanent teeth
  • Weight: 650-900 grams

When Do Kittens' Eyes Change Color?

Kittens are born with blue eyes, which is a common trait among many mammals. This blue color is due to the lack of melanin, the pigment responsible for coloration in eyes, hair, and skin.

Eye Color Change Timeline

  • 4-6 Weeks: The eyes begin to change from blue to their permanent color. This change starts subtly and gradually becomes more apparent.
  • 6-12 Weeks: The permanent eye color continues to develop, becoming more distinct. By the time the kittens are three months old, their eye color is usually fully set.

Factors Affecting Eye Color Change

The ultimate eye color of a kitten can be influenced by genetics and breed. For example, Siamese cats typically retain their blue eyes, while other breeds may develop green, yellow, or copper-colored eyes.

When Do Kittens Start Walking?

Walking is a significant milestone in a kitten's development and usually begins around the age of three weeks.

Early Movement (2-3 Weeks)

At around two to three weeks old, kittens start to experiment with standing and taking their first wobbly steps. Their coordination is still developing, so they may be unsteady and prone to falling.

Improved Mobility (3-4 Weeks)

By the age of three to four weeks, kittens begin to walk more confidently. Their muscles and coordination improve, allowing them to explore their surroundings more effectively.

Active Exploration (4-6 Weeks)

At four to six weeks old, kittens are typically very active and curious. They start to play, run, and interact with their littermates and environment, practicing their newfound mobility skills.

How to Care for Kittens

Proper care is crucial for the healthy development of kittens. Here are some essential aspects of kitten care:


  • 0-4 Weeks: Kittens should be nursing from their mother or receiving a kitten milk replacer if the mother is not available. Bottle-feeding is necessary every 2-3 hours.
  • 4-6 Weeks: Begin the weaning process by introducing a mixture of wet kitten food and milk replacer.
  • 6-8 Weeks: Gradually transition to a diet of wet and dry kitten food. Ensure fresh water is always available.

Warmth and Shelter

Kittens are unable to regulate their body temperature effectively in the first few weeks of life. Provide a warm, draft-free environment, such as a cozy box with soft bedding and a heating pad set on low.


Keep the nesting area clean and dry. As kittens grow, they will start to use a litter box. Initially, a shallow box with non-clumping litter is recommended to facilitate training.

Health and Veterinary Care

  • First Veterinary Visit: Schedule the first veterinary visit at around six to eight weeks of age for vaccinations and a general health check.
  • Deworming and Flea Control: Consult your veterinarian about deworming and flea control appropriate for the kitten's age.


Socializing kittens is essential for their behavioral development. Introduce them to various sounds, sights, and gentle handling from an early age to ensure they grow into well-adjusted adults.

When Can You Start Holding Kittens?

Handling kittens is important for socialization, but it must be done carefully and at the right time.

First Week

During the first week, it is best to avoid handling the kittens excessively. The mother cat should be allowed to care for her young without much interference. If handling is necessary, it should be brief and gentle.

2-3 Weeks

At two to three weeks old, kittens can be gently handled for short periods. This helps them get used to human touch and begins the socialization process. Ensure hands are clean, and the handling is done in a calm, quiet environment.

4-6 Weeks

At four to six weeks old, kittens are more active and curious, making it an ideal time to increase the amount of handling. Encourage gentle play and interaction to help them become comfortable with human contact.

Handling Tips

  • Support: Always support the kitten’s body, especially the chest and hindquarters.
  • Gentleness: Handle the kittens gently and avoid sudden movements or loud noises.
  • Frequency: Gradually increase the frequency and duration of handling sessions as the kittens grow.


Understanding the developmental stages of kittens is crucial for providing the best care and ensuring they grow into healthy, well-adjusted cats. From the moment they open their eyes to their first wobbly steps, each milestone is a testament to their growth and development.

By being informed and attentive to their needs, caregivers can support kittens through their early stages of life, ensuring they thrive and become beloved members of the family.

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