By Jennifer Copley (Last Updated 31 October 2012)
When do kittens open their eyes?
Kittens normally begin opening their eyes at 5-10 days of age, and the process takes 2-3 days overall. Normally the eyes have fully opened by 14 days of age.
Why are all kittens born with blue eyes?
Melanin, the pigment that colours skin, eyes, and hair, needs to be fully deposited into the iris and exposed to ultraviolet light to develop the adult colour. During the first weeks of a kitten’s life, its melanin production increases, triggering eye colour change.
When do kittens’ eyes change colour?
Kitten eyes normally begin changing to their adult colour during week 5 or 6, and the process is usually completed by 3-4 months of age, though some cat breeds (such as the Siamese and Himalayan) maintain blue eyes into adulthood.
What should you feed an orphaned kitten?
You can purchase Kitten Milk Replacer formulas at veterinary offices and pet supply stores. If you find a kitten in the evening when stores aren’t open, make a batch of emergency kitten milk replacer. Feeding a chilled kitten can cause it to die, so if you find an orphan, warm it against your skin or on a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel before feeding.
Can you give kittens cow’s milk?
Kittens fed cow’s milk will be undernourished and may develop life-threatening diarrhea because cow’s milk has a different nutrient profile than cat’s milk.
When should kittens be weaned?
Kittens can start making the transition to solid food at around 4-5 weeks, but should still nurse for at least 8. Ideally, they should have the opportunity to nurse sporadically for 12 weeks or longer while also eating solid food.
What should you feed kittens during weaning?
Blend a high quality kitten food in a blender with hot water and kitten milk replacer to the consistency of baby food and serve it warm (not hot). Decrease the water and kitten milk replacer gradually so that by week 8, the kittens are eating solid food on its own.
How often should you feed kittens that are no longer nursing?
If kittens are weaned at8 weeks, feed approximately 5 times per day until they’re 12 weeks old (or provide a couple of servings of wet food each day and leave a bowl of premium dry kitten food out for free feeding between meals). From weeks 12-16, kittens require at least 4 feedings per day, then 2-3 after that.
Kitten Handling and Socialization
Will handling newborn kittens cause their mother to reject them?
It’s rare for a mother to reject her kittens due to handling. However, it’s a good idea to keep handling to a minimum during the first week. After that, handle kittens regularly but for only a few minutes at a time, near and in full sight of the mother. Always wash your hands before handling kittens to avoid introducing harmful bacteria, and return the kittens to the nest immediately if the mother shows signs of fear or agitation.
Why do mother cats move kittens?
Mothers usually move kittens because they’re nervous due to noise, bright lights, or lack of privacy. Inexperienced first-time mothers are more likely to move kittens.
How do you socialize a kitten?
Kittens should be handled regularly from week 2 onward and have the opportunity to interact with many different types of people (men, women, children) and animals (other cats, cat-friendly dogs, etc.) from an early age. Ensure that interactions are positive and not scary, or the kittens may develop phobias. Never play rough with a kitten or encourage him to bite you, because he’ll continue doing this as an adult. Let him attack cat toys instead.
What room temperature is best for newborn kittens?
The Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook recommends:
- Week 1: 85-90ºF
- Weeks 2-4: 80-85ºF
- Weeks 5-6: 75ºF
- End of week 6 onward: 70ºF.
What vaccinations should kittens receive?
Core kitten vaccinations include:
- Panleukopenia virus (distemper)
- Feline calicivirus (FCV)
- Feline herpes virus (rhinotracheitis)
The first 3 vaccinations are typically provided at 8-10 weeks of age and again at 12-14 weeks, and the rabies vaccine at 12 weeks.
Why do some kittens get fat?
A well-fed kitten naturally has a rounded belly, but an excessively potbellied appearance may indicate worm infestation.
How do you care for very young orphaned kittens?
See How to Care for Orphaned Kittens for detailed instructions on feeding, socializing, and more.
Miscellaneous Kitten Information
When do kittens start to play?
Most kittens become playful at around 4 weeks of age.
When do kittens start using the litter box?
Kittens usually being imitating their mother in the box at around 3-4 weeks, though they may also play or sleep in the litter at this stage and have accidents while learning. See Teaching a Kitten to Use the Litter Box for tips on litter training.
At what age should kittens be adopted out?
Kittens can be adopted out as early as 8 weeks, but ideally they should stay with their mothers and siblings for at least 12, as this is better for their long-term health and socialization.
See the Pregnant Cats and Kittens Page for information on caring for pregnant cats, kitten development week by week, kitten training, kitten care, and more. For a full list of cat articles, see the main Cats page.
- Animal Services – Virtual Shelter. (n.d.). Cat and Kitten Supplement. JointAnimalServices.org.
- Cheng, A.M., DVM, CVA. (19 April 2009). “Eye Color Change.” MedHelp.org.
- Cornell Feline Health Center College of Veterinary Medicine, American Association of Feline Practitioners, & Academy of Feline Medicine Advisory Panel on Feline Vaccines. (1999). “Vaccinations.” MaxsHouse.com.
- Drs. Foster & Smith. (n.d.).” Care & Feeding of Queens & Kittens.” PetEducation.com.
- Eldredge, D.M.,DVM, Carlson, D.G., DVM, Carlson, L.D., DVM & Giffin, J.M., MD. (2008). Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook, Third Edition. Wiley Publishing, Inc.
- Helmenstine, A.M., PhD. (n.d.). “Why Are Babies Born with Blue Eyes?” About.com.
- IBOK Rescue. (n.d.). “Stages of Kitten Development.” IBOKRescue.RescueGroups.org.
- Neville, P., & Bessant, C. (1997). The Perfect Kitten. Octopus Publishing Group, Ltd.