When your cat has kittens, understanding when things are due to happen is an important way of keeping track of their development. Not only that but it is also a useful way to make sure things are progressing as they should be and the chance to head off any problems as early as possible. Amongst these important milestones is when does a kitten open their eyes?
The average litter of kittens is between two and five and they are born after a pregnancy of around 64 to 67 days. For the first few weeks after they are born, kittens are dependent on their mother for a host of things such as passing waste and keeping themselves warm. Obviously, they also rely on their mother for food as without the milk they cannot get the nutrition needed to grow. They also receive the antibodies in the milk that they need to fight off infection.
Kittens open their eyes at around seven to ten days after they are born but at this point, the retina isn’t well developed and their vision is poor. It isn’t until they are around ten weeks old that their vision is finally to the standard of an adult cat.
Between the age of two and seven weeks there are also a number of other important changes that take place in a kitten. They start to improve both strength and coordination and begin to play-fight with the other kittens in their litter. They also begin to get curious about the world around them and start to explore so do need a little monitoring! This is the time when they start grooming themselves and when they begin to use their inborn hunting skills to stalk things around them.
The weaning process starts when the kittens are around three to four weeks old, a process finished usually by six to eight weeks of age. Their baby teeth drop out when they are about three months old and their adult teeth are complete by 9 months old. They will still suckle occasionally after they are weaned but this is for comfort rather than for food.
Sexing kittens can usually be done at birth but strangely, this can become difficult once they reach six to eight weeks as fur covers their genital area.
By three or four months old, they will begin to stalk and hunt things around the house on their own as well as with their littermates. This can be a vulnerable time for them, as they can get into all sorts of mischief so careful monitoring of them is needed.
Domestic kittens are usually sent to their new homes at around six to eight weeks old though it can be best for social reasons to leave them with their mother until they are twelve weeks old in some cases. Kittens reach sexual maturity at the age of seven months and at this point can be considered to be neutered or spayed. Vaccinations against common illnesses are usually given at two or three months of age.