In the first week, our kittens’ eyes started to open. Johnny was first; her left eye started to open when she was three days old. By one week they all had their eyes at least part way open.
But when kittens’ eyes first open, they are very sensitive to light. At this stage, it is important that you make sure there are no bright lights directed at the kittens’ faces. Also, the kittens still can’t see very well and rely on their sense of smell still to find their mummy and their favourite nipple at lunch time.
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The colour for all newborn eyes is gray or blue, because the melanin that gives them colour pigment hasn’t developed yet. You will find out what colour your kittens’ eyes are when they are six to eight weeks old.
During the first week, the kittens’ umbilical cords will begin to fall off. Remember not to pull them off as a kitten can easily get an umbilical hernia, which will require surgery to repair when she is older.
The mother is probably licking the babies a lot. She does this to keep them clean, of course, and to stimulate their digestive systems. The dedicated mother cat actually stimulates urination and defecation and eats what comes out. And your mom complained about changing your diaper! If you are hand-raising a kitten, you need to wipe him with a soft, absorbent towel every few hours to help him pee and poo.
The mother cat also cuddles the kittens and keeps them warm all day and all night. She probably only leaves the box to get food and water and to visit the litter. She will appreciate a lot of attention from you. If you are hand-rearing a kitten, you should keep her with you at all times, preferably holding her in your hands. There is no substitute for a mother’s love!
Be careful when handling your baby kittens, because their little claws are very sharp and they are not able to retract them yet. Also, make sure they are not getting their claws caught in their bedding. Some kinds of fabric are like velcro to kitten claws!
One-week-old kittens are double their birth weight. It’s incredible how fast they grow! By now they probably have fat little tummies, too.
Join us next week for an update on two-week-old kittens!