Seeing kittens born at home and watching them grow up through those important few weeks of their lives is incredibly exciting.
For the most part, you get to admire what’s happening in front of your eyes. You’ll see them physically changing almost daily, and watch their mother caring for them. That is until you have a handful of hyperactive kittens running havoc around your home.
If this is the first time you’re experiencing newborn kittens it’s natural to have a lot of questions, like:
- When do kittens ears open?
- When do they open their eyes?
- When do they need to be wormed and have their vaccinations?
To help you put your mind at ease, and guide you through this exciting and fun experience. Here are answers to some of the commonly asked questions about kittens.
When Do Kittens Ears Open?
Kittens ears open at around the 3-week mark. Suddenly you’ll notice that instead of being flat to their head, their ears have popped up. Making them a lot more ‘cat-like’ in appearance.
Don’t be alarmed if your kitten’s ears pop up a few days either side of 3 weeks. All kittens are individuals and will develop at slightly different times. Although, as you will see in the timeline below it only takes a few weeks for kittens to go from newborns to hyper balls of activity!
Can Newborn Kittens Hear?
Kittens are born with their ear canals closed. Their ear canals open when they are around 14 days old, and from there they start to develop their hearing. It’s still around 25 days before a kitten’s hearing has fully developed, however.
Kitten Development Timeline from Birth to 8 Weeks Old
It always amazes me how quickly kittens grow up and develop all their senses. Blink and you’ve missed some of the most interesting formative parts of their development.
Here is a kitten development timeline from the moment they’re born until around 8 weeks old. It’s just a guide, but it gives you a good idea of the milestones you should be expecting each week.
< to 1 Week Old
Kittens enter the world blind, deaf and without teeth. Their eyes are closed, their little ears are folded down almost flat to their heads, and they are only able to drink milk as they have no teeth.
A kitten’s umbilical cord will be attached for 4-5 days. After it dries up and falls off the kitten will then be completely dependent on their mother for food, hygiene, and warmth.
You can expect them to stay very close to their mothers for the first week. These days are crucial for the bond they form and their health. Avoid interfering for the first week unless it’s important for the health of either the mother or kittens.
2 Weeks Old
At just two weeks old you will already start seeing some huge changes. Their ears will still be folded down, but if you look closely you will start to see little teeth beginning to emerge and their eyes will be open.
They will still be nursing from their mom on a regular basis. It’s also recommended that they get their first worming treatment at two weeks.
3 Weeks Old
As I mentioned above, around the 3-week mark is when you expect to see their ears pop up. Most kittens will also be walking and exploring your home at this point, as I’m sure you’ve noticed!
The 3-week mark is a really interesting point in their lives. Kittens really have a lot of awareness of what’s going on around them at the stage. You’ll see them starting to play and interacting with their littermates.
4 Weeks Old
At 4 weeks, kittens senses are starting to get really well developed. Their sense of hearing is well developed, their eyesight is improving, they’ll have a sharp sense of smell, and they should have almost all of their teeth.
Most kittens will be starting to groom themselves and can now drink water if you put some out. You’ll notice they’re growing up right in front of your eyes, it’s exciting, isn’t it!
5-6 Weeks Old
Around 5 to 6 weeks is when all their senses are alive and kittens start to really become playful. If they haven’t already started climbing, jumping around, and investigating anything and everything. They sure will start to any day now.
This is when you should really start putting in sometime handling them. Socializing with them now will make them a lot more trusting and friendly to humans.
7-8 Weeks Old
The 7 to 8-week mark is when you should take them for their first check-up at the vets. They need their core immunizations, another dose of worming meds, and it doesn’t do any harm to have them checked over.
They should now have all their kitten teeth. Some kittens have diarrhea while teething, I explained in more detail in that post what you should do about that. They should be eating the kitten food you’re giving them, drinking plenty, and generally being a big fluffy ball of fun.
In answer to, when do kittens ears open? There are two parts to this answer;
The first part is that their ear canals should be open when they are around 14 days (2 weeks) old.
The second part is that their ears should go from lying flat on their heads to sticking up at around 21 days (3 weeks) old.
So, cats start developing their hearing before their ears are sticking up. They can hear you and will start getting used to your voice after around 2 weeks, taking on the cat-like appearance of pointy ears a week or so later.
Want to know more about a first-time cat pregnancy and birthing process? Please read what to do if your cat is giving birth for the first time.