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Newborn kitten’s eyes not opening after 14 days

by Daisy Duke
(Stevenage, UK)

My nan has a cat that gave birth to 5 beautiful kittens 2 weeks ago. That same day, 3 died. There were two left. They were healthy and feeding well. Unfortunately, one of them died.

The reasoning is unknown. The one that is still alive is living well now, 2 weeks on. It is learning to walk, and it is feeding VERY well.

The only problem is that it hasn’t opened its eyes yet. I have done some research. It is said that normally, depending on the type of cat, they open there eyes between 5-8 days since the birth.

If not, 10-14 days. It has been 14 days and still hasn’t opened its eyes. I think the gunk may be keeping the eyes from opening. I am not completely sure.

If the gunk is keeping the eyes from opening, what can I do?


Hi Daisy… thanks for visiting and asking. You are correct that a newborn kitten’s eyes open at about 10 – 12 days of age.

Before they open there is a closed space behind the eyelid that can become infected if bacteria has entered the bloodstream or via small scratches around the eyes.

If the eyelids bulge this is probably the case. You refer to “gunk” keeping the eyelid closed so this indicates that this is what has happened.

Feline herpes virus can cause neonatal infectious conjunctivitis. “Neonatal” means relating to newborn. The mother transmits it to the offspring.

If this is the case the eyelids must be “teased open”1. The doctors suggest using a toothpick but great care should be exercised.

This allows the pus to drain. If left there could be permanent damage to the eyes. Once drained the eyes should be flushed with “boric acid eyewash” or a sterile opthalmic irrigation solution. This can be bought at Boots for example. Then the eye should be medicated with antibiotic drops 4x daily1.

This is quite complicated so a visit to the vet is definitely indicated. Or at least a phone call for further advice. Sorry. I wish you and the kitten the very best of luck.


Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook by Drs Carlson and Giffin page 133 – 134.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I am 70-years-of-age at 2019. For 14 years before I retired at 57, I worked as a solicitor in general law specialising in family law. Before that I worked in a number of different jobs including professional photography. I have a longstanding girlfriend, Michelle. We like to walk in Richmond Park which is near my home because I love nature and the landscape (as well as cats and all animals).

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  • Hi My name is carlos and at the place I'm working, there are 5 kittens that were born 3 weeks ago and 2 of them had opened only their right eye and the left eye still closed. One of them hasn't open both.. I don't know what can I do. They are not mine, but I have been taking care of the mother since she was little. Now I'm worried. Can some one tell me what can I do?

    • My immediate thought is that the eyes may become or are infected. This is serious because the herpesvirus can blind kittens and cats. I think you'll find they have a risk of getting conjunctivitis. Eyes should open after 10-12 days. Eyelids should be teased open by a veterinarian to let the puss (if there is any) to drain out. The eye should be flushed with sterile ophthalmic irrigating solution and then antibiotic drops administered.

      I would inspect the closed eyes. Do they bulge out? If so it is possible that there is a bacterial infection that needs treatment as mentioned above. Good luck and thanks for visiting.

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