Have you ever noticed that when kittens are born they aren’t able to see? You look at them and notice their eyes are closed. In this case, they are unable to see anything. Kittens are born not only blind but they are also born deaf. When a kitten is first born, they cannot see nor hear anything around them due to incapability of using these senses. They are born completely helpless and rely entirely on their smell to get around. Having the ability to smell after being born helps kittens determine where their mother is by knowing her distinct scent that they can naturally sniff out.
Why cats are born blind
Well, why are cats born blind? When a kitten is born, they are relatively small. This is because it makes an easier birth for the mama cat and allows her to carry more in a single litter that way. Cats are also a predator species, this means that they don’t need immediate vision because they aren’t in immediate danger. Most predator babies are born blind such as puppies! At this stage, kittens are completely helpless and rely on their mothers to care for them. Even though kittens aren’t able to see their mothers, they know what their mother smells like. This helps them find their mom to feed.
Kitten eye development
Kitten eye development is relatively simple. When a kitten is born, as stated previously, its eyes are closed shut and they are incapable of seeing for a little more than a week or so. A kitten continues to develop certain senses such as hearing within the first week after they’re born.
Their eyesight starts coming in not too soon after when they are capable of opening their eyes.
Since kittens are born small they still have room to develop outside of the womb, their eyes are closed because their bodies are still developing the nervous system that links to their eyelids and their ears. Once their nervous system starts to develop more, their eyelids will start to open allowing them to finally see. Their development outside of the womb is also relatively quick considering that their eyes start to open when they are around 10-12 days old. Once their eyes start to open they will appear to be a light blueish color. All kitten’s eyes start out as a light blue color and later on in life, their true eye color will develop. Around three weeks old, kittens will have fully developed their eyesight and won’t have to rely on their smell to get around. Kittens begin to be more playful around this time, so if you see them playing with each other more, that’s how you know their eyesight is fully developed and they’re ready to conquer the world!
Blindness development in cats
Cats are unfortunately prone to being or becoming blind. There are different factors that contribute to them becoming blind or naturally being born blind. Some causes of blindness in cats are certain diseases that they obtain or are born with. Some cats are born blind, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t going to make great companions!
Cats have other senses that help them get around. Vision doesn’t necessarily hold them back from doing certain things. When a cat is blind, its other senses actually enhance. Their hearing and smell become stronger which gives them an advantage. In the long run, a blind cat isn’t completely helpless! This just gives them an advantage in training their other senses to become stronger and better.
Kittens that are born with a blindness disorder
There are a number of factors that contribute to blindness in cats at an early age. Some cats are born with eye abnormalities such as small or absence of their retinas. These are very rare cases, but are mostly harmless to them!
The only way you can tell if a kitten is blind is when they’re about 10-12 days old. Around this time, a kitten’s eyes are able to open and you are able to tell if they are subject to blindness, especially if their eyes appear to be cloudy. You can tell if a kitten’s eyes are cloudy by looking at the color of them. If the color of their cornea (the transparent outer covering of the eyeball) appears to be greyish and they don’t seem to be very aware of their surroundings this could mean that they have a hard time seeing. The cloudiness of the cornea prevents light from entering the eye and can make it difficult to see.
Some disorders that cause this are cataracts which is when their eye lens is clouded up, and glaucoma, which causes excessive fluid pressure in the eye and causes it to harden. These are the most common disorders that can cause permanent blindness.
Cats that develop blindness over time
Cats can eventually develop blindness over time, most commonly in middle-aged to elderly cats. There are different types of diseases that can cause blindness in cats such as:
- Progressive retinalatrophy
- Feline immunodeficiencyvirus
- Feline leukemiavirus
Some of these diseases can be mild to severe and can be treatable if caught early enough. Some of these disorders are normal and develop with age, and can be treated but don’t necessarily have to be.
Unfortunately, there are some diseases and infections that should be treated right away. Diseases that are caused by viruses, bacteria, and fungi can be more harmful to your cat if left untreated. Seeing a vet right away when there are signs of illness is recommended to make sure your fur friend is being treated right away!
Yes, cats are born blind. This gives them more room to grow at a young age and allows them to learn and become playful. Cat senses are enhanced in a way that allows them to live up to their full potential. So, if you have a blind cat or come across a blind cat, don’t let that discourage you. They are fantastic companions with or without their vision!