Eyecatching Kitty Facts: Uncover the Mysteries of Your Cat’s Eye Color!
1. The Truth Behind Cat Eye Colors
a. Melanin Determines Cat Eye Color
Just like humans, a cat’s eye color is determined by the amount of pigment called Melanin. Both layers of a cat’s iris contain Melanin-producing cells, known as melanocytes. The more melanocytes the iris contains and the more active they are, the darker the cat’s eye color. However, cats do not have brown or black eyes like humans; the darkest eye color you’ll see in cats is deep copper or rich emerald.
b. Blue-eyed Cats Lack Pigment in Their Eyes
Ever wondered why glass windows appear clear when you look straight through them, but they appear blue or green at the edges? That’s due to light refraction through a transparent surface. The same goes for blue-eyed cats.
Blue-eyed cats lack pigmentation in their eyes, unlike cats with copper, gold, amber, or green eyes. Light refracts from the curved surfaces of their eyes, resulting in blue eyes. White cats tend to have blue eyes, and they are also more prone to deafness. Want to know why? You can find out more about the reason behind blue-eyed white cats’ deafness here.
c. All Kitten Eyes Are Blue
What color are kitten eyes? Regardless of the eye color the cat will eventually have, all kitten eyes are born with blue eyes. This is because the melanin-producing cells in their eyes have not yet begun to produce the pigment.
However, kittens’ eyes change color as they grow. When they mature, the melanin-producing cells become active, and their true eye color starts to appear. You’ll need to wait around four to six weeks to determine the eye color of a kitten, and about four months to see its fully developed eye color.
d. Two-toned Cat Eyes
Cat eye colors come in a wide range, from gold and copper to orange, green, and even mixtures of different hues. It’s fascinating to note that cat eyes always have bright colors – they don’t possess dark brown eyes like dogs or humans. And sometimes, you may come across a cat with two different eye colors.
What exactly is a two-toned cat eye? This eye-catching phenomenon is referred to as heterochromia, and it can also occur in dogs and even humans. Cats with two-toned eyes often have one iris (the colored part of the eye) in blue and the other iris in green, brown, or yellow.
Are two-toned eyes in cats rare? This condition is quite rare and only occurs in certain cat breeds. Cat breeds with two-toned eyes include British Shorthairs, Cornish and Devon Rex, Japanese Bobtails, Munchkins, Persian cats, Scottish Folds, Siamese cats, Sphynxes with two-toned eyes, Turkish Angoras, and Turkish Vans. It is also common in white cats of any breed.
What Causes Heterochromia in Cats?
All kittens are born with blue eyes due to the lack of pigment in their irises. In the first few weeks or months of their lives, a pigment called melanin is distributed throughout their irises, causing their eye color to change. Usually, this happens in both eyes, but if a cat has heterochromia, the melanin pigment is only distributed in one iris, leaving the other eye blue.
The exact cause of some cats having heterochromia while others don’t is unclear. It appears to be a developmental condition and may have a genetic link.
Fortunately, heterochromia does not impair a cat’s vision or cause any deafness. Although white cats with blue eyes (one or both) are more likely to be deaf, a cat without white fur and with one blue eye seemingly has no risk of deafness.
However, you should be concerned if a cat’s eyes change color when they are over 12 weeks old or if their eyes suddenly change color at any age. Various eye conditions can cause changes in a cat’s eye color, such as cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, uveitis, nuclear sclerosis, optic nerve hypoplasia, and iris melanoma.
These conditions can be distressing for pets, and if left untreated, they can lead to permanent damage or even blindness. If you notice a change in your cat’s eye color or suspect that their eyes are bothering them, take them to a veterinarian for an eye examination.
Can Cats Have One Eye with Two Different Colors?
When a cat has two different eye colors, it is referred to as complete heterochromia. However, there is also a condition known as sectoral heterochromia. This is when one iris contains two or more colors, for example, half of the iris is blue and the other half is green. This is the result of inconsistent pigment distribution within the iris.
2. Common Cat Eye Colors
What color are cat eyes? Cat eye colors can range from green, light brown, golden, amber, hazel, orange, copper, to even mixed hues. Each color carries a different meaning. Which cat eye color is the rarest?
The most common cat eye colors are:
- Green Eyes
- Hazel Eyes
- Golden or Amber Eyes
Cat Eye Color Does Not Include Purple:
Sometimes, the interplay of color and light can make us believe that a cat’s eyes are purple. Unfortunately, this is not possible.
a. Blue-eyed Cats
If your cat has less pigment in its iris, it will have blue eyes. Blue-eyed cats are associated with innocence but also with mystery and aloofness. Each cat will have a different shade of blue depending on their genetic makeup. Some may have a pale sky-blue color, while others may have deep and vibrant sapphire eyes.
Some cat breeds known for their blue eyes are Siamese cats and Ragdolls. Other breeds that can have blue eyes include the American Shorthair, British Shorthair with blue eyes, Balinese, Persian cats, Maine Coons, and Devon Rex. The Tonkinese breed has unusual shades of blue eyes that are not seen in any other breed.
b. Green-eyed Cats
“Eyes so green, I can stare for miles.” That’s often said about green-eyed cats. Green-eyed cats are associated with mysticism and are linked to a sense of enigma and magic. Similar to blue-eyed cats, green-eyed cats have a minimal amount of pigment in their eyes.
The color of green-eyed cats can vary from pale green with a touch of yellow to true green and green mixed with shades of blue. Sometimes, you can also see golden flecks in the iris of green-eyed cats.
Green-eyed cats are often found in breeds such as Egyptian cats, Havana Brown cats, and Norwegian Forest cats, which can have eyes with various shades of green. Domestic black cats also commonly have green eyes.
c. Amber or Yellow-eyed Cats
Amber or yellow eyes in cats can range from light yellow to deep and rich amber. These eye colors are closely associated with the cunning and supernatural. They are linked to the power of shape-shifting and transforming. Black cats often have this eye color, which may be the reason why black cats are associated with witches.
Besides eye color, black cats are associated with witchcraft for various other reasons. You can find out more about these reasons in the article “The Truth about Black Cats.”
Cat breeds commonly known to have yellow or amber eyes include Bengal cats, American Shorthair cats, Manx cats, Abyssinian cats, LaPerms, Bombay cats, Sphynxes, Norwegian Forest cats, and domestic cats. The Burmese breed can have particularly prominent yellow eyes, with impressive bright and deep shades. Large cats like tigers and lions often have yellow or amber eyes, which is why gemstones are named “cat’s eye.”
d. Hazelnut Eyes
Some cats have hazelnut or even brown eyes. Hazelnut eyes are a blend of green and yellow hues. It’s a combination of forest green and golden yellow. Wild cats such as Lynxes and Bobcats often have hazelnut eyes, such as the Eurasian lynx.
e. Copper Eyes
Copper is the darkest eye color you’ll find in cats. Their eyes appear to be light brown, with reddish and orange tones. Sometimes, you may see spots of yellow, green, or even copper. These cats have a higher amount of melanin in their irises. Few cat breeds have copper eyes. In fact, it is one of the rarest eye colors in cats. Notable breeds with copper eyes include the Japanese Bobtail, Maine Coon, Persian cats, Cornish Rex, and Chartreux.
f. Two-toned Eyes
As mentioned earlier, two-toned eyes in cats are rare and can occur due to genetics, congenital factors (a developmental “mistake” as the kitten is growing), or as a result of accidents or injuries. This phenomenon is often observed in white cats or specific cat breeds, including Turkish Van cats, Japanese Bobtails, Persian cats, and Sphynxes.
g. Multicolored Eyes
Multicolored eyes are used to describe when a cat has two colors within the same eye. It is captivating and truly unique! Sometimes, the eyes will have separate oval shapes with one color near the pupil, then blending into another color. Or the color will be divided into multiple sections within one eye, with a quarter or half of the eye being one color and the rest being another. Occasionally, one eye will have a consistent color while the other eye will have multicolored hues.
In addition to their fur, a cat’s eye color adds to their uniqueness. Whether a cat’s eye color is dark or light depends on the degree of melanin activity in their pigment-producing cells. All kittens are born with blue eyes, but their eye color will change or remain the same as they mature.
The most common cat eye colors are green, hazel, golden, and amber. Rare eye colors include copper, two-toned eyes, and multicolored eyes.
It’s important to remember that eye color is just one aspect of a cat’s overall health. Changes in eye color after 12 weeks of age or sudden changes in eye color at any age can indicate various eye conditions. It’s crucial to have your cat’s eyes checked by a veterinarian if you notice any changes or suspect they are experiencing eye problems.
Now that you know more about your cat’s mesmerizing eyes, take a closer look and appreciate the unique beauty they possess.