Our cats’ eyes are the windows to their souls, revealing our feline’s every emotion, whether it’s the deep love they have for us or their disdain for the things we’ve done. They might be blue or brown, yellow or green, or a range of shades in between, but how much do you really know about your cat’s eye color? These fascinating facts about feline eye colors are likely to surprise you!
Cat Eye Color is Determined by Melanin
Just like humans, the color of a cat’s eyes is determined by the amount of a pigment called melanin. Both layers of a cat’s iris contain cells that produce melanin, called melanocytes. The more melanocytes a cat’s iris contains and the more active they are, the darker its eyes will be. The darkest cats’ eyes are a rich coppery color. They never get truly brown or black like people’s do.
Blue-Eyed Cats Have No Melanin in Their Eyes at All
Blue-eyed cats don’t have melanin in their eyes as cats with copper, gold, yellow, or green eyes do. Light refracts from their eyes’ rounded surfaces, causing the eyes to appear blue, much like the edges of clear windows look blue.
All Kittens Have Blue Eyes
Regardless of what color their eyes end up, all cats are born with blue eyes. That’s because the melanocytes in their eyes haven’t started producing the color-producing melanin yet. You’ll need to wait about four to six weeks to see any color in your kitten’s eyes and around four months to see its true adult color revealed.
Some Cats Have Different Colored Eyes
It’s not unusual for some cats to have two eyes of different colors. Some cats even have multiple different colors within the same eye. No matter how the different colors appear, having eyes of different colors is called heterochromia. This occurs when the melanin that creates color either reaches just one eye or only certain parts of the eye. Heterochromia doesn’t impact a cat’s vision or health in any way.
Eye Color Is Rarely Linked to Fur Color
A cat with dark-colored fur is typically no more likely to have dark-colored eyes than one with lighter fur. That’s because different genes control fur color and eye color. However, as with most rules, there is one exception. White cats are more likely to have blue eyes than pigmented eyes. That’s because the white fur gene is so dominant that it masks all other genes dictating color, including the gene for eye color. That’s why white cats are more likely to have blue eyes than cats of any other color.
Changing Eye Color Can Be a Health Concern
If you see your cat’s eyes changing color, seek medical advice. It could be a sign your cat is ill. For example, cats’ eyes can turn orange with inflammation. A cat’s eyes may darken with red blood cell build-up, perhaps caused by feline leukemia. A vet can confirm whether there’s anything to worry about.
One thing is for sure — there’s definitely more to the color of your cat’s peepers than meets the eye! Next time you’re gazing into your cat’s eyes, remember to take a moment to think about how incredible they really are.