For the first week or two of a kitten’s life, you may notice that you won’t see their eyes at all as newborn kittens are born blind, and with their eyes shut. However, as your new kitten begins to develop and reveal their adorable peepers, you will notice that they have beautiful blue eyes. There are no exceptions to this with any newborn kitten as they are all born with blue eyes.
As beautiful as these blue-eye kittens are, you may wonder why so many adult cats have varying eye colors and why they no longer have bright blue eyes. As pet parents, or specifically kitten parents, you may be curious about a lot of things when raising your new addition such as: Why do kittens’ eyes change color? When Do Kittens’ Eyes Change Color? Find all of your answers below and more!
Why Are Kittens Born With Blue Eyes?
Here’s the thing: the blue tint in their eyes is an illusion. Kittens are born with their eyes sealed shut as they will be sensitive and unable to process light from birth. Because of this, the pigments have not yet reacted to the light which will influence the kitten’s eyes’ final color. This means that their eyes will need time to develop and adjust.
So it’s entirely probable that their adult color will be a drastic change to their original baby blue eye color. Although this doesn’t mean that some cats’ eyes won’t stay blue, however, most kitten’s eyes do develop into the light green or yellow color we are most familiar with.
When Will The Kitten’s Eye Color Change?
A kitten’s eyes will open anywhere between one to two weeks after emerging out of its mother’s womb. From here their eyes will need time to develop the melanin needed to determine what color their eyes will be. This generally can take up to three months with a definitive color being vaguely apparent at around seven weeks. It is also worth noting that before the final hue, several other color flecks may briefly appear.
Why Do Kittens’ Eyes Change Color?
Your kitten’s eye color will change when they begin to open their eyes and expose the pigments to light. Around the same time, the kitten develops their vision and ability to interpret sensory input also as they rely less and less on their mother’s assistance.
The Science Behind The Color Change
Present in your cat’s iris are pigment-producing cells called Melanocytes. Once the kitten opens their eyes the Melanocytes will develop the pigment cells known as Melanin which will ultimately determine the color and intensity of the mature cats’ eyes. The volume of these pigmented cells will also affect the color of the kittens’ eyes. The number of pigment cells boils down to the kittens’ DNA structure, passed down from their parents.
What Each Kitten Eye Color Change Means:
A kitten’s eye color doesn’t necessarily mean too much however, they can imply the kitten’s connection to specific breeds it may be related to. For example, a kitten who keeps its blue eyes and a lighter shade of fur can imply their genetic connection to colorpoint cats or even albino cats. Below I have broken down each eye color and why a kitten may develop this particular shade.
As mentioned above it is possible for your cat’s eyes to remain blue. This is due to little or no melanin being produced which can make the eyes appear blue. Iris’ (the colored part of an eye) are actually colorless in blue-eyed cats, but the reflected light around the edge will give the eyes a blue hue.
Breeds Of Cats With Blue Eyes:
White cats and colorpoint cats are known to keep their baby blue eyes into adulthood due to a masking of pigment or dominant gene. Colorpoint cats especially, such as Siamese or Albino, will have the absence of pigment due to a spontaneous or genetic mutation carried on a recessive gene. However, it is not uncommon for a white cat to have green or varying other eye colors.
There are other breeds of cats that have developed with the Siamese as a major genetic factor which include: Ragdoll, Birman, Tonkinese, Javanese, and Balinese. These breeds of cats also share a very pale and light fur color in comparison to other breeds likely due to their lack of melanin. Interestingly, Tonkinese cats can also develop an aqua or light teal color which looks like a green/blue hue.
It can also be noted that cats with a darker coat color will have different colored eyes and therefore a more significant amount of melanin in comparison to colorpoint or white cats. As mentioned above, how much melanin a cat produces depends on its breed and parents and not only does this affect eye color but also fur color.
Albinism In Cats
Despite both having very little melanin, it is a fact that albino cats are not the same as white cats. Albino cats are very uncommon, and only take up about 2% of the feline population. Whereas a white cat can develop other eye colors, an albino kitten’s eyes change from a blue to a pale blue with a pinkish tint to it or even just pink.
Having said this, pink is not the definitive color of the cat’s iris but is actually this shade due to the flooding of light reflecting the color of the blood vessels within the eye. An albino cat’s skin also lacks pigmentation and appears pink due to light reflecting against blood flow.
Odd Eyed Cats
Amongst other breeds, white cats can have Heterochromia Iridum or ‘odd eyes’, a feature where one eye is a different color from the other. Having said this, Heterochromia isn’t just where one eye differs from the other, this is a condition to which there are three types:
- Complete heterochromia: This is the more common form where one eye is a different color from the other. As an example, a cat with this form of heterochromia will have one blue eye and one green eye.
- Sectoral heterochromia: Where a single iris shows two or more colors.
- Central heterochromia: This is when two colored circles appear around the pupil one after the other.
This striking feature can also occur in humans and dogs, although the cat’s eye colors will always be lighter as cats do not tend to have dark brown eyes. However, in cats, heterochromia may use a different combination of eye colors.
This condition may be passed down through genetics where the dominant white gene blocks the strength and dispersal of the pigments needed to change the cat’s eye color. It can also be the complete opposite, where this happens due to the lack of the white dominant or white-spotted gene.
It is also worth noting that heterochromia can also develop if a cat sustains an injury or illness. In addition to this, it may also occur as a side effect of medication or even inflammatory conditions
Golden brown/Orange Eyes
It is often that people misinterpret intense orange eyes for brown eyes in cats however the darkest shade a cats’ eyes can reach is a very dark orange or even copper color. This is because the amount of melanin these cats have is particularly high.
Cats’ eyes can also develop into a yellow color, although depending on the melanocytes these shades can range from a pale flaxen-like tone to an intimidating, bold lemon color and the same principle applies to shades of orange. Many would agree that a stare-off from a yellow or orange-eyed cat can be quite an unnerving experience and far different from the gaze of a kitten with baby blues, but don’t let that put you off owning the loveable fluff ball.
It is more common to see a black cat with green eyes but that doesn’t mean other cats do not develop this eye color. After all, media often presents cats with green eyes as this shade is more commonly connected with the feline species.
A cat with green eyes has little melanin compared to other cats. You may believe that a black cat has more melanin due to its dark fur however, these two instances when paired, can be unrelated. This is because genetics can also dictate the eye color and coat color of an adult cat.
Do Adult Cat’s Eyes Color Change?
It is normal for most kittens’ eyes to change colors or show flecks of other shades when developing. However, it is important to know that, as a grown cat, their eye color should remain the same. Therefore, any change to the color could suggest a potential problem in your cat’s health such as an eye infection or something a little more serious.
Health Problems Indicated By A Change In Eye Color
It’s important to understand that a change in eye color in adult cats can indicate the onset of a health problem. By acknowledging this, and knowing what to look for, you could prevent any problems from developing further by contacting your vet and getting the appropriate treatment and care. Listed below are some of the most common issues that can occur which can be identified by examining your cat’s eyes regularly.
A reddened conjunctival membrane, excessive tearing, or weepy eyes can suggest that your kitten may have conjunctivitis. Due to discomfort and pain, your kitten may also squint and keep its eyes closed.
A cloudy or unusual blueish color in your cat’s eye could be a symptom of glaucoma. This is where pressure is increased on the eye and if left untreated can be extremely painful and can result in Uveitis Also, if this is left untreated it can also cause vision loss.
Uveitis is a terrible condition that can also lead to a loss of vision and can occur in both eyes. Uveitis is an inflammation of any of the components which make up the Uvea, this includes the choroid, iris, and ciliary body.
Both of these conditions can also be recognized by identifying the following signs: Your kitten keeps their eyes shut consistently, they have runny eyes leaving dark tear stains, watery eyes, persistent squinting due to light sensitivity, and/or excessive blinking. Damage to the two layers of your kitten’s iris can be a cause of these conditions and will not be helped if they continue to paw at the eye. The last thing to add to a nasty eye infection is a scratched eye!
If any of the above symptoms should become apparent seek assistance from your veterinarian immediately to prevent further harm and discomfort in your cat. If caught early both of these conditions can be treated effectively reducing the chances of permanent damage.
Protecting You Kitten’s Eyes
Signs Of Eye Problems In Kittens
Young kittens will not have fully developed instincts. They’ll still be learning to use the litter box, fighting with any siblings, and will generally spend their days stumbling around exploring and tuning their parkour skills. This means they’re likely to find themselves in troubling situations which could leave them with injury or potential eye infections.
You will be able to recognize any issues your kitten may have by looking out for symptoms similar to those listed above. Common signs may be redness, swelling, watery eyes, pawing, squinting, change in appetite, and more obvious signals however, one important thing to look for is an abnormal change in eye color. Your kitten’s eyes change color subtly over time but if a serious health problem is on the horizon look to see if the eye is cloudy or even a milky color.
How To Prevent Eye Problems
Good news! There are simple steps to making sure your kitten is safe and well at home. First of all, keep up to date with your vaccinations. These shots are vital to making sure your kitten develops into the fierce and loveable cat they are meant to be.
Second of all, make sure their living space is kept clean and tidy at all times and there is no kitty crowding. This is not only good for your kitten’s physical health but it also helps to reduce any anxiety and stress they may experience. Reducing a cat’s stress will also influence how they heal should they run into any physical illness or injuries.
Just to be safe, it doesn’t hurt to keep an eye on your kitten’s eyes. If there comes a time where you notice your kitten has minor versions of the symptoms above you can take the time to clean any weeping or soothe any redness.
You should always consult your vet first, though in the meantime you can remove any excess discharge by using a cotton wool ball dipped in water and gently wiping it away. Simply use the cotton ball and delicately wipe the discharge away from the eye from the corner outward. Unless recommended, stay away from any fluids available over the counter.
All Said And Done
No one can claim to be a kitten eye color predictor but hopefully, with the information provided here, we have answered any burning questions you may have had. Whether that was: when do kittens eyes change color, why do kittens eyes change color, any health problems signaled by a change in eye color, and even what that eye color may change into! The most important thing is to appreciate and cherish the kitten years in all their glory and adorableness.