What Does It Mean If Your Cat’s Eyes Change Color?

cat-eye-color

It is said that the eyes are the window to the soul, and I think that’s especially true when it comes to the beautiful eyes of our feline friends. But did you know that your cat’s eyes can also be a window to her health? Changes in a cat’s eye color can be an indicator of a potentially serious health problem.

Normal cat eye color

Normal cat eyes cover a range of different colors. The majority of kittens are born with blue eyes. Between the age of three to eight weeks, kittens’ eyes begin to change to colors ranging from green, yellow and orange to amber, copper and brown. This color change is usually complete by the time a kitten is three months old.

Odd-eyed cats

Some cats have different colored eyes, also known as heterochromia. This is not unusual, and is most often seen in white cats, but can be seen in any cat that possesses the white spotting gene, which is the same gene that creates a white blaze across the face, a white bib, tuxedo pattern, or dappled paws. Cats with blue eyes have a higher rate of hearing issues, especially if they have a white coat, but not all blue-eyed or odd-eyed cats will be deaf.

Eye color changes in adult cats

Changes in eye color are often a sign of infection, but can be a sign of more serious health issues.

Uveitis

Uveitis is the inflammation of the uveal tract of the eye, which consists of the iris, ciliary body and choroid. It can be an isolated eye problem, but more often, it is a sympton of a number of other conditions, including

    • trauma to the eye
    • bacterial or fungal infection
    • viral disesase such as feline herpes, FeLV, FIV, or FIP
    • metastatic tumors
    • diabetes
    • high blood pressure

Symptoms include red eye, cloudy eye, light sensitivity, squinting, rubbing at the eye, and protrusion of the third eye lid. If you notice any of these symptoms, your cat needs to be seen by your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a condition of increased pressure in the eye, which will cause vision loss if left untreated.Typical symptoms are a cloudy, white, milky eye color. Glaucoma can also be a cause of uveitis.

Portosystemic Liver Shunt

While copper colored eyes are normal in some cats, and even highly desired by some breeders, they can also be an indicator of a portosystemic shunt, or liver shunt. It can be a congential condition, or can be aquired later in life. Not all cats with liver shunts have copper colored eyes.

Sudden changes in eye color require immediate veterinary attention

Eye color changes in adult cats are always a cause for concern. If your cat’s eye color changes suddenly or over a period of time, consult with your veterinarian as soon as possible.

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19 Comments on What Does It Mean If Your Cat’s Eyes Change Color?

  1. Jill
    July 4, 2020 at 10:15 pm (2 days ago)

    I have 3 cats. My cat hates being picked up . it takes my husband and I to get them into their carriers. I put treats and a towel in it for them.
    I’ve had cats all my life and to my knowledge I have never heard a cat that likes 2 be in a carrier.
    My cry and I know its sad but its 4 there own good.
    I would deff get your cat to a vet cause that really sounds concerning.
    U also said u never take the cat to the vet unless its a emergency.
    Do u get your cat shots?

    Reply
  2. dakoda
    July 4, 2020 at 9:20 am (2 days ago)

    my cat sage is 1 year old and ive noticed that her eyes shift from gold to bright green in different lighting and i haven’t been able to find anything online for why this happens? ive had her since she was 3 weeks old because i found her abandoned and ive cared for her since then but ive noticed this ever since her adult eye color came in and im not really sure what causes this?

    Reply
  3. Kent Thornell
    May 14, 2020 at 6:10 pm (2 months ago)

    I have a 17 year old Snowshoe Siamese. Her sapphire bue eyes started to change to a paler blue a few years ago. I paid no attention to it and she has been healthy with the paler color for at least 3-4 years now. However, someone commented that it could indicate a health problem. Is this something I really need to be concerned about? She has no signs of stress or illness and appears/behaves normally.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      May 15, 2020 at 5:35 am (2 months ago)

      I would be sure to mention this to your vet at her next regular check up.

      Reply
  4. Brandi
    April 22, 2020 at 3:00 pm (2 months ago)

    I adopted a stray about three years ago who’s always had bright green eyes, but lately I’ve been noticing that her eyes change to a dark amber color. They always go back to green after a bit, but I’m concerned something might be going on that I need to get checked out

    Reply
  5. Patti
    September 16, 2019 at 2:14 pm (10 months ago)

    I have an adult Norwegian Forest female about 5 years old. She has been with me for 4 yrs. and is strictly an indoor cat. I have no other pets except for the tetras in a fish tank.
    She had green eyes with flecks of brown until about 1.5 yrs ago. Three of the brown flecks in her left eye started to expand to the point that her left eye is 2/3 brown and her right eye is still green. I’ve not taken her to the vet for this, but her groomer said it might be illness-related. But my cat doesn’t appear unhealthy at all. She’s still her sweet, loving self with no other peculiar features or signs. Should I be concerned?

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      September 17, 2019 at 5:13 am (10 months ago)

      I would get it checked out – always better to be safe!

      Reply
    • Mike
      October 1, 2019 at 12:57 am (9 months ago)

      Our dilute calico was born with two green eyes. Just like yours, one eye gradually changed from green to an Amber color. It started as an Amber spot or stripe, and very slowly changed to an Amber eye. She is 5 now and seems to be perfectly healthy. She is a little strange at times , but also lovable, on her own terms. She doesn’t appear to have any health issues whatsoever. But she does not like to be picked up and is tramatized by being put into a carrier. So, we decided not to take her to a vet unless it is a complete emergency. Did you ever get any answers on why your cats she changed colors?

      Reply
    • Molly
      January 23, 2020 at 7:39 pm (5 months ago)

      The same thing happened with my cat. We took her to an animal eye specialist and she said that the cats vision was still good and her eye looked otherwise healthy. She recommended taking her back annually to watch for changes.

      Reply
  6. Linda
    July 14, 2019 at 5:57 pm (12 months ago)

    We adopted a one-year-old long haired black cat from a local rescue group. When she came to us, her eyes were a bright coppery-orange orange color. She’s been with us for two months now, and her eyes are very yellow-green now. She shows no signs of any issues.

    Reply
  7. Lisa
    January 16, 2019 at 9:06 pm (1 year ago)

    I was interested to read this as my one year old cat-he’s a tuxedo bobtail-his eyes keep changing too! When I got him around four mths old, his eyes were gold/copper colour but they have since changed to yellow, sometimes really gold other days light yellow. I don’t mind as long as he is healthy but I miss his pretty copper coloured eyes! I wonder if diet makes a difference too-he is raw fed

    Reply
  8. Pamela Lisdahl
    July 13, 2018 at 10:30 pm (2 years ago)

    My Tipi is a 16 year old Ragamuffin. He has had the most beautiful blue eyes as long as I have had him. His eye color is still blue but has faded and in the past few weeks it he appears to have lost his vision. Because of his advanced age, my hubby and I are just keeping a close eye on him. He has been indoors always unless supervised in the back yard. He navigates pretty well. Moves slowly so barriers are more brushed up against. He has a history of kidney failure and inflammatory bowel disease, diagnosed three years ago. I have opted for high quality cat food and he has done well. He had labs prior to some dental surgery a year ago and the vet said at that time the blood work was perfect. I will attribute that to the high quality cat food. Currently, he is still grooming, eating, drinking, peeing and pooping. At his last vet visit, the vet did note a significant heart murmur. We are opting to watchful waiting at this point. The vision issues have been more evident to me in the last 2 weeks. Not sure why I’m writing. Email contact with the vet and she offers many options, heart specialist, ophthalmology, etc. I’m not inclined to put my baby through this stress. He can still find the litter box so that is not an issue. I’m retired so can keep a close watch on him and know his habits. Do you have any insights?

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      July 14, 2018 at 5:51 am (2 years ago)

      Based on your description, it sounds like he’s managing well. I’ve always felt that just because we have all these options available today in veterinary medicine (specialists, advanced care), that doesn’t mean they’re right for every cat and for every cat parent. Watching and waiting while maintaining good quality of life can absolutely be the right choice.

      Reply
  9. Diane Y.
    July 11, 2018 at 7:59 am (2 years ago)

    I have a tuxedo Cymric (longhaired Manx) whose eyes are 90% of the time green- however every once in a while, they turn gold. My daughter has a tuxedo American longhair whose eyes change all the time- you can actually watch them change! His eyes are gold most of the time, but change to green. Both cats are healthy.

    Reply
  10. Casey
    May 16, 2018 at 2:12 pm (2 years ago)

    Sometimes, I love to see my cat’s eye very closely because of it feels like I see all the beautiful universe, I mean like the picture capture from Nasa Spitzer Space Telescope, thanks for this article and definitely bookmark it for future use if something wrong happens to my cats. Normally when I play with my cats, when the pupil is getting bigger and bigger, it is actually to remind about an attack mode.

    Reply
  11. Sue Brandes
    May 14, 2018 at 6:52 pm (2 years ago)

    Thanks for the post.

    Reply
  12. Maria T
    May 14, 2018 at 1:45 pm (2 years ago)

    My parents took care of a kitten, about 7-8 weeks old at the time, they saved her from being drowned (the rest of the litter was, so I heard). She was a ginger cat, with a white spot on her chest, and a white tip-of-the-tail. When both my parents had died, this cat (named Jennie) came to stay with us, she was about 14 yrs old at the time. The next year when I took her to the vets for vaccination and check-up. the veterinarian said she was so cute, the fur looked amazing, and “I can tell by her eyes that she is an old lady”. I have never heard of that before, so I asked, and the vet told me that in many/most cats at the age of 12 or older, the eyes that might have had a solid color, becomes more of a marble….. Jennie had yellow-amber eyes, but I don’t know if I paid that much attention the her eye colors while she was still living with my folks. And our next cat, Kajsa with stunning green eyes like emeralds, only got to be 8 yrs : ( Has anyone else heard of this phenomenon? (I live in Sweden)

    Reply
    • Jessica Levine
      May 3, 2020 at 10:37 am (2 months ago)

      We adopted our short-haired Persian in December- he will turn 2 this week. He is an indoor cat with amber eyes, but when he sits in his window seat, or perches in a window sill, his eyes turn this incredible light, ice blue color- then go back to amber when he’s out of the sun. They change colors in a second-everyday, many times a day. The vet said he is healthy, and his eyes are fine. He just has incredible eyes, I guess. Maybe they will change when he gets older since he is still young.

      Reply
  13. Janine
    May 14, 2018 at 8:11 am (2 years ago)

    Thanks for this information. I only knew about cats eyes changing colors only as kittens. I had no idea it could happen when they are older and it being a sign of a health problem.

    Reply

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