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.
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 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
- 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 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.