Published by: Ingrid King. Last Updated on: January 25, 2023 by Crystal Uys
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.
3 Health Issues Related to 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 symptom 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.
3. 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 congenital condition, or can be acquired 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.
About the author
Ingrid King is an award-winning author, former veterinary hospital manager, and veterinary journalist who is passionate about cats.
My 3 year old all white scottishfold has blue eyes. His eyes have always been slightly different. His left eye is a more richer blue tone and his right is more grayish blue. Recently, I noticed his right eye is more gray with a subtle green tone to it. I take him to regular vet visits and checkups and the vet has never mentioned anything and he looks at their eyes as part of the checkup. I’m not sure if I should contact my vet bc the right eye seems to have changed a little more in color. He’s acting normal, eating, playing. No personality changes there so i don’t. I just spent 3,000 on dental work for him and my other cat and I do have insurance but there are several sights I’ve searched that all give different reasons from not a big deal to fatal so I’m lost. Any ideas?
It sounds as though it is most likely a benign change, but any change is always worth checking. The vet may not have noticed any problems (which is a good sign) but they also won’t remember exactly what they looked like previously.
There are some conditions that could be problematic so we would recommend a check up so the vet can perform a more thorough ocular exam, which wouldn’t ordinarily be done as part of a routine examination (checking pupil reflexes, ocular pressure, retinal exam etc). It would be really useful if they have a photo of how the eyes used to look.
Again, there is most likely to be no cause for concern, but with anything to do with the eyes, if there is a problem, early detection can make a huge difference.
Best of luck! 🙂
My cat Koopa has green eyes she is a calico, and a he’s five years old her one eye is turned marble color it’s brown and spots of green the brown is taking over, the vet gave eye drops but has not helped vet wants blood work should she have blood work or see a cat eye Dr. ? Both are very expensive what one do you think is most important to do first
We’re sorry to hear about Koopa’s eye issues. Though it may be better to visit an eye specialist (ophthalmologist), please keep in mind that the specialist may also request bloodwork in order to help reach a diagnosis for your cat’s eye woes. If you have pet insurance, you can check with them to see if they can help offset a portion or all the fees associated with these services. Good luck. – Dr. Luqman Javed (DVM)
Hey, I’m not sure if this is normal for my cat but so she’s always had green eyes. Sometimes they look yellow but that’s not the point, I came home today to see my cats right eye have whitish green or yellow discharge from it. And I saw that her eye whites were more red than usual, like more red veins. This has happened before so I wasn’t concerned until more discharge came and I looked at her eye again, just to see a ring of blue not in the eye but right where that black line should be. Instead of the black line, it was kinda a shade of light blue and it’s just getting worse, more discharge and more red. I’ve searched and asked everyone, her eye colour isn’t changing, but the outline is.
The first change that you describe in your cat’s eye sounds like what we call conjunctivitis, which means inflammation of the conjunctiva (the transparent/whitish layer that covers you cat’s eyeball and inside of the eyelids).
The black line is probably the pupil, the slit that is located right in the middle of your cat’s iris (the colored area, green in your cat).
If the pupil changes color (blueish) it could be because something behind it has changed, maybe the lens (meaning a cataract), the vitreous or the retina.
A blueish change in the color of the pupil could also mean that there is something in front of your cat’s pupil which could be fibrin or pus, for example. This could be caused by infection, trauma, cat scratch….
Either way, your cat should be seen by a veterinarian to discover what is causing her eye to look that way and what sort of treatment if any is indicated.
Best of luck!
I have a 2 year old tabby whose eyes have recently changed to pitch black with a yellowish green ring around it! Now here’s the weirdest part! He still has his normal color eyes which is either light green or yellow but they keep changing from his normal color to pitch black and that’s so strange to me! What could that mean?
Do your cat’s eyes seem pitch black in dimly lit rooms or dark places? Your cats eyes will appear as such when their pupils dilate! This happens in low lighting; the pupils will widen to allow more light into your cat’s eyes so that they can see better. In such places, their eyes will go from their normal slit-like appearance to a round, pitch-black appearance.
Once they are in well-lit conditions again, your cats eyes will once again revert to their usual appearance as the pupils constrict.
If however you notice your cat’s eyes always staying dilated, or uneven (one eye appears dilated/pitch black but the other appears slit-like), please see your vet right away.
Hi! What you said is correct! The answer is the first things you said! Not one but both of his eyes change at the same time then they change back to their usual color at the same time as well! I assume cats eyes are very sensitive to light! Thank you for your response.
My cat’s eye color have always randomly changed. His eyes are usually golden yellow, and switch between a green or a darker yellow/orange. But he’s never seemed to have any vision problems, I got him when he was 6 months, he’s now 7 years old. Should I be concerned?
You can check out this article for some more info on this topic: https://petkeen.com/do-cats-eyes-change-color/
I have a 10/11 yr old Siamese who has always had blue eyes and is indoors only. Her eyes are now green and the whites of the eye are even green. She’s not eating, barely has any output bathroom wise, fell off the bed and just laid there and had to be picked up. She gets tired walking from one room to the other and has to stop and take a break, she’s barely eating and wants to lay in the closet. The other 2 cats in the home walk up to her, and walk away. What do you suggest?
I am so sorry to hear this.
Your cat is very unwell. Please take her to the vet ASAP.
we´ve a persian cat, more or less 8 years and we noticed yesterday the left eye, the external part, changed colour, from the usual white into red/brown. Does anyone have an idea what can be?
Many thanks for your support.
I have a 10 month old traditional Blue Bicolor Ragdoll. Both parents I imported from Europe. She has an immaculate pedigree with no mink in her lines. She has always had the most amazing Deep brilliant Blue eyes. Over the weekend we noticed she had watery blood on her bottom. After talking with our vet we got her started on antibiotics thinking it was a UTI. Over the next 24hr she got worse so we rushed her into emergency surgery. She has a infected uterus. In the car on our way there I noticed her eyes were green. I am still trying to find answers to how this could have happened. I hope once she is better they will go back to Blue. She will have to be spayed so will no longer be able to be a breeder but her life is way more important to us. She is like our child. It’s crazy since normally this happens to older cats who have went through many cycles of heat without mating. She has only went through 1 heat cycle. She is still to young to mate and her future Sire is being flew in from China so had to wait on him anyway’s. If anyone knows how to prevent this that would be super helpful for breeders that breed to preserve the particular breed they love.
Regarding the eye color – blue eyes don’t have melanin so can’t really change colour but they can appear to do so with illness, injury or different lighting. You can check out this article for some more info on that: https://petkeen.com/do-cats-eyes-change-color/.
Do you want to know how to prevent an infected uterus?
4 years ago after flying to Washington state from Hawaii, my 9 year old cat had a change of his left eye. It started turning brown so I took him to the vet. Now it’s very dark chocolate brown and the vets haven’t a clue why. I’d like to send a photo but don’t know how. Maggie Wood
I just was reading about my son’s cat. It could be a benign condition called melanosis. Which doesn’t affect health, comfort or vision.
Wow, I moved from Wisconsin to Renton Washington 6 weeks ago. My cat accidentally got outside for about 4 hours. Yesterday my husband and I realized Pepper’s irises have faded in color almost white. I haven’t seen a veterinarian yet. I just thought I would search online and I happen to see your post.
My cat “Bunny” is an 18yr old Siamese-Manx, She was born very light taupe with grey points & a blaze down to her heart shape nose.( lavender?) Her eyes were the most beautiful mosaic mixture of blues, 2 years ago she injured her knee & I found out she has spinal issues & bad knees. She walks like an elderly person w/o a walker, she inhereted tiny delegate paws & bones of her Siamese mom & the heavy muscular hindquarters of the Manx with the short front legs & longer back ones it creates curvature of the spine. Sadly her body structure doesn’t match & that along with her age has developed arthritis & didc disease. ( Funny w a short leg, I have simular spinal issues) Her first incident March 2020, she was 16+ yrs & at the time of her second accident,. & while exiting the cutdown 2″ high litterbox side, she caught her foot & yanked her leg & back ( I am sure she became agitated & make it worse). March 2020 She was put on antibiotics & Gabapentin, I was also told she was going blind, I honestly hadn’t noticed her pupils were not changing w light diff. ( Feel bad about that) But what became very apparent is her eyes changed rapidly from mosaic blue to dark moss Green. Her pupils are permanently dialated & I know she has some vision she moves her head if I move around her face, but she misses small bits of food etc. I asked the Vet about her eyes & she has no clue & didn’t find it concerning….it is 1.5 yrs later & her eyes are the same, however I took her off Gabapentin after first month & she is on 4 drops 500 mcg CBD tincture 3x filtered morning & night. Do you have any idea what could cause this?
I am so glad to see the comments about the tuxedos and changing eye colors. I have a 1.5 yr old tuxie (she is my 2nd tux) and her eyes are green, but sometimes mainly the center part change to an amber like gold orange color. Then they change back to green. It is so strange I was worried at first, (our other tuxie did not have this change). But I took her to the vet about 2 months ago and they did lab work and everything was fine. She did have an upset tummy due to stress when we adopted her little brother and I had tried some food toppers that were too rich for her tummy. Maybe this is a tuxedo thing! Our new kitten is a ginger and he had blue eyes which I loved, but theyve change to this green color but is it so light green like mint green. They are beautiful. Love me my kitties. 🙂
My 18yr Siamese/Manx female “Bunny” has disc disease, & arthritis in her knees, ( she starts to down elevator) w her hind, standing in her box doing business)I use puppy pads. She is on Raw chicken ( frozen) from Darwin’s the last 8+ yrs. Her eyes changed w her second injury to lift knee. From mosaic sky blues to “dark mossy murky greens”. My Vet had no idea & was not concerned! Also her eyes have been perm. dialated a yr or more, she has reduced vision but not fully blind,she does everything normally getting around the house, but misses pieces of food & she stares at the wall, Lol my bedroom standing lamp tends to flicker. ( I thought she was seeing unseen visitors at my bdrm door, etc for a while then realized what she was watching)Lol. Hope your Furry one I’d doing fine now Best wishes & Blessed be…Ellen
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?
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?
My kitten’s eyes do the same. We got her when she was 6 weeks old and by week 8ish we noticed that her eyes go from vibrant green to a more yellow hazel from day to day. I am going to bring it up to the vet next time we are due for a checkup.
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.
I would be sure to mention this to your vet at her next regular check up.
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
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?
I would get it checked out – always better to be safe!
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?
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.
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.
I wonder if it’s a stress color change. My newly adopted calico also had bright copper eyes when I adopted her. She’s been with us for just over a month and her eyes are also now yellow green. She has also gained almost pound, she was underweight at the shelter, and is eating very nice cat food, mostly Fussi cat chicken shreds.
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
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?
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.
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.
My cat miska is the same! We adopted her when she was 10, and we’ve only had her for 1 1/2 year, and her eyes go from green to yellow when in the sunlight and she’s also a tuxedo. I think, since ive seen other comments say the same, that it may be linked to the fact that they’re tuxedos, but idk
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.
Thanks for the post.
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)
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.
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.