As nocturnal predators, cat’s eyes can detect the slightest movement when it’s practically dark. Cats, not only able to increase and decrease their pupils but also their eyes radiate at night and give them glowing appearance. Yes, they also glow in the dark, which is why you can see cat with horrifying red eyes in the night
But today, we are not going to talk about the function or how the eyes work. Instead, we’re going to talk about their one their most beautiful features: the eyes.
Most cats have hazel eyes. But the domestic cats have a wide range of eye colors, from blue, green, yellow, orange, copper, gold, and more. But where did they get those colors from? Here is a simple explanation for you about the reasons behind the beauty of cat’s color.
Reasons Why Cats Have Beautiful Eye Colors
- Melanin and iris: the main reason behind the colors
Just like any other creatures, cat’s eye color comes from genetic. Gene determines the cat’s levels of melanin or amino acid that controls pigment color for eyes, skin, and fur. Melanin is important to determine how dark the color will be.
It is an iris, a part of the eye around the pupil that named after Goddess of The Rainbow in Greek, that plays an important role in the cat’s eye color. Iris has two layers; stroma and epithelium, that carry the pigment-producing cells or also known as melanocytes. In the stroma, the melanocytes are loosely arranged while on the other hand in the epithelium are more tightly packaged.
The cat’s eye color will become more intense if the pigment-producing cells are very active. The cat with more active melanocytes will have bright golden eyes, for example, while the cat with less active melanocytes may have the pale lemon eyes.
- Kitten and blue eyes color
Majority of adult cat’s eye colors usually exists in the spectrum of gold, green, yellow, orange, brown, and copper. But how about the kitten?
Do you know that most of kittens are born with cloudy shade of blue eyes? Kittens are born with blue eyes because their melanocytes have not started developing yet. Most of the newborn kitten is also blind and deaf, which is why they are super dependent on their mother. But after seven to ten days of age, their eyes will gradually start to open and show those pretty blue eyes. The blue eyes may stay that way or change color after 7 weeks or after the melanocytes start to work properly, and their true eye color usually appears after 4 months old.
- The crystal clear blue
Blue-eyed cats, either in a kitten or in an adult cat, are pretty and also interesting. Not only blue, but it looks kind of crystal clear with a blue green-ish shade around the edges. How could it be that astonishing? Although we see them as blue, it is actually not blue, but a lack of color combined with a refraction of light. Rather than a function of pigmentation, the reason for the ‘color’ is that the cats with blue eyes have no pigment cells in their iris and their shape of the eye is round. The light that hit their eyes refracts through the rounded surface, and produce the crystal clear blue eye color in cats.
- Colors of fur, eyes, and deafness
Is it true that cats with white fur and blue eyes are always deaf? Well, not all of them. Some are and some are not. However, a cat with white fur and blue eyes are more likely tend to be deaf rather than those with the same fur but with green or gold eyes.
- Odd eyes: different eye in one pair
Another special case in cat’s eye is heterochromia or odd eyes. Odd eyes is a condition that can happen in some other animals, including us! Odd eyes means both two eyes have a different color from each other, one eye is blue and one eye is gold or green encircled by yellow. Breed of cats that commonly have odd eyes are turkish van, turkish angora, sphynx, persian, oriental shorthair, japanese bobtail, and khao manee. For specific, odd eyes can happen when a dominant white gene or a white spotting gene blocks the distribution and concentration of natural pigments during the development.
Remember about the cat’s glowing eyes? This is because they have tapetum lucidum and additional membrane called the third eyelid, both are important part that creates the brightness and glowing appearance in cat’s eyes in the night. In the odd-eyed cat case, they glow two separate eye colors. Their eyes have a different composition of tapetum lucidium which results in differing color. So, if a pair of glowing red eyes already startled you, wait until you see one glowing red eye floating in the dark.
Again about deafness, there is a common misconception that all odd-eyed cats are deaf in one ear, usually on the same side with the blue eye. This is not true because about up to 60 percent until 70 percent of odd-eyed cats are not deaf at all. Besides, 10 until 20 percent of cats without heterochromia are counted to born deaf or become deaf as they grow older because of feline aging process.
Yes, odd eyed-cat looks unnatural but undoubtedly beautiful at the same time.
That is all we need to know about the reason behind the cat’s eyes color. From here we know that cat’s eyes are extraordinary. We now know that kittens are born blind and deaf, but as they grow older or physically mature, their eyes gradually start to gain vision and remarkably able to change the color.
However, if you’re having a grown-up cat that suddenly changes their eye color, it could be a sign for several health issues. The best way to know exactly what’s happening in your cat’s eye is to consult to the veterinarian as soon as possible.