Are Grey Eyed Cats Rare?


Grey eyed cats are an uncommon and intriguing occurrence in the feline world. While most cats have green, yellow, or blue eyes, grey eyes are a rare and distinctive trait. The unique coloration often leads owners and admirers to wonder, just how rare are grey eyed cats?

In this article, we’ll explore the prevalence of grey eyes in cats, what causes this distinctive eye shade, and some interesting facts about grey eyed cat breeds. We’ll also look at how to care for cats with grey eyes, and examine what makes their eyes different from other colors like green or blue.

What Causes Grey Eyes in Cats

The genetics behind grey eye color in cats has to do with dominant and recessive genes. Eye color in cats is linked to coat color and is determined by pigmentation. There are two genes that control pigment production:

  • The B gene: Determines how much eumelanin pigment is produced, which controls black and brown fur. The dominant allele (B) produces dark pigment, while the recessive allele (b) produces little to no dark pigment.
  • The D gene: Controls how much phaeomelanin pigment is produced, which controls lighter red and yellow fur. The dominant allele (D) allows the production of phaeomelanin, while the recessive allele (d) inhibits phaeomelanin production.

For a cat to have gray eyes, it must have the bb genotype, meaning it has two recessive alleles of the B gene. This blocks eumelanin production, resulting in little to no pigment in the eyes, causing them to appear gray. The cat must also have at least one dominant D allele to produce some phaeomelanin for their coat color. Therefore, gray-eyed cats tend to have dilution coat colors like blue, lilac, or fawn caused by this combination of genotypes.

In summary, gray eye color occurs because of a lack of dark pigment eumelanin due to the inheritance of two recessive b genes, combined with some lighter pigment from the D gene. This demonstrates how interactions between different pigment genes produces rare gray-eyed cats.

How Common Are Grey-Eyed Cats

Grey eyes are quite rare in cats compared to other eye colors. According to some estimates, only about 1-2% of cats have grey eyes. This makes grey one of the least common feline eye colors.

In contrast, much more common eye colors in cats include green, with about 10% of cats having green eyes, and yellow/gold, with around 30% of cats having yellow/gold eyes. Even blue eyes are significantly more prevalent than grey, occurring in around 5% of cats.

Among specific cat breeds, some associations suggest grey eyes occur in just 10% of Russian Blues and 5% of British Shorthairs, demonstrating their scarcity even within breeds where they are more frequent. Overall, grey is certainly one of the rarest natural eye colors in felines.

Grey-Eyed Cat Breeds

Certain cat breeds are more likely to have stunning grey eyes than others. Some of the most common grey-eyed cat breeds include:

  • Russian Blue – Known for their mesmerizing dark grey coats with a shimmering silver hue and captivating green eyes, the Russian Blue is one of the most recognizable grey-eyed cat breeds. Their eyes are described as vivid green in kittens which turn to a bright, vivid chartreuse in adults (
  • British Shorthair – British Shorthairs typically have large, round copper or gold eyes, but grey eyes are also seen. Their eyes are often described as “buttons” in their furry faces.
  • Korat – The Korat is a rare breed from Thailand with luminous green eyes that shine like jewels against their silver-blue coats.
  • Chartreux – Chartreux cats are born with orange or copper eyes that turn greenish-grey or blue as they mature.
  • Norwegian Forest Cat – These large, longhaired cats can have eyes in shades of copper, gold, green, or blue-grey.
  • Maine Coon – Maine Coon cats are known for their lush coats and tufted ears and toes. They may have green, gold, copper, odd-eyed, or grayish blue eyes.

So in summary, breeds like Russian Blues, Korats, and Chartreux commonly exhibit stunning grey eye coloration.

Grey vs. Green vs. Blue

While grey, green, and blue eyes may look similar at first glance in cats, there are some notable differences between these light eye colors.

Grey eyes in cats have a silver or light slate hue. The grey coloring is caused by a reduced amount of pigmentation in the iris, allowing more light to reflect back and produce a paler eye shade. Grey eyes are more likely to appear in white-coated cat breeds like the Turkish Angora, Russian White, and British Shorthair. They can also sometimes occur along with odd-eyes or heterochromia, where one eye is grey and the other is blue, green, or gold.

Green eyes in cats range from a yellowish green to a more brilliant emerald shade. The green hue is produced by a yellow pigment called lipochrome combined with a smaller amount of melanin. Green is considered a somewhat rare eye color in cats and is seen more often in breeds like the Russian Blue, Siamese, and Persian. Unlike grey eyes, green eyes are less likely to be linked with coat color.

Blue cat eyes have a darker navy to sky blue tone caused by even less melanin pigment in the iris. Blue eyes are found across many different cat breeds, though examples like the Siamese and Ragdoll are especially known for their striking blue peepers. Blue eyes are also commonly seen in white-coated cats or cats with point coloration.

While grey, green, and blue all involve reduced pigmentation compared to brown or gold eyes, the exact melanin levels differentiate the shades. Examining eye color under natural lighting best reveals the nuances between these similar hues in cats.

Grey Cat Eye Health

While cats with grey eyes are often healthy in general, some eye conditions can be associated specifically with grey-eyed cats.

One is nuclear sclerosis, which is caused by a hardening of the lens in the eye. This makes the lens appear cloudy or bluish-grey. Nuclear sclerosis is common in senior cats (over 10 years old), and can eventually lead to vision loss (

Another potential issue for grey-eyed cats is progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). PRA causes the retina to degenerate over time, resulting in vision loss. It can make grey eyes appear cloudy or bluish. Certain breeds like the Abyssinian are more prone to PRA (

Cataracts are also seen more often in cats with blue-grey eyes. A cataract causes the lens to become opaque, which can impair vision. Surgery may be needed in severe cases. Regular vet exams can help detect cataracts early.

Overall, grey-eyed cat owners should monitor their pet’s eyes closely for any changes to the color, clarity or dilation of the eyes. This can help identify potential issues early so they can be treated promptly by a vet.

Caring for Grey-Eyed Cats

There are a few things that cat owners should keep in mind with grey-eyed cats that are a bit different from other eye colors:

1. Grey-eyed cats tend to be more sensitive to light. Consider placing cat beds in darker or shaded areas of your home or getting window shades to block bright sunlight. Also avoid direct flash photography, especially close up, which can startle a grey-eyed cat.

2. The Sphynx breed with grey eyes is susceptible to corneal sequestration so monitor their eyes closely for any signs of issues. According to, you may need to apply eye ointment regularly.

3. Avoid harsh cleaning products on grey-eyed cats. Use eye-safe cleansers and wipes designed for pets.

4. Feed your grey-eyed cat a diet rich in vitamins A and E to promote eye health. Foods like carrots, fish, and egg yolks provide these key nutrients.

5. Schedule regular vet checkups to monitor eye health and address any potential issues before they worsen.

While grey-eyed cats do not necessarily require more care than other eye colors, keeping these tips in mind can help support their vision and comfort.

Interesting Facts

Gray cat eyes are quite unique and have some fascinating qualities. Here are some interesting facts about felines with gray eyes:

  • Gray eyes in cats are linked to the Dilute gene, which causes a reduced amount of melanin pigment in the eyes.
  • Kittens are often born with blue eyes that change to gray as they mature. The gray color develops between 6-8 weeks of age.
  • While less than 1% of cats have gray eyes, certain breeds like the Russian Blue are known for this distinctive eye color.
  • Gray eyes appear to change between shades of gray and green depending on lighting conditions. This is caused by light scattering in the pale irises.
  • There are many myths about cats with gray eyes being smarter, more aggressive, or more aloof. But there is no evidence linking eye color to personality in cats.
  • Gray-eyed cats may face a higher risk for certain eye issues like nuclear cataracts according to some veterinary research. But this linkage is considered inconclusive.

Famous Grey-Eyed Cats

Some of the most well-known and beloved cats in pop culture have had stunning grey eyes. Garfield, the iconic comic strip cat created by Jim Davis, is famous for his large grey eyes with huge pupils along with his love of lasagna. Felix the Cat, the cartoon character from the silent film era onward, also has signature grey eyes.

In the literary world, Dolores Umbridge’s cat Mr. Paws from the Harry Potter series is described as having bulging, pale grey eyes, matching his owner’s cold demeanor. E.B. White’s Stuart Little is a famous anthropomorphic mouse character with grey fur and grey eyes. Other fictional grey-eyed cats include Azrael from The Smurfs, Jonesy from Alien, and Snowbell from Stuart Little.

While there are fewer real-life celebrity cats with grey eyes compared to fictional felines, some grey-eyed cats have reached internet fame. Smokey the Grey Cat has over 500,000 Instagram followers who tune in to see photos and videos of his stunning grey coat and eyes. Other social media grey-eyed cat stars include Gandalf, Wilfred Warrior, and Sunglass Cat.


In summary, grey-eyed cats are quite rare compared to other eye colors in cats. Only about 1-2% of the total cat population worldwide has grey eyes. While any cat breed can produce kittens with grey eyes occasionally, some breeds like the Russian Blue and Korat are especially known for their luminous grey gaze. Grey cat eyes result from a rare gene mutation that causes the tapetum lucidum behind the retina to reflect light back in shades of grey and silver rather than the typical green or gold.

Caring for grey-eyed cats is about the same as other cats in terms of health and diet. However, grey-eyed cats’ sensitive vision may need some special considerations in terms of light levels, eye lubricants, and avoiding eye irritation. With their stunning and mystical silver-grey eyes, it’s no wonder that grey-eyed cats have been prized in many cultures for thousands of years. If you’re fortunate enough to share your home with one of these rare beauties, be sure to appreciate those mesmerizing grey eyes!

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