Is It Normal For My Cats Eyes To Change Color?


Have you ever gazed into your cat’s eyes and noticed their color seems to morph and change over time? One day they appear bright green, the next a warm amber. While subtle shifts in eye color can be normal as cats mature, significant changes may indicate an underlying health issue. This guide will overview common reasons behind feline eye color transformations, so you can understand why your cat’s gorgeous peepers are ever-evolving.

A cat’s eye color results from the presence and concentration of melanin pigment in the iris. The specific composition of melanin determines the hue. Tyrosine, an amino acid, combines with a protein called tyrosinase to create this pigment. Cats have two types of melanin that mix together in varying amounts: eumelanin (brown/black) and pheomelanin (yellow/reddish). The resulting blend produces colors from gold to green. While genetics establish a baseline eye color, other factors can cause them to shift over time.

We’ll explore typical influences behind color changes in cats, ranging from natural maturation to medical conditions warranting vet examination. Subtle shifts are often innocuous in adult cats, but more dramatic transformations could signal issues requiring attention. Tracking eye color provides a window into your cat’s health. With knowledge of normal development, concerning abnormalities become clearer.

Common Eye Colors in Cats

The most common original eye colors for cats are yellow, green, and orange. According to, cats with yellow/orange eyes make up an estimated 50-60% of the cat population. Cats with green eyes are the second most common, representing about 15-20% of cats. Other less common original eye colors include blue and odd-eyed (one blue eye and one orange/copper eye).

Kittens are usually born with blue eyes that change color as they mature. By 6-8 weeks of age, kittens’ eyes will start changing to their adult color. This change is caused by melanin pigment developing in the iris as the kitten grows. Full eye color is established by around 3-4 months old.

While yellow/orange eyes are overwhelmingly the most common, many cat breeds are associated with green eyes or the rare blue eyes. Examples are Russian Blues and Siamese cats which tend to have blue eyes, while Japanese Bobtails and Turkish Vans often exhibit odd-eyed colors.

How Cat Eye Color Develops

A cat’s eye color is determined by melanin, the same pigment that influences human eye color. Melanin comes in two forms: eumelanin which produces brown/black pigment, and pheomelanin which produces reddish/yellow pigment. The specific combination and concentration of these melanins present during a kitten’s development determines their eventual eye color.

At birth, kittens have blue eyes. After one week, the enzyme tyrosinase becomes active and begins producing melanin. Tyrosinase converts tyrosine into melanin through a series of chemical reactions. As melanin concentrates in the iris during the first few weeks, it starts to obscure the blue, changing the eye color. Higher eumelanin leads to green, hazel, and brown eyes. Higher pheomelanin leads to yellow, gold, orange, and reddish eyes. The final eye color is usually established by 3 months as melanin levels stabilize.

A cat’s genetics influence how much and which type of melanin is produced. The gene for melanin production comes in two forms – one for dense eumelanin and one for dilute pheomelanin. Kittens inherit one form of the gene from each parent, which blends together to determine eye color. So variety in parent eye colors produces variety in kitten eye colors.

Reasons for Color Changes

There are a few main reasons why a cat’s eye color may change as it ages:

Aging and iris atrophy – As cats grow older, the colored part of their eye (the iris) can start to shrink and change shape, causing the eye color to lighten over time. This process is called iris atrophy and it is a normal part of aging in cats (source). The iris contains pigment which gives the eyes their color. As the iris atrophies, it loses some of that pigment, leading to a lighter eye color.

Injuries, inflammation, diseases – Inflammation or injury to the eye can sometimes cause a temporary or permanent change in eye color. For example, anterior uveitis, an inflammatory eye condition, can cause the iris to darken (source). Other diseases like glaucoma or cataracts may also impact eye color. Trauma to the eye can damage the iris and lead to color variations as well. Usually changes in color due to disease or injury will be noticeable and significant.

Kittens vs Adult Cats

Eye color changes in kittens and adult cats can differ significantly. Kittens are often born with blue eyes that can change color dramatically over the first weeks and months of life. As the kitten matures, melanin pigmentation continues to develop in the iris which causes the final adult eye color to emerge. It’s completely normal for a kitten’s eyes to transition from blue to green, hazel, orange, yellow or brown as they grow. According to Morris Animal Inn, most kittens have their final eye color settled by 3-4 months old.

In contrast, dramatic shifts in eye color are not normal in adult cats once their final eye color is established. As Morris Animal Inn explains, “Cats are born with baby blue eyes that begin to change as they mature. This means if your adult cat’s eyes suddenly change, it may be a health concern that needs to be checked out.” Subtle variations in eye color shade may occur in adults due to changes in light exposure or aging, but significant changes from one eye color to another should be evaluated by a vet.

Subtle vs Significant Changes

Subtle eye color changes in cats can be difficult to notice, but are usually normal. Examples of subtle changes include:

  • A very gradual shift in hue over months or years, like blue eyes getting a hint of green
  • Eyes lightening or darkening a shade as the cat ages
  • The center color around the pupil changing while the outer iris remains the same
  • One eye changing slightly while the other remains unchanged

These minor variations happen as a cat matures and are no cause for concern, according to veterinarians (Source 1).

In contrast, significant eye color changes in cats can signal an underlying health issue. Examples of concerning shifts include:

  • A sudden, drastic change in eye color over days or weeks
  • One or both eyes changing to multiple colors like brown/blue/yellow
  • The appearance of red, bloodshot sclera around the colored iris
  • A color change accompanied by discharge, swelling or other symptoms
  • A white or colorless pupil that lacks pigment

Rapid alterations like these are abnormal and require veterinary attention to diagnose and treat the cause (Source 2). Significant changes may indicate inflammation, injury, genetics, or other health problems affecting the eyes.

When to See the Vet

While minor changes in your cat’s eye color are normal as they age, there are some concerning changes that warrant a vet visit. According to Trumann Animal Clinic, sudden changes in eye color require immediate veterinary attention. Significant variations in color, enlarging or shrinking of the pupils, cloudiness, or redness could indicate an underlying medical issue such as glaucoma, cataracts, corneal ulcers, or cancer.

Conditions like retinal dysplasia or detached retinas can also lead to changes in the colored part of the eye. Inflammation from infections, injuries or diseases like feline leukemia virus may be associated with color variations as well. If you notice any abnormal eye discharge, swelling, sensitivity to light, or your cat seems to have vision issues, visit your vet promptly. Timely evaluation and treatment is crucial to prevent permanent vision loss and minimize eye damage in cats.

Caring for Eyes

It is important to monitor your cat’s eye health regularly and practice proper eye hygiene to keep their eyes healthy. Here are some tips for caring for your cat’s eyes:

Monitor your cat’s eyes daily for any changes in appearance, swelling, discharge, or redness which could indicate an eye infection or other issue. Check that their eyes are clear, bright, and free of debris (ICATCare).

Gently wipe your cat’s eyes daily with a soft, damp cotton ball to remove any eye discharge or crust. Use a separate cotton ball for each eye so you don’t spread bacteria. Make sure to wipe outward from the inner eye corner (EyeEnvy).

Trim eye hair gently if it’s long enough to irritate your cat’s eyes. Never trim too close to the eye itself.

See your vet annually for a full eye exam to check for early signs of eye disease. Seek prompt veterinary care if you notice any eye changes or irritation.

Feed a diet rich in vitamins A, C, and E to support eye health. Consider an antioxidant eye health supplement.

Keep your home dust-free and avoid cigarette smoke exposure which can irritate eyes.

Common Concerns

It’s normal for cat owners to be concerned when they notice their cat’s eye color changing. Here are some common worries owners may have and reassurance about normal eye color changes in cats:

If your cat’s eyes change from blue to green, this is very common in kittens as their eye color develops. There is no need for concern if the change happens gradually. According to Morris Animal Inn, many kittens are born with blue eyes that turn green or yellow as they grow.

Some owners worry if their cat’s eyes turn cloudy or get a milky film over them. However, this can be normal aging changes in older cats as noted by Catster. As long as your vet checks the eyes and says they look healthy, try not to be too alarmed by cloudiness.

Sudden changes in eye color, especially to red, brown, or white can indicate more serious issues. According to Morris Animal Inn, take your cat to the vet promptly if you notice significant color changes, discharge, swelling or other eye problems.

Remember that minor, gradual changes in eye color are very normal, especially in young cats. Only be concerned if the changes are sudden or accompanied by other symptoms. Your vet can examine your cat’s eyes and provide reassurance about any color changes.


In summary, cat eye color changes are common and can occur for a variety of reasons. Kittens are often born with blue eyes that change color as they mature. Adult cats may experience subtle shifts in eye color due to factors like coat color changes, inflammation, aging, and more. While significant changes in eye color can indicate medical issues, minor variations are normal. Make sure to monitor your cat’s eyes and see a vet if you notice cloudiness, discharge, or irritation. With proper care and attention, cat owners can enjoy their feline’s beautiful eyes for years to come.

Overall, minor fluctuations in cat eye color are very common and nothing to worry about. However, it’s always a good idea to consult your veterinarian if you notice any concerning changes that seem abnormal.

Scroll to Top