Although seeing a cat in the right lighting conditions might make its eyes look like they are a blue-violet or a somewhat purple color, and regardless of what rumors you might have heard from different people, it turns out that research has shown that there is no cat with purple eyes. There is a type of cat that has a pale shade of purple in its eyes, something closer to lilac, and this is the rare albino cat.
Just like in the case of humans, inherited characteristics and traits given by genetics will usually be behind the cat’s eye color. Melanocytes are responsible for creating the pigment that gives the eye its color, called melanin. These cells can be found in the iris. The exact intensity and color of the eyes will be given by the actual number of melanocytes and their activity inside the iris.
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A high concentration of melanocytes will produce the color orange, a low number of the same cells will mean a green color, while a blue color of the eyes will mean that there are no melanocytes inside the eye. This also means that the deeper and more intense the color in the cat’s eyes, the higher percentage of melanin it will have. Since purebred cats are bred to raise to the breed’s standards, their eyes will usually have more intense colors. For example, the Tonkinese breed will usually come with aqua-colored eyes, while the Bombay purebred cats will have copper-colored eyes.
Below you will find the most common eye colors you will find in cats, both in crossbred and purebred cats.
This is a rather uncommon color in most purebred cats, and just like the blue hue, it means the eyes have very little melanin when compared to most other cats. This means that most of the time, you will notice that the pigmentation isn’t as strong when compared to usual cats’ eyes.
Although the color of the cat’s fur has no actual connection to the color of its eyes, some people will swear to have only seen black cats with purple eyes or black cats with green eyes. Because the genes responsible for giving the cat’s eye and fur color are not only different but they aren’t even connected one to the other. This means that even though there will be cats with green eyes that are black, a white cat with green eyes will be nothing to be amazed by.
The color brown for the eyes will usually mean that the cat has very high percentages of melanin in its irises. The thing is that brown isn’t the actual color of the eye. Instead, it is most probably something closer to copper or copperish orange.
Yellow, although different between cats in hue intensity, is one of the most common colors for the cats’ eyes. The color can not only range from mild-yellow to a vivid share, but it can also overlap with other colors, creating a yellow-brown or yellow-green color.
A blue shade in the eyes of cats will mean that the iris has no melanin. You will usually notice blue eyes in white cats. This means that although the iris is in fac colorless, the light that will refract from the eyes’ round surface will cause them to look blue.
The cats that have the dominant white gene, known as epistatic white, shouldn’t be confused with the albino cats, because their underlying coats will differ in color. Although white cats can have blue eyes, they also can have eyes with two different colors, one blue, and one with the standard color of their breed.
The rarest colors of eyes for cats are considered copper, orange, and darker shades of brown. On the other hand, the most common ones will be the gold ones and the green-yellow ones.
The association between coat color and eye color is very minimal except for the blue eye color which has an association with specific coat color. The common association is the white cat and blue eye association and you’ve probably noticed that cats with white coats usually have blue eyes but may also tend to be deaf. Genes that code for white fur coats generally mask all eye colors such as green, amber, and hazel.
A cat that has one blue eye and one either green or gold is known as a cat with odd eyes. This condition is known as heterochromia and the term comes from “hetero”, the Greek word for different, and “chromia” the Greek word for color. This condition will usually take place when the white spotting gene will block the concentration and distribution of natural pigments when the iris tissues are developing. Some white cats will have a rare condition where you’ll be able to spot two colors inside just one iris. This is usually called dichromatic or dichroic eye condition.
Kittens are born deaf but also blind, and won’t see or hear anything before seven to ten days of age. Then their eyes open, but they will be a cloudy share of blue. The color will start to change at three to eight weeks old when some of the kittens will have some flecks of color in the eyes, but most of the time, after six weeks old is when the color will actually start to change to its final form. At about ten weeks old is when a kitten is said to have fully developed its eye color into its adult form.
If your cat is older than 10 weeks and you notice that its eyes are changing their colors, then you should take it to the vet as soon as possible. Darkening eyes might be a sign of possible leukemia, while eyes going orange could be the signal of inflammation.
Although some cat owners will swear by seeing cats with purple eyes, no study was ever able to prove their existence. And, to be honest, in all my life as a vet, I never had the chance of seeing at least one cat with purple eyes.