Cat Sanctuary

Cats’ Eyes

Just as a cat’s coat pattern and colour is dictated by genetics (see here and here) so also is eye colour. Most kittens are born with blue eyes, and as they mature, the melanocytes also mature to give the eyes the adult colour.

Autumn – MW

Jake – MW

The majority of our Sanctuary cats have eyes that are in the yellowish end of the spectrum. Depending on where the cat hangs out, the colour may be very obvious, or overshadowed by an enlarged pupil – many of the indoor cats with less natural light may appear to have dark eyes that are actually mostly pupil showing, with a thin rim of coloured iris.

Mad Max – MW

Marmalade – MW

With some, the colour is very vivid – especially when the yellow eyes belong to a black cat.

Colin – MW

but our beautiful Dell has wonderful eyes too!

Dell – MW

The more melanocytes, the more intense the colour. Pumpkin was named less for his fur colour and more for his eyes.

Pumpkin – MW

Orange Hannah’s eyes are also very intense in certain lights.

Orange Hannah – MW

With some cats there is patterning of the iris. This may be true heterochromia, in which a cat may have two different coloured eyes (usually one blue and one another colour) or colours within the iris that may make the eyes appear different colours. When Sara Lee and Sara Lou came in together, the only way to tell them apart was Sara Lee’s darker-coloured right eye in contrast to her left one, which is blue/green. However if you look closely, you’ll see that the basic colour is the same; it’s the brown patterning that makes the eye look brown.

Sara Lee – MW

Freckles is another cat with patterned eyes – named for the speckles around her nose, it’s a name that also suits her eyes.

Freckle – MW

Luigi is one of our many black cats, but easier to identify when you can see the markings in his right iris.

Luigi – PH

With some of the cats the yellow shades over to green that can appear quite intense in certain lights.

Sophie – MW

Krissy – DW

Lucky – MW

Blue eyes are characteristic of certain pure-breeds, and the only cats of that description that we get at the sanctuary are with us because of bathroom habits. Both Bluebell and Jobie have the right eye colour that says they were probably bred for pedigree – but neither is a cat that you would really want in your home!

Bluebell – MW

Jobie – MW

But we love them anyway!

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Phaedra Hardman, Debbie Wolanski, Michele Wright