Tabby cats have incredibly interesting eyes, just like their coats. These cats can have a wide range of eye colors, which not only adds to their visual appeal but also highlights their individuality.
So, what color eyes do tabby cats have? Tabby cats typically have red, copper, orange, yellow, hazel, blue, and green eyes. The vertical pupils of their eyes are usually black. The color of their eyes is determined by melanocytes in the iris and sometimes their coat color. Occasionally, cats can have two different eye colors.
Knowing about cat eye color and how various factors like breed, melanin, and coat color contribute to it is quite fascinating. In this article, we’ll provide 15 interesting facts about cat eye colors that all cat owners should be aware of!
1. Melanin Determines Cat Eye Color
Did you know that the color of a cat’s eyes is influenced by melanin? It’s not the melanin in their skin, but the melanin in their eyes that determines the color and brightness of their eyes.
The melanocytes are tiny cells that assist in the production of melanin. Generally, the greater the amount of melanin in a cat’s eyes, the darker the eye color will be. Darker shades such as hazel, orange, and red are common. Copper is the darkest color that can be found in a cat’s eyes. Cats do not have enough melanin to have black or brown eyes. Cats with lower levels of melanin in their eyes will have lighter eye colors. Cats with moderate amounts of melanin will have green eyes.
One of the most captivating eye colors for cats is likely blue. Cats with no melanin in their eyes typically have blue eyes, although there are a few cases where this is not true. Blue eyes indicate a lack of pigment in the cat’s irises. The blue color we see is caused by the reflection of light off the surface of the cat’s eyes. You can find more information about this topic here.
2. Cats Eye Colors Can Change As They Age
As cats grow up, their eye color can change from when they are babies to when they become adults. It is normal for a kitten with yellow eyes to still have yellow eyes when they are all grown up. This happens because of genetics and the growth of melanocytes. This can happen to any cat breed and any coat color.
Typically, cat owners can observe this phenomenon during the early stages of a kitten’s life. Kittens are generally born with blue eyes, which gradually transition to different colors as they grow. The changes in eye color usually become noticeable around one or two months into the kitten’s development. In some cases, it may take longer, but their actual eye color becomes apparent between 4 to 6 months later.
3. Adults Cats Don’t Typically Experience Changes In Eye Color
Although it’s common for younger cats to have changes in eye color, this rarely happens with adult cats. If an adult cat’s eye color changes, it usually indicates a health issue. Typically, this means the cat has an eye infection. The changes in eye color may be difficult to notice, but they are usually caused by inflammation.
Tabby cats can have eyes that appear redder or yellower than normal. If the change in eye color happens slowly over time, it’s just a result of genetics and getting older. However, if an adult cat’s eye color suddenly changes, it could be a sign of something being wrong.
4. Cats With Blue Eyes Have No Melanin In Their Iris
Have you ever come across a kitten or grown-up cat with blue eyes? It seems that this is not an uncommon occurrence. Cats with blue eyes have a low amount of melanin in their iris, which is responsible for the color. Due to the limited number of cells that produce pigments, cats end up with blue eyes. The blue color we observe in a cat’s eyes is influenced by the lighting. Some specific cat breeds are more prone to naturally having blue eyes. Here is a compilation of purebred cats that may possess blue eyes.
5. Fur Color Doesn’t Necessarily Determine Eye Color
Many people believe that a cat’s eye color is determined by its coat color, but that’s not always the case. The color of a cat’s fur and its eye color are not directly linked. The main reason for this is that the genes responsible for fur color have no influence on eye color. That’s why cats with the same fur color can have completely different eye colors and levels of intensity.
Tabby cats, on the other hand, work in a slightly different way. Most of them actually have blue eyes, which is mainly because the dominant white gene affects their eye color. In white cats, the epistatic gene controls the color of their eyes.
6. Some Cats Have Two Eye Colors
Tabby cats can have different colors for each eye, which is not uncommon. This happens because of the amount of melanin in each eye. If one eye is darker than the other, it means that eye has fewer melanocytes.
Usually, a genetic mutation occurs which affects how pigments are distributed in the eyes. This trait is often inherited, but can also be caused by other abnormalities. It is known as heterochromia, a condition that can also occur in humans. The distribution of melanin to the eyes is what determines this phenomenon.
Tabby cats with different colored eyes are often called odd-eyed, and it’s actually quite common to come across this. Although heterochromia is more commonly seen in white cats, it can also occur in cats with different coat colors and patterns. The gene responsible for white spotting, which causes heterochromia, can still be found in these cats.
Certain breeds of tabby cats have a higher chance of having heterochromia compared to others. Here is a list of the cat breeds that are most likely to have this condition.
- Japanese Bobtail
- Oriental Shorthair
- Turkish Van
But that’s not all. Cats can actually have eyes with different colors. This happens when there are different pigments mixed together, making it difficult to determine the exact eye color of the cat. Cats with different colored eyes are called dichromatic. It’s a rare condition that gives the cat a colored ring around the pupil.
7. Certain Cat Breeds Have Unique Eye Colors
Although all cats can have fascinating eye colors, certain breeds have their own unique eye colors. Instead of just one eye color, these breeds can have a combination of multiple colors within the same eye.
For instance, the Ojos Azule cat breed can possess blue eyes despite not having white fur. Other interesting colors include the Chinchilla, which can have turquoise eyes. The Topaz can have blue eyes, eyes with multiple colors, or even dark green eyes that appear almost black.
Some other interesting colors are specifically associated with Siamese, Tonkinese, and Burmese cats. For instance, Burmese cats can actually have eyes that are golden in color. Tonkinese cats can sometimes have eyes that are blue-green or aqua in color. The Siamese cat breed can have blue eyes. In general, purebred cats will have more vibrant eye colors. Random-bred cats may have the same colors, but they won’t be as intense. The colors may also be more mixed, making it difficult to determine a specific color for the cat.
8. Melanocyte Activity Controls The Brightness Of A Cats Eyes
The brightness or intensity of a cat’s eye color is determined by the level of activity in their melanocyte cells. The more active these cells are, the more vibrant the colors of their eyes will be, regardless of whether their eyes are dark or light. Purebred cats tend to have more intense eye colors compared to non-purebred cats, as they are bred to meet specific standards such as size and coat color.
Eye color is also important to consider. Imagine two cats with yellow eyes. The cat with pale-yellow eyes probably has less melanocyte activity, which makes their eyes appear dull. On the other hand, a cat with rich and vibrant yellow eyes has more melanocyte activity.
9. Most Black Cats Have Darker Eyes
Did you know that the majority of black cats have darker eyes? And this is not just a personal opinion, but there are actual statistics to back up this observation. The most prevalent eye color in black cats is orange, indicating a higher concentration of melanin in their eyes. While less common, there are also black cats with yellow and copper eyes. Similar to other cats, the breed plays a significant role in determining their eye color. Black cats can also have blue, green, hazel, and various other eye colors.
10. Cats With Certain Eye Colors Can Become Deaf
While it’s not definite, there are certain health problems that cats with specific eye colors may experience. A common issue that affects 40 percent of white cats is hearing loss, which is often associated with blue eyes. This connection between the white gene and deafness has been observed in various studies on cats.
Occasionally, cats can be born without the sense of hearing. If a cat has two different eye colors and one of them is blue, they may also experience deafness in the ear corresponding to the blue eye. This is connected to the white gene, but albino cats do not encounter this problem.
Blindness is not common in blue-eyed cats, but it rarely happens. Usually, vision problems occur when cats don’t get enough nutrients, and it doesn’t matter what color eyes they have at birth.
11. Albino Cats Appear To Have Pink Eyes
Have you ever seen an albino cat with a unique pink eye color? Well, the color isn’t really pink, but it can definitely look that way. It’s actually a lightening of the eyes where there is no pigment and a hint of blue. Since there’s no blue color, we perceive it as pink. Albino cats with pink eyes are quite uncommon, so if you come across one, consider yourself lucky!