Eye Color in Cats

Caitlin Dempsey


A resting black cat with green eyes.

Like humans, cat eye color is hereditary. Cats’ eyes can range from the most common golden-yellow hues to the most intense blue, and even to a striking heterochromia where each eye displays a different color.

Most cat eye colors range from shades of yellow to green to blue.

All kittens are born with blue eyes

All cats start with blue eye color. This is due to a lack of melanin, the pigment that gives color to our hair, skin, and eyes. As kittens grow, melanin production in the iris begins, and their eye color can start to change around six weeks old, reaching their permanent color at approximately three months old.

Two gray tabby kittens with blue eyes sitting in long grass in the shade.
All kitten have blue eyes until they are about 6-7 weeks old. Photo: © Svitlana/stock.adobe.com

What Determines What Eye Color A Cat Has?

Some people mistakenly believe that the color of a cat’s eye is dictated by the breed or the color of the fur.

They believe that if a cat has dark fur, it will have dark eyes, and if a cat has a particular eye color, like green, all cats of that breed will have green eyes.

However, this is not the case. Melanin determines the color of a cat’s eye as it does in humans. The more melanin in the iris, the darker their eyes will be and vice versa.

Why Do All Kittens Have Blue Eyes And When Do They Develop Their Adult Eye Color?

When kittens are first born, they are blind and deaf.

When the kitten reaches a week old, they open their eyes, revealing blue eyes.

When a kitten is born, the melanin cells present in the iris aren’t active enough to produce color, so their eyes appear cloudy blue in the first month. 

As the kittens get older, around 6 weeks, their eyes start to develop their adult color. By about four months old, most kittens will have fully developed their permanent eye color.

What Kinds Of Eye Colors Can Cats Have?

The color spectrum of cat eyes mainly ranges from blue, green, yellow, to copper. The depth and intensity of these colors depend on the amount and type of melanin present in the iris.

What is the most common eye color for cats?

The most common eye color for adult cats that aren’t purebreds is some variation of yellow or gold. The eye colors of these cats tend to range from a light, almost greenish-yellow, to a deep, rich gold or copper color.

This is because the yellow to gold coloration is a dominant trait in cats’ genetics. The gene for this eye color is present in a wide range of cat breeds, so it frequently shows up in cats that aren’t purebreds.

Green eyes is the second most common eye color for domestic cats. Blue is a common eye color for all-white cats as well as colorpoint cats.

Cats with blue eyes

Cats can have blue eyes ranging from cloudy blue to deep blue color. As discussed above, blue eyes indicate a lack of melanin in a cat’s eyes. 

A longhaired colorpoint cat laying on a white tiled floor.
Light blue eyes on a longhaired Himalayan cat. Photo: Caitlin Dempsey.

Genes and blue eye color in cats

Breeds like Siamese, Himalayan, and Ragdolls carry a gene associated with their colorpoints and blue eyes. The gene, a form of albinism, affects the enzyme tyrosinase, involved in melanin production. This enzyme is heat-sensitive and functions less efficiently in warmer areas of the cat’s body, resulting in dark extremities (where it’s cooler) and leaving the core body lighter.

The same phenomenon occurs in the eyes, causing low melanin production and resulting in blue eyes.

Breeds Of Cats That Can Have Distinctive Blue Eye Colors:

British Shorthair, Persian, American Shorthair, Balinese,  Ragdoll, Devon Rex, and Maine Coon

Blues eyes and deafness in white cats

There’s a correlation between white fur, blue eyes, and deafness in cats.

A genetic link exists between the white fur gene and the gene affecting the color of the eyes. The same gene associated with white fur and blue eyes can also lead to congenital deafness.

Cats with green eyes

Just like blue-eyed cats, cats with green eyes have less amount of melanin.

You will see cats with variations of green color with a slight touch of yellow, blue, or gold in the iris.

A resting black cat with green eyes.
A black cat with green eyes. Photo: Caitlin Dempsey.

Cats breeds that have green eye colors

Breeds like the Russian Blue, Chartreux, and Korat display green eyes due to a gene that dilutes the eumelanin, giving their eyes a greenish tint.

  • Russian Blue cats
  • Egyptian Mau
  • Havana cats
  • Norwegian Forest cats  

Cats with yellow eyes

Cats can have a yellow color with different intensities depending on the melanin. Some have lemon yellow eyes, while those with higher melanin levels can have dark amber or yellow-gold eye color.  

A long-haired white cat with yellow eyes. Photo: Caitlin Dempsey.
A long-haired white cat with yellow eyes. Photo: Caitlin Dempsey.

Breeds Of Cats That Have Distinctive Yellow Eye Colors:

Cats with amber eyes

Amber eyes in cats, which are a rich, deep gold color, are less common than yellow, green, or blue eyes.

The amber color is a result of a higher concentration of the pigment called pheomelanin, which produces red and yellow colors.

A closeup of the face of a black cat with amber eyes.
Amber eyes on a black cat. Photo: © mastak80/stock.adobe.com

Cat breeds with amber eyes:

  • Abyssinian
  • Somali
  • Norwegian Forest Cat
  • Maine Coon
  • Bengal
  • Turkish Van
  • Cymric
  • Chausie
  • British Shorthair (Certain colorations)
  • Turkish Angora (Certain colorations)
  • Serengeti

Cats with orange eyes

Orange eyes stand out as unique and rare among most cats who mostly have green, blue, and yellow eyes.

Orange eye color is often confused with copper eye color which certain breeds, like the British Shorthair, are known for. Very few cats have eyes that are truly orange.

 Breeds Of Cats That Have Distinctive Eye Color:                           

Japanese Bobtail, Devon Rex,  Maine Coon, Turkish Van, and the American Wirehair

Cats with hazel eyes

Wild and feral cats belonging to temperate zones possess this divine blend of gold, green and yellow color.

 Breeds Of Cats That Have Distinctive Hazel Eye Colors:

  • Bengal
  • Cornish Rex
  • Abyssinian
  • Scottish Fold
  • Singapura

Cats with copper eyes

The darkest color a cat can have is copper or shades of copper. Unlike people, cats cannot develop brown eyes.

British Shorthair cats are known for having brilliant copper and gold hued eyes.

The British Shorthair’s copper eyes are a result of a gene that intensifies the eumelanin concentration.

A British Shorthair cat with copper eye color.
A British Shorthair cat with copper eye color. Photo: © Maksym Povozniuk / stock.adobe.com.

This eye color is pretty rare, and very few people get the chance to see a cat with this eye color.  There can be light patches of red, deep orange, yellow or green within their iris.

 Breeds Of Cats That Can Have Distinctive Copper Eye Colors:

Several domestic cat breeds are known for having this deep, coppery eye color. Among them:

  • British Shorthair
  • Exotic Shorthair
  • Persian
  • Scottish Fold
  • Bombay

Cats with two different colored eyes

Many cats have different colored eyes due to some accidents, injuries, or genetics. However, that doesn’t mean that the cat is blind; their sight could be perfectly fine.

The condition of a cat having two different colored eyes is called heterochromia and is also known as  odd-eyed coloring.

In cats with white fur and heterochromia, the gene for white fur inhibits melanin production entirely in some areas but not others, creating the striking two-toned eye color. The blue-eyed side has less melanin, while the other eye, which could be green, yellow, or copper, has more.

A white cat with heterochromia.
A white cat with heterochromia. Photo: denis508/stock.adobe.com.

Having two eye colors is pretty rare in cats. Cats with two different eye colors mostly have a blue eye, and the other eye has a green or yellow color.  

 Breeds Of Cats That Can Have Distinctive Two-Colored Eyes:

White cats with the epistatic gene, Japanese Bobtail, Persian, and the Turkish Van

Cars with dichroic eyes

When cats have a different amount of melanin in each iris, they have a blend of two colors in their eyes. This condition is known as dichromatic.  

The two colors can blend with each other in different ways. For example, some cats have both colors equally divided into their eye, while in some cats, they will have an eye with one color and a patch of the other color in the corner, bottom, or top.  


Among thousands of animal species, cats have stunning vertical iris with stunning colors. These colors are formed by melanin transferred in them by their ancestors.

Read next: Cat Vision | How Well Do Cats See?


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This article was originally written on November 18, 2021 and has since been updated.

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About the author
Caitlin Dempsey
Caitlin Dempsey holds both a master's in Geography from UCLA and a Master of Library and Information Science. She is the editor of Geographyrealm.com and an avid researcher of geography and feline topics. A lifelong cat owner, Caitlin currently has three rescued cats: an orange tabby, a gray tabby, and a black cat.