Cat Eye Color

Cat eye color is important to breeders of purebred cats. The colour is referred to in the breed standards4 and is sometimes linked to coat colour. An example of linkage might be silver tabby cats that are often required to have green eyes3. For instance, the breed standard for the Russian Blue is described as:

“Vivid green. Set rather wide apart, almond in shape, not small and deep set”…1

Green cat eyes Russian Blue cat
Russian Blue Cat

“EARS: strikingly large, pointed, wide at base; continuing the lines of the wedge….Eye color: deep vivid blue”

The above applies to the Modern Siamese cat. We know that Siamese cats have blue eyes.

Traditional Siamese cat Juergen Kurlvink

Left: This is not a Modern Siamese but a Traditional Siamese.The eye color is a deep vivid blue in line with the CFA eye color standard for the Modern Siamese cat.

Although, I suspect that the color balance of this photo favours blue! Photo: Juergen Kurlvink

In fact the only eye colour that is naturally linked to coat colour is blue. Blue eyes are caused by “forms of albinism” 3 that results in lack of pigmentation in the iris of the eye and coat. The iris is the part of the eye that we see that produces the colour of the eye. It controls the amount of light that the eye lets in.

Ojos Azules cat eyes

A rare cat that is not white and which has blue eyes is the Ojos Azules. Photo: unknown (please advise)

Eye colour in cats in more apparent than it is for humans because their eyes are larger in relation to their heads. A cat’s eyes are unusually large. If human eyes were of comparable size in relation to the head, they’d be several inches in diameter, it is said. The cat’s large eyes give them a baby-like appearance.

Apparently green eyes or eyes with shades of green have become common in random bred cats (moggies).

Kittens are often born with blue eyes which change colour when they become adults. This is because eyes without pigment in the iris look blue due to scattered light. When pigmentation develops the eye takes on a color.

There is a wide range of eye colours from copper at one end of the spectrum to blue at the other. There are also odd eyed cats. This condition is caused by the gene that produces coats that are either totally white (dominant white gene) or spotted white (white spotting gene or piebald gene).

Here is a range of cat eye color:

Copper cat eyesCopper
Copper orange cat eyesCopper-orange
Orange cat eyesOrange
Orange cat eyesOrange
Orange yellow cat eyesOrange-yellow
Yellow-hazel cat eyesYellow-hazel
Hazel cat eyesHazel
Green cat eyesGreen
Aqua-blue cat eyesAqua-blue
Blue cat eyesBlue
Blue cat eyesBlue
Odd-eyed Van catOdd-eyed Cat Photo: by sly06 (Flickr)

***All the photos are thumbnails – please click on them to see large format versions. They are also all (unless stated otherwise) copyright Helmi Flick. Please respect copyright. Thanks

As mentioned, cat eye color is formed in the smooth muscle cells of the iris. The iris creates the pupil, the aperture in the center of the eye that lets the light in to the retina in a controlled manner.It is the amount and intensity of pigmentation that is in the front and rear of the iris that determines cat eye color.

Sectoral heterochromia

Odd-eye color is called complete heterochromia. It is caused by the dominant white gene. A rarer form is sectoral heterochromia when each eye has two colors: blue (or no color) and orange or yellow. Blue is caused by light refraction not pigmentation.

Sectoral heterochromia in domestic cats

Sectoral heterochromia in domestic cats

Some other instances where eye color is specified by the breed standard would be:

Nebelung: Color: Green with yellow/green mixture allowed. In kittens, changing from yellow to green. Should show green halo around pupil by 8 months. As vividly green as possible at maturity, which could be at 2 years or more. The more richness and depth of color, the better (TICA breed standard verbatim).

Turkish Van: Color is amber, blue or odd eyed.…Allow for faded eye color and greenish cast to amber eyes in cats over 18 months of age (TICA breed standard verbatim extracts).

There are many more. Start here for articles on all the cat breeds.

There is one last point to make. The true albino cat as opposed to the all-white cat (carrying the dominant white gene) has no pigment in the eye and therefore it looks pink:

Albino Cat Eye Color

Albino Cat Eye Color. Photo by kngsrivr. The cat’s name is Smirnoff.

Cat eye color – Associated pages:

Cat eye color – Notes:

1. – Russian Blue Breeders Association

3. The Encyclopedia Of The Cat by Dr Bruce Fogle

4. Breed standards are the guidelines issued by each cat association as to the requirements regarding the appearance of individual registered breeds.

From cat eye color to pictures of cat breeds

Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.
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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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64 Responses

  1. here is a pic of my lynx point snow bobs mother is colorpoint
    w blue eyes her kittens were all lynxpoint w blue eyes

  2. Here is a picture of barsik. His mom is orange eyed tortoise she is. Calico. His father F3 snowbob. He has absolutely gray eyes

  3. Fenty says:

    Hi everyone,

    I recently adopted this sweet cat and named her Fenty. She is white persian, and she has an grey (? or aqua blue) eyes mixed with some copper orange in both her eyes. Her pupils are also light up not as black but as orange/reddish color.

    Can anybody tell what color her eyes are? Does she really have sectoral heterochromia? I’m just too curious

    • Michael Broad says:

      Thanks for sharing and asking. I am not a great expert of sectoral heterochromia. My thoughts are that Fenty (a super looking cat) does have sectoral heterochromia. It is not pronounced by it is noticeable and she has the right credentials: all white. You have prompted me to do a page on this. Have a good day.

    • Albert Schepis says:

      I think she does. It sure looks that way. Such a dear.

    • Caroline Gifford says:

      They are definitely blue. She is the most desirable trait [blue eyes, in a white cat].

  4. Angeline Kray says:

    Thank you – he’s very striking for a regular moggy!
    His mum was mainly black with some white as was his brother so Sweep must be a throwback!

  5. Angeline Kray says:

    My white and black cat, Sweep, has beautiful blue eyes – his litter mate and brother are both green eyed tuxedo cats

  6. Lilie says:

    His sister on the other hand has the most beautiful siamese eyes, here’s a picture

  7. Lilie says:

    OH yes here’s a picture I forgot to upload it. It’s a bit hard to tell in this picture but if you look closely you can see the green

    • Michael Broad says:

      Hi Lilie, thank you for commenting and showing us your cats (beautiful). About the green eye colour, this is normal. My opinion is, and I’m guessing a little bit, that the eye colour will end up yellow/orange and that little bit of green is because there is still some blue in the eye because your cat is young. The blue is due to refraction of light and not the colour of the pigmentation in the iris. Blue + yellow = green.

      As I said, it will disappear and I think the eye will settle down to be a yellow/orange type colour.

  8. Lilie says:

    I recently saved a litter of kittens, all about three months old after they had been abandoned, there mom is a blue russian, and I’m not sure what the dad was I think it was a tabby according the the markings on the other cats, but one kitten is tuxedo in coloring and has the prettiest orange eyes but a ring of brilliant green around the iris, is this normal? Will his eyes change to green in the future or will the green fade away? I guess I’m as curious as a cat at this point haha! I’m new to being a cat owner and honestly I have alot to learn.

  9. Deborah says:

    I am trying to find out the coat color of my new Bengal. If he is a mink his eye color would be aqua or blue-green. So I need to figure out his eye color too. I think it is Blue not aqua or blue-green.
    I appreciate any input. Thank you

    • Michael Broad says:

      Hello Deborah. Firstly, he is a stunningly beautiful Bengal cat. Secondly, I tend to agree with you that his eyes are blue as you say. I like the photograph as well. Thanks for commenting and sharing.

  10. Mary Ann Chester says:

    Here is a picture of Mercy. His eyes look like your description of copper-orange. Mary Ann Chestet

  11. Mary Ann Chester says:

    I am so glad I found your most interesting site! My four month old kitty has eye color I had never seen before. No one could tell me his eye color til I found your site, copper-orange! Thank you very much!

  12. Laura D Lynch says:

    We rescued this little tabby boy from the shelter yesterday and he has the oranges eyes I have ever seen in a cat.

  13. Carrie says:

    My rescue kitty is about a month and a half old. He has always had very dark eyes; they were pure sapphire blue with the tiniest hint of gray when I got him. The last week or so, I’ve noticed them changing to a vivid, almost forest shade of green. Is it normal for a cat to have eyes in shades this dark? I’ve never seen anything like it before.

    • Carrie says:

      I almost forgot; here is a picture of my baby.

    • Michael Broad says:

      Hi Carrie. Thanks for commenting. In my experience judging by the tens of thousands of cat photos I have seen, I rarely see cat eyes this blue. They are like the eye color of a purebred Siamese cat. Siamese cats are meant to have “sapphire blue” eyes when they are show cats.

      • Carrie says:

        Thank you for the feedback!His mother was a black-and-white “moggie” and we’re not sure what his father was. His coat is most unusual also (though it’s hard to tell from this picture). He has a seal face, legs, and tail, white “glovelettes” on his front paws, and white stockings on his back legs. His back is silver dusted over black. I was just thrown at his coloring because I’ve never seen any cat quite like him.

  14. Danette says:

    I have an orange tabby who has orange eyes. He is quite a handsome fellow! But I had a grey tabby who had the most beautiful eyes I’ve ever seen. They started out on the rims with a dark blue ring. Then they were a very light, almost lime color, then faded into a very light blue around the pupil. Gorgeous! He also looked like he had black eyeliner that encircles the eyes. He died in a fire 🙁

  15. Mary says:

    I have rescued a kitten that is 2.5 months old she is an orange tabby with grey eyes. Will her eyes stay that color?

    • Michael Broad says:

      Hi Mary. The answer is almost certainly Yes. If I am wrong tell me! My answer is based on the fact that the color is not blue and therefore is probably a settled color. Are you sure of her age?

  16. Hazil says:

    Can someone help me understand eyes transformations in kittens? Does the iris change over all, slowly fading to its permanent color? Or does the change start at the outside of the pupil and just grow more and more towards the iris edge? My 10 week old kitten has two completely different colors in his eyes. Will the green continue to spread or will he have dichronic eyes? I got him 2 weeks ago and the green was just as noticeable but has darkened some these last two weeks. The size of the green has not grown tho.

  17. Ruth says:

    My cat is 17 yrs old and for the last month, she is on thyroid medication. Prior to this however, one of her eyes turns a dark copper color, which tends to disappear after a couple of days. She is all black, has a beautiful coat, and her eyes are yellow/green. As of her last check up/blood work 3 wks ago, she has healthy kidneys and liver. Should I be concerned about this change in eye color? I neglected to mention it to the vet when she was last examined.

    • I can’t answer your question from the top of my head except to say this seems to be okay and perhaps linked to age. The eyes of elderly cats do change color and go darker. That is the limit of my personal experience.

      …but a good book on cat health states:

      Color change: a change in color of the eye may indicate the cancer known as melanoma….

      I don’t believe that is relevant in this instance as the change would appear to be permanent whereas for your cat it is temporary. My gut feeling is that it is nothing to be concerned about but to observe it.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting. My best wishes to your elderly cat.

  18. Monica says:

    My little girl seems to have the oddest shade of eyes – I can’t quite put a name on them. The closest I can guess is hazel

    • Thanks for sharing Monica. Here is a lighter version of your photo. I agree the color is a sort of dark hazel. Nothing quite matches in the list I presented. The coat color/type appears to slightly diluted tortoiseshell. Interesting looking cat.

      • Kim Turnage says:

        I have a kitten with almost the same color eyes and similar coat, except she has long hair and more brownish.Her mom is a black&white,short haired tuxedo cat and her baby-daddy is a cream and pale orange persian.She had four different color kittens with four three different color eyes.Two have deep green like hers.Cats genetic and lineage is very intresting to me,also.Also,cause I love them too.☺

  19. Lisa says:

    I did not see the eye color that almost all my cats have had.One had the second blue color shown on the photo above the cat with the odd eyed cat.Some of my cat had eye color close to the hazel eyed cat photo but a few of though cats eye had more of a greenish color to them.But most had a different color that was in none of the photosThese cats eye color went of grass green to a green you see on Orched flower leaves but other wise look like the shade on the hazel eyed cat photo above the green eyed cat photo.Last one cat eyes started out with three strips of blue around the pupil.From there the three strips went to green,yellow,and blue then the three colors sort of swirled together to make a very pretty mixture of colors.Sorry this was so long.

    • Michael says:

      Hi Lisa, thank you for contributing – most welcome. It would be great if you could send me a photo of your cats’ eyes! If you can manage that please email me the result at mjbmeister[at] and replace the [at] with the usual @. I have to explain it this way because people sometimes hijack email addresses for spam.

  20. Robin says:

    Hey my cat had kittens about 6 weeks ago, one of them (mona) I will keep to take with me when I’ll move out. The mother has yellow/orange eyes and her coat is cream. She’s not a purebred. Mona is mostly white with a few dark grey and cream spots. What do you suppose her eye color will be? And when do the eyes of the kittens change to their permanent color? Sorry for the long post but I’m very interested in cat’s genetics, I just love them so much!!

    • Monica says:

      Cat eyes will be stable after about 6-8 weeks of age, simply becoming more or less vivid after that point in time. As for predictable colors for the litter, that is even more difficult as a litter can have more than one father (hence how you end up with short haired color point cats and long haired black cats and medium haired tabbies all in one litter, for example). As mom isn’t purebred, there’s no clue what recessives she could be carrying, so it would be hard even if we knew some info about daddy(ies)

  21. josie mammenga says:


  22. Jane says:

    I am studying Calico cats for project work and this is the toughest question for me to answer but you had it! Thank you!

  23. Emma says:

    My kitten has Hazel eyes, but they’re more like the human version of Hazel. They’re not at all like the Hazel in the pictures…there is actually a distinct ring of brown and an inner circle of green in each eye, much like you would see in a person. They’re really quite stunning!

  24. Irfan says:

    Is Grey a rare eye colour for white cat cause my white cat has grey eye color

    • Michael says:

      Good question. I think it rare. Blue is much more common. But it may be that your cat has very pale blue/grey eyes. Blue eyes are actually low or no pigment in the eye caused by the piebald gene that also removes pigment in the hair strands leaving them white.

      • Merkurius says:

        I have a female Devon Rex. Her eyes are really pale grey. She is not white all over, she has black tips on her ears and a black tail… Actually she is white but with brown spots and those black details. She’s two and a half years old. First I tought her eyes were blue but then they became really pale grey, I tought it was normal but I can’t find anything simular on the Internet. She’s not deaf nor blind… Explanations?

        • Michael Broad says:

          Sometimes the piebald gene (making the white fur) causes the eyes to be blue or one eye to be blue (odd eyed cat) but usually the eye color in such a cat is one of many colors depending on the genetic makeup of the individual cat. In other words the piebald gene had no effect in the case of your cat. That is what I think but I can’t guarantee that I am entirely correct. Thanks for asking and commenting.

  25. Marianne says:

    I just wanted to inform you that on this page , The “Odd Eyed cat” the term is called Herterochromia. It’s a very common hereditary trait in cats. If you want more information on Heterochromia and its causes etc. That is a good website with information. Hope you have a good day, and thanks for the website, it’s really helped me out a lot in deciding what temperament of a cat I need.

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