Black Cat Eyes – Unraveling the Mystery of that Piercing Gaze

Black Cat EyesGreen is the classic hallmark of black cat eyes. Since it’s so popular we even chose it as our favorite site icon!

But there’s more to the story.

When we dig into the science, it’s genetics that determine their eye color and there are some interesting twists and turns that might surprise you.

Black Cat Eyes – Are They Really All Green?

SPOILER ALERT: No.

Hang on, though. Don’t you want to understand the reasons why and different varieties? You’d want to show off your knowledge to your favorite cat lover, wouldn’t you? Of course you would! So here’s the scoop.

Black cat eyes come in several colors – green, yellow, orange and even blue. A blue-eyed black cat is rare, as a black cat with blue eyes carries the gene for white fur. Some cat breeds and types have a specified eye color, and it’s true that it’s more common for a black cat to have green or yellow eyes. However, keep in mind that any black cat can have any of the listed colors if they are a mixed, non-specific breed.

But there are more fascinating facts we bet you didn’t know…

How Your Black Cat Got Its Eye Color

First off, this is kind of a crazy thing about black kittens – most of them will have blue eyes! But they won’t stay that color. Strange, right? The reason they are blue at that early age is because their melanocytes haven’t started working. “Melanocytes” is just a fancy word for “pigment-producing cell.”

As the kitten ages they will reveal their true colors to you. Their eye color is determined by the amount of melanocytes they inherited.

Let’s break it down into different possibilities. If a black kitten has a lot of these melanocytes, his eyes will turn orange or gold. However if a black kitten has fewer of these melanocyte cells he will develop green eyes. If he has no melanocyte pigment, his eyes will stay blue. This rather odd eye color change usually begins to take place between 3 and 8 weeks and keeps transforming before settling on their permanent eye color when they are about three months old. Some breeds, like the Siamese, keep their baby blues into adulthood.

Now that you’re all smarty-pants about black cat eyes and the genetics behind them, take a few minutes to read our checklist to keep those peepers healthy!

Black Cat Eye Health – Keep them Shining Bright!

Whatever color your cat’s eyes are, healthy eyes are clean, clear, alert, and have responsive pupils. Here are a few things to look for to make sure kitty is healthy:

  • Green eyes turn orange or red – This could be uveitis (inflammation in the eye). If left untreated could cause permanent damage so don’t delay if you notice this.
  • Eyes change colors to brown or dark yellow – This could be as a result of injury, feline AIDS, feline leukemia or buildup of red blood cells in the eyes.
  • Runny and/or crusty eyes – This could be as a result of URI, Upper Respiratory Infection or allergies.
  • Cloudy eyes – This could be normal in an older cat as it’s often a sign of cataracts, but could be a sign of injury in a younger cat.
  • Rapid side-to-side motion of eyes – This is called pendular nystygmus. This condition tends to occur in cats with Siamese genetics, is permanent, and in that case is nothing to worry about. However, if this rapid eye movement is not your cat’s “normal” and they appear dizzy or off balance, he or she could be having an episode of vestibular syndrome and need treatment.
  • New dark spots in the eye – Those melanocytes we mentioned earlier can sometimes begin to divide rapidly causing small tumors. In some cases they are totally benign and will  not harm your cat. Yet in some cases they can be more serious. Your vet can run a check-up to let you know.

Any sign of these symptoms means it’s good time to call and visit the vet. Early treatment could save your cuddle buddy’s vision and of course it will set your mind at ease.

So there you have it, you now know more about black cat eyes that practically anyone, so we hope you can see their gaze in a new light.


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