Cat Eye Color Changes That Are Normal & When to Worry

Kittens often have baby blues that will change color. But if your adult cat's eye color changes, it may be time to talk to your vet.

Updated August 25, 2023
Portrait of domestic cat

It's not unusual for a young kitten's eye color to change during her first few months of life. The eye color that your kittens are born with isn't likely to stick around.

If you notice their eyes start changing color after they hit the three-month mark, that's when you might want to raise an eyebrow. It's not the typical pattern, and it could be a sign that something is up. So it's always best to keep an eye on things — no pun intended — and have a chat with the vet if you're concerned.

Why Do Kitten Eyes Change Color?

Kittens are born with blue eyes, and they display this color in the beginning because the irises don't have pigment yet. Kittens have these special pigment cells called melanocytes that really kick into gear during their first three months. Think of these melanocytes as little artists painting the iris. The more of them there are, the darker those cute kitten eyes will turn. The colors can be anything from a soft, dreamy blue to a rich, glowing amber. 

If you're curious about what color your kitty's eyes will turn out to be, sometimes their breed can give you a hint. Different cat breeds have signature eye colors, so their ancestry can play a part in the final shade.

Quick Tip

Think of it kind of like when babies are born with blue eyes, and then they change to their lifetime color as they get older. 

Heterochromia Causes Eyes of Different Colors

Spotted cat with different coloured eyes yellow green and light blue

In some cases, a kitten develops eyes that are two distinct colors. Both eyes may develop two colors, or each eye may be a different color. This color variation, referred to as heterochromia, occurs when there are unequal amounts of melanocytes in the irises. The full-color change can take months to complete. Heterochromia is not considered a medical problem; cats that have this condition stand out and look quite unique.

Health Issues That Cause Cat Eye Color Changes

Once a kitten has developed her true eye color, it shouldn't change over the course of her life. If it does, the change can usually be attributed to some sort of disease or trauma to the tissue, which could affect one or both eyes. Here are some of the most common causes.

Red Eye Color Change Could Be Uveitis

Domestic ginger cat with uveitis

Uveitis causes inflammation, which changes a cat's normal eye color to a murky red. It's typically caused by trauma, an infection, glaucoma, or cancer, but the underlying cause can be difficult to diagnose.

Uveitis is determined by appearance and other accompanying symptoms, including tearing, obvious pain, and sensitivity to light. If your kitty's got it, the vet might suggest some anti-inflammatory meds, and in some cases, even surgery.

Cataracts Cause Milky Eye Color Change

Cat with Cataracts

Cataracts cause a cat's lens to become cloudy or milky looking, and it can affect one or both eyes. Cataracts can form due to injuries, but they can also be caused by diseases, including diabetes or hypertension.

Cataracts are diagnosed by their appearance as well as any obvious loss of vision. Treatment for the underlying cause is essential, but surgery is sometimes required to remove an affected lens and replace it with an artificial one.

Jaundice Causes Yellow Discoloration

Adult cat with liver failure, jaundice skin and dehydration

Jaundice is a common byproduct of liver disease, but there are other diseases, including cancer and feline infectious peritonitis, that can also cause jaundice. A buildup of bilirubin in a cat's system causes a yellow discoloration of the whites of the eyes, skin, and mucous membranes.

This yellow coloration is often accompanied by other symptoms, such as lethargy and loss of appetite. A veterinarian will typically run blood tests and a urinalysis to diagnose the exact cause of the jaundice. Treatment varies according to the underlying cause, but it usually includes hospitalization, intravenous fluids, and nutritional support. 

Need to Know

Some diseases that cause this symptom are fatal.

Corneal Ulcers Make Eyes Look Milky, Cloudy, or Pinkish

Kitty with corneal ulcer eye

Corneal ulcerations happen when the front part of the eye, the cornea, gets damaged. If a cat's eye looks cloudy, milky, or even a bit pink, it could be because of one of these ulcers. They usually happen if a cat gets a scratch from another cat or something gets stuck in their eye. But infections, like from the feline herpesvirus, can cause them too.

If you're worried about it, a vet can easily check. They use a dye called fluorescein, and when they drop it in the eye, any damaged spot turns green. And if there's an ulcer, they usually treat it with some meds directly on the ulcer and sometimes give antibiotics to keep away other nasty infections.

Corneal Sequestrum Appears as Brown or Yellow Color Changes

Corneal sequestrum produces brown to black plaques of dead tissue on the cornea. Persian, Siamese, Burmese, and Himalayan cats seem to be affected by this condition more than other breeds.

This painful condition is diagnosed by the appearance of plaques and accompanying symptoms, such as tearing and squinting. Some treatment options include antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drops, antiviral therapy, or removal of the affected tissue, followed by a corneal graft to protect the cornea as it heals.

Eosinophilic Keratitis Make Eye Color Change to Pink, White, or Gray

Eosinophilic keratitis causes a pink, white, or gray film to develop over the cornea. A veterinarian typically reaches a diagnosis by extracting cell samples from the cat's eye to look for eosinophils or mast cells in the samples.

While it's often difficult to determine the exact underlying cause of this condition, the eyes can be treated with a topical steroid. Early treatment is crucial to avoid permanent eye damage.

Early Diagnosis Is Key to Treatment

It's a good idea to take a quick peek at your furball's eyes every day. If you see even a tiny change in their eye color, it might be time for a trip to the vet. Getting on top of it early can help keep those peepers healthy and might even catch bigger health issues before they get too serious. It only takes a few seconds, and it's a super simple way to look out for your kitty's wellbeing.

Cat Eye Color Changes That Are Normal & When to Worry