If your cat has just given birth to kittens, you'll notice that when they first open their eyes they are a gorgeous blue in colour. However, as time goes by this changes although a lot does depend on the melanin found in a kitten's iris that will determine the final colour. So why are kittens born with blue eyes only to have the colour change as they grow older? Read on to find out why.
Mature cats can have an assortment of eye colours which can range from brown, green, yellow, orange, gold, blue with lots of shades and hues in between. Their breed will typically dictate what colour their eyes will eventually be with quite a few breeds keeping their glorious blue eyes throughout their lives.
However, because a cat has blue eyes is not because of a colour pigmentation, but rather because of refracted light. Other eye colours seen in cats are as a result of a combination of pigments found in a cat's eyes and a percentage of transparency that's found in their outer eye.
When kittens are first born, their eyes are not fully developed and in truth, the only senses that are fully operational are a kitten's sense of smell and touch. All a kitten really has to do is sleep and eat for the first few weeks of their lives which their mothers help them do all the while protecting their offspring and keeping them warm. As days go by and kittens eat and sleep, their eyes finish developing ready to see the whole wide world when they first open them, which is generally around the second week after they were first born.
With this said, some kittens open their eyes a lot sooner, but it still takes a couple of days for them to fully open and their vision is still not that good during this time. It's during the following days that a kitten learns to process any light they see. In short, kittens don't see that well for the first few days after they open their eyes and their coordination is not that brilliant either!
It's not until a kitten is around 6 to 7 weeks old that they start to see things properly although some kittens can see things clearly a week or so earlier, it really does depend on the kitten because each and every one of them is unique, with the one consistent thing being that their eyes are blue when they are first born!
A kitten's eyes start to change colour if they are going to, when they are anything from 3 to 6 months old. The most important thing is for them to process light so their vision is good before the colour of their eyes finally change to the colour they will be for the rest of their lives. In truth, a kitten's eyes appear to be blue it's because of the light that's being refracted off their corneas. As the kitten gets older the hues start to change and it's when they are around 7 weeks old that the colour really begins to change noticeably.
A cat's iris contains melanocytes and it is this that starts producing melanin which is the pigment that will determine what colour a cat's eyes will be when they are fully mature. With this said, it's the amount of melanocytes found in the eye that will have an impact on the intensity and depth of colour found in your cat's eyes, but there are exceptions to this rule which includes cats with odd coloured eyes and those that boast blue eyes!
Blue-eyed mature cats retain this colour because they produce very little or no melanin at all and the same can be said for cats with two different coloured eyes. Great examples of breeds born with blue eyes that retain the colour throughout their lives include the following:
Colourpoint breeds as well as some bi-coloured breeds boast blue eyes simply because of the fact they don't produce a lot of melanin, but it's also because they possess certain genes that mask many other pigments which in short means they are present, it's just that they are hidden.
Cats have amazing eyes which allow them to hunt at night when there is no or very little light at all. Once a kitten's eyes are fully developed and they reach maturity, their eyes should remain the same colour whatever it finally turns out to be. If you notice that your pet's eyes are changing colour with age, it could be they are unwell or they could be developing a health disorder which needs to be checked out by a vet.
It could be they are developing some sort of eye infection or it could even be the first signs of them suffering from leukemia. In short, if you notice your adult cat's eyes look any different that they normally do, it's time for a quick trip to the vet so their eyes can be thoroughly examined so a treatment can be started sooner rather than later.