Angela Westfall
Your guide to this article today is by cat expert Angela Westfall
Published 15:50 pm

So, you just brought home a cute kitten with the most adorable blue eyes! However, you should note that those mesmerizing baby blue eyes are not likely to remain blue. For most kittens, their eye color is expected to change with maturity and only a minor percentage of them get to attain adulthood with blue eyes. The change in eye color is a gradual process with the most common being yellow, green, golden-brown, and hazel. Now the big question is when do kitten’s eyes change? Continue reading to get more info.

Little kittens playing

When Do Kittens Open Their Eyes?

Before answering the question of when kittens open their eyes, we have to acknowledge the fact that they are born blind. From their mother’s womb to the whelping box, kittens come out with both eyes sealed shut, and are completely useless functionally. In the same way as their closed eyes and hairless bodies, kittens are born with underdeveloped eyes. The only functional senses at birth are those of smell and touch and the newborn will only be able to feed and sleep through the mother’s assistance – these are the summary of the two functions that a kitten is good at. These two activities are what will provide the young cat with raw material and sustenance for growth and development, which includes getting the eyes ready for sight.

Under normal circumstances, a kitten’s eye should be mature enough to open in its second week of life – from seven to 14 days post-birth; however, many of them develop at their own pace. And once the kitten’s eyelids start separating, two days or three should be sufficient for them to be fully opened. Important to note that even when they eventually open, the eyes don’t become functional immediately – the eyes will start maturing, developing the natural abilities to interpret sensory input and to process light.

And between the first month of birth to the fifth week, vision will be blurred. The cat is expected to stumble about at this stage, as coordination is still work in progress. Full visual and ocular functionality is expected to be achieved between five to seven weeks. Additionally, it is during its developmental period that a kitten learns to see; however, the eyes wouldn’t have attained full maturity at that stage – this includes assuming its adult color. However, this may not happen until the kitten is between three to six months.

When Do Kitten’s Eyes Change Color?

Once a kitten opens its eyes, the color impression will be blue, which will be sustained for the succeeding three weeks. That blue hue is usually the effect of the outer translucent covering of the eyeball, light that refracts off the cornea, and the relative depth or thickness of the young cat’s four layers. And with maturity, human perception of a feline’s eyes will continue to be influenced and affected by this refracted blue or perhaps blue-green layer.

So, when does the eye color change begin to take effect? Experts say that it starts from six to seven weeks. The colored part of the eye called iris is made up of melanocytes, which kicks in to commence the production of melanin once the cat’s eye reaches sufficient maturity. Melanin is that pigment that is responsible for the adult coloration of a cat’s eye. A kitty’s final eye color, depth and intensity are dependent on the number of melanocytes available, and how much of melanin they produce. At the two extremes are green and brown, with brown meaning that the most amount of melanin was produced and green signify the least.

Kitten lying on the blanket

Kitten Eye Color Predictor

The epithelium and the stroma are the layers in a cat’s iris that function as determinants of eye color – both layers contain the pigmented cells. However, the pigment cells are loosely arranged in the stroma, which functions as the outer layer. The epithelium is located underneath the stroma with its pigment cells tightly packed.

The two layers are contributors to the pigmentation, but the amount contributed by each varies. In between the abundant pigmentation that leads to gold, brown or orange eyes and the less pigmentation that results in green eye is the no pigmentation situation that turns out to be blue. Outside of genetics, neither gender nor coat pattern/color can affect the color of a kitten’s eyes.

Additionally, as most kittens attain adulthood, their eyes are believed to be on a color continuum ranging from a green color to yellow to orange and then copper. However, there are still breeds such as the Siamese, which retains the blue eye throughout and we have also heard of cat’s eyes described as hazel, blue-green, amber, and gold. It is perfectly normal and healthy for a breed like Siamese to end up with blue eyes. If the eyes of an adult cat appear healthy, shiny, and functional, then it is fine. The feline’s eyes just happen to be naturally blue. In some breeds, the eye color change can be a gradual process – it can even take up to a whole year for the process to be completed and the cat’s eyes finally darkens to its mature hue.

Also, as a kitten matures and runs the gamut of eye color change from blue to the final hue, a fleck of all those different colors might be observed. The melanocytes is also responsible for these color flecks, though it is genetics that dictates a cat’s final eye coloration just like in humans.

How About the Odd-Eyed Cat?

There are still cases where a kitty’s eye can mature into two distinct colors like yellow on one side and blue on the other. We can still have instances of blue and green, blue and orange, and blue and brown. In a layman’s language, this is referred to as odd-eye, but it is called heterochromia scientifically. While the odd eye is possible in any breed, it is most common among mostly white felines or solid colored ones. What’s more, heterochromia is widespread among Turkish Van, Turkish Angora, and Japanese Bobtail cats.

Nevertheless, so long as the eyes are not emitting discharge, are very clear, and functional, they are considered healthy. What the cat has is some kind of uncommon gene combination. However, pet parents who are worried can always call on a vet for further examination.

Even with the odd-eyed cat considered healthy, many stories abound that they are susceptible to blindness, but this is not so. Hereditary deafness may be common among white kitties; however, the ones with one or two blue eyes may be more susceptible. Interesting to note that when the deafness does occur, it usually affects the ear on the side with the blue eyes.

Can a Cat’s Eye Still Change Color Later in Life?

Once it attains maturity, a feline’s eye color is not expected to change again, and if you observe a change in eye color; it may be signalling a health problem, which may require the attention of a vet. Although there have been quite a few cases of late bloomers, most cases of eye color change during adulthood indicates an underlying medical condition. So, cat parents should be informed enough to spot the difference between color in a cat’s iris and in the cornea – that way; they will be better equipped to dictate an oncoming clinical condition.

And even though a blue iris and a blue cornea might be normal; however, a severe eye infection is capable of changing the color of the cornea to blue; thus a sudden change in the cornea of your furby’s eyes may call for the attention of the veterinarian.

Three cat on the grass

When You Should Worry

Whenever you suspect an eye problem or observe unusual changes in your furry friend’s eyes, it would be best to inform the vet. Generally, the eyes of a kitten or a full grown cat should be clear and bright. Symptoms of scratched eye or infection are detectable through discharge, swelling, excessive blinking, cloudiness, nictitating membrane, and visible third eyelid. Others include squinting, evidence of crust on both corners of the feline’s eyes, and watery or tearing eyes.

In fact, conjunctivitis happens to be the most common feline eye issue – the infection is highly contagious. The symptom for conjunctivitis is usually runny eyes. It is not unusual for the kitten to be squinting with traces of dark tear stains evident on its fur. The good news is that conjunctivitis is easily curable with the right medication.

Uveitis is another feline eye infection that is relatively common. A quick study of the eye anatomy will tell us that the uvea is that part of a cat’s eye that includes the choroid (this refers to the central part of the eyeball that contains the blood vessels), the iris, and the ciliary body (located at the back of the iris). An inflammation occurring in one or more of these aforementioned parts is known as uveitis and the condition may be indicated by symptoms like discharge, redness, color change, and cloudiness. Uveitis can be easily treated if caught early.

Angela Westfall
Angela has fostered, adopted, screened and saved cats for over 15 years. She is known as one of Central Ohio’s most passionate and knowledgeable cat enthusiasts. Her rescue, Angels Assisting Felines has partnerships with PetSmart and PetSuppliesPlus to help more cats find great homes.

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