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Our feline friends have a variety of different eye colors, some rare while others are more common. Can a cat's eye color ever be indicative of their breed? Not only that but more specifically, what breed could have orange-colored eyes? We've done the research and have some interesting information compiled for you.
True bright orange is a rare color for a feline's eyes. In fact, no cat breed is known specifically for orange eyes. The following cat breeds allow for orange eyes in the official breed standard -
- Devon Rex
- Japanese Bobtail
- American Wirehair
- Maine Coon
- Turkish Van
- Scottish Fold
Orange-eyed cats can occur in other breeds too. Some breeds, such as Persians, have copper listed as allowed eye color (very similar to orange). Of course, even non-pedigreed domestic shorthair and domestic longhair cats can have orange eyes.
Now that we've named some cat breeds that could have orange eyes, let's discuss each a little more. We'll discuss breed standards, as well as answer some additional questions you might have.
Can you tell a cat's breed by eye color?
If you're trying to identify your cat's breed based on the orange color of their eyes, keep in mind that there's a lot more to the breeds of felines, other than eye color.
Moreover, unless you bought or adopted a cat with a documented pedigree, odds are that your cat is not of any particular breed. The correct name for describing your cat would probably be "domestic shorthair", or possibly "domestic longhair" (depending on their coat). Known as DSH and DLH respectively, these are our gorgeous beloved pet cats that don't belong to any specific breed.
Domestic shorthairs and longhairs may have orange eyes, although true orange is relatively rare. Just because Kitty has bright orange eyes does not mean they are of a particular breed.
Read more about what breed your cat may look like: What Breed Is My Cat?
Cat Breeds that may have orange eyes
For our "operation orange cat eyes", we researched and referenced the CFA (Cat Fanciers Association) as well as TICA (The International Cat Association) breed standards. We listed above the cat breeds that allow for all eye colors, orange included.
It's worth noting that these standards may change over time. Also, there are other associations out there, and they may have slightly different breed standards listed.
The definition of orange cat eyes is also somewhat fluid. Amber and copper are also listed as possible eye colors for many breeds and may be indistinguishable from orange in some cases. Especially in photos, where lighting or further editing may cause variations.
With all that in mind, let's dive into the list of cat breeds that have orange eyes.
The Devon Rex has a distinct appearance and is best known for its soft wave coat. With their huge low-set ears, these kitties look quite impish, and they have a personality to match. The Devon Rex has a muscular body with a short muzzle and high cheekbones. These cats also tend to have a personality to match their looks.
Any eye color is acceptable in the Devon Rex to meet breed standards, though most have bluish aqua eyes. Orange is rarer in this breed than in others.
The Japanese Bobtail is a medium-sized cat with a defined structure and a slender build. These cats are considered the good luck cats of Japan. We've all likely seen many versions of a ceramic cat with a raised paw beckoning in homes and businesses as a symbol of good luck. That cat is traditionally a Japanese Bobtail.
This cat has high cheekbones and a long nose. As the name implies, it has a short, bunny-like tail and is generally colored in a bi-color or tri-colored pattern. Japanese Bobtails have been featured in art for at least 1,000 years. Overall, these cats are active and intelligent.
Check out our post about the Maneki Neko and the good luck they bring.
Although the Japanese Bobtail has large eyes, they are more oval than round. The breed standard allows any color of eyes, including orange.
The American Wirehair is a breed that's marked by its coarse and rough coat. This breed is energetic and adaptable. The American Wirehair is medium-sized with a firm and muscular body. They are closely related to the American Shorthair which is from where the mutation originated.
The eyes are wide-set, medium to large in size proportionate with the size of the head, and more rounded than oval. Any eye color is acceptable under the breed standard, though it should be a complement to the coat color. Many cats of this type with tortoiseshell coloring have orange eyes.
The Maine Coon is one of the only longhaired cats native to America. These cats are rugged and can endure cold harsh climates. They have smooth, shaggy coats and are overall very handsome. They have an affectionate nature, cute quirks, and are willing to help. The Maine Coon can adapt to many environments and has a medium to large body and a broad chest.
One of their most distinctive features is their eyes, which are large, oval to nearly round, expressive, and set at a slightly oblique angle. Any eye color is permissible but generally ranges from gold to green.
Read more: The Maine Coon Cat
The Turkish Van is a breed from the Middle East, thought to have originated in Turkey. They have a unique and distinctive pattern, generally having colored head and tail markings. These cats are solidly built, medium-length-haired with a wide chest, substantial body, and legs. The Turkish Van is intelligent and rare; they even have a waterproof coat which makes them adept at swimming.
The Turkish Van is the only breed of cat which most often has amber or orange-colored eyes. Other eye colors are okay in regards to the breed standard, and some might even have multi-colored eyes.
The Scottish Fold cat was a mutation that occurred in farm cats in Scotland. They are marked by their ears which fold forward and remain resting on their heads. The Scottish Fold has an open, friendly, sweet expression. The breed was established by crossing British Shorthair and domestic cats.
All Scottish Fold cats can trace their lineage to the first fold-eared cat discovered by William and Mary Ross, who founded the breed. If you're considering a Scottish Fold for your next pet, make sure not to breed them. The mutation they carry could be fatal when two cats with folded ears are crossed.
The Scottish Fold cat has an excessive amount of melanin in their eyes, so generally, they are amber, orange, or brown.
How Is Cat Eye Color Determined?
Similar to humans, a cat's eye color is determined by a pigment called melanin. In addition to adding pigmentation, melanin protects the skin and eyes from the sun's harmful rays. Both layers of a cat's iris contain cells that produce melanin, called melanocytes, and the more a cat's eyes have the darker they will become.
A cat's eyes rarely get darker than amber or orange, however, unlike a human's eyes. If a cat's eyes are blue, they have no melanin in them at all.
What Color Eyes Do Most Cats Have?
The most common eye color for cats ranges from greenish-yellow to gold. Cats tend to lack melanin in their eyes so most of them have very light-colored eyes. This is why most domestic shorthair cats have yellow or green eyes as they aren't kept to breed standards.
What Is The Rarest Eye Color For Cats?
The rarest eye color for cats is amber or orange, for the same reason lighter eyes, such as yellow or gold, are so common. It's all attributed to the melanin content.
At What Age Do Cats Get Their Eye Color?
All kittens are born with blue eyes. This is because the melanocytes in the kitten's eyes haven't started producing the melanin yet.
Kitten's eyes start changing at around 4-6 weeks, but their true adult color won't show until they are around 4 months old. Some kittens have heterochromia, a condition where their eyes aren't the same color. This doesn't hurt them in any way; it just means the melanin didn't reach both eyes.
Many breeds of cats might have orange eyes. Though it is rare, the possibility is definitely there, and in some breeds more prevalent than others. Let us know if you have a furry friend with orange eyes so we can coo over the cuteness with you.