Cats With Laser Eyes: Why do Cats’ Eyes Glow?

Cats’ eyes glow. It makes them look like they’ve got laser weapons for eyes. If you remember old cartoons, where the bad guys could shoot laser beams from their eyes (and some of the superheroes could, too), this can sort of look like that. Especially if they’re also glaring at you. What is it about cats’ eyes that make them glow like this?

Cats’ eyes glow because of a special layer of cells

It turns out that cats’ eyes glow because they have a layer of reflective cells called the tapetum lucidum, according to Vetstreet. This layer is located between the back of the retina and the optic nerve, and functions almost like a mirror. The tapetum lucidum, along with the size of their eyes and pupils, allow cats to see moving things better in dim light. In other words, this is why they can see so well in the dark.

Breed and eye color are two of the things that affect the color of the glow

An interesting thing about the way cats’ eyes glow is that different breeds will have a different color glow. Look at the difference between Gizmo and Kali; the two cats in all the pictures above. Gizmo, who is a black shorthair, and a mix of Burmese, Bombay, and probably a couple of other breeds, has eyes that glow a greenish gold (they’re sometimes more gold than green). On the other hand, Kali, who is a mix of Norwegian Forest, Maine Coon, and probably a couple of other breeds, has eyes that glow green.

I’m not sure what breed(s) Kitty (above) was. However, she was an odd-eyed cat; she had one green eye and one blue eye. Vetstreet also mentions that eye color influences what color cats’ eyes glow. A cat with blue eyes has a red glow, and a cat with green eyes has a green glow. As you can see with Kitty, her blue eye glowed red, and her green eye glowed green. She could look frightening when we caught her in the right light.

The reason breed affects the color of the glow is because breed affects how much zinc or riboflavin is in the pigment of the cells. Zinc and riboflavin both act as reflective agents, but zinc is a metal, while riboflavin is an amino acid. Different breeds carry different amounts of each of these things in their eyes, and the density of each will affect the color of the glow.

Age will also affect how cats’ eyes glow

Age has something to do with it, too. Below are pictures of Chase when he was a young kitten, and his eyes were just changing color. They had an eerie, violet glow to them. Today, his eyes glow green, like his sister’s.

Vetstreet’s article says that, as cats age, the lenses of their eyes becomes denser. That affects how much light reflects back out of their eyes.

In other words, cats’ eyes glow because it makes them better hunters, especially for hunting in the dim light of dawn and dusk. It also helps them see better at night, which is another time that cats are active.

Chase: Young Kitten to Happy, Rebellious Cat

This is Chase. He and Kali came to us by way of my sister, whose neighbor had found them alone and cold at probably 2 weeks of age. Nobody has any idea what happened to their mother, but we think she might have been hit by a car and killed. They were the smallest little kittens we’d ever seen, too young to eat solid food, and still needing kitten milk for nourishment.

They had fleas, and they wouldn’t calm unless they were closed in somewhere, so we kept them in a carrier with a folded-up king-size flannel sheet, a sweatshirt, and a small heating pad beneath all of that, set on low.

 

Here is Chase in 2009. At this point, he’s about 3.5 to 4 weeks old.

 

Still 2009, and right about when his eyes started changing color. For awhile, he seriously looked like he had purple eyes.

 

He liked feet back then. He still likes feet, especially when they’re dirty.

 

This is still 2009, and he’s about 10 weeks old in this picture.

 

He loves dirty shoes, too.

 

Another photo of a 10-week old Chase.

 

TOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much catnip, too much partying.

 

This is 2010. At this point, Chase is about six months old. He’s starting to fill out, and his fur has gone from short to long. He doesn’t quite have a ruff at this age, but it was around now that we started noticing that he’s got Maine Coon in him.

 

Chase likes to sleep with his tongue out for some reason. We have several pictures of him sleeping like this.

 

Now it’s 2011, and we’d just put some new vertical space in. You can’t see it in this picture, but his favorite toy is above him, on a newly installed shelf. He doesn’t know yet where it went.

 

This picture was taken at Christmas in 2012, and we sadly had to hightail it out to my father’s house after my stepmother was in a fatal car crash. The crash happened over Thanksgiving weekend, our usual pet-sitters were out of town, I was having trouble finding a flight, so we packed up the car, including all four cats, and drove the whole way. The cats and I were there for about six weeks, and they wasted no time in making themselves at home.

 

2014 now, and of course Chase has long since become fully grown. He’s always been a very alert cat.

 

See the Maine Coon in him?

 

A happy Chase. He thinks I’m his mother.

 

The video below is just an example of how Chase is like a child, particularly caught doing something he knows he’s not supposed to be doing. We’re slowly trying to train him to stay off the table, but we have a long way to go.

When Cats are Obviously up to Something

You’ve noticed that your cats seem to sometimes work together to…who knows. They’re cats. They’re conspiring against us, and that’s all there is to it. They’re having secret meetings and conferences, and walking in on them is like walking in on the cool kids’ group in school. They stop what they’re doing, and give you a look that very clearly says, “GO AWAY.”

Below are six pics of cats that are clearly up to something:

 

Comfy, Sleepy Kitties

These are pics of all four of our kitties comfy, or sleepy, or both, in their favorite spots, in their favorite positions. Except for the one of Chase and Aria, who were trying to share that bed on my desk and only half succeeding.

This is Kali, looking at me through her ruff. She does this frequently, like she’s trying to be asleep and trying to watch what we’re doing at the same time.

When Gizmo can get the top of the condo, that’s where she likes to be. The sun warms her up, and she can see outside. Unfortunately, Kali or Chase usually claim the condo first. It’s a popular spot in our house.

This is an older picture of Aria, sound asleep and all twisted up. She’s always slept this way. We can even make her stretch her front paws by pressing lightly on her chest when she’s like this.

Chase and Aria get along okay, but they do bicker over this bed on my desk. Aria loves the bed itself, while Chase wants it so he can be close to me while I’m working.

When we have a blanket piled on the couch, all four of our cats will try and claim it, and it’s ends up being first come, first served. Whoever gets the blanket will stay there forever.

Chase doesn’t usually rest on his back, but every once in a great while, he will.

This is Gizmo when she’s completely relaxed. She’s high strung, and doesn’t relax like this very often. It’s a treat for us when she feels this way.

I actually called this picture “Kali Flatcat,” because she really flattened herself out here. Nuzzling on this pillow, and kneading on it (while drooling) are her favorite things to do when she wants to relax. If she relaxes enough, she gets so incredibly flat that I have no words for it.