Why Does My Cat Have Brown Eyes?

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Martha's kitten has "dull brown eyes," and she wonders why. Cat eye colors come in an astonishing array, and we'll tell you all about it in this post.

Cat eye colors come in an astonishing variety. Photo via Pixabay

Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

My sweet tuxedo black 5-month-old kitten has dull brown eyes. Definitely not amber. I have never seen a cat with this color eyes. Her sight seems fine. Any concerns?

~Martha

Martha's kitten has brownish eyes.Thomas: Well, Martha, you sent us a picture of your kitten with this letter, and her eyes definitely do look brownish–that’s the photo to the right.

Bella: But we think that her eyes are hazel or very light copper colored, if the photo’s colors are correct.

Tara: You see, cat eye colors come in an amazing array. And we don’t think there’s anything wrong with your kitten based on her eye color.

Thomas: If her eyes had suddenly changed color, we’d be more concerned, but it looks like she’s just grown out of her blue “kitten eyes” into her adult eye color.

Bella: Let’s talk a little bit more about cat eye colors. There’s a great chart over on  Messybeast.com that shows the variety of cat eye colors.

Tara: There are a couple of things that determine eye color. First, the relative intensity of eye pigmentation is driven by cells called melanocytes. They produce a pigment called melanin, which causes colors to be darker.

Thomas: Black cats like Bella have lots of melanocytes in their fur, which is what causes it to be so dark.

Tara: And Mama just found out that my skin is black and white under my fur, when she took me in to give blood and they shaved a spot in my neck to do so.

Bella: But eye color isn’t necessarily linked with skin or fur color in cats. Although I’m black, I have very light yellow eyes.

Thomas: And a white Persian cat could have dark copper-colored eyes.

Bella: The iris, or colored part of the eye, has two layers of these melanocytes. The outer layer is called the stroma, and it has loosely arranged color pigment cells. The inner layer, the epithelium, has a lot more tightly packed cells.

Tara: Another factor in cat eye colors is what’s called blue refraction. If you look at a pane of glass, it looks clear when you’re looking right through it. But the edges are blue- or green-looking because of that blue refraction phenomenon.

Thomas: Looking into a cat’s eye is like looking through blue glass; the blue tint affects how we see the other colors in the iris.

Bella: The type of color and its intensity depends on the number of melanocytes and how active they are. If there aren’t any melanocytes, the eyes appear blue. Few melanocytes give a paler tint, and a high number of melanocytes gives a richer pigment.

Tara: Then there’s the whole “how active are those melanocytes?” question. If they’re less active, you get paler shades of green, yellow, or orange; and if they’re more active, you’ll get deeper shades of green, orange, or gold.

Thomas: We think your cat has hazel eyes. This is actually the natural eye color of cats that live in temperate climates. And it’s certainly not unheard of for cats to have hazel or tan-colored eyes.

Bella: So, we hope we’ve been able to reassure you about your kitten’s eyes, and maybe even provide a fun lesson on cat eye colors in the process.

Tara: What about you other readers? Do you have questions about the color of your cat’s eyes? Do you want to know more about how cat eye colors work? Please share your questions in the comments!

 

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Why Does My Cat Pee Outside the Box When I Go Away?

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Karla wants to know why her cat will pee outside the box every time she goes away. Get the Paws and Effect Gang's answer in this week's post.

There are many reasons why a cat might pee outside the box. Tara’s got her pencil out and she’s ready to tell you all about it.

Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

I have a question about one of our cats. She is 2 years old and we have had her checked for a urinary tract infection and vet has cleared her twice now. It seems every time we go away for more then a couple of days, she pees on things. We have friends come and clean out the litter box often. I have also used the pet pee order removal and cleaner to spray around the house and she seems to just go around that area. I was wondering if she could be doing this because we leave her alone? Please let me know if anyone else has had this problem and what they have done to cure it. Thank you for your time

~ Karla

Tara: Well, Karla, “why does my cat pee outside the box” is one of the most frequently asked behavior questions. And I’ll admit I have a little bit of an inappropriate elimination history of my own, so I think I can help you here.

Thomas: Most young cats don’t develop urinary tract infections, but it’s always a good idea to get a vet check–like you did–when your cat starts peeing inappropriately. So the first step, if your cat is peeing outside the box, is to go to the vet and make sure your kitty doesn’t have a UTI or crystals in her urine.

Bella: Once your cat has gotten cleared by the vet, then you can move on to behavior issues.

Tara: The number one behavioral reason cats pee outside the box is stress. And stress can come in many forms. It’s quite possible that your kitty gets stressed when you go away, even if you have friends coming over to clean the litter box and play with her.

Thomas: So what do you do about that? You can’t stay home all the time, after all.

Bella: First, you’ll need to figure out why your cat always pees in the same places. Are those places near doors or windows? If so, she may be reacting to another cat or wildlife in your yard. That could cause territorial stress: she sees someone in “her” space but she can’t do anything about it…so she pees to mark her territory.

Tara: The first step you’ll need to take is to do a deep cleaning of the places she pees. You’ll want to use an enzymatic cleaner or a carbon dioxide-based cleaner. Use a black light to find the pee spots and clean them up following the instructions on the product.

Thomas: Once you’ve neutralized the odors, it’s time to provide a “yes” for the “no” of peeing on the floor. Place litter boxes where she pees when you’re away.

Tara: Mama did that for me. After she found out that I’d peed all over a kitty bed, she threw it away and put a litter box in its place. Because it was located where I felt safe, I started using the litter box instead of peeing on the floor or a cat bed.

Bella: Then you’ll want to get a plug-in pheromone diffuser. Marketed under the name Feliway Comfort Zone, this product is available at most pet stores and online. Plug the diffuser into a socket in the room where she most often pees when you’re away.

Tara: You see, that Comfort Zone emits a synthetic “happy cat” pheromone that should reduce her stress and keep her from peeing outside the litter box.

Thomas: Another thing you should do is have your friends play with your cat while you’re away. Play will increase your cat’s confidence, which will reduce her territorial stress or separation anxiety.

Bella: We’re big fans of interactive toys like Da Bird and Neko Flies, because we can play with them like we’re hunting and it’s super-fun! Again, these toys are available in pet stores and online.

Tara: Basically, what this boils down to is that if you don’t want your cat to pee outside the box, you’ll need to address her stress and the location of the litter box. If you only have one litter box, consider adding one or two more.

Thomas: Sure, it’s not going to do wonders for your interior design, but at least this should keep your kitty from peeing on the floor. If you have more than one cat, having multiple boxes in different locations is a necessity.

Bella: That’s right. Multiple litter boxes make it difficult for one cat to “guard” the litter box and prevent the other cat from using it.

Tara: That’s one reason why Mama has three litter boxes in different rooms. I’m still a little shy about peeing because I feel so vulnerable. But Thomas can’t guard all three litter boxes, so there’s almost always a safe place for me to do my business. That way, I don’t have to pee outside the box!

Thomas: What are you talking about? I’m not “guarding” the litter box; I’m just watching to make sure you’re okay!

Tara: Mmmmmm, I don’t know if I believe that. But you are a nice big brother and you groom my head for me sometimes, so I guess you’re all right.

Thomas: See? My gentleman kitty charms are working!

Bella: Anyway, Karla, we hope this helps you to get your cat’s situation sorted out.

Tara: What about you other readers? Have you had a cat who pees outside the box? What did you do to rehabilitate them? Please share your tips in the comments!

The post Why Does My Cat Pee Outside the Box When I Go Away? appeared first on Cat Advice | Paws and Effect.

How Can I Get My Wobbly Cat To Play Again?

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There are lots of things you can do to get a wobbly cat playing again.

There are lots of things you can do to get a wobbly cat playing again. Photo via Pixabay

Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

Two months ago, my eleven-year-old cat Angel had some sort of brain incident (the vets never figured out what) that caused her to completely lose her sense of balance. She’s improved some since, but she still wobbles when she walks, falls if she tries to run, and is clumsy jumping onto furniture. She’s pretty happy, though, eating well, purring, and generally acting normal.

The only thing that concerns me is that she hardly plays anymore. She used to love chasing jingly balls around the floor but now has no interest. So my question is, could you ask people whose cats have CH or other reasons for lack of balance what sort of games they enjoy? Some ideas for things to introduce Angel to would be welcome.

~ Levana

Thomas: We’re so sorry that your cat had a brain problem. She’s lucky she has a mom like you who’s ready to do everything she can to make her life better.

Bella: You’re definitely on the right track seeking advice from people whose cats have cerebellar hypoplasia, because wobbly cats like to play, too.

Tara: It’s definitely a good sign that your Angel is purring and enjoying a good quality of life, apart from the play issue. And we can help you with that.

Thomas: We found a website called Life With CH Cats, which is an amazing storehouse of information on all aspects of living with a wobbly cat. They’ve got some suggestions on toys and play, and we’ll share some of them here.

Bella: First of all, the Life With CH Cats folks encourage people to give their kitties the benefit of the doubt and get them a nice cat tree. Now, it doesn’t have to be 10 feet tall–in fact, about 36 inches high might be good to start with.

Tara: But the key here is that the tree needs to be sturdy. There’s nothing as scary to a wobbly cat as being on a wobbly piece of furniture.

Thomas: We’d recommend something heavy with a nice, wide base and a ramp that will allow her to get to the top of the cat tree without having to jump.

Bella: Put that cat tree in a window so she can enjoy watching birds and people while basking in a sun puddle.

Tara: This will help her build up her muscles so that she’ll have more strength even if she stays wobbly for the rest of her life.

Thomas: We’d recommend using a “thing on a string” toy to coax her into moving, even a little bit. You can control the speed and motion of the toy, and being able to do a little bit of aerobic play–even if she’s just lying on the ground and batting at the toy–will help build her confidence.

Bella: A kicker toy might be a nice treat, too, especially if it’s filled with fresh catnip. She doesn’t have to run after it, but if she likes catnip, she might enjoy playing with a catnip-filled toy. Using a kicker toy will also help her rebuild her coordination. You can even make her a kicker if you have some crafting skills.

Tara: Angel might also enjoy “ball in a track” toys because they’ll encourage her to bat and they’ll be mentally stimulating, too. The Bergan Turbo Track toy might be a good place to start.

Thomas: The track toy should be on a carpet so it doesn’t slide when Angel tries to play with it.

Bella: So essentially, what your wobbly cat needs is toys that can build her strength and confidence now that she can’t chase toys across the room like she used to.

Tara: By doing interactive play with her using that thing on a string toy, you’ll also help her build her confidence. In doing so, you may even find her being more encouraged to play with her other toys.

Thomas: What about you other readers? Do you have a wobbly cat? What kinds of toys have you found work best for your kitty?

Bella: Please share your ideas in the comments!

The post How Can I Get My Wobbly Cat To Play Again? appeared first on Cat Advice | Paws and Effect.