Every feature of a Maine Coon is outstanding. We wax lyrical about their size, their beautiful coats, the length of their tails and those cute tufty ears and toes! Let’s not overlook one other quiet beguiling feature: the windows to their soles – those beautiful Maine Coon eyes!
Maine Coon cats have large, wide-set eyes, set at a slightly oblique angle. Whilst their eyes are a stunning feature, they also reveal certain health information. Your Maine Coon’s eyes should be clear and bright with equal-sized pupils. Anything else could signify a problem.
A Maine Coon’s eye color varies from light to deep shades of amber, gold, orange, copper, gold, and green. Cats with a solid white coat or any amount of white with other colors can have blue eyes or odd eyes (Heterochromia Iridis) where one eye is blue and the other is any of the other possible colors.
Parts of a cat’s eye
This article discusses various components of a Maine Coon’s eyes. Here’s a quick definition of each:
This is the colored part of the eye and in cats, it fills the whole of the opening.
Our pupils are circular whereas Maine Coon eyes have pupils that are vertical slits. A cat’s pupils can dilate until they almost fill the whole visible eye space. This happens for several reasons: to let in more light, when a cat is excited or scared, or when a cat is angry.
The transparent part of the eye that covers the pupil and iris.
This is positioned behind the iris and the pupil and changes shape to allow a cat to focus images on its retina.
This is at the back of the eye and is a bit like a cinema screen where images are formed.
Maine Coon Eye Color
Though the Cat Fancier’s Association (CFA) states the desired eye colors are shades of green, gold, green-gold or copper, you might see a Maine Coon whose eyes appear to be orange, yellow, or amber.
There is generally no relationship between eye color and coat color. If a Maine Coon has no white fur it cannot have blue eyes or odd eyes.
White or part white Maine Coons can have blue eyes and odd eyes. One of the odd eyes is always blue and the other eye can be any of the previously mentioned colors.
Eye colors are usually clear and uniform. As a Maine Coon reaches its senior years you may notice flecks of lighter color appear.
Maine Coon Eye Color Change
Maine Coon kittens are born with dark blue eyes. Unless they have solid white or part white coats, a kitten’s eyes will always change to one of the usual colors. Solid white or part white kittens may keep their blue eyes but they will lighten in color.
An adult Maine Coon’s eyes do not change color but they may lighten and become less clear with age.
Heterochromia Iridis (odd-colored eyes)
White or part-white Maine Coons are prone to Heterochromia Iridis where one eye is blue and the other is one of the usual eye colors.
The condition is caused by a genetic anomaly that prevents melanin from being sent to one eye to give it color. An affected cat is left with one blue eye and the other colored as both should have been.
Two genes lead to odd-eyes occurring: one causes white coats and the other causes part-white coats hence it’s only those Maine Coons that have odd-eyes.
Often, odd-eyed cats inherit both the dominant white gene and the white spotting gene. It is extremely rare for a cat without both genes to be born with odd-colored eyes.
Maine Coon Eye Shape
Maine Coon eyes are large and almond-shaped. They are wide-set, high on the face and are positioned at an oblique angle leading upward towards the outer base of each ear.
When a Maine Coon really stares, its eyes become almost circular.
Maine Coons have vertical slit pupils which are common in nocturnal animals. They provide the sharpest way to gauge their distance from their prey.
Maine Coon Eye Problems
Symptoms of eye problems in Maine Coons include discharge, watery eyes, squinting, excessive blinking, squinting, or pawing at the eye.
Like all cats, Maine Coons have an extra eyelid at the inner corner of their eyes referred to as the third eyelid or nictitating membrane. This membrane may become more noticeable if a cat has an eye infection.
1. Eye infection
Bacteria and viruses can cause infections in Maine Coon eyes. These can be caught from other cats. Common examples of bacterial infection are Chlamydia and Mycoplasma. Feline herpesvirus and calicivirus are common viral infections.
- The whites of the eyes look red and inflamed
- A sticky clear or yellow discharge
- The third eyelid at the inner corner of the eye protrudes
Bacterial infections can be treated with antibiotics in the form of ointment or drops.
Viral eye infections usually run their course but are sometimes treated in the same way as bacterial infections if a vet thinks it necessary. Severe viral infections may require anti-viral medications.
Cats can from time to time receive eye trauma injuries. These can result in many ways for example, from fighting or from being struck in the eye by an object such as a twig.
In worse case scenarios you may notice a laceration of the cornea. This or a scratch on the surface of the eye will cause repetitive blinking and watery eyes.
After assessing the damage a vet may prescribe an antibiotic and a surgical collar to prevent the cat from pawing at its wounded eye.
Maine Coons can have allergic reactions that irritate their eyes in the same way hayfever irritates some people. Allergens include:
- Topical flea-control products
- Cleaning products
A cat with an allergy may have watery eyes, a discharge, or redness in the whites of their eyes. It may also sneeze or wheeze.
A vet will help you determine the cause of the allergy and may provide an antihistamine topical treatment.
4. Iris discoloration
This is known as iris melanosis and is a darkening of the iris that is caused by a rapid increase of cells that produce melanin. Iris melanosis is benign, but it can become malignant and should be monitored closely by your vet.
Small dark spots appear on the iris and gradually spread.
Consult a vet as early as possible as this condition can lead to glaucoma, retinal detachment or malignant cancer that can spread to other organs.
Your vet will recommend the best course of treatment.
Feline glaucoma is a condition where the watery fluid (known as the aqueous humor) just behind the lens, no longer drains normally. This results in an accumulation of fluid that puts pressure on the optic nerve, which leads from the eye to the brain.
Glaucoma causes gradual cloudiness of the eyes, pupils that no longer react to light as they should, squinting and an increase in the size of the eyes.
Glaucoma is untreatable but symptoms can be relieved with prescribed eye drops.
6. Corneal Ulcer
A corneal ulcer is also known as Ulcerative Keratitis and occurs when the deeper layers of the cornea are lost.
- Eye trauma
- Tear deficiency
- Foreign body
- Chemical burn
A cat with a corneal ulcer will have red, watery eyes. It may squint due to light sensitivity or even keep its affected eye closed. There may be a discharge or a film over the eye. It might rub at its eye with its paw.
Treatment will depend on the underlying cause and surgery may be necessary. A vet will assess the situation before taking the correct course of action. A surgical collar will be applied to stop the cat pawing at its eye.
Cataracts are caused by a thickening of the lens of the eye. Feline cataracts often develop after an inflammation as a result of eye trauma, viral infection, or other infection. Poor nutrition as a kitten can also be a cause.
A cat with cataracts will develop a whitish-gray area in the center of its eye.
If the cataracts are caught early a vet may be able to establish and treat the underlying cause.
Sometimes surgery is recommended.
Annual eye exams are the best way to monitor a cat’s eye health and hopefully prevent cataracts from developing.
8. Detached Retina
If a Maine Coon’s retina detaches in one eye, its eyesight will be lost in that eye. One or both eyes can be affected.
Causes include elevated blood pressure, trauma, hemorrhage, glaucoma, age-related degeneration, and tumors.
Though you may not know the cause, you may notice your cat is barely moving, is bumping into things, and falling or missing jumps. Its pupils will not be reacting to light.
Once a vet has determined the cause, this will be treated as necessary. Retinas can be reattached with surgery.
Conjunctivitis is the inflammation of the conjunctiva – the thin membrane on the inside of the eyelids and white part of the eye. It is caused by bacteria or viruses.
Conjunctivitis causes discomfort so you may notice your cat pawing at the affected eye, blinking and squinting.
A vet will prescribe eye drops to cure a bout of conjunctivitis. Keeping your Maine Coon’s vaccinations up-to-date can prevent many of the causes.
Maine Coon Eyelashes
Maine Coon eyes do not have eyelashes. Their third eyelid provides the protection that eyelashes would.
Maine Coon Eyebrows
Maine Coon eyes do not have eyebrows but they do have whisker-like hairs above their eyes. These are known as vibrissae or tactile hairs and allow cats to sense their surroundings in a similar way to their whiskers.
Maine Coon Eye Markings
Tabby Maine Coons have what are known as mascara markings around their eyes. A dark line leads from the outside corner of each eye, angling downward to beneath each ear. It does give the impression of eye makeup. Some Maine Coons also look like their eyes are rimmed with eyeliner.
Maine Coons and Night Vision
Maine Coons, like all cats, can see quite well in the dark. This is because their retinas have many rod cells, which are good at collecting dim light.
The Language of Eyes
A Maine Coon’s eyes are extremely expressive. They can tell you so much about its mood.
If a Maine Coon holds your gaze, it is being confrontational but if it slowly blinks at you this is a sign of trust and affection.
Big eyes define a few things: your cat is scared, playful, in a naughty mood or angry. It may also have spotted something to pray on.
Maine Coon Eyes – Conclusion
As you can see, there’s more to Maine Coon Eyes than meets the eye, so to speak. We often think about how beautiful they are but shouldn’t neglect to preserve them with the proper care they deserve.
More Common Maine Coon Health Issues are covered here.