Why Do Cats Eyes Dilate?

A cats eyes are pretty amazing. They allow a cat to see in near-darkness and provide her with a great ability to detect motion in order to hunt prey. But the thing that really fascinates a lot of people are those vertical, slit-shaped cat pupils. Cat pupils do much more than respond to the level of light in a room, though. They also give you a good sense of how your cat is feeling emotionally and physically.

Why do my cat's pupils dilate when she looks at me?

Cats’ pupils dilate when they are angry or on the attack, and cats smile at us and other cat friends with appreciative eyes by squinting. Your cat will slowly, almost, but usually not quite, close her eyes and reopen them while looking at you.

Is it normal for cats to have dilated pupils?

Temporary dilation of the pupils is a normal physiological response to low light or stimulating or exciting situations for your cat. However, if you notice persistently dilated pupils it is important to arrange a check up for your cat with the vet.

Why do cats eyes dilate and Undilate?

Cats dilate their pupils to improve their vision. Wide eyes enable cats to absorb more light, which is beneficial in dim lighting. Pupils also dilate when cats are excited, afraid, or hurt.

Weve heard it beforecats are not small dogs. They differ in nutritional requirements, training techniques, and body language. People often find feline communication more difficult to interpret than that of dogs because it can be so subtle that nonverbal communication cues are completely missed or misinterpreted. Misreading a cat can land us on the wrong end of sharp claws and teeth.

Whether they are blue, green, or gold, round, oval, or almond-shaped, your cats eyes communicate emotions through physiological changes in pupil size and eyelid position. Think of it like a silent movie: the autonomic nervous system is the director, the pupil plays the lead role, the eyelid is a supporting character, while other facial features, body, and tail comprise the remaining cast.

This is an important control message in multi-cat households with limited resources such as food, water, litter box, toys, and territory. Since our cats cannot verbally express their feelings to us we must become savvy to their body language, consider the context of the surroundings, and recognize each individuals quirks.

Many of us cat guardians think that we really know our cats well enough. But by taking the time, we can actually communicate with them on a whole new level. This can be easily done by paying closer attention to their eyes! Here are some tips that I outlined in my book, 250 Things You Can Do to Make Your Cat Adore You, to get you and your best friend on the same page.

If your cat smiles when looking at you, you are observing a private contentment, expressed publicly in the same way you might give a happy sigh in an empty room.

Cats have very distinctive eyes; the iris or coloured part of the eye. It can range in colour from blue to greens or hazel or copper appearance. The pupil is the black part of the eye seen centrally which controls how much light is let into the eye. The pupil can appear as a vertical slit to almost fully round when it is dilated. A cats pupil will respond to the amount of light available, so in dim or dark settings the pupil will be dilated to allow the maximum amount of light into the eye. In bright light the pupil will be much smaller and slit like. This can mean the appearance of a cats eye varies depending on the conditions.

The causes of anisocoria are wide and varied, from conditions affecting the eye itself such as glaucoma to nerve or brain injury. High blood pressure in cats is relatively common and can accompany other disease processes (known as secondary hypertension).

If increased blood pressure is to blame for your cats dilated pupils it is likely that you will have noticed other signs or symptoms which would alert you to your cats ill health such as a change in weight, change in appetite or poor coat quality. Temporary dilation of the pupils is a normal physiological response to low light or stimulating or exciting situations for your cat.

Cat pupils show your cat’s mood

Our cats communicate with us in very subtle ways, and one of those ways is through their eyes. A cat’s mood can be determined by a combination of understanding cat body language and cat pupils.

Narrow pupils signal an aroused cat

Arousal can be caused by many things — anger, fear and pleasure, primarily. These emotions can result in the sudden contraction of pupils so that they become narrow slits. You might see this if your cat encounters a catnip mouse and prepares to attack it. Even the smell of catnip itself can cause arousal in a cat that likes the stuff.You may also see the pupils contract suddenly if she’s about to “kill” her favorite toy (or your toes moving around under the blankets). Anger can also cause pupils to contract into slits; this is usually accompanied by growling or hissing, though.If the cat eyes are narrow and the eyes are squinted, that’s a sign of aggression. The squint helps to protect her eyes from an opponent’s claws.However, if the cat pupils are narrow and your cat is relaxing on your lap and purring, you can probably guess that she’s experiencing great pleasure.

The final word on cat pupils

Cat pupils are an amazingly expressive part of your feline friend’s body language repertoire. By studying your cat’s eyes along with her body language, you’ll be able to understand your cat better and avoid unwanted aggression or fear. The pupils are also a reflection of your cat’s health. Don’t hesitate to get your cat to the vet if you notice that her pupils are different sizes.

Mesmer-eyes

Whether they are blue, green, or gold, round, oval, or almond-shaped, your cat’s eyes communicate emotions through physiological changes in pupil size and eyelid position. A cat’s pupils can shrink to the narrowest of slits or widen into black pools. Eyelids may be fully open, partially closed, or drawn into a squint.Causes for these changes may be emotional arousal, such as fear, aggression, pleasure, or excitement, or environmental, such as a change in ambient light levels. Think of it like a silent movie: the autonomic nervous system is the director, the pupil plays the lead role, the eyelid is a supporting character, while other facial features, body, and tail comprise the remaining cast. The surrounding environment sets the stage.

Eyes Wide Open

Alert, wide-open eyes signal trust. In friendly greetings, pupils are at normal dilation. The eyelids may be squinty, brows are soft, and the cat may offer cheek rubs. Accept this as a sign of love and trust.

Unblinking Stare

When a cat starts to show interest, the eyes look more directly with an unblinking stare at the object, person, or animal of interest, and the pupils dilate slightly. The general message is “I know you’re there and I don’t want a fight.” But the unblinking stare is also a communication megaphone for wanna-be aggressive cats to adversaries. This is an important control message in multi-cat households with limited resources such as food, water, litter box, toys, and territory. People often miss the cue because of the subtlety.

Direct Stare

A direct stare in feline parlance is threatening and confrontational. An offensively aggressive cat’s pupils may be slits or dilated. Squinty eyelids protect the eyes from potential injury. In defensive aggression, pupils are dilated and brow furrowed. Avoid interacting with this cat. If you’re not familiar with a particular cat, avoid risk of injury by not making direct eye contact.

Pain

Cats wear a poker face when it comes to pain, but the eyes can be the tell for pain in the body or the eyes themselves. When a cat is experiencing body pain, pupils are dilated. A cat experiencing eye pain may have pupils that are dilated or constricted, depending on the injury or underlying disease. Squinting also indicates pain in the body or eye. Bloodshot eyes may also signal pain.

Slow Eye Blinks

Aww, lovey-dovey kitty kisses. Slow eye blinks express love and trust. The eyes, lids partially closed, have a sleepy, dreamy appearance, as if cats are in a state of bliss. Should you be the lucky recipient of a slow blink, return the show of affection with a reciprocal slow blink to share the love.Feline body language is often subtle, confusing, and at times, contradictory. Since our cats cannot verbally express their feelings to us we must become savvy to their body language, consider the context of the surroundings, and recognize each individual’s quirks.

Uneven pupils

A cat’s pupils may be dilated at times other than dim lighting giving them a wide-eyed starry look. There are a few possible causes for this:However, fear or surprise could also lead to the same result. Changes that occur due to excitement or fear should be relatively short lived. As the cat relaxes the obviously large pupil should return to a smaller size. A young playful cat is much more likely to display wide pupils because of excitement or fear as they are naturally more inquisitive and playful. A more relaxed sedate cat may not often dilate its pupils due to excitement.Persistently dilated pupils could be a clue that your cat is experiencing pain somewhere in its body. If the eye itself is painful it would usually only be the affected eye that is different. The pupil would likely be constricted rather than dilated.If your cat’s eyes are persistently dilated and there doesn’t appear to be an obvious cause, then it would be prudent to arrange a check-up with your veterinary surgeon. Your vet will perform a physical examination of your cat. They will look not only at the eye but looking to rule out any other potential causes of large pupils.

High blood pressure

Hypertension or high blood pressure is one potential cause for dilated pupils. High blood pressure in cats is relatively common and can accompany other disease processes (known as secondary hypertension). Kidney failure, and an overactive thyroid gland are diseases which are associated with secondary hypertension. High blood pressure can also occur alone (primary hypertension). If increased blood pressure is to blame for your cat’s dilated pupils it is likely that you will have noticed other signs or symptoms which would alert you to your cat’s ill health such as a change in weight, change in appetite or poor coat quality.