What are Your Cat’s Pupils Telling You?

Cats are curious creatures that have a lot of neat little physical and behavioral traits that can keep the most knowledgeable on felines, guessing. But here is one thing that cat behaviorists and other scientists who have studied felines know – cats have a unique way of expressing themselves with their eyes. This is one of the ways that they communicate, and if you watch your cat’s eyes, you might be able to pick up on a little bit of what is going on in your cat’s mind. The pupils of a cat are unique in that they are vertical pupils. This helps them to have that “cat, night vision,” that we all know cats have. But do you know what else is cool about their pupils? They can tell you how they feel just by looking at the size of them. Here are some of the most common types of pupil changes cats’ eyes make and what they mean.

Narrow pupils

If you happen to look into your cat’s eyes and see that their pupils are very narrow, this means that they are in an arousal state-of-mind, but arousal can mean a number of things. They might be aroused due to pleasure, anger, or fear. They can get fearful of any number of things, and suddenly their little pupils become near slits. Many times, this happens when a cat is about to go on attack, whether it is a mouse, or a catnip toy. Arousal in a cat makes the pupils contract, and if she is aroused due to anger or nervousness, you might get a hiss or a growl along with the narrowed pupils, so be on alert.

Wide pupils

Anxiousness or excitement are key driving forces behind wide pupils in a cat. If you happen to surprise your cat when you walk in the room; you might see her pupils jump to a very wide pupil that nearly consumes the eyes. This is also true out of excitement for a treat, since pets feel the anticipation of things like a good treat, just like a child would. If your cat is suddenly scared or feels anxious, this can cause a cat’s pupils to dilate to a very wide size that practically turns your cat’s eyes to black. Watch your cat’s pupils the next time you tantalize her with a treat and see if you notice a change in her pupils.

Different sizes

Sometimes cats can have different sized pupils where one is large and the other small. One of the reasons is a condition known as anisocoria. This is a symptom, however, and not a disease. When this happens, it is most often an emergency situation that will require immediate medical attention, and more times than not, if this happens suddenly without warning, it will cause permanent issues with your cat’s vision. Typically the causes are related to a brain injury, perhaps a fall or hit on the head. A stroke can also cause this, or glaucoma, which is a very painful pressure that builds up in the eye. Retinal disease can cause this symptom, as well as cancer. If you see this condition in your cat, be sure to get her to see the veterinarian right away.

Our pets can’t talk to us in our language, but their bodies are pretty amazing in that they are all build with unique ways of communicating, both with each other, and us. Pay attention to your cat’s eyes during different situations and see if you notice the changes in her pupils and see if you know what she is trying to tell you.


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