Discover the perfect British Shorthair eye colour, and how to breed for exceptional eyes.
The British Shorthair is famous for his distinctive eye colour: the best known British Shorthair is the blue, with his beautiful orange-amber eyes. But there are many more colours of British Shorthair for those looking for something a little more unusual!
The eye colour that a British Shorthair has depends on his coat colour. Below is a list of what is considered the perfect eye colour for each colour of British Shorthair cat:
Perfect British Shorthair eye colour by coat colour
Black and blue = orange/amber/gold eyes
Chocolate and lilac = orange/amber/gold eyes
Cinnamon and fawn = orange/amber/gold eyes
Red and cream = orange/amber/gold eyes
Colourpoint = blue eyes
Silver tabby = green eyes, hazel eyes or orange/amber/gold eyes
Silver shaded = green eyes
Golden shaded = green eyes
Copper shaded = green eyes
White = green, blue or orange eyes, including odd eyes
What determines eye colour
Eye colour is determined by the amount of pigment in the iris, the coloured part of the eye. Eyes with the most pigment will be orange, whilst eyes with no pigment at all will be blue. Green and yellow lie somewhere in the middle of those two extremes.
Most domestic cats have yellow or green eyes, being in the middle of the spectrum. The eye colour in British Shorthairs must be actively and selectively bred for to keep it at the extreme end of the spectrum. A breeding programme that does not consider eye colour will eventually result in a dilution of the desired eye colour occurring, with all eyes moving towards the middle of the spectrum and ending up yellow and green.
British Blue eye colour
Blue British Shorthairs have been bred widely and for a long time, so the characteristics in the blue have had a fantastic opportunity to be developed. As a result there are many blue British Shorthair cats with fantastic orange eye colour, even though it is a difficult colour to breed for.
Chocolate and lilac Shorthairs
The chocolate and lilac colours were introduced more recently to the British Shorthair breed. As a result, it is much more difficult to find a chocolate or lilac British Shorthair with exceptional orange eye colour: most chocolates and lilacs have yellow or amber coloured eyes. We are very lucky at Bombadillo kittens to have Pixie: a fantastic, cobby, chunky lilac girl who also has the most exceptional eye colour. Her temperament is wonderful too, and as a kitten she was the most cuddly, snuggly kitten we have ever known! Below is an i-Phone photograph of Pixie. It is completely unedited. The colours have not been enhanced, filtered or tampered with in any way. It is not the best photograph in the world but it does show her eye colour off very nicely.
Cinnamon and fawn British Shorthairs
The cinnamon and fawn colours are even more recent, and their eye colour is similar to that of the chocolates and lilacs, but slightly less well developed. You can read more about the development of the cinnamon British Shorthair in our article on the cinnamon British Shorthair.
Colourpoint British Shorthairs
In colourpoint cats the aim is to get the eyes to be as blue as possible. It is a very difficult task! Most colourpoints have silvery-blue eyes. Silver eyes are incredibly beautiful in themselves, and some people actually prefer the silver tones to the brighter blues. On the show bench though, blue is the aim. Blue eyes have no pigment in them at all - they are actually not blue, but clear. Silver eyes have a very small amount of pigment. Below is a photograph of our colourpoint boy. He has exceptional blue eyes. Find out if we have any colourpoint kittens available.
Showing, Breeding and British Shorthair eye colour
Ultimately, the eye colour you prefer it is a matter of personal choice, and the eye colour of a British Shorthair will obviously not affect how wonderful a pet they are. But if you want to show your cat, or breed from her, then make sure you choose a good breeder who understands the genetics involved and has some experience. A good, experienced breeder will be able to help you select their most suitable kitten. Also make sure that you tell the breeder early on that you are interested in breeding or showing, so that they are aware of that. If the breeder does not know that you want to breed or show your kitten, then they will not be able to guide you towards the most suitable kitten for you.
If you see a breeder advertising a whole litter on the Active register, avoid them like the plague: this is a sign of someone looking to maximise their profits at your expense, and the expense of the breed. An entire litter will not be suitable for breeding from or showing. When we look for a breeding cat, we look to choose only the very best examples of the breed. Perhaps one or two kittens out every one or two litters will be suitable. Unfortunately, the standard of the breed is being eroded unnecessarily in certain circles by indiscriminate breeding.
British Shorthair kitten eye colour development
All British Shorthair kittens are born with blue eyes. Gradually, as they mature, the eyes turn to their actual colour. This transition starts when they are around 6-8 weeks old and continues until they are around 2 years old, when they finally reach their full colour. For example, a blue British Shorthair kitten will be born with blue eyes, and they will then change from a variety of colours including a muddy brown and a green, to their final colour. No matter what the final eye colour will be, as a kitten the eyes will always be blue.
The picture below shows a blue British Shorthair kitten at 5 weeks old. His mum has exceptional eye colour. His eyes look blue, but if you look very closely, you can just notice that around the pupils the pigment is starting to change colour. This is the beginning of his eye colour changing from blue to its final colour.
Below you can see an image of our blue British Shorthair girl at 10 months old. You can see in the image how the British Shorthair eye colour develops: at 10 months old her eyes are beginning to change from brown to orange. Up until 9-10 months old her eyes were a flat brown, but not they are beginning to look deeper, brighter and more complex, rather than flat.
Eye colour and choosing matings
Breeders must keep eye colour in mind when choosing a mating, particularly if those matings are occurring between cats with different eye colours. Some breeders will never put cats of different eye colour together. However, there are often traits that you may have in one colour line that you would like to introduce to another colour line. For example, the British blues are often very cobby cats, and you may want to breed some more cobbiness into your colourpoint or silver tabby lines. Equally, breeding between colours can be very useful at maintaining genetic diversity within those colour lines, ensuring that there are enough cats with enough genetic diversity to continue the colourline in a healthy way. Silver tabbies are reportedly in need of the introduction of more genetic diversity. Experimental matings between colours is also a source of discovery and development of the breed - new colours can be developed and improved by using unusual matings.
At Bombadillo kittens, we enjoy variety and discovery, and we do, on occasion, plan matings between cats with different eye colours. When considering any cross-colour mating, we consider the history and pedigree of the animals involved, as well as what colours the kittens will likely be.
We recently did a mating between a blue and white colourpoint and a cream self who carries colourpoint. When considering this mating we paid attention to the eye colour of the parents and grandparents of both cats: our colourpoint Marilyn has blue eyes, but she is from a long line of blue and fawn selfs who all had orange eyes, so none of her parents had blue eyes. Teddie, the cream self, is a champion, with excellent eye colour and from a line that includes some champion colourpoints who had excellent colourpoint eye colour. We therefore decided that the mating had merit and that the eye colour would likely still be good in both colourpointed and non-colourpointed offspring.
The kittens are 3.5 months old at the time of writing. They had 2 blue boys, one blue bicolour boy, and one highly unusual blue tortie and white colourpoint girl - a colour we had never seen before, ever! Here is a photograph of her:
The bicolour had vibrant orange eyes from around 9 weeks old, which is a very early age for the eyes to be orange, and suggests his eye colour will be outstanding. By 3 months one of the blue boy’s eyes were a muddy brown colour, which is normal, and the other blue boy’s eyes were turning orange, like the bicolour's. The colourpoint girl’s eyes were quite silver, with some blue, which is also totally normal for that age.
Only time will tell how their eye colour will ultimately develop, and we will be paying close attention to them. So, by carefully considering the parentage, grand-parentage and great-grand-parentage of the cats involved, we were able to breed between eye colours and in the case of the bicolour and blue boy, with exceptional eye colour results. We also were able to produce an incredibly rare blue tortie and white colourpoint girl.
You can discover the wide variety of British Shorthair coat colours in our article.
- Learn more about the perfect British Shorthair cat.
- Get to know the life of a pampered Bombadillo kitten, and how me make all of our kittens so special.
Available British Shorthair kittens...
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You can also look through our articles to find lots more useful cat information!