tabby cat with green eyes

A cat’s eyes are the windows to their souls. They use them to express a range of emotions and feelings like excitement, affection, fear, and pain. A cat’s pupils are usually slit-shaped and vertical, so if you spot your cat’s eyes looking dilated, it can be worrying. Dilated pupils in cats occur for a variety of reasons, and in this post, we’re going to explore this in more depth.

Top 5 Reasons Why Your Cat’s Eyes Are Dilated

1. Excitement

It’s completely normal for excited cats’ pupils to dilate. Though this tends to happen more often in excited, curious kittens exploring their new surroundings for the first time, it can happen in adult cats, too. So, if you notice that your cat’s pupils are dilated while they’re tantalized by a bug on the window or getting ready to pounce on a toy, it’s nothing unusual.

2. Stress

Just like when they’re excited, it’s not uncommon for a cat’s pupils to get big and round when they’re stressed, anxious, or afraid. Cats become stressed for a huge number of reasons, including being introduced to a new home, feeling threatened, or a sudden change in routine. They may also become stressed and overstimulated if you pet them more than they’d like you to.

3. Seizures

One of the symptoms of seizures in cats is dilated pupils and other facial abnormalities like twitching. They may also lose spatial awareness and bump into objects. These are symptoms of focal seizures, which affect cats more commonly than generalized seizures. Cats experiencing generalized seizures may display symptoms like convulsing, passing out, and loss of bowel and bladder control.

cat with green and blue eyes
Image courtesy of Pixabay

4. Health Conditions

If your cat’s pupils seem to be dilated a lot and don’t go back to normal, this may signal an underlying health condition requiring veterinary treatment.

One such condition is Glaucoma, which is a diseased optic nerve due to high pressure and abnormal fluid drainage. Another is Progressive Retinal Atrophy, a condition that causes the photoreceptor cells to deteriorate. Both conditions can result in blindness.

That said, there could be a range of health conditions causing your cat’s pupils to dilate so frequently. Dilated pupils may also be a side effect of certain treatments and medications.

5. Pain

Eye changes can help indicate to you that your cat is experiencing pain or discomfort. This includes dilated pupils, but also bloodshot eyes, and abnormal eye movements like squinting.

Cats are often pretty stoic when experiencing discomfort and may not verbally express to you that they’re suffering unless they’re in serious pain, so it’s important to be attuned to giveaway but subtle facial movements and body language that tells you your cat is feeling unwell.

Final Thoughts

Because there are so many potential causes of dilated pupils in cats ranging from completely harmless—like excitement—or more serious like an underlying health condition, it can be tricky to determine the exact reason why your cat’s eyes are dilated.

If your cat’s eyes only dilate now and then when they’re excited by something or feel afraid, it’s likely just a natural response to these heightened emotions. If your cat’s eyes dilate regularly and for extended periods and they’re experiencing other symptoms simultaneously, it’s important to have a vet check them over to find out what’s going on.

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay