What Does It Mean When a Cat Gets a Black Spot on the Iris?

Report any change in your pet's eye color to your veterinarian.
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When black spots start to mar the beauty of your cat's colorful irises, don't wait to take her in for a checkup. Early treatment prevents unnecessary loss of vision and may even save your pet's life. Dark discoloration could be harmless, but it could also indicate serious eye problems.


After looking at your kitty's eyes, there's a good chance the vet will inform you that your pet is suffering from melanosis. While this news is certainly alarming, it does not mean your furry friend is in danger. Melanosis is associated with the growth of abnormal tissue in your cat's eyes, creating back or brown spots on his irises. Fortunately, most cases start with benign growths, or melanocytoma. Melanosis afflicts many senior cats usually 12 to 14 years old, but most continue to live comfortable lives without developing serious symptoms. Some benign growths become malignant after a few months or years, so your vet may recommend routine checkups every six months or so even if the growth is melanocytoma.


Malignant growths caused by melanosis are called melanoma. Black spots from melanoma usually appear bumpy, unlike benign growths that tend to stay flat with the surface of the iris. While older cats frequently suffer from abnormal growths on their irises, malignant developments are rare, according to Zigler Veterinary Professional Corp. Melanoma in your kitty's eyes is a dangerous situation. Cancer cells can enter his blood stream and travel to other organs. If your pet's melanoma is still small when it's discovered, a veterinary surgeon may be able to remove the growths with laser treatment. However, complete extraction of the eye is necessary to prevent the cancer from spreading in many cases.

Injury and Physical Damage

Not all cases of iris discoloration are caused by melanosis. Corneal ulcers, trauma and erosion can cause dark spots in the clear portion of your kitty's eyes, according to Animal Eye Care. An injury caused by another cat, in combat or play, or from a particle lodged underneath the eyelid can slice the surface of the cornea. Treatment may be as simple as dripping a few eye drops into your kitty's peepers every day, although surgical repair is necessary to repair retinal detachments and extensive damage. Don't try to remove particles or eyelashes from your cat's eyes, take him to the vet and let him handle it.


Conjunctivitis and other ocular infections are defined by squinted eyes, lots of discharge and local inflammation, but they can cause temporary discoloration too. Clouded or spotted retinas could mean your cat has chorioretinitis, a disease that inflames tissue throughout your cat's body, according to All Feline Hospital. Treatment for infections depends on the virus or bacteria responsible, but your vet likely will prescribe drops or other medication for your cat's eyes in addition to a prescription to treat the underlying infection. Make sure you give your kitty his medicine as instructed, don't stop just because the symptoms disappear.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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