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Black Bombay cat sat in grass

Spotting a cat with glowing yellow eyes can make you do a double take. This striking, rare eye color is less common than kittens with a brown or green iris. While the color of a cat’s eyes can vary significantly, there are certain purebred cats that are more commonly born with yellow eyes. Here’s what to know about the popular breeds that are known to have dazzling yellow-hued eyes.

1. Burmese

These gorgeous felines have a long history. The Burmese cat was considered a sacred animal that was worshiped in Burma (modern-day Myanmar). Burmese cats are known for their compact yet muscular builds, round heads and thick, straight tails. They have expressive faces and eyes that are always at attention. Golden yellow is one of the most common eye colors for Burmese cats. The Burmese feline’s personality is very playful, energetic, and loving.

Burmese cat with yellow eyes

Facts about the Burmese

  • Intelligence — High
  • Lifespan — 12-18 years

2. Bengal

Coming into contact with a Bengal cat may be a bit of a shock at first. These pint-sized kitties may look like tigers or leopards, with a coat color that’s often orange with dark stripes or spots. The Bengal cat does in fact originate from a hybrid breed of Asian leopard cats and other cat breeds like the Egyptian Mau. But these domestic cats who are long separated from their leopard ancestors are a playful, energetic, and affectionate addition to any cat lover’s home. Their gorgeous striped and uniquely colored fur is especially striking when a Bengal cat is born with a pair of glowing yellow eyes. Bengals may also have beautiful green eyes.

Bengal cat sat in grass

Facts about the Bengal

  • Intelligence — High
  • Lifespan — 12-16 years

3. American shorthair

American shorthairs come in a wide variety of fur and eye colors, yellow among them. The American shorthair is a loving and adaptable cat, able to make themselves at home in a variety of environments and family types. While they love spending time with their favorite people, the American shorthair is also content to entertain themselves while their humans are off at work.

American shorthair cat stretching outside

Facts about the American shorthair

  • Intelligence — High
  • Lifespan — 15-20 years

4. Maine Coon

Cat lovers who are intrigued by cats who may grow to the size of a medium dog may be drawn to the Maine Coon. This beautiful long haired breed is one of the first true American cat breeds. As the name suggests, they are thought to have originated in Maine during the 1800s. Despite their impressive size, the Maine Coon is also known for their incredibly sweet dispositions and very high intelligence. Their sleek, long coats are particularly lovely when paired with bright yellow eyes.

Ginger Maine Coon cat

Facts about the Maine Coon

  • Intelligence — High
  • Lifespan — 12-15 years

5. Bombay

Bombay cats are known for their distinctive shiny black coats. Paired with bright yellow peepers, the Bombay cat is one gorgeous feline. Their sleek midnight colored fur is a gorgeous contrast to any eye color, and Bombays are also known to have blue eyes, hazel eyes, and a variety of others. While they may look spooky, the Bombay is extremely playful. The most common of the black cat breeds, Bombays love to play games and can even be trained to do tricks. Bombays love homes with other cats, children, or cat-friendly dogs. In fact, it’s best to have a Bombay cat in a home where they will always have a companion, as they are prone to depression if left alone too long.

Black Bombay cat walking outside

Facts about the Bombay

  • Intelligence — High
  • Lifespan — 9-15 years

Why cats have yellow eyes

Cat lovers may be interested to know about the fascinating science behind cat eye colors. Melanocytes are what determine a cat’s eye color. Melanocytes are a group of cells that make up pigmentation. When a cat has highly active melanin producing cells, their eye colors become a much brighter and more intense pigment. If a cat has a medium amount of highly active melanocytes, their eyes will be a bright and vivid golden-yellow. On the other hand, cats with a medium amount of less active melanocytes end up with peepers of a slightly different color: more of a paler, lemon-yellow.

There hasn’t been much research done on if a certain cat breed has higher melanin-producing cells than other breeds of cats. There also isn’t a breed standard for cat eye colors: each breed of cat can have eyes that come in a variety of shades. However, the rarest eye color for cats seems to be copper-colored eyes.