What’s That Freckle In My Cat’s Eye? What You Need to Know About Iris Melanosis

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One of the things my human had my vet examine during my annual checkup was my freckle in my right eye. She hadn’t really paid any attention to it until one of my TikTok followers brought it up.

It was only while examining past photos of me that she realized how recently it had developed.

Somali cat with no freckles in her eye

This is a photo of me from January, 2018, and you can see there’s no eye freckle.

Close up of Somali cat a few years later, after eye freckle showed up

It didn’t start showing up until four years later. This photo is from May 2022, and you can just barely see it.

Somali cat with eye freckle wearing a sweater

It’s bigger in this photo from January 2023.

Close up of Somali cat with eye spot

In May it was just a teensy bit larger.

About Iris Melanosis

So what is it? It’s something called iris melanosis that’s not uncommon, especially in calico, tortoiseshell, and orange cats (the piebald gene). This pigment change — melanocytes showing up as freckles or blotches on the iris — is especially noticeable in cats with green eyes (like me!).

Iris melanosis is usually benign, but depending on where and how it develops, it can cause issues. Glaucoma and retinal detachment are a couple of problems, if it pops up in the wrong spot.

Can Iris Melanosis Become Cancerous

Yes, it can develop into cancer. It’s called iris melanoma, which can spread to other parts of a cat. This is almost impossible to detect early, and is fatal. Fortunately, that’s pretty rare. The only way to discover iris melanoma early is to remove the eye, and since the great majority of these spots are totally benign, it’s not advised.

My Eye Exam

When my human asked about my eye freckle, the veterinarian did a very specific type of exam. It involved turning off the lights in the exam room and using some equipment to examine my eye up close. What she saw was a flat spot indicative of a benign melanosis. Something more dangerous would have been darker, denser, and not as flat. So it’s nothing to worry about. But it is something to keep an eye on. (So to speak!)

Precautions to Take for Your Cat

What if your cat develops a spot like this on their eye? Definitely bring it up with your veterinarian. It’s probably nothing, but you will want to make sure it doesn’t develop into something more dangerous. So you need to keep track of it, and have a history of it in your cat’s veterinary records.

Eye exams should always be a part of your cat’s regular veterinary check ups. These freckles are only one of many things that could happen to your cat’s eyes. If there is something more serious going on, you may be sent to a veterinary ophthalmologist. And if your cat has an iris melanosis, make sure you are having regular bloodwork to make sure the rest of your cat’s body is showing no signs of cancer developing.

If you want more information on iris melanosis and iris melanoma, check out these sites:
Feline Iris Melanosis — Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital
Feline Iris Melanosis — Bliss Animal Eye Care

More interesting info about cat anatomy.

What’s That Freckle In My Cat’s Eye? What You Need to Know About Iris Melanosis

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