What Does it Mean When Cats Have Different Colored Eyes

Have you ever seen a cat with two different colored eyes, also referred to as an odd-eyed cat? These cats usually have one eye blue and the other green, yellow, or brown.

These cats look fascinating, but why are they born with different colored eyes in the first place? How rare is it? Does it mean there’s something genetically wrong with the cat, like deafness?

Those are questions we decided to dive in and research.

What Causes a Cat’s Eyes to be Different Colors?

Cats that have multicolored eyes have a form of complete heterochromia iridium, a genetic condition that makes the irises two different colors.  

Further, it appears that only white cats seem to be odd-eyed cats. That’s because odd-eye cats almost always carry a dominate white hair gene1 (a gene that turns a cat completely white) or must possess a gene called the white spotting gene (makes a cat bicolor or tuxedo)2.

These genes are responsible for making a cat white and prevent the pigment from reaching one eye as the cat grows up.

Although it is possible for a cat of any color to become odd-eye, is very rare to see a non-white cat with two different colored eyes.

Pictured below is a rare non-white odd-eyed cat.

Cats Have Different Colored Eyes

What Type of Cats Have Multi-Colored Eyes?

Cats in the following breeds are more common to become odd-eye cats:

  • Turkish Van
  • Turkish Angora
  • Sphynx, Persian
  • Oriental Shorthair
  • Japanese Bobtail
  • Khao Manee
  • Siamese
  • Scottish Folds

What About Medical Conditions with Cats with Different Eye Colors?

heterochromia cat

Many people mistakenly believe odd-eye cats are more likely to be deaf or are born deaf in at least one ear. The truth is, odd-eye cats are not born deaf and are at the same risk of being born deaf as all other types of cats.

However, pure white cats do have a risk of their cochlea degenerating beginning a few days after birth leading to loss of hearing.3 This risk is much greater if the cat is pure white. However, if it contains even a tiny bit of color that risk is reduced, even if the spot of color disappears as the cat ages.

Will My Cat Ever Get Multi-colored Eyes?

If your cat is no longer a kitten and has not developed heterochromia, then its eyes will always remain the same color.

But, because all kittens are born with blue eyes, it’s possible one eye will change in color as the kitten matures into an adult.

If you’re curious and want to know immediately, do a close-up inspection of your kittens eyes. If one shade of blue is different than the other, the kitten may grow up to have different colored eyes in adulthood.

 

 

1.
Foster, Race and Smith, Marty, (DVMs). Heterochromia. Archived 2007-02-17 at the Wayback Machine. https://www.purinaone.com/catcare_cond_atoz_article.asp?Seed=791&ArticleNumber=77. Published August 29, 2018. Accessed August 30, 2018.
2.
Hartwell, Sarah. Beautiful Bi-colours: Tuxedo and Magpie cats. Bi-colours. http://messybeast.com/bicolours.htm. Published September 1, 2018. Accessed September 1, 2018.
3.
Starbuck, Orcan and Thomas, David. Color Genetics. Cat Colors FAQ: Cat Color Genetics. http://www.fanciers.com/other-faqs/color-genetics.html. Published September 1, 2018. Accessed September 1, 2018.
By | 2018-09-04T02:03:51+00:00 September 4th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

About the Author:

Hey, I'm a co-founder of Humane Goods. I help product development, marketing, and am currently in the process of learning more about how to help animals more each day.
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