Why Do Some Cats Have Two Different Eye Colors?

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Cats, along with many other animals, are known for their eyes. The shape of the pupils and the color of their eyes are unique and fascinating, and they have influenced fashion to create cat-eye glasses.

 

There is a fascinating phenomenon that you must have come across in some cats or even your pet. It is the phenomenon of two different eye colors. It is rarely found in cats, but it is normal enough, and you do not need to worry about it. So, to better understand this condition, we will review how it occurs and some things to consider.

 

What is the Phenomenon Called?

When a cat has two different eye colors, the condition is known as Heterochromia. The prefix ”hetero” refers to anything different or the other, and the word ”chrome” means colors. When put together, they mean ”different colors.”

 

The technical name of the condition is Heterochromia Iridis which translates to mean differently colored irises. People commonly call it the “odd-eye” condition, but it might sound rude or even derogatory, so avoid using this phrase for this condition.

 

Each eye doesn’t always need to be of a different color in heterochromatic cats. It is the case of complete Heterochromia. But there is another kind of Heterochromia which is called sectoral Heterochromia. Cats with this condition will have more than one color in a single eye. It is quite a striking effect.

 

What is the Reason Behind Heterochromia Iridis?

The most common cause of Heterochromia Iridis is the genetic composition of the cat. All cats have different colored fur and eye colors, according to the cats who gave birth to them. If you have ever raised a cat from birth, you would know its different life stages.

 

For a better and more detailed understanding, here is a list of stages a cat’s eye goes through from birth until maturity.

 

Development Stage

Progress of the Cat’s Eyes

Stage 1
Birth
When a cat is born, it takes a long time to open its eyes. The kitten cannot see, and the eyes remain nonfunctional during this period.
Stage 2
2 Weeks
A couple of weeks after birth, the kitten’s body develops and can open its eyes. It can take two to three days for the kitten’s eyes to open fully. The kitten still cannot see properly as the mechanisms that produce vision are not developed yet.
Most kittens have blue eyes at this stage.
Stage 3
5 Weeks – 7 Weeks
In the developing stages of the cat, it starts seeing blurry images, but it can understand hardly anything that it sees. Therefore, movement and coordination are a big challenge for these tiny animals.
As the kitten progresses into its 7th week, its vision is almost fully developed.
Stage 4
6 Weeks – 7 Weeks
The color of the kitten’s eye begins to change during this time. As the iris starts maturing, it begins producing melanin. Now, melanin is the pigment that determines the color of the eyes and skin in all mammals, including humans. The eye’s resulting color, depth, and shade are according to the melanin produced.
Stage 5
3 Months to 6 Months
 The cat reaches the final eye color that it will carry into its maturity.

 

As mentioned in stage 4, melanin decides the fate of a cat’s eye color. Eye colors in cats can range from green to brown. Green is the result of low melanin production, while brown is the result of high melanin production. Sometimes, cats also have beautiful hazel eyes, as an intermediate between these two colors.

 

Some cats may retain the blue color they had in their eyes as tiny kittens. The reason behind this, again, is low melanin production.

 

Is it Found in All Breeds?

Heterochromia is not very common as it is specific to the genetic conditions of the cat. So, it stays limited to a few breeds. But sometimes, when a cat is bred through a combination of different species, the genes can get passed down a new path.

 

But if we analyze the overall cat population, there are some specific cat breeds in which Heterochromia is more commonly found. They are listed below.

 

  • Birman
  • Siamese
  • Snowshoe
  • Himalayan
  • Balinese
  • Javanese
  • Tonkinese
  • Ragdoll

 

Can Heterochromia Cause Any Other Problems?

It is a common misconception that cats with Heterochromia are vulnerable to deafness as well. It is not true. Some cats might develop hearing issues, but it is not correlated with eye colors.

Many studies on both heterochromatic and normal cats have proven that deafness was equally likely within both subgroups and hence not connected with eye color. It might be more common in cats with white fur, but Heterochromia is not the cause of deafness.

 

Heterochromatic cats have a vision as healthy as any other cat. The melanin levels in the irises never affect the quality of the vision of any cat, so you need not worry.

 

After a particular stage, as mentioned in the table, a cat’s eye colors are supposed to reach maturity and remain the same for the rest of its life. So, if a cat develops Heterochromia much later in life, it is unusual and indicates that some abnormal changes are occurring in its eyes. It is a matter of concern about the vision and might even indicate that the cat is prone to other sensory troubles like deafness.

 

The eyes are a sensitive sense organ for any animal, and you must take utmost care of them. I-DROP VET PLUS Eye Drops is an excellent product for your cat’s eye health. It helps with eye issues like dryness and supplies lubrication to ease the blinking process. It is very effective, and one of veterinarians’ most recommended eye drops for furry friends.

 

To ensure your cat’s senses are functioning perfectly, you can take it for a routine checkup with your vet.

 

Conclusion

Heterochromia is a beautiful phenomenon, and its rareness makes it unique. Instead of treating it like a condition in your cat, treat it like a blessing! Many cats also develop gorgeously hued irises, which is an incredible sight to witness. There is little to worry about in the case of a cat with Heterochromia Iridis. However, to reassure yourself, you can always contact your vet and educate yourself about the phenomenon.