Cats are known for their distinct, soul-piercing eyes. But blue-eyed cats, are a whole ‘nother level of awesome! There’s just something special about them that mesmerizes a lot of people. So we can’t help but wonder why are they so special?
All cats had blue eyes once in their lives, but for most, it didn’t stay that way. During the development of kittens, their eyes will remain closed until their first week as they’re born with very underdeveloped eyes.
By the time their eyes open, it will stay under development as melanin still forms around their eyes; which is why the color appears in shades of light or dark blue.
Not all kittens will keep those beautiful sapphire eyes. Most kittens will have developed eyes by the time they reach 6 – 7 weeks and by this time; their eyes will have changed to their permanent colors.
Blue-Eyed Cats: Why Do They Have Them?
The color of the eyes is due to the amount of melanin in the eye, specifically in the stroma of the iris. Melanin is also responsible for the color of the skin of most living organisms – cats included. Eyes that have too much melanin will result in darker shades of color like black and brown. If there’s too low or no melanin at all, lighter colors like green and blue will come out.
The melanin responsible for the color of the eyes of cats is mostly decided by genes. For the average cat, it is undetermined if the parent with blue eyes passes down their blue-eye genes to their kittens; but it is most likely the case especially for purebred blue-eyed cats.
However, most studies suggest that pure white cats have higher chances of developing light-colored eyes; like amber or blue. Unfortunately, that chance is also the same when it comes to developing deafness for white, blue-eyed cats.
White Cats, Blue Eyes, and Deafness
The dominant pure white cat comprises about 5% of the general cat population. Out of the 5%, around 15 – 40% white cats have blue eyes. So, not all white cats will have blue eyes, but when it comes to deafness, most blue-eyed cats will be deaf.
It is concluded that feline deafness is rare among other pure-colored or mix-colored cats. However, the same doesn’t apply to the pure white cat. To estimate, a pure white cat with two blue eyes have a chance to acquire deafness up to 85% and for those who have odd eyes, deafness will likely be on the ear which is on the same side where the blue eye is.
- Odd eyes and deafness
Odd eyes, or heterochromia iridis, is a condition of the eyes of cats (and humans), where one eye is blue and the other may be orange, yellow, green or any other, usually light, color combination. The deafness can occur for both ears but, as stated earlier, it is more likely to occur on the side of the blue eye.
- Albino Cats
Albinism is a genetic condition where the color and pigmentation are completely lacking in the body. Albino cats have white furs and are somewhat closely related to the pure white cat, but they shouldn’t be mistaken entirely as having the same condition. Albinos and pure white cats may look similar, but there are differences you can see and observe.
Albino cats are pretty rare. If you see one, the indications you need to look for in their bodies are their pink skin and pink eyes (they sometimes have very light blue eyes and they are also sensitive to the light. On the other hand, white cats look just as ordinary as any other cats, aside from the probability of being deaf.
So, Why Are Blue-Eyed Cats Deaf?
Simple answer? Genetics!
As mentioned earlier, melanin and other characteristics are carried on by genes to every cat. The gene responsible for the white coat of cats and blue eyes is also responsible for the production of hair cells in the ears which are also responsible for hearing.
Generally, there are different genes responsible for the development of the ears and hearing. So, it doesn’t mean that white cats and blue-eyed cats, or white, blue-eyed cats, are deaf. However, it just puts them at higher risks than other cats with furs of different colors.
Are Blue Eyes Exclusive For White Cats?
Although blue eyes isn’t a gift (or a curse) designed only for white cats, it is very uncommon to see black cats with blue eyes. But for a black and white cat or cats with any other color with white spotting, it is very likely that they get blue eyes.
If you’re looking for other cats with blue eyes, some purebred or mixed breed cats are also gifted with blue eyes.
Cat Breeds With Blue Eyes
The Himalayan cat, or the Himmie, is a hybrid cat that descended from the Persian and Siamese. This beautiful cat is the result of humans wanting to have a cat that has a Persian’s coat and Siamese’s fur markings and – you guessed it, the lovely blue eyes!
Developed in the ancient region of Mesopotamia, the Persian is a cat breed that is well known for its fluffy, long fur, and round face. Its eyes can come in a wide variety of colors. However, Persians that have white coats will almost certainly have blue or odd eyes and can also be deaf.
The unique and famous Ragdoll cat that originated in the 1960’s got their name for the way they go limp when picked up and slump over to any surface like a ragdoll! They come in semi-long coats with pointed patterns, and almost all of them have blue eyes or lighter colored eyes.
The Birman has a silky, medium-length coat that comes in a variety of colors that resonate its bright azure eyes. Its pointed coat is the same as the Siamese which means that it has darker shades across its face and on its ears, legs, and tails as well.
The Balinese cat is considered to be the twin of the Siamese with the only difference in coat length. It shares a lot of characteristics including the mesmerizing blue eyes!
Considered as one of the most ancient cat breeds in the world, the Siamese is known for its sophisticated and seemingly perfected look, with a muscular, slender body and short elegant-looking coats. Besides its overall classiness, it is known for its almond-shaped eyes that always come in intense blue color.
- Ojos Azules
The name Ojos Azules, which is literally “Blue Eyes” in Spanish, is a rare cat breed among the feral cat population. It became known for its deep blue eyes that don’t make it fall behind out of all the cat breeds mentioned above.
Interestingly and oddly enough, the Ojos Azules is the only cat breed that has blue eyes but is never found in solid white coats!
Decided To Own A Blue-Eyed Cat?
If you’re thinking about owning a blue-eyed cat but don’t want to deal with the deafness problem, look for a point colored cat like the Siamese or the Balinese. Their blue eyes are not associated with the dominant white gene, as they have pale colored coats – so you’ll have the best of both worlds!
But if you’re really decided in getting a blue-eyed cat and don’t really care about the deafness problem, you’ll know that it wouldn’t be an issue once you learn how to communicate with your deaf cat friend. Once you get to know them better your bonding moments will be limitless!