What's the Deal With Two Different Colored Eyes in Cats

Holly in Tavares, FL
Nov. 2, 2016

My cats both have the same colored eyes, but I met a new friend today, and her cat has two different colored eyes. Amazing! I decided to do some research and discovered some interesting facts about the condition.

Known technically as heterochromia iridis or differently colored irises, this condition is also called odd-eyed. It's primarily a genetic condition carried by the same gene that makes cats white.

A cat's eye color is determined by melanin, the pigment that affects the color of our skin. While kittens are all born with blue eyes, melanin moves to the irises as they age and changes the color. By 12 weeks, the eye color they have is the one they keep. Depending on their level of melanin, they could keep their blue eyes or have any combination of blue, yellow, green or brown eyes.

Different colored eyes are more common in certain breeds. They include Japanese Bobtails, Khao Manee, Oriental Shorthair, Persian, Sphynx, Turkish Angoras and Turkish Vans.

When you take a picture of an odd-eyed cat, you might notice a red-eye effect in the blue eye. Both eyes have tapetum lucidum that produces eyeshine, but a layer of melanin over the blue eye removes some colors of light and causes the eye to appear red in pictures.

As many as three out of 10 cats with heterochromia may be deaf, but most are not. There certainly are health concerns when older cats develop the condition, though. It could be caused by a blood or iron buildup at the front of the eye and requires veterinarian care.

What are your experiences with heterochromia in cats? The condition is very interesting to me, and I'd love to hear your story! 

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