If you have a Siamese cat, you’re probably very familiar with their mesmerizing blue almond-shaped eyes. However, their look can go from majestic to downright silly when their eyes crisscross in the most adorable way. This can lead us to wonder: Why do Siamese cats have crossed eyes?
Fear not, fellow feline lovers. In this blog, we answer all your questions about cat eye crossing, including why it happens, the science behind it, and whether or not they can actually see! Join us as we unravel the mystery behind Siamese cats’ endearing crossed eyes.
Why Does My Siamese Cat Go Cross-Eyed?
Let’s address the fundamental question: Why do Siamese cats often appear cross-eyed? This condition, called strabismus, is caused by a genetic anomaly linked with their unique coat coloring. However, before modern science answered the question with biology and genetics, myths and legends explained this unique appearance.
Since humans and Siamese cats have been companions for thousands of years, it’s not surprising that there is folklore associated with this puzzling trait. Let’s take a closer look at both the legend and the science behind Siamese cats’ crossed eyes.
The Legend Behind Siamese Cats’ Crossed Eyes
As with many things that pique our curiosity, Siamese cats’ crossed eyes come with a fascinating legend. According to an old Thai tale, there was once a period of time when all the men in Siam had to go off to war. As a result, they left behind a male and female cat to guard a sacred golden goblet that had once been used by the Buddha. Left to their own devices, the cats engaged in some kitty romance and the male eventually wandered off.
The now pregnant female cat, however, took her duties very seriously. She spent so much time staring intensely at the goblet with her tail curled around it, that her eyes became permanently crossed and her tail permanently kinked. She prayed that the men would come back before her kittens were born. Sadly, they did not, and she had a litter of kittens who were born with the same crossed eyes and kinked tails as she had.
The Science Behind Siamese Cats’ Crossed Eyes
While this myth adds a touch of magic and mystique to Siamese cats, the real reasons behind their crossed eyes are grounded in genetics and retinal biology.
Siamese cats’ crossed eyes are a result of a genetic anomaly that also gives them their unique fur color. They have a mutated gene called TYR, which provides the blueprint for the creation of the enzyme tyrosinase. Tyrosinase is directly related to the production of melanin, which is responsible for siamese cats’ pigment. This mutation causes the pigment in their fur to be darker in areas where their body is cooler, which explains why their body is pale while their extremities are darker. Surprisingly, melanin is also found in the light-sensitive tissue in the retina. Therefore, the mutated TYR gene is also responsible for their partial albinism, abnormal vision, and eye color.
Essentially, It causes too many nerve fibers to cross to the opposite side of the brain. This strange wiring is what causes their cross-eyed look, as they are most likely compensating for the crossed nerve fibers to see correctly. The medical term for this is called strabismus. Siamese cats are born with this genetic anomaly, however, they may not show signs of convergent strabismus up until 6 months of age. Convergent means that they point inward, while divergent strabismus would be if they pointed outward.
In studies of these cats’ vision systems, scientists have even unlocked some explanations behind vision issues in albinos of other species, including humans.
Suggested reading: Want to learn more about your cross-eyed kitty? Unveil their genetic history and traits with a cat DNA test.
Are Siamese Usually Cross-Eyed?
While Siamese cats are famous for their crossed eyes, not all Siamese cats exhibit this trait. It varies from cat to cat, and some Siamese cats have a more pronounced cross-eyed appearance than others. The extent of their eye-crossing can depend on genetics, age, and other factors.
What’s more, this charming quirk is becoming increasingly rare. Breeding Siamese cats for these traits is frowned upon nowadays, and as a result, the cross-eyed variation isn’t seen as much. If you’re one of the few to have an adorable cross-eyed cat, you have a very unique kitty on your hands!
Criss-Cross Alert: The famous Nala Cat is a Siamese-Tabby mix with slightly crossed eyes!
What Is Strabismus in Cats?
Strabismus, the condition responsible for Siamese cats’ crossed eyes, isn’t exclusive to this breed. It can occur in other cat breeds as well. Strabismus in cats can be congenital, meaning it’s present at birth, or acquired, developing later in life due to injury or illness.
Congenital strabismus is often hereditary and is the type most commonly associated with Siamese cats. The temperature-sensitive gene mentioned earlier plays a significant role in this type of strabismus. However, if you notice your cat has suddenly developed strabismus, it’s a good idea to take them to the vet. It may be a sign of a medical condition that needs to be addressed.
Pro tip: Worried that your cat’s crossed eyes are more than just genetics? Learn all about the red flags to look for in sick or hurt kitties.
Can Cross-Eyed Cats See Normally?
Now, you might be wondering if Siamese cats with crossed eyes can see normally. The good news is that, for the most part, they can. While their eyes might appear misaligned, they often have normal vision. Their brains and eyes adapt to the misalignment, allowing them to perceive the world just as well as any other cat.
Nevertheless, severe cases of strabismus can lead to vision problems. Basic eye function is typically not a problem, but cats with significantly crossed eyes won’t have the depth perception and hunting skills that other cats have. If you’re worried about your cat’s eyesight, be sure to consult a veterinarian if you suspect any vision issues.
Other Unique Traits of Siamese Cats
Siamese cats aren’t just known for their crossed eyes – they’re a treasure trove of unique traits and characteristics. For instance, they’re renowned for their vocal nature. They’re not afraid to express their thoughts and feelings through a symphony of meows, yowls, and purrs. Some Siamese owners even claim that their cats hold entire conversations with them.
Siamese cats are also considered very outgoing and social. They thrive on human interaction and form strong bonds with their owners. They’re not the type to hide under the bed when guests come over; they’ll likely be the center of attention, demanding pets and cuddles from everyone in the room.
Lastly, Siamese cats stand out because of their unique look. Whether they’re crossed or not, their eyes are typically a stunning shade of blue. They also have beautiful contrasting colors and a unique crooked tail. These stand-out features allow most people to automatically identify a Siamese cat when they see one. It’s no wonder this breed is so popular.
Is your Siamese cat a little too vocal? Click here to find out if your feline friend can ever learn to pipe down.
Give Your Quirky Siamese Cat Some Extra Love Today
Siamese cats’ crossed eyes are a charming and unique trait that sets them apart in the feline world. While it’s all part of their genetics, it doesn’t typically affect their quality of life or their ability to be loving and lovable companions.
So, the next time your Siamese cat goes criss-cross applesauce with those captivating eyes, give them some extra love and admiration. They’re not only a piece of feline history and lore but also a unique and affectionate addition to your family. Embrace their quirks, and you’ll find that Siamese cats truly are a treasure to cherish.
Do you have a cross-eyed Siamese cat? Let us know in the comments below!
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