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Siamese cats are beautiful, highly intelligent animals that make popular domestic pets. A descendent of one of the first Asian breeds, Siamese cats are recognized by their snow-white fur, darkened faces and ears, and large eyes. Yet, while the Siamese is a popular choice for a companion, there are a handful of eye issues (including cross-eyes) that plague the breed.
The condition, known as feline strabismus, is a common eye disability often found in Siamese cats. Because the Siamese cat’s eyes may not be properly aligned, going cross-eyed is a way for them to see straight ahead. It is usually not a cause for grave concern.
This article will dive deeper into why Siamese cats appear cross-eyed, as well as when to seek out veterinary help. Read on to learn why exactly your kitty doesn’t see straight!
Why Is My Siamese Cat Cross-Eyed?
Whether you got a kitten from a breeder or an older cat from a shelter, you’re likely to notice that your new Siamese cat is cross-eyed. While this may be an alarming revelation, there’s no need to run to the vet. Appearing cross-eyed is very common in Siamese cats, and it’s due to the way their eyes are aligned in their skull.
In fact, the likelihood of a Siamese cat appearing cross-eyed can be traced back to the breed’s beginning. There are two main reasons we can point to:
- Siamese cats often have a mutation that affects the optic chiasm, also known as the area in the brain where the optic nerves are wired and crossed. This mutation causes the optic chiasm to be uncrossed, causing your cat to compensate by going cross-eyed.
- The appearance of being cross-eyed can be caused by the location of your cat’s retinas. Often, the retinas of a Siamese cat are shifted to one side instead of lined up with the back of the eye; this leads the cat to cross its eyes to see straight ahead.
Like we mentioned earlier, appearing cross-eyed shouldn’t be a problem for your cat, nor should it cause them any harm or difficulty seeing overall. As we’ll discuss in the next section, it’s even common to breed that cross-eyed appearance right out.
The most important thing to remember is that the cross-eyed appearance isn’t a birth defect or malicious disease but rather a physical part of the breed.
Are All Siamese Cats Cross-Eyed?
While it’s common to find cross-eyed Siamese cats, it’s certainly not impossible to find one that isn’t. Because many people consider strabismus to be unsightly, breeders have removed that trait when breeding new generations of Siamese cats. Therefore, if the cross-eyed appearance bothers you, you can always visit a breeder.
However, there’s no guarantee that the Siamese cat will or won’t be cross-eyed, as breeders only have so much control over genetics. Therefore, it isn’t necessarily recommended to seek out a non-cross-eyed Siamese cat. If you’re interested in the breed and want to adopt, ensure that you’re comfortable with any possible disability!
Common Eye Ailments for Siamese Cats
Feline strabismus may be the most common eye ailment for Siamese cats, but the breed is also susceptible to other problems that may affect your cat’s vision. If you’re having trouble figuring out what’s specifically wrong with your cat, a veterinarian should be able to determine the cause.
Below are some common eye ailments that plague Siamese cats as a breed.
- Feline Strabismus: Obviously, strabismus or the appearance of crossed eyes is one of the most common ailments for Siamese cats. It occurs when the eyes either do not sit normally in the socket or point in irregular directions. The cross-eyed look is simply your cat trying to see straight ahead.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy: Another common ailment is progressive retinal atrophy, known commonly as PRA, which causes Siamese cats to go blind over time. According to Prestige Animal Hospital, this blindness can show up as early as two years old. Unfortunately, there isn’t much of a cure for this genetic disease.
- Nystagmus: Cats can be affected by nystagmus, just like humans! The condition causes Siamese cats’ eyes to jerk from side to side irregularly. It may be a bit jarring if you aren’t expecting it.
- Glaucoma: Siamese cats are specifically susceptible to glaucoma over time due to pressure on the optic nerve. If you suspect your cat has glaucoma, contact your vet right away. If left untreated, glaucoma can lead to complete blindness.
Why Are Siamese Cats Susceptible to Eye Conditions?
Just like any animal, some breeds of cats are more susceptible to genetic conditions than others. Siamese cats are more likely to have eye conditions, though there isn’t one complete reason as to why that is. International Cat Care explains that Siamese cats were cross-eyed from the beginning, along with kinked tails. However, these traits were found to be unattractive and undesirable.
Another reason why Siamese cats have more genetic conditions is due to inbreeding. Many people prefer Siamese cats to be purebred and will pay breeders exorbitant amounts of money for it. However, breeding often requires using the same cats repeatedly, especially if there’s only a handful of purebred Siamese cats available.
This inbreeding can cause more genetic conditions that Siamese cats are susceptible to, such as glaucoma and progressive retinal atrophy. Therefore, if you’re purchasing a Siamese cat from a breeder or hoping to adopt a purebred kitty, you need to be prepared to deal with possible genetic ailments.
Cross eyes can be part of life for a Siamese cat. To learn more about the life of a Siamese cat and the growth they go through: Click Here.
When Should I Take My Cat to the Vet?
Luckily, adopting a cross-eyed Siamese cat doesn’t require an extra trip to the vet. After all,the cross-eyed appearance is very common in the Siamese breed due to the optic chiasm mutation. However, there are a few situations when your cat’s crossed eyes should be a cause for concern:
- If your cat was adopted with normal vision and grew cross-eyed over time, you may want to consult your vet as that could be a sign of another vision problem unrelated to the optic chiasm mutation.
- If you notice your cat has a hard time walking around or bumps into objects often, you may also want to visit the vet just to ensure that nothing more serious is occurring. According to Animal Path, light clumsiness should be expected, and you can protect your cat from harm by placing soft objects around your home.
- The regular appearance of crossed eyes shouldn’t require a trip to the vet, but if you notice your cat starting to lose his or her vision due to glaucoma or progressive retinal atrophy, your cat should be taken to the vet as soon as possible. As mentioned in the last section, these conditions can’t always be cured but should be treated as soon as possible to prevent complete and total blindness.
Unless your cat is behaving strangely, there’s no reason to panic! Familiarizing yourself with common eye ailments of the Siamese breed can help to put your mind at ease.
Another reason people may take their Siamese cat to the veterinarian is the color changes that a Siamese cat can go through. Learn more about when Siamese cats stop changing color: Click Here.
Appearing cross-eyed is a trait common to the Siamese breed, though it isn’t a cause for concern. This appearance is most often caused by feline strabismus, a condition in which the optic chiasm is affected. However, other conditions can affect your cat’s eyes, some of which require a trip to the vet.
Hopefully, this article has offered helpful information in determining why Siamese cats often have crossed eyes and other eye conditions that you should look out for from your kitty!
If you enjoyed this article about Siamese cats, check out a couple of our head-to-head analysis of Siamese cats against other breeds, such as: