Why Are Siamese Cats Cross-Eyed? Facts You Need to Know

Mostly, some Siamese cats intentionally cross their eyes to see straight. As uncommon as it sounds, it is just normal for the most part for a Siamese cat to have a pair of odd eyes unless there are underlying conditions that can be a cause of concern. 

Photo from: lokiminou (IG)

Although crossed eyes are natural to this breed, many people find the trait unattractive and “flawed”. Breeders are encouraged not to breed Siamese cats who possess such a feature in an attempt to eliminate it as much as possible. To further explain this Siamese condition, this article will guide you through in seeking all the answers to your questions

Do All Siamese Cats Have Crossed Eyes?

No, not all Siamese cats have crossed eyes. Long before though, you can easily find a feline of this kind with the said eye condition, especially if you travel in Thailand, its place of origin, and in its nearby countries. When this Thai cat reached several parts of Europe and North America, the drastic change in its appearance began to appear.

Siamese cat breeders eventually grew tired of the appearance of the traditional Siamese. Around the 1960s, they swiftly developed a modern version. This  showcases a pair of large ears, a slimmer figure, a wedge-shaped head, and straight-staring eyes. Even Cat Fanciers’ Associations across the world highly promote normal-eyed Siamese cats.

Still, if you visit Thailand, you will get to see the natural beauty of the old-school Siamese cat.

More Explanations on Why Some Siamese Cats Are Cross Eyed

The Well-Known Legend

There is a popular myth that somehow tries to explain the reason why cross-eyed Siamese cats exist. To start it out, we all know how highly related this feline is to the Thai royal members. He was revered as a unique cat with special duties worthy of honor and respect from the people. In the legend, the Siamese cat is tasked to guard the royal golden goblet. Due to his immense commitment and dedication to ensure nobody steals the valued item, the Siamese cat only focused on looking at it day and night.

Photo from: puaandbernie (IG)

The longer he looked at the goblet, the more his eyes started to cross. Furthermore, since the breed is known to have kinked tails as well, the story suggests that the cat wrapped its tail around the goblet for added security. The folk tale does have a sense in explaining things out and whether it is true or not, the whole idea hints that the Siamese might have had a crucial task back in its early days. 

There Are Health Problems

Despite the fact that Siamese cats can be naturally cross-eyed, owners must remain observant regarding the feline’s eyes, more so if he had a normal pair during kittyhood and it gradually changes in the later stages. Strabismus is a common condition that largely affects the Siamese breed. This is when there is an imbalance in the extraocular muscle tone.

The aftereffects of the imbalance cause the center of the retina to shift slightly causing both eyes to not see straight. If you have suspicions or if you are not sure if your cat does suffer from this genetic condition, consult your vet for a diagnosis. This is because some cats simply deliberately cross their eyes to see straight and yet, suffer not from strabismus. 

Also, strabismus might be signaling a more serious condition. It could either be thyroid problems, diabetes, tumor, virus, or aneurysm. 

Largely Affected by the Albino Genes

Genetically, almost all Siamese cats are initially temperature-sensitive albinos. To understand things better, a cat is determined by different genes. Whatever gene type a feline has, such will dictate him to be black, ginger, or white. Then, there are modifier genes that cause the coat to show a specific pattern or masks like what you would typically see from a Tuxedo cat. 

In the case of the Siamese cat, he carries allele genes that stop its coat from getting pigments hence why they are born to be all white. After about two weeks from birth, the Siamese kitten will then gradually show his coat colors and patterns depending on the temperature in several regions of his body. 

The presence of these albino genes is highly responsible for the unusual eye trait of the Siamese breed.

The Science Behind the Condition

What we should know is that the genes possessed by the Siamese cat also control the optic nerves. With that said, one thing the albino genes do is destroy the pathway of the optic nerves thus inhibiting Siamese cats to have full binocular vision.

The result of this is the retina on the right shifts to the left and the left retina shifts to the right. This can be corrected and aligned by a surgical specialist, especially if there are damages in the eye muscles.

Is the Siamese Cat Prone to Eye Ailments?

The short answer is yes. Horizontal strabismus is the common eye ailment you can find in the Siamese breed, but there are other more eye conditions from which he can be vulnerable. If you are unsure about what issue he’s experiencing, bring him to the vet for further assessment and evaluation. 

As an owner, here are the common eye problems that may afflict the feline:

Glaucoma

Most Siamese cats can develop glaucoma in just a matter of time due to the developing pressure in the optic nerve. Eventually, the retina, as well as the optic disk, will be destroyed. If left untreated, this can cause your pet to go blind. 

Nystagmus

This vestibular disease causes a cat’s eye to suddenly develop incoordination such as darting back and forth of the eyes, circling, or shifting from one side to another. A head tilt or vomiting usually accompanies this condition. Also, the causes can either be viral infections, tumors, or thiamine deficiency.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy

Also known as PRA, this is a group of degenerative diseases that affect the photoreceptor cells over a period of time. The cells will gradually deteriorate at a certain rate and the result is blindness for the Siamese cat. Currently, there is no known cure for Siamese cats or any other breed that suffers from PRA.

When Should You Bring Your Siamese Cat to the Vet?

Bring your Siamese cat to the vet only when there are odd occurrences that might require special attention. Nevertheless, in regard to the crossed eye issue, there is no need to be that worried if you adopt a Siamese cat with that certain condition. As mentioned, it’s just normal for the breed. However, the following should tell you when it is a must to visit the vet’s clinic:

  • If your Siamese cat’s normal vision suddenly appears to be crossed over time and various symptoms are shown. 
  • When you notice your Siamese cat is starting to have a hard time walking straight or he often bumps into objects and furniture.
  • The quality of his eyes’ vision starts to recede and you suspect that he might be suffering from glaucoma or other eye ailments he is susceptible to.

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