Categories: eyes

5 facts about blue-eyed domestic cats

Odd-eyed white Scottish Fold living in St Petersburg, Russia. Photo: Caters.

People ask the following questions about blue-eyed cats:

  • Are blue-eyed cat deaf?
  • Are blue-eyed cats blind?
  • Are blue-eyed cats rare?
  • Are blue-eyed cats more sensitive to light?
  • Are blue-eyed cats more expensive?

These are my answers:

Blue-eyed cats are often completely white or they have large amounts of white in their fur. The two go together because of their genetic make up. Blue-eyed, white cats are not prone to hereditary blindness and they don’t go blind at an early age. They are no different to other domestic cats.

Inherited deafness (congenital deafness) is the problem with blue-eyed white cats. Research has found that, according to Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, 17 to 22 percent of white cats with non-blue eyes are born deaf. But the percentage rises to 40 percent if the cat has one blue eye. If an all-white cat has two blue eyes the percentage born deaf rises to 65 to 85 percent. The deafness can occur in one ear only. If a white cat has odd-eyes meaning one eye is blue and the other is say yellow and if they are deaf as well, their deafness will be on the same side of the head as the blue eye

Odd-eyed feral cat. Photo: by stratman under a CC license.

In a study by George Strain at the School of Veterinary Medicine, Louisiana State University, the prevalence of deafness in white cats with no blue eyes was as stated above by Cornell namely 17 to 22 percent. Perhaps Cornell got the information from Mr Strain’s study or vice versa. Mr Strain’s study was a review of studies as I understand it.

If an all-white cat has two blue eyes 85 percent are born deaf in one ear (unilateral deafness) and 65 percent of born deaf in both ears. If a white cat has one blue eye 40 percent are born with unilateral deafness and 39.1 percent are born with bilateral deafness (both ears).

White Persian with clear blue eyes. Photo: Helmi Flick.

The book: Robinson’s Genetics for Breeders and Veterinarians, states that “among a group of 240 white cats in which blue eye colour and deafness was recorded, 39 percent had blue eyes and were deaf, 29 percent were blue-eyed with normal hearing, seven percent were gold-eyed and deaf, while 25 were gold-eyed with normal hearing”.

They also confirm that all-eyed cats who were deaf, were deaf on their blue-eyed side. The white fur of an all-white cat is caused by the dominant W gene. It produces blue iris colour and deafness in 60 to 70 percent and in 40 to 50 percent of cats respectively. The authors of this book state that the deafness is gradual and is “due to degeneration of the canal of Corti” (a reference to the sensitive ‘organ of Corti’ which detects pressure impulses that travel along the auditory nerve to the brain). In essence, the hearing structures are affected by this gene causing deafness.

Blue-eyed cats are not particularly rare because all-white cats are not particularly rare either. Neither are blue-eyed cats any more expensive than other cats. The point I’m making is that the eye colour alone does not make the cat more expensive. A blue-eyed cat might be more expensive if the cat as a whole is rare and for example purebred.

by Chriss Pagani under a CC license.

Whether blue-eyed cats are more sensitive to light is another point. I have blue eyes. There is less pigment in the iris of blue-eyed people and cats. This means that more light passes through the pigmented iris as well as the aperture i.e. the pupil. Accordingly, the eyes are more sensitive to light in my view. Certainly, for me, my eyes are more sensitive to sunlight which predisposes me to wearing sunglasses. I am taking a personal view on this from first-hand experience. But in referring to blue eyes being more sensitive to light I do not mean that the blue eyes see better in the dark. I am referring to bright sunlight causing discomfort because of light impacting the retina in a general way.


Cat’s eyes dilate after hiccup

The big question is why does a hiccup cause the muscles of the iris to contract which opens the aperture ...
Read More

What causes the range of eye colors in cats?

The total amount of melanin (pigment) in the iris of the eye determines the range of eye colours in cats ...
Read More

You can tell a lot from a cat’s eyes

You can tell a lot from a cat's eyes both in respect of health, mood and more. Health All of ...
Read More

Are cats’ eyes more sensitive to light?

Yes, cats' eyes are more sensitive to light than those of humans. This is why they shine in the dark ...
Read More

When do kittens’ eyes change colour?

There is physics behind the answer to the question, which may displease some readers and I'll understand why! By six ...
Read More

Why do domestic cat eyes reflect light?

The domestic cat has a tendency to be more active at night although they are not wholly nocturnal. They are ...
Read More

Turkish Angora Mix and Calico Siamese Mix are both sparkling blue-eyed beauties

The blue eyes of Atlas and Trico crackle and sparkle. There is almost a texture in them. I am not ...
Read More

Do domestic cats prefer light or dark?

The question is asking whether domestic cats prefer the amount of light encountered in daytime or at night. There is ...
Read More
Please comment here using either Facebook or WordPress (when available).
Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

Recent Posts

Candle sets alight cat’s tail while playing with family dog

A cat is innocently playing with the family dog. Everything is perfect except the cat…

4 hours ago

What is eumelanin in cats?

Eumelanin is a pigment in domestic cats and other animals (and humans). It is often…

6 hours ago

What is fawn colour in cats?

Introduction I have to make an initial point about colour reproduction. When it comes to…

7 hours ago

Vaccinating Siberian tigers against canine distemper virus

A research study by the scientists of Cornell Wildlife Health Center, in association with others…

12 hours ago

Why do tigers have stripes?

Tigers's have stripes for camouflage to allow them to approach prey animals as closely as…

15 hours ago

Why are tigers orange and not green?

The tiger attacks color-blind animals The main reason why tigers are orange and not green…

1 day ago