Ojos Azules cat – a blue-eyed breed that failed

I have amended this page 28 times since 2007 😎. I have tried to understand this cat breed. As at March 2022, it is a breed which is not recognised by any of the major cat associations: Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA), The International Cat Association (TICA), and the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF). It is not recognised, period, therefore. This doesn’t surprise me for the reasons spelled out below. TICA did accept the breed in 1991. There was a breed standard published on January 5, 2004. It appears that there are cranial defects associated with the gene which produces deep blue eyes unlinked to coat type. This is no doubt the reason why the major cat associations have dropped the breed or did not accept it.

Ojos Azules
Ojos Azules. Photo: Kipcurry – Own work (Wikipdia)
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Lethal gene

In more detail this is the problem: a characteristic of this very rare breed is that it has a flattened tail tip. It appears that the responsible gene is potentially lethal. It was discovered that when the gene is homozygous it causes cranial deformities, a small curled tail, white fur and the kittens are stillborn. If the gene is heterozygous the lethal homozygous effect of the gene is not present. Therefore, breeders must cross the Ojos Azules with cats which don’t carry the gene. There are existing breeds with similar issues when homozygous, e.g., the Scottish Fold. They’ve become problematic.

Rare and unviable

The only authoritative page is on Wikipedia. And it seems to me that the only verified photograph of an Ojos Azules is the one illustrating the Wikipedia page. Sarah Hartwell sums it up in a comment made 3 years ago from March 2022 – please read her entire comment below. Thanks.

The Ojos Azules is now extinct. Other blue-eyed cats that turn up around the world aren’t Ojos Azules because they are not related to Cornflower and they have different mutations.

Cornflower – founding cat

The first cat of this breed was discovered in 1984. She was a tortoiseshell named Cornflower. Here are some notes about Cornflower by LaurieAnn who has first-hand knowledge and experience of the breed. Thanks, LaurieAnn.

“Cornflower was found in an animal pound in the state of New Mexico and not the country of Mexico. She was found and adorned by Annie Gass, who brought her to the attention of the late Dr. Solveig Pflueger, then TICA’S chief geneticist.

I worked with Annie and Solveig in the early 1990s to develop the Ojos as a breed. We found, among other things, that the gene was more complicated than a straightforward autosomal dominant.

All of the Ojos who descended from Cornflower had a characteristic aspect. Eyes are widely set, cheekbones are distinct, and whisker pads are plump or “poufy.” Often these cats had white tail tips, regardless of overall coat color.

One of Cornflower’s daughters, Polly (“Los Nuevos Iris Polychrome”) had startling eyes that were sapphire and gold in irregular patches or bits. They resembled cracked glass marbles.

Several Ojos kittens/cats were odd-eyed, which was accepted in the standard.

A daughter of Polly’s, Margaree’s Billie, was a striking red mack tabby with deep amber eyes. But because of her facial features I believed her to be an Ojos. When we test-bred her to a non-Ojos cat she produced four kittens, three Ojos and one odd-eyed, proving she carried the gene.

Billie would not have been showable but was an asset to the breeding program. Solveig raised the kittens and I don’t know where they went as it was at about this time that we became aware of the problem of breeding Ojos to Ojos. Fortunately, I had never done so, but lost my enthusiasm for the breed at that point.

They are nonetheless incredibly beautiful cats and almost universally friendly with the exception of one longhaired red and white boy, Jeepers Creepers, who was always fearful and timid. I believe had a problem contracting pupils and may have been visually impaired. I did not see this problem in any other Ojos.”

Ojos Azules – appearance

The breed is centred around the fact that the deep blue eyes of this cat are not linked to any fur colour or pattern. This opens the door to blue eyes and dark-coated cats. This is not normally seen due to the nature of feline genetics.

They say that the depth of colour of the blue eyes is greater than that seen Siamese cats. And unlike Siamese cats there is no squinting, deafness or cross eyes.

As to physical characteristics, this is a standard looking random bread cat in my view. This must present as a hurdle to this breed being accepted. Cat breeds need to be distinguishable one from the other. I don’t know the current situation regarding this breed. I expect that it is discontinued if not formally then informally.

Below are my ramblings from years ago (around 2007-2012)! Some points might interest readers

This is a controversial breed and a tricky breed to discuss, in my opinion. You’ll understand why when you read the following. There may be doubts whether this breed actually exists. This page has been extensively added to over the years and it shows! Sorry that it is a bit messy but the additions are important.

This cat breed has dark blue eyes that are not linked to coat colour or pattern so the coat need not be pointed (e.g. Siamese) or bicolor (one eye can be blue) but solid and dark and the cat will still have dark blue eyes. People ask about their cats and frankly I can’t give an answer because this breed is unclear to me.

Ojos Azules Cat
Ojos Azules Cat? No, I don’t think so because this is a kitten

A note about the above photograph. When first building this page, I originally said that “there is only one (yes one) definite photograph (other than the one above and below, but read below) of the Ojos Azules Cat and that is by Channan Photography (Richard Katris). I have emailed him twice without response so can’t use the photograph despite it being used on other websites without a credit. Anyway, the photograph featured above is from Webshots. This kitten is claimed to be a Ojos Azules Cat. I can’t vouch for it but she looks like a younger version of the cat photographed by Mr Katris. If any visitor to this website has a photo of a cat of this breed please post it on the forum – thanks…. Update: I am still searching (1-9-08)….”

It is now Feb 2011 and there are no pictures but I think I have one coming. Please be patient. Note: in the age of easy image manipulation is it possible to confirm for sure that a cat is of this breed? The breed looks like a moggie i.e. it is normal in appearance except for the eyes so there is no other distinguishing feature. And eyes are easy to photoshop!

Update Feb 2011 – important – I have doubts about this photo for two reasons. First kittens have blue eyes that change colour when adult. That does not mean that this cat is not an Ojos Azules just that I have severe doubts. Secondly this cat seems to be a bicolor. Bicolors carry the piebald or white spotting gene and this gene turns eyes blue – often one. It removes pigment from fur and eye. The Ojos Azules should have deep blue eyes, it is said. This cat has pale blue. But in fact we are not sure that this breed should have deep blue eyes – you can see how tricky this subject is.

People have copied the above photo, wrongly I hasten to add. I think they are doing a disservice because this cat may well not be of this cat breed.

February 18th 2011, another update. Below is a photograph by a Flickr photographer of his black cat. On the basis that this is an entirely genuine photograph and I have no reason to think otherwise, this should be a Ojos Azules cat. But I am reluctant to say that it is.

Ojos Azules Cat

This photo is protected by copyright. If you want to use it you will have to ask the photographer first.

The Cat – origin – genes – comment – registration

The Ojos Azules (meaning blue eyes in Spanish) is one of those discovered cat breeds. Apparently being first noticed amongst feral cat colonies in Mexico in 1984 (see update below). This is a medium sized cat and extremely rare still; by reckoning one of the rarest cat breeds. To be frank about it this is clearly because cat breeders have decided that it is not a good idea to get involved in breeding this cat.

I am a little surprised that this cat, once a mixed breed domestic cat of no particular interest has been accepted as a purebred cat by TICA in 1991. Update February 2011: Breeding has been suspended apparently because of cranial defects being associated with the gene that produces blue eyes on solid colour cats. Please read on…

This is a cat breed born out of a genetic mutation. It has been said that the gene is dominant but a different source says polygenes1 are or might be at work. The mutated gene produces a deep blue eye color that is unassociated with coat color (e.g. blue eyed white cats or colorpoint cats). Genes come in pairs. When both copies of this mutated gene (homozygous state) are present in the cat she dies in the womb due to cranial deformities which are associated with this gene. The same sort of problems occur in the breeding of dwarf cats. In dwarf cats the defects associated with the dwarf gene are tight chest and spinal deformities (Pectus Excavatum and Lordosis). Read about the dwarf gene by clicking on this link.


Thought: The genes producing this cat breed are not known, it seems to me. Accordingly, if the gene is in fact the well-known piebald gene working in a different way it could be argued that this breed does not exist. All we have is a bicolor random bred cat. There are millions of these moggies.

Below is a calico cat – tortoiseshell and white – that has deep blue eyes.

ojos azules cat

Photo of “Mo” copyright Peachy Bretaña. This photo is protected by copyright. Ask the photographer for a license to use it – don’t abuse it!

Mo is a year and 4 months old. Is Mo an Ojos Azules cat? Mo is not a colourpoint cat nor is Mo a white cat. Mo is part white and part coloured with no pointing. The genes that produce a calico cat are stated on this page. Mo also has some Van pattern markings. This is common in Mediterranean cats and cats in hot climates. Mo was adopted from CARA Welfare Philippines. I presume Mo lives in the Philippines.

Note: Mo is not registered with a cat association as far as I am aware and so cannot be part of a cat breed even if he is a de facto Ojos Azules.


However, there is no associated squinting, deafness or cross-eye with this mutated gene. To me, though, the way this gene works (i.e. potentially detrimentally) really must preclude this breed from progressing. Yes, deep blue eyes are lovely but the primary concern is obviously health and I don’t see how the breed can be justified as the benefit (blue eyes) is outweighed by the detriments (potentially fatal defects).

Breeders will avoid the fatal defects by breeding the Ojos Azules Cat with cats of another breed for example a non-pedigree Domestic Shorthair (DSH). But the resultant litter will be 50% blue eyed cats and 50% not blue eyed. In a strictly commercial sense this is not satisfactory for the breeder and would encourage unscrupulous breeders to breed blue eyed to blue eyed (some dwarf cat breeders, I believe, do this) leading to the problems described.

As the defective kittens die in the womb there is no commercial problem as to how to deal with kittens with cranial deformities but this is clearly morally unacceptable. Perhaps I shouldn’t state my opinion on this cat but this breed is a breed “too far”. Going back to the 19th century people didn’t think much about cat breeds and showing cats. The idea of showing cats and breeding them began in the late 1800s. As in all things human, things have to go too far, it seems, before it is known where the limit is.

In the area of development of breeds the CFA is more conservative and I am gradually beginning to see the wisdom of that. They register 41 breeds. However, I disagree with their management of the breed standard for the Ultra Persian (a development “too far”). TICA is it seems more adventurous in having 64 (including longhaired and shorthaired of same breed) different breeds registered with the association.

The Wikipedia author says that this breed is unregistered (I have corrected this as at 24-10-07). TICA have registered the breed in both long and short hair types in 1991. TICA breed standard (latest date is 5-1-04) states that out crossing should be with DSH or DLH (i.e. to a cat not of a recognized breed – this must be for health reasons). As a consequence, all patterns and coat colors are acceptable.

The mutated gene causing the blue eyes also tends to result in the coat having white patches on the peripheral parts of the body. When the Ojos Azules is a colourpoint, these white patches will distinguish the cat from a non Ojos Azules Cat as colorpoints will have blue eyes (but I presume less deep in color).

A person in Australia claims to have found an Ojos Azules in the middle of the road about one year ago; a recent example of how this mutation takes place randomly amongst stray cats. Click on the link to see the article he submitted through the forum on this site. Once again, I cannot confirm that this is definitely a cat of this breed.

NOTE: The author of the Messybeast website (Sarah Hartwell – thanks Sarah) says that there may well be a lot more blue-eyed cats independent of coat color than has been thought. This may mean that the mutated gene that gives us the Ojos Azules cat is more widespread than thought or, in other cases, a different gene is in action.

Update:

Erika Lugo Segovia from Mexico has sent me some photographs of what might be an Ojos Azules cat – Orion. Just to recap, as I understand it a cat that is not a kitten and which has fully developed eye color and the eye color is blue and the cat does not carry the Siamese gene or the piebald gene or any other gene that causes a lack of pigmentation should be an Ojos Azules cat – right?

Well, this cat living in Mexico, the area where the breed was originally “discovered” is 5 months old so not yet quite out of kittenhood but the eye color has remained stable and so it is probably settled. All the boxes seem to have been ticked that I refer to above and accordingly he would seem to be and Ojos Azules cat, but is he?:

Ojos Azules cat
Ojos Azules Cat? Orion – Photo by Erika Lugo Segovia

Erika says this:

He has light blue eyes with little green/gold color in the center. He is 5 months old and I’ve seen little to no change in his eyes.

From Ojos Azules cat to Home page

Breed Standard

It had been said that, “The TICA Ojos Azules Breed Group Standard is dated 5 January 2004..”1 but as at February 2011, there is no breed standard on the TICA website, neither is there this cat breed!

Sources:

  • Breedlist
  • 1. Wikipedia
  • Webshots
  • Messybeast

62 thoughts on “Ojos Azules cat – a blue-eyed breed that failed”

  1. This is the beautiful boy I’ve been feeding. He totally fits the description, even to the white tipped tail. I’ve named him Sammy.

    Reply
    • Well, Frankie, if he looks like an Ajos Azules, he is an Ajos Azules because this cat breed is based on moggies. He looks wonderful by the way. A beauty. Are you going to adopt him? Or have you adopted him? Thanks for posting.

      Reply
  2. Lily is 2 years old from rescue in UK…She was sent here from Malaga Spain as the rescue here takes cats from Spain and Dubai and homes them…I just love her for her beauty and temperament…I also have a siamese seal point with blue eyes…wondered if she may be this breed
    ..not bothered as speyed just tjink she is beautiful.

    Reply
  3. Hello Michael, I don’t know whether this thread is still open but I can add a little information about the Ojos Azules.
    Cornflower was found in an animal pound in the state of New Mexico and not the country of Mexico. She was found and adorned by Annie Gass, who brought her to the attention of the late Dr. Solveig Pflueger, then TICA’S chief geneticist.
    I worked with Annie and Solveig in the early 1990s to develop the Ojos as a breed. We found, among other things, that the gene was more complicated than a straightforward autosomal dominant.
    All of the Ojos who descended from Oornflower had a characteristic aspect. Eyes are widely set, cheekbones are didtinct, and whisker pads are plump or “poufy.” Often these cats had white tailtips, regardless of overall coat color.
    One of Cornflower’s daughters, Polly (“Los Nuevos Iris Polychrome”) had startling eyes that were sapphire and gold in irregular patches or bits. They resembled cracked glass marbles.
    Several Ojos kittens/cats were odd-eyed, which was accepted in the standard.
    A daughter of Polly’s, Margaree’s Billie, was a striking red mack tabby with deep amber eyes. But because of her facial features I believed her to be an Ojos.
    When we test-bred her to a non-Ojos cat she produced four kittens, three Ojos and one odd-eyed, proving the yge I ry.
    Billie would not have been showable but was an asset to the breeding program. Solveig raised the kittens and I don’t know where they went as it was at about this time that we became aware of the problem of breeding Ojos to Ojos. Fortunately I had never done so, but lost my enthusiasm for the breed at that point.
    They are nonetheless incredibly beautiful cats and almost universally friendly with the exception of one longhaired red and white boy, Jeepers Creepers, who was always fearful and timid. I believe had a problem contracting pupils and may have been visually impaired. I did not see this problem in any other Ojos.

    Reply

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