Sectoral heterochromia in cats

Sectoral heterochromia, also segmental heterochromia, in cats (domestic cats) is when each eye is made up of two colours: blue and orange or yellow in various densities and intensities.

Sectoral heterochromia in domestic cats

Sectoral heterochromia in domestic cats. Photo: igmur ( images)

Usually heterochromia (full name ‘heterochromia iridium’) presents as one eye being blue and the other being orange or orange/yellow – called ‘odd-eyed’ or ‘odd-eye’ cat. This is complete heterochromia. But in sectoral heterochromia the division in colors is present in each eye and it is quite striking:

Sectoral heterochromia in domestic cats

Sectoral heterochromia in domestic cats. Photo:

It is caused by the dominant white gene (which makes domestic cats all-white) and the white spotting gene also known as the piebald gene. This gene stops the production of pigment (melanin) in the fur of the cat and in the iris of the eye. It either stops the production or migration of pigment in one eye causing it to be blue or across part of the eye causing part of the eye to be blue. A lack of pigment presents as blue due to the refraction of light in the same way that the sky is blue on a cloudless day. Eye color is formed in the smooth muscle cells of the iris.

The dominant white gene can also cause deafness in white cats. It is quite common. Sectoral heterochromia must be very rare whereas complete heterochromia in all-white cats is relatively common.

Visitor to PoC – cat with subtle sectoral heterochromia

A visitor to PoC uploaded a photo of their gorgeous all-white Persian, Fenty. I think that Fenty has a subtle version of this rare eye color:

Fenty a Persian with sectoral heterochromia

Fenty a Persian with sectoral heterochromia (I believe). Disagree? Please tell me in a comment.

Complete heterochromia

Here is a nice photo of complete heterochromia in cats (odd-eyed cat):

Complete heterochromia in domestic cats

Complete heterochromia in domestic cats


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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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5 Responses

  1. Albert Schepis says:

    It’s weird, but the cat in the picture at the top is downright creepy looking.

  2. Fenty says:

    Thankyou for answering and sharing about Fenty! Your explanation have given me better understanding about this phenomenon. Much love from Fenty!

  1. September 25, 2019

    […] to as segmental heterochromia and occurs when a domestic cat has two colors in each eye. Usually, according to Pictures of Cats, each eye is blue and yellow or orange, with the intensity and density varying. For Olive, her eyes […]

  2. October 15, 2021

    […] quite often present on bicolour cats which have white coats with patches of colour. This is because heterochromia iridium (the technical name for odd-eyes) is linked to the dominant white gene in all-white cats and the […]

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