Are there any special considerations for adopting a cross-eyed cat?

  • A short discussion in chat made me wonder: do cats that are cross-eyed require any special care?

    Spangles the cat Source:

    • Does it affect the cat's balance (or negatively in any other way)?
    • Can (or should) it be corrected?


  • Zaralynda

    Zaralynda Correct answer

    8 years ago

    Strabismus the medical name for this condition. It can affect one or both eyes, and the eyes may tend towards any particular direction (not just inwards). Siamese cats breed from the original stock given to the Europeans tend to inherient this trait because they were culls (unknown to the Europeans!).

    (As an aside, the cat in the picture lacks the distinctive colorpoints that usually indicate Siamese ancestry, but the blue eyes are a common characteristic of the breed not usually seen in other breeds, so I suspect this cat does have some amount of Siamese/Oriental ancestry).

    Petmd gives some possible causes of strabismus as:

    • an imbalance of extraocular (outside of the eye) muscle tone,
    • something decreasing the mobility of the muscles surrounding the eye

    • Genetics

    • Restriction of eye muscle mobility from scar tissue (usually from previous trauma or inflammation)
    • Abnormal crossing of visual fibers in the central nervous system

    There was a study done where cats were inflicted (surgically) with strabismus and their ability to jump was judged over time. Kittens were able to adapt to the strabismus, while adult cats were less able to adapt.

    • J Neurophysiol. 1980 Mar;43(3):792-806. Spatial localization in cats reared with strabismus. (abstract)

    So, if you're looking at adopting a kitten with strabismus, the cat will learn to adjust and you shouldn't expect any problems.

    If you're adopting an adult and the onset of the strabismus is unknown, then you may need to observe the cat to determine how well he/she is able to compensate. I wouldn't have any concerns adopting a cat with clear Siamese heritage (3 of my 4 cats are from the Siamese Rescue Center) because it's likely that that cat has had strabismus from birth and was able to adapt as a kitten.

    There's no reason to correct genetic strabismus (that was present from birth). It's a cosmetic condition once the cat has learned to adjust for the condition.

    If your cat has normal eyes and suddenly one (or both) become cross eyed (or otherwise turned in an odd direction), then you should immediately take your cat to the vet. Your cat may be sick or injured and it needs to be examined immediately.

    "The cause" is a slightly overstrong statement. Multiple causes exist.

    @keshlam True! I will update in a bit, I've learned a lot about strabismus and nystagmus since I wrote this answer (we had a cat with swelling in his cerebellum that caused a bunch of problems).

    @keshlam updated!

    The cat in the picture is colorpoint. And the blue eye can be seen in other breeds as well as the colorpoint pattern

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM

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