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Cats with blue eyes: What’s the secret behind your cat’s eye colour?

Grey cat with blue eyes advice

Cats with blue eyes

© Shutterstock

Cats with blue eyes often seem particularly special. Their dazzling blues seem rather unusual for a feline, but mesmerising all the same. It’s easy to see why cats in ancient times were considered to be mythical and magical creatures, especially when you meet a blue-eyed cat for the first time. But what is the secret behind a cat’s beautiful baby blues?

By Zoe Monk

Published on the 19/12/2019, 15:22

Cats are incredibly elegant creatures and they all have beautiful and expressive eyes. But there’s something particularly mesmerising about the stare from a cat with blue eyes. It’s easy to see why cats in ancient times were considered magical and mystical creatures and even worshipped as Gods. Especially when you meet a cat with blue eyes for the first time.

Why do some cats have blue eyes?

Blue eyes in cats are usually caused by an absence of pigment. All kittens have blue eyes when they are born as the development of eye pigmentation doesn’t happen until the kittens reach around six weeks old when the production of melanin finally kicks in. Some cat breeds with blue eyes, particularly pointed breeds, have a recessive albinism gene. This means they will always have bright blue eyes. Other cats meanwhile have an extra gene that acts to block the coat colour. This means that moggies don’t just have beautiful sapphire coloured eyes, they will also be white.

Blue eyed cat close up
Blue eyed cat! ©Shutterstock

Which cat breeds have blue eyes?

Blue eyes are most common in white cats and those with point markings. Blue eyes commonly occur in a number of cat breeds including:

However, sparkling blue eyes are not exclusively reserved for these moggies. Aside from these blue-eyed breeds, tabby, tortoiseshell and white and black cats can also have blue eyes.

Why are white cats with blue eyes often deaf?

In his 1868 work, “The variation of domesticated animals and plants”, Charles Darwin wrote: “If white cats have their eyes blue, they are almost always deaf”. In fact, while not all white cats with blue eyes are born deaf, but many of them are. It’s estimated that around 60% to 80% of white cats with two blue eyes are likely to be deaf. Cats with just one blue eye are between 30 and 40% likely to be deaf.

Melanin affects the colour of a cat’s coat and also the cochlea in the inner eye. If the masking gene prevents the development of melanin, the cochlea can degenerate soon after the kitten is born and the cat will be deaf permanently. This masking gene can sometimes be responsible for white felines with blue eyes. Therefore, if a cat has blue eyes, they are more likely to be deaf.

Ancestry can influence coat and eye colour

There can be other reasons for cats being white and other genes can affect eye colour. Siamese, for instance, tends to have blue eyes but the white colour is caused by a different gene. If a cat has Siamese in their ancestry, it may look white with blue eyes, but if the blue eyes are caused by the Siamese gene, that cat may very well have perfect hearing.

Beautiful blue eyed cat ©Shutterstock

Cats with blue eyes

There’s something particularly striking about gazing upon big, bright blue eyes. But when it’s framed by a feline face, whether a rare breed or even just a common domestic moggy, the blue eyes become even more captivating. It may all be down to pigmentation or simple ancestry but blue eyes will always stand out the most.

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