What Is Heterochromia Iridis In Cats?

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What is the color of your cat’s eye? Brown? Yellow? Blue? Green? What shade of the color is it? Have you ever noticed how beautiful their eyes are, and how they express their feelings with them? It is unusual to see a cat with two different eye color, but these cats are beautiful and unique felines that attract a lot of attention, just with a blink of an eye.

What is heterochromia iridis?

Heterochromia is the difference in coloration usually of the eye, hair, or skin. It is determined by the concentration of melanin and usually inherited or caused by genetic mosaicism, disease, injury, or genetic chimerism. It occurs in humans and some breeds of cats and dogs. Heterochromia iridis or heterochromia iridum is Heterochromia of the eye, and it can either be sectorial or complete. 

Complete heterochromia iridis in cats is when one iris is a different color from the other, and sectorial heterochromia iridis in cats is when part of one iris is a different color from its remainder.

What causes heterochromia iridis in cats?

Most of the cats with two different colored eyes or eyes having two different colors, are white or at least have white areas on their body. Their eye color is controlled by the same gene responsible for their white fur coloring.

All kittens are born with blue colored eyes. Blue eyes are a result of no melanin. We cannot determine their eye color until the kittens are between 7 and 12 weeks old. That is when the melanin begins to move into their irises. Their eye color is determined by the amount of melanin that moves into the iris. As the kitten grows up, her genes may prevent the melanin from reaching one eye, causing complete heterochromia. When there are varying concentrations of melanin spread throughout one iris, it causes sectoral heterochromia. It results in a single eye with different colors.

As awesome as this sounds, it is important to seek medical attention for the kitten if the eyes begin to become multi-colored after reaching maturity. A kitten will develop healthy eye color within the first 12 weeks of its life. Any change in color after that may be caused by inflammation, blood in the eye, or iron deposit.

Which breeds of cat have a higher rate of heterochromia iridis?

Heterochromia condition is caused by the gene that causes all-white or bi-colored cats. Only some breeds with this gene are more prone to this condition and include the Japanese Bobtail, Turkish Angora, and the Turkish Van, though other breeds with the right genetic cocktail can also have heterochromia iridis.

Cats with heterochromia iridis are sweet and unique. If you are blessed with the company of one of these beauties, consider yourself lucky.