Cats With Two Different-Colored Eyes

Cats with two different-colored eyes

Cats with two different-colored eyes are cool. Pictured here, Hillary is Pets Adviser editor Dave Baker’s cat. One brown eye, one blue-ish.

When we think of cats’ eyes, we usually picture eyes of green, blue or amber. But once in a while, we encounter cats with two different-colored eyes.

People are sometimes said to have “cats’ eyes” because of the variation in their eye colors, but cats with this condition are often called “odd-eyed.”

What is this cat eye condition, and what causes it? It’s technically known as heterochromia iridis, the Greek term for “differently colored irises.”

The amount of melanin — the pigment that turns our own skin darker when we get a suntan — determines eye color in both humans and cats. The white or white-spotted gene found in some cats is normally the cause of heterochromia in them.

All kittens are born with blue eyes. As the kitten grows, melanin moves into the iris of the eyes. When the kitty reaches 7 to 12 weeks old, its eyes will become the color they will remain. If melanin does not move in, she will keep her blue eyes. If the melanin pigment reaches only one eye, the result will be one blue eye and one yellow, green or brown eye.

Partial heterochromia occurs when one iris has more than one color, while complete heterochromia results when the iris of one eye is different in color from the other eye.

Cats With Two Different-Colored Eyes

Heterochromia iridis in a kitten

Heterochromia iridis in a kitten

Some cat breeds are more likely to develop complete heterochromia. Among these are the Turkish angora, Japanese bobtail and Turkish van. More often than not, complete heterochromia occurs in white cats or in cats with the white spotted gene, which can occur in cats of any color.

Although heterochromia does not have symptoms, it can be an indication of genetic change, injury or previous disease. Every so often, deafness in one or both ears accompanies heterochromia in cats. However, 60 to 70 percent of these “odd-eyed” cats have no hearing problems. Genetic heterochromia can occur not only in white cats but also in those that have no white fur on their bodies.

Check out this quick video of one cat with different-colored eyes:

Should You Be Worried? Probably Not.

Cause for concern surfaces when an older cat develops heterochromia. This could be caused by a buildup of blood or iron within the chamber nearest to the front of the eye. So if your mature cat’s eyes suddenly change colors, consult with your veterinarian.

Having eyes of different colors will not interfere with your kitty’s natural instincts of looking, leaping, lazing and lunging. Her “eye-catching” eyes can see things as clearly as you can — maybe even better.

David Bowie eyes

David Bowie eyes

While kittens are perfectly fine with changing eye colors, keep in mind that a gradual change in an older cat’s eye colors needs to be checked by your veterinarian.

Oh, and by the way, while many people think singer David Bowie has different eye colors, heterochromia iridis is not the cause. He actually has a permanently dilated pupil in one eye, an injury from a teenage brawl. So cats with two different-colored eyes don’t technically “look like David Bowie,” but they’re still rock stars in their own right!

Additional Resources

Photos (top to bottom): David Deleon Baker/Pets Adviser, Mehran Heidarzadeh/Flickr, handout photo

From Around the Web

  • http://www.facebook.com/laurie.kretzerpinnell Laurie Pinnell

    I had no idea what caused that. I also did not know that cats eyes can CHANGE color later in life and what it could mean.( I also didn’t know about Bowie) I am ALWAYS learning something from Pets Adviser and not always about pets now! LOL!

    • http://www.petsadviser.com/ David Deleon Baker

      Hehe, thanks Laurie. We aim to educate and entertain.

      • Dawn

        You succeed at both! You put together a great newsletter! I look forward to it every week!!

        • http://www.petsadviser.com/ David Deleon Baker

          LIKE. :)

  • Renee & Tiffany Noel Harvey

    WOW I did not know that about cats eyes or David Bowie. Thanks for sharing :) This reminds me also of the movie Practical Magic with Sandra Bullock. Great show to watch this Halloween and see what I mean :)

  • laura

    I love this its so informational for me

  • Lorraine

    Loved this article – I have never seen a cat with two different coloured eyes – I love them all!!

    Lorraine – Ontario, Canada

    • http://www.petsadviser.com/ Pets Adviser

      Thanks Lorraine.

  • http://www.252cats.com/ Stephaine Knight

    i have never seen it …is it coz of any deficiency or its just normal,….thanks for letting us know these amazing facts

  • Rachel

    I do have a quick question! How old is a “mature” cat? My cat is about nine months old, a Siamese Tiger, and has the brightest blue eyes. However, today I noticed that she suddenly had one blue eye and one amber/green eye. Is she old enough to be concerned?

    • http://petsadviser.com/ Pets Adviser

      9 months old is still a kitten, so it’s probably normal. Some cats just take longer for their “adult eyes” to develop. You might want to mention the eye color change during your next vet visit.

  • Jessi

    I have a cat that is white with brownish grayish spots and developed complete heterocromia, she just had a kitten that looks almost just like her. What are the odds that the kitten will develop compete heterocromia like her mother?

    • Debbie

      I had a white male cat with heterocromia, and when mated with one of our female cats, we had 2 litters with white fur and heterocromia.

  • Kyle Paul

    Two different eyes coloured sounds weird!

  • Alia Kaplan

    My cat has one brownish eye and one that looks a yellow green. There is no sign of there being any blue in them. What could this be caused by? I’m almost positive it’s not a permanently dilated pupil, it doesn’t look like that. He is mostly white but has some brown and gray. His tail is brownish gray alone with part of his head.

  • Jacque Pierce

    We recently rescued a kitten that was on the euthanasia list, he’s solid white, was very sick and limp and had 2 colored eyes. Tho the eyes are very cool, it was his limp manor to why we chose him. He bounced right back, very active, very happy and very healthy, he’s got beautiful long white fur and we named him Chromio.