Strabismus (being cross-eyed) is a problem that seems to mostly affect Siamese cats, although other cat breeds can be cross-eyed as well.
To be able to understand why many Siamese cats are born with crossed eyes, you first have to understand a bit more about Siamese genetics.
These cats are often purebred cats, so there is a lot going on in their genetics that can affect the Siamese cat eyes, leaving them cross-eyed or not entirely aligned.
This is a problem that disproportionately affects Siamese cats, although if you do some searching, you should be able to find a fair few Siamese cats that aren’t cross-eyed.
Purebred Cats and Siamese Cats
To get purebred Siamese cats is a delicate and painstaking process that involves a lot of history and checking to make sure that your cats are healthy and are the sparkling definition of their breed.
Cat breeds often have strict regulations, from the color of their fur to the patterns underneath that fur, which means that it can be hard to get a cat that falls perfectly within a breed’s guidelines. Once a cat has been bred and turns out to be the perfect cat for its breed, it is then bred many times over to try and get those preferable genes into more of those cats.
Naturally, an aspect of purebred animals is that this process will involve some degree of inbreeding, though this has become far less commonplace in today’s society.
The problem with inbreeding is that there are a lot of genetic mutations that can develop because of this. A fair few offshoots of the Siamese cat breed have likely stemmed from a mutation that came from inbreeding.
This is also one of the major reasons why people don’t support purebred animals and purchase them for their looks alone, as an animal’s appearance will often come at the price of its health.
Of the Siamese cats that are cross-eyed, they are doing it intentionally. When a Siamese cat develops with the genetic condition that leads to cross-eyedness, it means that the center of their retina is partially shifted, which means that they cannot naturally see straight.
To see straight and clearly, these affected cats need to cross their eyes, leading to the well-known appearance of a cross eyed Siamese cat. The main cause of cross-eyed Siamese cats is the fact that their appearance relies on a gene that is associated with being albino, or a lack of coloration in the cat’s fur and eyes.
How Albino Genotypes Impact Cross-Eyed Siamese Cats
All Siamese cats are born at least partially albino, being born white and eventually developing the characteristic patches of color on their feet, nose, and tail that they are known for as they grow older. An animal with the albino gene does not necessarily have to have no coloration to their coat, and there are several genotypes that involve albinism.
The Siamese cat breed does rely on that albinism to get their trademark appearance, so this might mean that some genotypes may mutate into other forms of the albino gene that are known for having visual complications.
Because of this process, Siamese cats are disproportionately affected by cross-eyedness, and it is something that you may have to expect when you choose to look at Siamese kittens.
You can try and decrease the chances of this happening by looking into a breeder’s history, focus, and other kittens to see if they have these problems or if the breeder places a higher focus on the Siamese cat’s health rather than its appearance and price tag.
There are some specific subtypes of the Siamese cat that are afflicted with cross-eyedness more than others.
Typically, the Traditional Siamese and the Thai Siamese cats will be more affected by this condition than the Modern Siamese, as people have focused more on preventing this trait in Modern Siamese breeds.
Can You Help a Cross-Eyed Siamese Cat?
It may hurt your heart to see your Siamese cat with crossed eyes, or you might feel sorry for it. One might even begin to wonder if these cats would develop the same kinds of headaches and eyestrain that people get when they cross their eyes for long periods of time.
Thankfully, you can do some things to help your Siamese cat out if it does have crossed eyes, and the best news is that to Siamese cats who have to naturally cross their eyes to see, it doesn’t bother them at all and simply feels as if it is how it would normally see.
Treat Your Cat the Same
First things first, you will want to treat your cat the same way you would otherwise. Having a cat with crossed eyes could be thought of as having a cat that might need glasses, as it is a problem that only affects the finer details of your cat’s life. In fact, most cats (even the healthiest ones) have poor eyesight.
They rely primarily on scent, sound, and their whiskers to get around, with their eyesight being surprisingly bad at the human equivalent of 20/100 (meaning that at 20 feet away from an object, cats see it with the same clarity as if they were 100 feet away). This means that while it might be sad to look at, cats already have poor eyesight, so your cat may not be as impaired as it may appear.
Regardless, you should still do what you can to help your cat out a little bit more, as crossed eyes can often mean that cats will have poorer depth perception and limited peripheral vision, just like for humans that are cross-eyed. Cross-eyed Siamese cats will still be just as playful and agile as they otherwise would be, though, they just might need a little help in some areas.
The best thing that you can do is try and make sure that there are fewer cramped areas where your cat could hit a wall or fall down because it didn’t realize how much space it had. These cats tend to have poor depth perception and peripheral vision, so they may try and turn around only to hit a wall or knock something over that they couldn’t see.
By allowing for there to be more wide-open spaces for your cat to maneuver in and by making sure you don’t have too many fragile objects near ledges, you can ensure that your cat will be able to move around easily.
You may also want to place blankets or pillows in areas that look like your cat may fall from. After all, when you take in a cat, you will quickly learn what it is capable of and where it might have problems, so you may come to realize that your house has certain problem areas where your Siamese cat struggles.
In these cases, while you can’t always help your cat navigate, you can place items that will provide a soft landing if your cat accidentally falls down. This is also all the more reason why, if you have a cross-eyed Siamese cat, you will want to make an extra effort not to have fragile items near any ledges.
Cross-Eyed Siamese Cats Throughout History
Interestingly enough, Siamese cats who had crossed eyes were not always seen as being imperfect or flawed.
The Siamese cat is one of the oldest breeds of cat around, so there is a lot of history surrounding Siamese cats that have been cross-eyed. For instance,
Thai royalty would see a Siamese cat’s crossed eyes as something that should be cherished, which is one reason why the Thai Siamese cat is often cross-eyed, as breeders of this cat saw no reason to eliminate that feature from the breed.
However, as breeding pets became more focused on appearances rather than the capabilities of the animal, people began wanting their cats to be “perfect” in every way, including how they looked.
Crossed eyes aren’t always the most beautiful and are often seen as a flaw in people, so large groups of people came to think the same way about Siamese cats and their crossed eyes.
No matter if you are looking to adopt a Siamese cat and you want to learn more about potential characteristics that you could encounter, or you want to learn more about a particular problem with Siamese cats, or if you are simply interested in adopting one of these animals because they are often rejected for their appearance, you will quickly find that the cross-eyed Siamese cat will make just as perfect of an addition to your family as any other cat would.