Do you want to own a cat that is a good companion, intelligent, has a striking appearance and gorgeous eyes? What you need is a Siamese cat! This breed is svelte, medium-sized, sociable and tends to be very vocal. What makes them extra special are their piercing and hypnotic blue eyes.
Why are Siamese cats eyes blue?
All Siamese cats have blue eyes as a result of recessive genes which both parents possess representing temperature-sensitive albinism. This type of albinism is the reason why the Siamese has a pointed coat which means it is darker in the extremities and lighter in the torso area. Siamese cats are all-white at birth since the albinism trait thrives in the warm temperature of the womb.
Aside from coat color, the albinism affects the eye color of cats. There are two layers in the iris of a cat’s eye that determine what color the eyes will be called the stroma and epithelium. Pigmented cells are scattered in the said layers for most cats.
However, for Siamese alleles or gene pairs that cause temperature- sensitive albinism, pigmentation is missing in the stroma. So, while other cat breeds with blue eyes may have pigment in the lower epithelial layer, for the Siamese, the blue is due to the absence of pigment for both layers.
So, why are Siamese cat eyes blue? The reason is that because of all the colors in the visible light spectrum, blue has the shortest wavelength which allows it to scatter more compared to those with longer wavelengths. This is referred to as the Rayleigh Scattering. Since blue is the predominant light bouncing in the stroma layer, that is the color that is visible.
There may be variations in the blue eye color of Siamese cats. Seal point Siamese cats may have a deep blue shade while a lilac point Siamese cats may have a paler and grayer shade of blue.
Common Siamese cat eye problems
Here are the common eye problems of Siamese cats:
Siamese cats may suffer from an eye condition called primary glaucoma which is inherited. This condition results in pressure on the optic nerve since the watery fluid in the front of the eye which is behind the lens does not drain well. The optic nerve connects the eye and brain for vision, however, if it becomes damaged it may result in total blindness.
This is a congenital eye condition in cats where the eyes do not align properly with each other or are misdirected. The eyeball may sit normally in the socket, however, the eye’s direction may turn inward toward the nose and outward toward the head’s sides, as well as upward or downward. Siamese cats are often born cross-eyed because the eyes are affected by strabismus. When this condition manifests in adult cats it is most probably a sign of a serious eye condition that requires your vet’s attention.
Nystagmus is a congenital condition that affects Siamese cats. This may be seen as “normal” and it is characterized by eyes that involuntarily swing from side to side rhythmically. Jerk nystagmus is characterized by a slow movement in one direction then a quick motion in the opposite direction. Pendular nystagmus is characterized by eyes that move slightly back and forth at the same speed.
Progressive retinal atrophy
Although at least 33% of Siamese cats may carry one mutated gene associated with progressive retinal atrophy, it will not affect them but will only make them carriers. However, if a Siamese kitten has two of the genes it will suffer from this disease where the rods and cones of the retina degenerate resulting in vision loss around the age of three to five years.
Should I be worried if my Siamese cat is cross-eyed?
No, you should not be worried if your Siamese cat is cross-eyed since it does not hurt her nor does it have any significant effect on her quality of life. You may still opt to make way for some space in your home so your cross-eyed Siamese cat can climb and run around safely. Put soft pillows or blankets around accident-prone areas should your cat slip or fall while climbing or running around.
Siamese cat personality and character
Siamese cats are sociable, very intelligent and talkative. They tend to be very vocal and enjoy “chatting” with their humans. They are referred to as “meezers” because of their low-pitched voice and their meows are often comparable to the sound of a crying baby.
These felines have a dog-like personality and fond of playing fetch. They are also affectionate and playful but they are also known to be demanding. They demand attention especially when they do not like something in their environment and may go to great lengths to get what they want. Check out our earlier article on Siamese cat personality traits for a thorough discussion on this.
Siamese cats are renowned for their svelte and striking appearance but also for their piercing blue eyes. All Siamese felines possess this eye color due to temperature-sensitive albinism. While they may suffer an array of eye conditions like strabismus due to inherited genes, these elegant cats are sought-after because of their intelligence and affectionate nature.
Image: istockphoto.com / bymandesigns