An albino cat.
This blue-eyed white cat has no melanin in her fur or her eyes. Blue-eyed white Persian cat. Photography by DONOT6_STUDIO / Shutterstock.

4 Things to Know About Cats With Blue Eyes

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on pinterest
Pinterest
Share on email
Email

As a cat-adoption counselor for a shelter, I often get potential adopters who see a kitty’s blue eyes and ask — especially if the cat is white, too — if she is deaf. Assuming that all cats with blue eyes, which are not nearly as prevalent as yellowish or green eyes in cats, are deaf is a common misconception, says feline geneticist Dr. Leslie A. Lyons. She is a Gilbreath-McLorn Endowed Professor of Comparative Medicine with the University of Missouri-Columbia College of Veterinary Medicine, in the Department of Vet Medicine and Surgery.

“Most people think, ‘It’s blue eyes; it’s deaf’ or they don’t know at all,” Dr. Lyons says.

Here are some things to know about cats with blue eyes, which almost always result from two coat colors: white or seal-pointed (a beige or fawn body with darker colors on the face, tail and paws).

A seal point Birman kitten with blue eyes and a toy.
Some cat breeds with seal-point coloring, like Birmans, have blue eyes. Photography ©PatrikSlezak | Thinkstock.

1. Let’s Talk About Cat Breeds With Blue Eyes

If you want a blue-eyed, purebred cat, look for breeds with seal-point coloring, which is genetically tied to blue eyes. Cat breeds with blue eyes include the Siamese, Balinese, Himalayan, Persian, Birman and Javanese. Ragdolls are known for sparkling blue eyes, but not all Ragdolls have this color. There is also the very rare Ojos Azules breed, which can produce cats with dark coats and blue eyes. The blue eyes in these breeds are not connected with deafness, Dr. Lyons says.

 

 

Odd-eyed white cats -- those with one blue eye and one non-blue eye -- tend to be deaf on the side with the blue eye.
Odd-eyed white cats – those with one blue eye and one non-blue eye — might be deaf on the side with the blue eye. Photography by Belinda Pretorius / Shutterstock.

2. What About White Cats With Blue Eyes? What Percentage of White Cats With Blue Eyes Are Deaf?

It is a different story when it comes to white cats with blue eyes — about 60 percent of white-dominant kitties — who got their coloring from mutations in a gene called KIT. In these cats, the blue eyes result from a cellular issue: These irises have fewer melanocytes, which are cells that make pigment. These same cells create skin pigment and play a role in inner-ear functioning. Therefore, cats with fewer melanocytes — white cats with blue eyes — may not have enough of the cells for their hearing to function properly, Dr. Lyons says. White cats have a genetic makeup similar to albino humans, who lack pigment; this gives them some vulnerabilities, like sensitivity to UV light.

An estimated 40 percent of white cats with blue eyes are deaf, which is high. Still, look at it this way: If 40 percent of these cats are deaf, it means the majority (60 percent) can hear.

Some cats have mixed eye colors, like one blue eye and one green eye. In that case, Dr. Lyons says a hearing impairment may happen in just one ear, particularly on the side of the face with the blue eye.

A small, scared or nervous calico kitten.
If your kitten has blue eyes, her eye color will likely change. Photography ©skyblue16 | Thinkstock.

3. If Your Kitten Has Blue Eyes, They Might Not Stay That Color

Like some human babies, all kittens are born with blue eyes that can change color later on. The hue begins to change to the kitten’s true eye color at around 6 or 7 weeks of age. The iris’ melanocytes — pigment that gives the cat’s eye its adult coloration — develops once the eye is sufficiently mature.

4. How Can You Tell If a Cat With Blue Eyes is Deaf?

If you want to know if a cat with blue eyes is deaf, stand back several feet behind her and clap or make another loud noise. If your cat reacts and looks toward you, she probably isn’t deaf, at least in both ears. Cats feel non-auditory vibrations very well though, so stand on the other side of the room to allow enough space, Dr. Lyons says.

If you still can’t tell if a white cat with blue eyes is deaf (or if you’re curious about any cat’s hearing issues), take her to your vet for more definitive testing.

Thumbnail: Photography by DONOT6_STUDIO / Shutterstock.

Read more about cat eyes on Catster.com:

32 thoughts on “4 Things to Know About Cats With Blue Eyes”

  1. I have 2 Occicats ,white with spots and both are blue eyed ,but different shades of blue . They both have sight and hearing . But I question the lighter blue eyed may be a little challenged when outside. They are indoor cats but we take them out in the yard at times. That’s when I Noticed he seemed to have some issues focusing on me. So now I need to watch him more closely and observe.

  2. I have a solid white shorthair polydactyl with gorgeous blue eyes who not only is NOT deaf, she responds if I whisper her name from across the room. Though she is roughly between five and six, she is the size of a ten month old kitten. She has, however, the personality of a lioness. When she’s being tolerant, she kisses me on the lips and is very vocal. But she does love to bite!

  3. Interesting read, but you forgot to mention the bengal as a breed, I have a five generation pedigree blue eyed snow bengal.. He’s 16 years old now and luckily enough he’s not deaf.

  4. I have a Kitten 8 weeks old mostly white with Calico markings on her head and small patch on her back. So far her eyes are like a Gray/Blue. Are they going to stay that color? She’s so Beautiful!! Her name is Calie Mae :)

    1. I’ve had cats cats cats. There is a chance her eyes could still change, but, in my experience if they don’t begin to change in her 8th week, you may have a winner!
      Can’t predict every litter and kitten so, I’m just going by my general experience, but I’d be excited myself, just sayin ????

    2. I adopted a cat who they told me was a year old. She was solid white except for Torti markings where Siamese have their markings. She must have been about 6 months old cuz she developed muted calico markings all over. The ones on her back looked just like Angel wings with a 4 square of colors above the wings. I’d love to see how your baby’s coat develops.

  5. Pingback: Cat Colors — Get the Fascinating Facts Behind Cat Coats & Patterns | Areyoupop

  6. Pingback: Cat Colours — Get the Fascinating Details Behind Cat Coats & Patterns – Cute funny cat kitten pictures videos

  7. My girlfriends cat Gretta is all white with blue eyes and deaf and her brother Gorby (also all white) is mute! Gretta loves attacking and sitting on top of the vacuum cleaner while it’s being used but all of the other cats quickly find hiding spots when the vacuum monster roars to life.

  8. What about Flame Points? I have a white cat with light orange hues and blue eyes. I don’t think he’s deaf but i was just wondering.

  9. Pingback: Signs of Deafness in a Cat – All Cats Connected

  10. Hi my Joel, I also have a seal tip cat, named Mushu. When I found him he was in a all full state’ any where I found him, inside a garbage bag inside a garbage Ben a big one” who? Would do such a thing to kitten its been two years now, I also thought that he was Def / and going blind turns out he wasn’t. Blind cause of all the garbage on his face even after a bath” guck all around his big blue eyes. Everything is going great was my Mushu is 14 pounds very play full Still awesome…thanks for letting me write a comment on your web page…

    1. There are a lot of awful people out there, but wonderful people like you more than make up for it. I volunteer at a cat shelter, and all of those kitties have a sad or very bad story. The best part is giving them love and taking care of them, then seeing them go to happy homes. May you have many wonderful years with your special Mushu!

  11. Pingback: Do British blue kittens eyes change color? (Updated) – FluffyPlanet

  12. Pingback: Cat Colors – A2Z Facts

  13. Good article, but you may want to change the part where it says “ALL human babies are born with blue eyes.” Unless you want people questioning if you are calling P.O.C not human, you might want to change that part to “Caucasian babies.” I’m sure you didn’t do that on purpose. I’m just giving you a heads up. ????

  14. Many white Persians have blue eyes and are not deaf. I’ve also seen many odd eyed white Persians that had no deafness . Point colored cats also are blue eyed and generally are not deaf.

    1. If she can see, she already understands. She can see her litterbox and food and water dishes, as well as where her bed is located. That’s pretty much all she would have to understand. If she is deaf or has limited hearing, she feels vibrations that tells her when someone is approaching. My cat is both blind and deaf and she finds everything just fine. The key to it of course is leaving things where they belong and keeping the rest of the floor clear so she doesn’t trip. She’s always been deaf and seems used to it.

  15. That’s so sad well I just got 2 white cats with blue eyes it’s not Himalayan or Siamese but the tail is light neutral tan and their ears too also their pointy do you know by any chance what breed can they be…?

    1. Hi there,
      We suggest looking into DNA kits for pets that might be able to provide some insight into what breeds or mixes of breeds your cats might be.

    2. They might be flamepoint siamese mixes. They are white with faint tan on their tails and ears when they are young, and may get more orange when they get older

  16. We just got a kitten who is white with blue eyes. It has black and brown on each ear and tan face. So far not deaf but if tbe kids keep playing that dang rock n roll she just may get that way.

  17. I had a white blue eyed cat once, we took her everywhere we could get away with, she loved going places. One day we were at a swap meet and someone asked if she was deaf, then explained this. We tested her later and sure enough she was. Maybe explaining why she liked going places that most cats would be terrified to be. She couldn’t hear all the scary noises. So just seeing all the activity was great fun. May have led to her death though. My ex let her outside and a coyote got her right off. I was devastated and so angry, I never forgave him. She was so special.

      1. I have a two cat’s white and both haves blue eyes and either one of them are not deaf the are very playful and very loving

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Shopping Cart