A cat with two different-colored eyes.
A cat with two different-colored eyes. Photography ©vladimir šifliš | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

Let’s Talk Cats With Different-Colored Eyes, or Heterochromia in Cats

Have you ever seen (or been the lucky parent of!) cats with different-colored eyes? Two different-colored eyes, also called heterochromia, are more likely to occur in certain cat breeds. So, is heterochromia in cats ever something to worry about? Let’s learn more.
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Cat eyes come in a variety of gorgeous colors, from gold to copper to orange to green to blue. Interestingly, cat eyes are always light-colored — cats don’t have dark brown eyes like dogs or people might. Sometimes cats have two different-colored eyes, sometimes referred to as “odd eyes.” This striking phenomenon, called heterochromia, can also occur in dogs and even people. Heterochromia in cats might result in any number of eye combinations, such as one blue eye and one green, or one gold eye and one blue.

What cat breeds are likely to have heterochromia?

Heterochromia in cats can occur in many different cat breeds.
Heterochromia in cats can occur in many different cat breeds. Photography ©SasinParaksa | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

Heterochromia in cats is common in certain cat breeds like British Shorthairs, Cornish and Devon Rex, Japanese Bobtails, Munchkins, Persians, Scottish Folds, Siamese, Sphynxes, Turkish Angoras and Turkish Vans. It’s also common in white cats of any breed.

How does heterochromia in cats occur?

The iris is the colored part of a cat’s eye. “The color of the iris is determined by the presence of pigment, also known as melanin,” says Doug Payne, DVM, medical director of VCA East Penn Animal Hospital in Pen Argyl, Pennsylvania.

What types of heterochromia might a cat have?

Heterochromia in cats may be hereditary (the cat was born that way) or acquired (the cat’s eyes change color over time). Hereditary heterochromia in cats has three variations:

  1. Complete, called heterochromia irides (one eye is an entirely different color than the other eye).
  2. Sectoral (part of the cat’s iris is blue and the rest of that eye is a different color).
  3. Central (different colors within the iris give a spiked or haloed appearance).

“Cats seem to have complete heterochromia more often, but sectoral and central forms can also be seen,” Dr. Payne explains.

In cases of acquired heterochromia in cats, a loss of pigmentation in the iris happens because of some other cause. “This can be attributed to many factors, such as inflammatory conditions, physical injuries and even certain medications,” Dr. Payne says. “There are many other conditions that may affect eye color in dogs and cats. Some of these conditions can be very uncomfortable for pets and if left unaddressed could lead to permanent damage or even loss of vision.”

What should you do if you notice a change in your cat’s eye colors?

If you notice a color change in your cat’s eyes or if you suspect that your cat’s eyes are bothering her, bring her in to the veterinarian for an eye exam. “Other conditions that can cause color changes in the eyes that are not associated with heterochromia can include cataracts, glaucoma, corneal dystrophy, uveitis, nuclear sclerosis, underdeveloped optic nerve and retinal dysplasia,” Dr. Payne explains.

Does heterochromia in cats ever lend itself to other medical issues?

White cat with two different-colored eyes.
Is heterochromia in cats ever a cause for concern? Photography © MirasWonderland | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

White cats with one or more blue eyes have a higher incidence of congenital deafness, but such cats are no more prone to blindness than other cats.

Tell us: Do you have a cat with heterochormia?

Thumbnail: Photography ©vladimir šifliš | iStock / Getty Images Plus. 

Read more about cat health and care on Catster.com:

26 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Cats With Different-Colored Eyes, or Heterochromia in Cats”

  1. whoah this weblog is fantastic i really like studying your posts.

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  3. Hi all,
    I have an adorable 2-year-old white cat with heterochromia. I just started writing a book about Natasha and want to include pictures and stories about other white cats with heterochromia. If you want to be part of this book, please send pictures of your cat along with its name and any stories to my email below. Natasha is a total goofball and I wonder whether other cats that look like her also behave like her. THANKS!

    1. Could I ask if she has been spayed? We have a male with the same condition and I'd love to find him a partner that shares this trait. Even if not to purchase, just to breed a single litter. Thoughts? Happy to talk about it with you, and appreciate the consideration.

  4. I beg you to keep your cats indoors. Outdoor cats are responsible for the loss of 65% of the songbirds in the USA. In addition to the increase in coyote, bobcats, and other preditors it’s not safe for any small animal to go outdoors. Heartworm, Cars and even mean angry people can harm your beloved pet. Please be responsible and keep your cat indoors. Thank you. It’s the right thing to do.

    1. Tonya Teague-Higgins

      My beautiful gal has one blue eye & one green eye & she’s solid white but in her fur you can see the light markings of a tabby ( you know the M on the forehead?) but no one has ever noticed it but me until my son came to visit from Texas & noticed it right away. My gal ( aka Snowball aka snowbit$$ is what I call her because she’s a soiled little gal! She actually belonged to my husband’s sister & she moved to a smaller place & we ended up with her. My husband has been near her since she was 8 weeks old & I’ve been with her since she came to live with us 2017. She’s not allowed outside unless I’m with her & she is only allowed to stay outside no more than 30 minutes to an hour coz I’ve always heard cats with blue eyes are deaf. She’s been fixed & honestly after typing this I’ve realized besides getting her rabies shot she’s never been to a doctor since I’ve had her & I’m feeling like a horrible parent so I guess I’ll be making her an appointment ASAP come Monday morning. I just wanted to see if anyone has or had a cat that’s solid white with different colored eyes & ask if they’re healthy? But it made realize I need to find my gal a doctor so here’s a huge thank you for allowing me to post something to actually realize something! Wow isn’t great to admit your faults & to be able to fix them as you learn ? Once again thank you & remember all pets love unconditionally & it’s a love that you’ll never understand so always be good to every animal & please have respect for them cuz you never know what they’ve been through or had to deal with. They can’t tell us if they’ve been abused only by how they react & humans just wanna place a “BAD” label on them & hurt them more. So please just always try to love & respect all animals ! Have a wonderful day !

      1. Tonya Teague-Higgins

        Okay I’ve noticed some of the comments listed people have noticed different eye colors after having their baby’s but my beautiful gal was born with 2 different eye colors & she was actually scheduled to go to the pound ( it’s what I was told ) cuz no one wanted her & her siblings were all taken & reserved by 3wks old & my sister in law just so happened to be a friend of a friend of a friend who heard about the solid white baby at 6wks old so she got her at age 7wks old ! But she’s always had 2 different colors her left eye is bright gorgeous blue & her right is the brightest gorgeous green I’ve ever seen ! Have you ever seen a solid black car with those bright green eyes? The black fur makes the green just bright as can be & they just pop out at you ? That her right eye & her blue eye is just as bright I can’t even use enough words to describe how these 2 eyes just burst with color & the brightness of them wow all I can say is there has to be a GOD to make something so beautiful! Her eyes are breath taking as soon as you look into her eyes you can’t believe how amazingly beautiful they are ! Maybe it’s cuz I’m mom but omg I’ve seen other cats with beautiful eyes but my gals eyes are just beautiful I can’t say enough words that can describe the beauty of them correctly!

      2. Could I ask if she has been spayed? We have a male with the same condition and I'd love to find him a partner that shares this trait. Even if not to purchase, just to breed a single litter. Thoughts? Happy to talk about it with you, and appreciate the consideration.

  5. Rhonda Register

    I have a white cat with heterochromia. It showed up last summer at my house, thought age was about 2-3 months. Very, very skittish. Finally was able to get her in the house by late fall. I have 3 other cats and they all seemed to get along well – 2 are mainly outside cats, but do come in at times. She really bonded with these cats, especially the black one I have in the house most of the time. The question I have is that I’ve heard many times these cats are deaf. With her being so skittish (only have recently been able to pet her a couple of times before she runs off and cannot pick her up – she’s been in the house for several months now), how can I determine if she is deaf? I know that sounds silly, but I’m not sure if she is so skittish because she is basically afraid of people or she can’t hear and runs away when she catches quick movement. She does sleep on my bed, but not too close to me. I don’t know if she was mistreated or discarded at a very young age and human contact is foreign to her. I’ve had cats all my life (now 60 years old), but this one is a mystery to me. She does have a black and faint tan racing stripe on the top of her head, hence the name Racer. She is very sleek looking with a longer face and lean body so not sure what breed she may be descended from. It will be a mission to coax her into a carrier or humane trap to go get spayed. Also worry if any rapport we have built will be gone once she has surgery. Hopefully when I return to vet to get her, she will relax some. Not looking forward to it……

    1. Could I ask if she has been spayed? We have a male with the same condition and I'd love to find him a partner that shares this trait. Even if not to purchase, just to breed a single litter. Thoughts? Happy to talk about it with you, and appreciate the consideration.

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

  7. I have a White Maine Coon, she has one very light blue eye, and the other eye is dark green. Her name is Tofu because of my best friend who loved tofu, but sadly he was killed in Japan.

    1. I'm sorry for your loss.

      Could I ask if your cat has been spayed? We have a male with the same condition and I'd love to find him a partner that shares this trait. Even if not to purchase, just to breed a single litter. Thoughts? Happy to talk about it with you, and appreciate the consideration.

  8. I recently purchased a cat, she has heterochromia her blue eye pupil is always round as the yellow eyes is slit. Is this a cause for concern?

    1. Could I ask if she has been spayed? We have a male with the same condition and I'd love to find him a partner that shares this trait. Even if not to purchase, just to breed a single litter. Thoughts? Happy to talk about it with you, and appreciate the consideration.

  9. Pingback: Cat Colors — Get the Fascinating Facts Behind Cat Coats & Patterns – JW Designs

    1. Louise Desjardins

      Congratulations ! Good for you and your new love. I rescued many in the past and now live with 2 who are the love of my life. Wishing you and your cat a beautiful, loving and long-lasting relationship.

      Louise

    2. Could I ask if she has been spayed? We have a male with the same condition and I'd love to find him a partner that shares this trait. Even if not to purchase, just to breed a single litter. Thoughts? Happy to talk about it with you, and appreciate the consideration.

  10. I adopted a stray kitten and after a few days it struck me he has one green and one brown eye. His fur is brownish tabby with a white belly and paws. The vet said it’s nothing to worry about. I never saw a cat with eyes like his, he’s 4 months old and cute as can be.

  11. I have a cat with hetrachromia, he is a sphynx variant. He is White with one light blue eye and one copper eye.

  12. I am a retired veterinarian and have seen quite a few cases of heterochromia in cats and dogs. Imagine my surprise when I discovered my first grandchild had it, too! She is now sweet 16 with one brown eye and one green eye. She is a big fan of Mila Kunis, who has the same combination that my granddaughter has.

  13. Brenda Angell says:
    Do you have a cat with heterochormia? Yes, I do. He was about 2 yrs. old when I realized he didn’t have a home, so I adopted him. Pure white, one blue eye, one green eye. I took him to the vets to see if he had been microchipped, he had not. From what I understand this breed was first discovered in Thailand. I emailed a breeder, they start at $600-$1,800 which leads me to believe someone bought him. I love him to pieces, but I believe since he was a stray, he didn’t have much love or attention. He had to fend for himself. He had been wandering around our neighborhood a year before I realized he had no home.

    He now has a very loving home and I cannot even think that I would ever lose him. He is not one bit affectionate, sadly. He knows his name and comes when called, he probably knows he will get his dinner. Since he was a stray and used to be outside and has another male cat friend he visits in the morning, I cannot keep him inside. To me, that would be cruel.

    We are in a small neighborhood environment, he is very street wary – should probably call it a road as it isn’t much travelled inside our small community. I leave a piece of my clothing on the bed and he goes there, lays down on it and goes to sleep at night, all by himself. He doesn’t sleep close to me, but on the bottom of the bed.

    He wants to get up before 6 a.m., which does not thrill me. I make an attempt to keep him in bed until a minimum of 6 a.m. His routine is that, I of course feed him and out he goes. I sit outside and watch him. He sniffs around for any possible intruder, then if all suits him, he digs a little hole and goes to the bathroom.

    To wake me, he taps me on the top of my head with soft claws. If I do not res.pond as quickly as he would like, then the taps on my head are with full claws tapping me. Needless to say, he rules the roost. Thankfully most of the time I can get back to bed.

    If he is inside and has to go, he uses his litter box. He is an incredible cat that I would be totally lost without him. I cannot contemplate that day. He’s my little unaffectionate prince. LOL, but it’s true.

    He now sees a vet regularly for his shots and flea control. He is a healthy, much loved little guy, weighs a little over 10 lbs. I know he realizes he has a home. He hides under my car, when I open the door, he is generally right there to come in for meals and probably a feeling of safety. He no longer has to fend for his food, etc.

  14. Do you have a cat with heterochormia? Yes, I do. He was about 2 yrs. old when I realized he didn’t have a home, so I adopted him. Pure white, one blue eye, one green eye. I took him to the vets to see if he had been microchipped, he had not. From what I understand this breed was first discovered in Thailand. I emailed a breeder, they start at $600-$1,800 which leads me to believe someone bought him. I love him to pieces, but I believe since he was a stray, he didn’t have much love or attention. He had to fend for himself. He had been wandering around our neighborhood a year before I realized he had no home.

    He now has a very loving home and I cannot even think that I would ever lose him. He is not one bit affectionate, sadly. He knows his name and comes when called, he probably knows he will get his dinner. Since he was a stray and used to be outside and has another male cat friend he visits in the morning, I cannot keep him inside. To me, that would be cruel.

    We are in a small neighborhood environment, he is very street wary – should probably call it a road as it isn’t much travelled inside our small community. I leave a piece of my clothing on the bed and he goes there, lays down on it and goes to sleep at night, all by himself. He doesn’t sleep close to me, but on the bottom of the bed.

    He wants to get up before 6 a.m., which does not thrill me. I make an attempt to keep him in bed until a minimum of 6 a.m. His routine is that, I of course feed him and out he goes. I sit outside and watch him. He sniffs around for any possible intruder, then if all suits him, he digs a little hole and goes to the bathroom.

    To wake me, he taps me on the top of my head with soft claws. If I do not res.pond as quickly as he would like, then the taps on my head are with full claws tapping me. Needless to say, he rules the roost. Thankfully most of the time I can get back to bed.

    If he is inside and has to go, he uses his litter box. He is an incredible cat that I would be totally lost without him. I cannot contemplate that day. He’s my little unaffectionate prince. LOL, but it’s true.

    He now sees a vet regularly for his shots and flea control. He is a healthy, much loved little guy, weighs a little over 10 lbs. I know he realizes he has a home. He hides under my car, when I open the door, he is generally right there to come in for meals and probably a feeling of safety. He no longer has to fend for his food, etc.

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