Oh, have you ever wondered why some Siamese cats have crossed eyes? When you cross paths with a fluffer that looks like she’s focusing on something really hard, you might wonder what’s wrong with her eyes. More times than not, she’s dealing with the condition that makes her eyes gather toward the middle of her face.
Now, we can’t help but admit we’re obsessed with cross-eyed Siamese cats. We’re aware that these mesmerizing mousers might be suffering from a condition known as strabismus (or even something referred to as Haws syndrome).
But, often times cats don’t experience other health problems or complications due to these conditions. As a matter of fact, there’s nothing stopping them from having a happy and healthy life.
Actually, crossed eyes are mostly genetic. They occur when the muscles that attach directly to the eyeballs aren’t the same length on each opposite side. So, when the eyeballs move, the muscles cause them to deviate from the correct direction.
Needless to say, when they move toward the nose, they give off the impression of a cross-eyed fluffer. As pet parents, we might be willing to empathize with these kitties because we think crossed eyes affects the quality of their life.
Not to mention that Siamese cats were believed to have crossed eyes (more than other breeds) due to selective breeding. Selective breeding does raise the question of ethics. But, Siamese cats aren’t the only ones that suffer from the same condition. And, crossed eyes can occur due to other factors, too.
Whatever the case might be, there’s no reason not to swoon over a Siamese cat with crossed eyes. But here’s all you need to know to ensure you’re taking care of her the right way.
What are cross-eyed Siamese cats?
Historically speaking, Siamese cats used to have crossed eyes as a regular feature you could count on. Nowadays, Siamese cats don’t develop the condition that often. But, there are times when an entire litter ends up suffering from strabismus or another condition that causes crossed eyes.
Here’s the thing, most cats that are born with crossed eyes are genetically predisposed to strabismus for one reason or another.
However, cats that wake up with crossed eyes out of the blue possess a much more serious problem. They’re likely dealing with a health condition such as vestibular system disease, eye trauma, nerve damage, inflammation, cancer of the nervous system, or a tumor.
Depending on the cause of the condition, some cats might have a hard time living with crossed eyes. Siamese cats, on the other hand, see better because of the condition. Don’t worry, we’re about to explain what we mean by that. We’re bringing you three explanations as to why Siamese cats have crossed eyes.
1. The myth
Starting with something to make you laugh (or make you think), there’s a myth suggesting that Siamese cats developed crossed eyes because they spent a long time staring at the royal goblet. Circling back to the beginning of the story, Siamese cats were known as the “royal cats of Siam.”
According to the myth, they were highly praised by royalty at the time. Members of the royal family trusted Siamese cats more than anyone and one day decided to give them the task of guarding the royal golden goblet.
As you might have guessed, the goblet held great value to the royal family. And, the Siamese cats took their task seriously.
They wrapped their tails around the goblet and spend days, months, and years making sure they don’t let the goblet out of their sight. As the legend goes, they ended up getting crossed eyes from staring at the goblet and bent tails from wrapping them around the goblet.
Whether you believe that or not, you can’t argue the fact that the story makes sense, given the Siamese cats’ mysterious appearance.
2. The scientific explanation
Sure, there’s something to learn from myths and legends. But, we can’t overlook the scientific explanation behind the recurrence of cross-eyed Siamese cats, as there’s indeed a long description of how they came to be (and why they don’t have trouble seeing).
First off, most cats have the same forward-pointed eyes as humans. A cat’s retina rests at the back of the eye straight on, which means they look straight ahead when they want to see straight.
However, a Siamese cat’s retinas tilt in a different direction. Left retinas tilt right and right retinas tilt left. That, of course, means that when a Siamese cat looks straight ahead, she should see two different angles.
However, the crossed eyes of the Siamese cats developed naturally to compensate for that problem. And, that means that when a Siamese cat crosses her eyes, she actually sees more clearly.
Although a Siamese cat’s eyes aren’t permanently crossed at birth, she has to cross them. But, that’s only the case with traditional Siamese cats.
3. The breeders’ role
We know what you’re thinking. “How come modern Siamese cats don’t have that many problems with crossed eyes when they clearly have a defect that makes them almost blind when they look straight?”
While you’re making a good case, breeders are trying to make a better one. Crossed eyes and kinky-tailed Siamese cats are normal and natural where they come from. Most traditional Siamese cats of Thailand look like that because that’s how the “OG” breed looked.
However, breeders have been trying to get rid of those traits for years with the help of what’s called selective breeding.
Selective breeding means that the breeders choose parents with particular characteristics (Siamese cats that don’t have crossed eyes, for example) to breed together and produce offspring with more desirable characteristics.
Sometimes those results help the breed with health problems, but other times they make things even worse. So, that’s why some people question the ethics of selective breeding and fight to end the practice completely.
How can you treat a Siamese cat with crossed eyes?
We already argued how Siamese cats have crossed eyes due to a genetic mutation. While the term genetic mutation does sound alarming, the condition doesn’t affect the quality of a Siamese cat’s life. And, there’s no treatment for the problem considering that the problem doesn’t affect the cat negatively.
On the off-chance, your Siamese cat didn’t have strabismus when she was born but developed the problem while growing up, there might be a couple of things you could do. Repeat after me for clarity: “Crossed eyes can be treated unless they’re a result of a genetic mutation!”
Therefore, here’s what you can do when your Siamese cat suddenly wakes up with crossed eyes for no apparent reason.
1. Surgical correction
When you adopt a cross-eyed Siamese cat, don’t delay in scheduling an appointment with your vet to check whether her condition is treatable. As mentioned, some forms of strabismus can be corrected with proper treatment.
One of those treatments happens to be a surgical correction. Correction is possible only when strabismus occurred as a response to trauma. She might have been attacked. Her eyes may have been wounded while she was playing outside.
Whatever the reason, your vet can correct the problem by dealing with the length and strength of the eye muscle responsible for aligning the eyes. However, your vet might not agree to do the procedure if your cat’s quality of life isn’t affected by the condition.
That’s one of the reasons vets don’t try to reverse genetically predisposed crossed eyes.
2. Surgical removal
Similar to the one we discussed beforehand, surgical removal can only work when your cat’s crossed eyes are a result of a tumor.
When dealing with a malignant tumor, your vet might suggest a combination of radiation therapy and chemotherapy after the surgery. And in the case of an aggressive tumor, he might suggest removing the entire eye to prevent it from spreading to other parts of the body.
As you would expect, the treatment wouldn’t work on Siamese cats that were born with crossed eyes because there’s nothing for the vet to remove to help them see better. Good thing Siamese cats are purrfectly capable of a quality life without undergoing surgery anyway.
Antibiotics are typically a part of post-surgery treatment. Unfortunately, your vet can’t treat crossed eyes with antibiotics only (even when they’re a result of trauma to the eye or something else that’s not a genetic mutation).
Antibiotics can help your cat fight off an infection that’s affecting the vestibular system after surgery. And, it can also prevent infection from developing while your cat’s recovering from surgery. After surgery, your cat might need to go through physical therapy to strengthen her eye muscles.
4. Physical therapy
None of these treatments can help your cross-eyed Siamese cat. But, physical therapy can be a great way to ensure she’s using her eyes the right way. As we discussed a couple of paragraphs ago, Siamese cats that have a genetic mutation consciously cross their eyes to see better.
Some Siamese cats might have a harder time figuring out that’s what they need to do. So, you might want to consult with your vet and schedule physical therapy to help strengthen your cat’s eye muscles and teach her how to use them to her advantage.
Other than that, she should be able to understand how to manage her crossed eyes and double vision on her own. Cross-eyed Siamese cats are a force to be reckoned with, that’s for sure.
Find out more about cat vision: Can Cats Move Their Eyes? Is Their Sight Eye-deal?