Why Are Siamese Cats Cross-Eyed?

Siamese cats are renowned for their striking appearance, captivating blue almond-shaped eyes, and a distinctive feature that has intrigued and fascinated cat lovers for generations—their cross-eyed gaze. These enchanting felines possess a unique charm that seems to have transcended time and culture. But what lies behind those captivating eyes? Why are Siamese cats cross-eyed?

In this article, we will delve into the world of Siamese cats, uncovering the captivating origins of their cross-eyed gaze and exploring the genetic and environmental factors that contribute to this remarkable feline phenomenon.

The significance of the Siamese cat’s cross-eye

Genetic Association

The cross-eye trait in Siamese cats is primarily attributed to a genetic condition called strabismus. This condition causes the misalignment of the eyes, leading to a cross-eyed appearance. The gene is responsible for strabismus is linked to the coat colour patterns in Siamese cats. The same gene that controls the distribution of pigmentation in their fur also affects the development of the eye muscles, resulting in the characteristic crossed look.

Temperature Sensitivity and Albinism

Siamese cats are partially albino, which means they possess a mutated form of the tyrosinase gene responsible for pigmentation. The presence of this gene leads to reduced melanin production in certain areas of their body, including the fur and the iris of their eyes. Interestingly, temperature plays a significant role in the manifestation of the Siamese cat’s cross-eye. The enzyme responsible for melanin production is heat-sensitive, and cooler temperatures in the extremities of the body (such as the paws, ears, tail, and face) inhibit the enzyme’s function. As a result, the areas with lower temperatures have lighter pigmentation, while the warmer core areas have darker pigmentation. This temperature-sensitive gene expression contributes to the distinct contrast between the dark coloration on their bodies and the lighter coloration around their eyes, emphasizing the cross-eyed effect.

Breed History and Cultural Significance

Siamese cats have a rich history dating back centuries. Originating in Siam (now known as Thailand), these cats were highly revered and considered sacred companions to Buddhist monks. Their striking appearance and enchanting gaze captured the imagination of many, and they were often kept in temples as cherished companions and guardians of sacred spaces. The cross-eye trait became a desirable characteristic among Siamese cats, reinforcing their mystical aura and enhancing their allure.

Expression of Personality

Beyond their physical appearance, the cross-eye trait in Siamese cats is known to accentuate their expressive nature. Siamese cats are renowned for being vocal, social, and highly interactive with their human companions. The cross-eyed gaze intensifies their facial expressions, enabling them to communicate their emotions more emphatically. Their eyes convey a sense of curiosity, playfulness, and even mischief, endearing them to cat lovers worldwide.

Why does my Siamese cat look cross-eyed?

siamese cross eyed

It could be that your Siamese cat has a condition called strabismus. This is when the eyes are misaligned and point in different directions. It can be caused by an injury to the eye, vision problems, or even a hereditary condition.

If you notice that your Siamese looks cross-eyed, it’s important to take him to the vet immediately so they can assess the issue and determine what’s causing it. The sooner he gets treatment, the better.

Do cross-eyed cats see normal?

Cross-eyed cats do see, but they may have trouble focusing. The problem with strabismus is that the eyes don’t move together, which means they don’t focus correctly on an object. This can lead to double vision or blurry vision in one eye, depending on where the cat is looking.

A cross-eyed cat will be able to see things that are close up or far away just fine. However, if you are standing right in front of him, he won’t be able to focus on your face because his eyes aren’t moving together.

Interesting facts about cross-eyed cats


To avoid seeing double, cats with strabismus often develop a phenomenon called suppression. Suppression is a mechanism in which the brain ignores the visual input from one eye to prevent double vision. The brain prioritizes the visual information from the eye with better alignment and actively suppresses or ignores the visual input from the misaligned eye. This suppression helps the cat maintain a single, clear image rather than perceiving double vision.

Depth Perception

Crossed-eyed cats may experience some challenges in depth perception. Depth perception is the ability to perceive objects’ distance and spatial relationships in three dimensions. It relies on the coordination of both eyes working together. Cats with strabismus may have reduced binocular vision, which is crucial for accurate depth perception. However, cats primarily rely on other visual cues, such as motion parallax and monocular depth cues, to navigate their environment and judge distances.


Cats with strabismus often adapt to their condition and learn to compensate for their misaligned eyes. They may develop alternative strategies to improve their vision, such as tilting their heads to align their eyes better or relying more on their sense of hearing and other senses.

Individual Variations

It is important to note that the extent and impact of strabismus on a cat’s vision can vary among individuals. Some cross-eyed cats may have a more severe misalignment, while others may have a milder form. The degree of misalignment and the cat’s ability to suppress the vision in one eye can influence their visual experience.

Is it common for Siamese cats to have eye problems?

Siamese cats are prone to an eye infection called entropion, which causes the eyelids to roll inward and rub against the cornea. This can result in ulcers on the cornea and eventually blindness. To prevent this, you should ensure your Siamese cat gets regular checkups with a veterinarian who’s experienced with this kind of thing.

It’s also important not to let your Siamese cat get too much sun exposure—this can cause them to develop a condition called progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), which causes blindness over time.


What breed of cat has crossed eyes?

Final Thoughts

There are plenty of more serious facts about the history of this breed, but this is one that has fascinated me for quite some time. It’s also quite intriguing if you ever have a Siamese come up to you when you’re in a dark place with only one candle flickering. I don’t know about you, but when I look into those eyes, my heart stops for a few seconds before my mind can really set in. Enjoy the fact, and make sure to share it with your friends.

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