Have you ever been playing with your cat and notice that their eyes are crossed? Although their expressions tend to tug at the heartstrings with the crossed eyes, I am sure you have wondered what caused their eyes to be that way.
Strabismus, or crossed eyes, in cats is the result of the eyes being out of alignment with one another due to genetics and/or potential nerve damage and underlying disease that may need medical attention.
Although genetics is the main reason some cat’s eyes are crossed, it may be a cause for concern if they develop them later in life.
We think that one of our cats is slightly cross eyed but she’s been like that all her life and hasn’t affected her.
Keep reading to understand the signs and symptoms of late-onset crossed eyes in felines and what you can do to help them.
What Happens When Your Cats Eyes Are Crossed
Strabismus is a common condition in cats in which their eyes cannot look in the same direction at the same time.
This condition can be diagnosed in either one or both eyes and is the result of an imbalance of muscle tone outside of the eye. The resulting crossed eyes of this condition are because of either a brain or muscle disorder that prevents the cat from being able to fully control their eyes movement.
With the lack of control of their eyes, normal cognitive and motor function can be impaired, and the signs can be obvious. You may see your cat unable to judge the depth of a step properly early on, but those born with this genetic defect tend to adapt quickly and live normal lives.
Is One Breed More Likely To Be Diagnosed Than Another?
This condition is more common in oriental breeds such as Siamese and Himalayan felines.
Purebred cats of both breeds were the most common to experience crossed eyes because during previous breeding, a more defined squint meant a better breed for show.
Although this breeding has come to a halt, the genetic abnormalities that lead to strabismus persist and are often diagnosed as convergent strabismus. This occurs when the muscle on the inside corner of the eye is too short and causes the eyes to pull to either side of the face but is no cause for concern.
How Did My Cats Eyes End Up Crossed
Genetics is the leading cause of crossed eyes in your feline.
Essentially, cats with strabismus are wired differently between their eyes and brain and lack the necessary muscle tone, which prevents both eyes from focusing in the same direction at the same time.
The good news, majority of cats diagnosed with strabismus can live full and healthy lives with no adverse effects as they age.
Another cause for crossed eyes in cats can also be prior nerve damage.
Although rare, previous trauma or inflammation and increased scar tissue around the eyes can be why your furry friend can no longer focus both eyes on the same spot at the same time. The scar tissue around their eyes is what restricts their muscle motility and proper control of their eyes.
If you notice your cats’ eyes have gone crossed after having them in your home for a few years, it may be because of an underlying health issue. If this occurs in your cat, be sure to get them to a vet to diagnose any serious health problems.
Should I Worry About My Cat If Their Eyes Randomly Go Crossed?
Yes, the development of crossed eyes later in life is a cause for concern.
Sudden strabismus in cats can be an alarm for potential issues with muscles responsible for moving the eyes and the nerves that are involved in both muscle and brain signaling pathways.
Crossed eyes later in life can also be due to the feline leukemia virus or cancer of the nerves leading to the eyes and brain. If you notice any difference in your cat’s activity or behavior, you may need to get them checked by a veterinarian.
What Signs Should I Pay Close Attention To If Something Is Wrong With My Cat?
The main signs you should pay attention to when considering seeking veterinary care for your cat are if one or both of their eyes is pointing in a different direction as your cat is performing their daily activities.
More serious signs that should alert you to seek help right away would be any difficulty walking, enlarged pupils, or tilting of their head to one side.
These symptoms could be the result of potential neurological damage or disease and treatment must be sought after as soon as possible.
How Will My Vet Test To Know If My Cat Has Any Serious Underlying Health Problems?
Your vet will have all the necessary training and resources to get to the bottom of why your cat developed crossed eyes later in their life.
If you are planning to take your cat to the clinic, your vet will more than likely do a full examination of your pets’ eyes. Some tests that will be performed include:
- Measurements of your cats’ light reflexes
- Measurements of potential pressure build-up in your cats’ eyes
- Measurements of your cats’ nerve reflexes for both the eyes and head
If any of the above-mentioned tests yield a positive result, your vet will then complete a neurological exam by monitoring their behavior when left to roam about the room and their ears to see any potential water on the brain that could be the main culprit for your adult cats’ crossed eyes.
If the vet diagnoses your cat with strabismus, you can expect them to look for any underlying diseases, like leukemia, through a complete blood panel, urinalysis, and various x-ray images.
Potential Treatment And Correction
If your feline was born with crossed eyes, they could have surgery to correct the cosmetic deformity. However, it’s not necessary for their health and survival.
Although strabismus is not treated directly, any swelling around the eye can be treated with antibiotics to reduce the inflammation that is causing them to be crossed. You should expect to see improvement in your cats’ eyes within a few weeks following treatment.
If your vet should find underlying issues or diseases, surgery may be the only option. If the vet notices any sign, such as increased inflammation or a benign cyst, they can perform surgery to drain the cyst, followed by antibiotics to make your cat’s day-to-day life more comfortable.
If the issue is related to something more serious such as cancer, the vet will strongly recommend removing the tissue as soon as possible before treating them with chemotherapy.
Is There Anything I Can Do To Help My Cat?
Although it is impossible to prevent strabismus in cats, you can watch for all the above-mentioned signs and symptoms to ensure you get your furry friend the professional care they need.
If your cat was born with this genetic abnormality, just keep loving them. There is no reason to fret or seek medical advice. They simply have a different face from the rest of the feline world.
If your cat, however, experiences late-onset crossed eyes, and you begin to see them losing motor control and function, protect them by putting them in a safe setting where they cannot get hurt until you get them to the vet.
In any instance, crossed eyes in cats is common and no cause for concern but is essential to diagnose and treat if it occurs later in life to avoid any long-term health concerns.