Maine Coon heterochromia, also known as heterochromia iridis, is a condition that causes a cat’s eyes to be two different colors.
While this condition is rare in humans, it is actually rather common in cats. Still, this condition is both unique and dazzling.
Complete heterochromia iridis is a condition that causes a cat’s eyes to be two different colors, where one eye is blue and the other is yellow, green, or brown. Other kinds of heterochromia can cause one eye to be two different colors. This condition is most common in cats that are white or partly white.
While a cat with heterochromia often looks very beautiful and unique, it can sometimes be a signal of other health problems.
Read on to learn more about Maine Coon eye problems, and what heterochromia might mean for your cat.
Maine Coon Heterochromia
Heterochromia, also known as heterochromia iridis, is a condition that causes an animal to have two different colored eyes.
Maine Coons are especially prone to heterochromia.
This is a genetic condition that thankfully does not often cause any other health problems.
Heterochromia is most common in white or parti-white cats. This is because the gene that causes a cat to have white coloration is pleiotropic.
This means that the gene can have more than one effect on a cat, and one of those possible effects is heterochromia.
There are four different kinds of heterochromia.
1. Complete Heterochromia
Complete heterochromia is the most common kind of heterochromia in Maine Coons.
Eyes that appear blue actually have no pigment at all.
Eyes of other colors, such as yellow, copper, or green, are colored by pigmentation known as melanin. In complete heterochromia, this melanin is distributed to one eye, but not to the other.
2. Sectoral Heterochromia
Sectoral heterochromia is caused when melanin is distributed unevenly, causing one part of the eye to be pigmented while the rest remains blue. This can occur in just one eye, or in both eyes.
3. Central Heterochromia
Central heterochromia is caused by melanin distribution in the center of the eye, around the pupil. This condition usually occurs in both eyes.
4. Acquired Heterochromia
While all of the kinds of heterochromia listed above are genetic and present from birth, this last kind of heterochromia is very different.
Acquired heterochromia is when heterochromia is developed, often due to certain types of injuries, diseases, and sometimes even medications.
How Rare Is Heterochromia In Cats?
Heterochromia in humans is extremely rare, affecting only about 0.05% of the population.
In other animals, including dogs, horses, and cats, however, heterochromia is much more common (source 1).
Why Is Heterochromia So Common In Cats?
The reason heterochromia is so common in cats, but not in humans, is because of the white spotting gene.
In cats, the color white is actually a lack of pigment.
The white spotting gene blocks melanin distribution throughout a cat’s coat, and it can also affect a cat’s eyes.
With heterochromia, the white spotting gene might block melanin distribution in one eye, causing it to be blue.
If the gene does not affect the other eye, however, it might be gold, copper, or green (source 1).
Are Cats With Heterochromia Blind?
Many people assume that heterochromia can cause all sorts of difficulties with a cat’s eyes, including blindness.
Thankfully, however, heterochromia is a harmless condition when it comes to a cat’s vision.
Cats with heterochromia are no more likely to be blind than cats without heterochromia.
Are Cats With Heterochromia Deaf?
Surprisingly, while heterochromia does not have an impact on a cat’s vision, it can actually have an impact on a cat’s hearing.
About 30 to 40 percent of white cats with heterochromia suffer from congenital deafness.
Cats with heterochromia who are born deaf can typically hear in one ear but are deaf in the ear on the same side of the face as their blue eye.
This is because the gene that is responsible for both white fur and heterochromia is pleiotropic, which means it can have more than one effect on a cat.
Unfortunately, one of those possible effects is deafness (source 1).
Why Do White Cats Have Heterochromia?
Pigmentation in a cat’s skin, fur, and eyes is caused by the distribution of melanin.
White fur in cats, however, is caused by a lack of melanin.
Similarly, blue eyes are also caused by a lack of pigment.
Cats that are completely white have the epistatic white gene, also known as the dominant white gene.
This blocks melanin distribution in the whole body, but it can sometimes fail to block melanin distribution in one eye, leaving it pigmented.
Cats that are partly white are affected by the white spotting gene, which blocks melanin distribution in random parts of the body.
In the case of heterochromia, the white spotting gene might affect one eye, but not the other, leaving one eye blue and the other pigmented.
Heterochromia in cats that are not white or parti-white is much, much rarer.
How Much Do Maine Coons With Heterochromia Cost?
Odd-eyed cats may not be as rare as odd-eyed humans, but they are still uncommon.
Furthermore, there’s no way to reliably breed a cat with heterochromia. Just because a cat has heterochromia does not mean its offspring will.
As a result, heterochromia cat prices are often much higher.
While breeders do not have any hard and fast rules for pricing a cat with heterochromia, you can expect it to be higher than most Maine Coons.
On average, a Maine Coon will cost between $500 and $2,500. You can likely expect a cat with heterochromia to be within the upper end of that scale.
Maine Coon Cat Eyes
Even Maine Coons without heterochromia are known for having unique eyes.
While blue and odd eyes are two of the accepted eye colorations for Maine Coons, they can also have green, copper, or gold eyes.
Maine Coons have large eyes that are set wide apart on the face. They are slightly oval and slanted. The most unique part about the Maine Coon’s eyes, however, is how expressive they are.
The Maine Coon is a highly intelligent cat, and its deep eyes often convey a lot of emotion (source 1).
Learn the many important Maine Coon eye facts, that are useful to be mindful of if you own a Maine Coon cat.
Maine Coon Eye Problems
Overall, the Maine Coon is a rather healthy breed. However, it is still possible for them to suffer from a few different possible health issues.
Here are some common eye problems that are known to affect Maine Coon cats.
Conjunctivitis is a kind of eye infection that will cause one or both eyes to become swollen and crusty with discharge.
While this condition can be easily treated with medication from the vet, if left alone, it can cause serious problems, including loss of one or both eyes!
2. Myopia, Hyperopia, and Astigmatism
Hyperopia is another term for farsightedness, while myopia is another term for nearsightedness.
Astigmatism is when a cat suffers from both myopia and hyperopia.
Glaucoma is caused by improper drainage of fluids in a cat’s eye.
These fluids build up and put pressure on the optic nerves of a cat’s eye, which can sometimes result in blindness.
Cataracts occur when a cat’s retina gradually thickens over time. This makes it difficult for light to travel through the eye, causing vision impairment and sometimes total blindness.
Cataracts are most common in senior cats.
Maine Coon Eye Color Change
Just like all other cats, Maine Coons undergo a change in eye color during kittenhood.
All kittens are born with unpigmented blue eyes. At about eight weeks of age, however, they begin to gradually change into their true eye color.
After a kitten is twelve weeks old, its eyes will remain that color for life.
If you do happen to notice any change in color in your cat’s eyes after it has reached twelve weeks old, you should take it to the vet immediately.
Eye color change after that age is often indicative of a major health problem, such as a head injury or a brain or eye tumor.
Maine Coon Eyes Vs Normal Cat
In general, a Maine Coon’s eyes are much larger than a normal cat’s, and they are also set quite wide apart on the face.
Another distinguishing factor of a Maine Coon’s eyes is how expressive they are. Maine Coon eyes often look more thoughtful and emotional than a normal cat’s.
Maine Coon heterochromia is a beautiful condition that causes a cat two have two different colored eyes.
Heterochromia is most common in white or partly white cats and is caused by the epistatic white or white spotting genes.
While this condition can sometimes result in deafness in one ear, it is largely harmless.
Heterochromia Cat Names
Some possible names for a cat with heterochromia are Ziggy, Bowie, Opal, and Harvey. You could also name your cat after a celebrity with heterochromia.
Are Maine Coons Cross-Eyed?
While it is possible for Maine Coons to be cross-eyed, it is not a common problem with this breed.