It’s in the eye of the beholder

Izah Azahari

Heterchromia, more commonly known as odd-eye or different eye colours, isn’t as rare as one might think in animals such as cats. It refers to a difference in colouration between two irises; but it can extend to hair and skin colours.

Normally, heterchromia cats – one blue and one yellow or one green and one brown – most commonly affects white cats, though it may be found in cats of other colours that possess the white spotting gene.

This condition occurs due to the parents or certain illnesses, injuries or medication.

Brunei, like other countries, also has its share of these special beauties and the Bulletin took the opportunity to reach out to owners of odd-eyed cats.

One might think that these cats would have different quirks about them, but these owners beg to differ.

Fatin Kuzairi bin Mohd Badri is the owner of a seven-month old Putih. She, who adopted the cat four months ago, and Putih is like any other cat in terms of needs.

Fatin said her cat eats canned food once or twice a week and mostly maintains a daily diet
of kibble.

Harmon, a white odd-eyed cat belonging to Maya. PHOTOS: AZIZ IDRIS
Harmon with his sibling Gambit

Another odd-eyed cat owner Maya said she has a pair of siblings – Harmon and Gambit – who both have heterochromia. Maya also believes that when it comes to maintenance, it largely depends on how much one wants to spend on their cats.

The kittens, for example, use cheaper cat litter compared to her older cat Lucy.

Harmon and Gambit came to Maya’s home one rainy night. Both Maya and her partner did not notice the eye condition; They took the kittens in for the fear of dying on the street as there was no sign of the mother cat around. The kittens have since become part of their family, bringing joy and entertainment with their playful and hyperactive temperaments.

According to a report by cathealth.com, white cats with blue eyes have a higher tendency of developing deafness soon after birth or later on in life than cats with other coat/eye colour combinations.

However, it does not appear that odd-eyed cats have a higher risk of developing deafness in one or both ears than normal cats. Up to 70 per cent of cats with different coloured eyes can hear just fine, and odd-eyed cats don’t have any sight issues either.

Both Fatin and Maya can attest to the findings in their cats as thus far, the cats have not shown any signs of deafness and are highly responsive when called by their owners.

However, there are some breeds that have a higher rate of heterchromia such as the Turkish Angoras, Turkish Vans, Sphynx, Persian, Oriental Shorthair, Khao Manee and Japanese Bobtails.

Surely, the physical attributes of these multi-coloured eyes add on to the uniquely quirky characteristic of each cat.