If your cat is cross-eyed, there can be several causes. Among them are triggers that represent an absolute emergency and should lead you immediately to a veterinary clinic.
In addition to congenital strabismus, which is more common in Siamese cats, it can also be caused by a craniocerebral trauma or a dangerous disease.
It is always important when and how the misalignment of the eyes occurs.
Even in the case of strabismus from birth, you must pay attention to the behavior of your animal.
For some it is not a problem, but for others it can cause difficulties.
In this article, you will learn when squinting in your cat is an emergency and when a veterinary evaluation is necessary. We will also show you which causes can be responsible for the misalignment of the eyes, what effects you have to expect and whether treatments can be found for it.
Causes of strabismus in cats
The causes of strabismus in cats can be divided into three categories:
Depending on the particular cause will determine whether it is an emergency, requires therapy, or your cat is fine with it.
Congenital strabismus in cats
Some breeds of cats have a tendency to squint, which is technically known as strabismus. These breeds include Siamese, Persian and Himalayan cats.
Both pupils point more or less in the direction of the tip of the nose. As a rule, the animals are not restricted by this.
This is caused by the muscles that are responsible for the movements of the eye. They are located directly on the eyeball and “pull” it in the right direction when needed.
If they are not of equal length at the sides, strabismus occurs.
Do not confuse this congenital type of strabismus with only occasionally squinting kittens. Very young kittens squint now and then – especially when they are tired.
This is due to the development and strength of the muscles. If they are still weak or exhausted after an active phase, they may show a slight misalignment of the eyes.
Likewise, it is possible for them to have a temporary “kink in the optics” during a growth phase. This appearance will grow over time.
Veterinary treatment is not required in these cases.
Cat squint due to injuries
Sudden squinting can be a sign of a traumatic brain injury. In addition, other symptoms usually occur in this case.
convulsions or paralysis
staggering or staggering
A concussion – the mildest form of traumatic brain injury (SHT) – occurs from, for example:
Fights with larger animals or birds of prey
Accidents with cars, motorcycles or cyclists
Depending on how great the force was, there may also be a more severe and life-threatening form of trauma.
This is always an emergency. You should not panic, but you should still see a veterinarian or animal hospital immediately and call to declare an emergency.
Treatment will depend on the severity.
Other possible injuries leading to strabismus can occur directly in the area of the eyes and the muscles involved, or to the organ of balance. Blunt blows, cuts or foreign bodies in the ear are responsible.
Which therapy is necessary depends on the type of injury. It is not always possible to achieve a complete cure.
Cat squint – possible diseases
If your cat begins to squint suddenly or gradually over and over again later in life, or if the eye position changes, there may be diseases behind it.
Diseases of the vestibular system (organ of balance)
Cancer of the brain or nervous system
Diseases of the eyes
Hydrocephalus (water head)
Because of the many possibilities, no diagnosis can be made without an appropriate and comprehensive examination.
You should consult a veterinarian as soon as you notice squinting in your cat for the first time. Because:
The sooner the cause is identified, the easier and more promising the therapy will be.
If diseases can progress or tumors grow unnoticed, treatment will become increasingly difficult or may not be possible at all.
Possible treatments for strabismus
How the therapy turns out depends on the cause. In the case of inflammation, medication is sufficient to heal it and thus restore normal vision.
In the case of injuries, symptomatic treatment is often given to speed up healing and prevent complications.
In the case of tumors, on the other hand, surgery may be necessary, if it is possible.
As you can see, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the treatment of strabismus. The spectrum of triggers and thus necessary therapies is too large.
Cat squinting – then you have to visit the vet
If your cat has been cross-eyed since birth and can cope with it without any problems, there is no reason to worry.
In all other cases you have to consult a vet.
An occasional eye misalignment does not indicate an emergency, but it does indicate an underlying problem.
In the case of sudden squinting, it is very likely that your cat has been subjected to significant force in the area of the head.
This means that it’s not just the eyes that will have suffered. The brain, jaws or brain may also have been affected.
Since cats often hide pain very well, further injuries are usually not immediately noticeable. Only the appropriate examinations at the veterinarian bring information about the full extent.
Preventing strabismus in cats – is it possible?
Cats with unsecured outdoor access are exposed to a variety of dangers. Between strange dogs, owls, poison bait and road traffic, the risk for illness and injury is high.
Animals can likewise be exposed to toxins during unsecured outdoor access, which in turn promotes cancer and tumors.
If you want to prevent such dangers from the beginning, you should not let your cat outside unsecured. This is the best way to prevent or at least reduce the likelihood of sudden strabismus.
However, other than a safe environment, regular medical checkups, and good husbandry, there are no safe measures you can take to prevent it.
When your cat squints
Abrupt changes in your cat’s appearance or behavior are always a warning sign and require a thorough veterinary evaluation.
So whether one or both eyes are pointing in the wrong direction, your pet seems uncoordinated, or suddenly misses jumps, the condition can rapidly worsen without examination.
It is therefore better to consult a veterinarian immediately.
My name is Mark and the senior editor
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