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What are Crossed Eyes?

Crossed eyes may appear at birth but can also develop later in life. Cats who are born with a convergent strabismus generally adjust to the condition on their own and enjoy a good quality of life. Cats who develop crossed eyes as adults may have a more serious underlying problem present. Some of these issues are treatable, so veterinary care should be sought. When balance seems to be affected, a problem with the cat's inner ear may exist. Disease or injury can also cause sudden changes of eye positioning.

Eye movement is controlled by small muscles that allow side to side and up and down motion. When one of these muscles is stretched out or too strong, or if the nerves that control the muscles are damaged, abnormal direction of the eye occurs. This is referred to as a “strabismus”. It can happen to one or both of the eyes. When the eye veers toward the nose it is called “esotropia”. When both eyes are misdirected at the nose, the cat will appear cross-eyed. This is known as a convergent strabismus.

Crossed Eyes Average Cost

From 443 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$300

Symptoms of Crossed Eyes in Cats

The more rapidly that symptoms arise, the more serious the underlying condition may be. Bring your cat to the veterinarian immediately if you notice the following symptoms developing in your cat.

  • One or both eyes facing abnormal directions
  • Uncoordinated eye movement
  • Nystagmus (involuntary rapid eye movement)
  • Lack of movement in one eye
  • Pupil size difference
  • Head tilting
  • Turning to one side
  • Weakness
  • Difficulty walking
  • Lethargy
  • Seizures
  • Loss of appetite
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Causes of Crossed Eyes in Cats

The majority of convergent strabismus cases are due to genetics and are harmless to the cat. These issues can be seen from birth on. Crossed eyes that develop later in life are generally an outward sign for an internal problem. Known causes are as follows:

  • Genetic predisposition (commonly seen in Siamese, Persian and Himalayan cat breeds)
  • Vestibular system disease (disease of the inner ear)
  • Eye trauma from injury
  • Birth defect in the development of the eyes, muscles or brain
  • Feline leukemia virus
  • Nerve damage
  • Hydrocephalus (water on the brain)
  • Inflammation
  • Cancer of the brain or nervous system 
  • Benign or malignant tumor growth
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Diagnosis of Crossed Eyes in Cats

If sudden onset of crossed eyes occurs, bring your cat to the veterinarian at once. The vet will need your cat’s full medical history records to assist in diagnosis. A complete physical, neurological, and ophthalmologic examination will then be performed. This can help to differentiate between problems of the eye, muscle, nerves or brain. A neurological exam may include testing for reflexes, natural movement and ear issues. An ophthalmologic evaluation involves multiple eye response tests such as a Schirmer tear test, pupillary light reflex tests, tonometry (eye pressure tests) and fluorescein staining of the cornea.

Full blood work will be collected to run a Complete Blood Count and a biochemical profile. This will show the overall health of the cat and can help detect malignancy (the presence of cancer). Feline leukemia virus should also be tested for from the blood samples. Urinalysis can help determine bodily functions and can reveal bacterial infections. X-rays of the skull may be needed to confirm the presence of tumors. Often a CT scan or MRI will then be requested to get a more detailed view of the eyes and brain. The cat should also undergo pre-anesthetic testing to establish whether or not it is an appropriate surgical candidate.

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Treatment of Crossed Eyes in Cats

If the condition is not genetic, the underlying issue should be treated. Some causes of convergent strabismus are not serious, while others can be life-threatening. 

Surgical Correction 

If trauma has caused damage to the eye muscles, surgery may be performed to correct the abnormal lengths or strengths of affected eye muscles. This can help to realign the eyes. General anesthesia is required for the procedure.

Surgical Removal 

If a tumor is found to be the cause of eye issues, removal of the tumor will be attempted if possible. If the tumor is malignant, a combination of radiation therapy and chemotherapy may be paired with the surgery for the best results. If the cancer is aggressive, it may be necessary to remove the whole eye to prevent metastasis (spreading).

Antibiotics 

Post surgery, antibiotics are often prescribed to prevent infection from developing. Antibiotics may also be necessary if a bacterial infection has been found affecting the vestibular system. Prescriptions generally last from one to four weeks.

Physical Therapy

 

After surgery, or if the cat is a poor surgical candidate, physical therapy may be used to help strengthen the eye muscles. This may include daily eye exercises to perform with your cat.

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Recovery of Crossed Eyes in Cats

If your cat has undergone surgery, be sure to follow all at-home care instructions closely. Monitor the incision daily for signs of infection. Limit your cat’s activity to prevent it from injuring itself. Administer all postoperative medications and antibiotics as prescribed. A follow-up appointment with the veterinarian will be needed to assess the success of the surgery. 

If your cat suffers from an untreatable vestibular issue, it may experience vertigo (dizziness) from time to time. You may need to prevent your cat from climbing to great heights to protect it from falling and injuring itself. Some vestibular issues are temporary and will resolve after a short period and never return again. If the crossed eyes are congenital, no real issues exist and the cat will adapt to its double vision well. Keeping your cat indoors may reduce incidents of trauma and FeLV infection exposure.

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Crossed Eyes Average Cost

From 443 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$300

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Crossed Eyes Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Chiki

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Bengal cat

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4 Months

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Head Tilt
Wobbly
Cross-Eyed, Head Tilting

My cat gave birth to 5 kittens two of them didn't survive among the remaining 3 one of them is crossed eyed and tilts her head while sitting idly, she eats properly and plays well, but walks differently than the others.

Aug. 31, 2018

Chiki's Owner

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Dorris

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tabby

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9 Months

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Mild severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Eye Bulging

My cat Dorris is 9 months old and suddenly her eyes are slowly going outwards and the white corner bits of her eyes look really inflamed .. looks as if she is struggling to open them at the moment any help is appreciated

Aug. 20, 2018

Dorris' Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

I"m not able to see what might be going on with Doris and her eyes without seeing her, unfortunately. If this is a quickly progressing problem over the last couple of hours, it would be a good idea to have her seen right away to see what is going on. If you have noticed the problem over the last few days, you may be okay to wait until tomorrow when your veterinarian can see her.

Aug. 21, 2018

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Minnie

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burmese bengal mix

dog-age-icon

1 Year

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargy
Loss Of Appetite
Watery Eyes
3Rd Lid Showing

My cat Minnie is 1.5 years old. I gave her 1/5th of albendazole 400mg by the recommendation of a local vet. she seemed fine that night. But after that night she stopped eating, her eyes are mostly pointed upwards and the 3rd lid is showing. eyes are also watery. she's not playing anymore. she looks so weak. please help

July 29, 2018

Minnie's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Those signs don't seem to be likely related to Albendazole, but either way, it seems that she should see a veterinarian to be examined, as she does not feel well and may need medical treatment. I hope that she is okay.

July 29, 2018

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Hunter

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Siamese

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1 Year

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Sneezing
Sneezing Watery Eyes

Hello, my 1 yo siamese cat has trouble with allergies but I think he has a uri, clear discharge. His eyes are normally crossed but the 3rd lid will not retract and he cannot see. Lethargic. Will drink when offered. What else can I do to support him at home?

July 28, 2018

Hunter's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Without examining Hunter I cannot determine the cause for the symptoms whether there is an infection, allergies (more likely), irritation (chemicals, foreign objects) among other causes; if the third eyelid is covering the eye you should gently flush the eye with sterile saline to remove any contaminants and monitor for improvement but you should visit a Veterinarian as there is little that you can do at home. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 29, 2018

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Elph

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moggy

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17 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Apparent Lack Of Thirst

Lethargy, Urinating or defecating blood (both present at same spot in litter box), left eye has pupil turned outward, loss of appetite. Oh, for God's sake, QUIT. Not everybody HAS conditions that "require 160 characters to DESCRIBE"!

July 27, 2018

Elph's Owner


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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

There are many conditions which may cause the presence of blood in the urine or faeces, but it is important to know which one; if one of the eyes is turn outwards there may be a neurological issue, head trauma or tumour affecting that eye. Since Elph is 17 years old, you should really visit your Veterinarian as there are many conditions which may affect an older cat; I cannot think of anything specific which ties the blood in the urine or faeces and the exotropia (outward turning of the eye - strabismus). Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 27, 2018

My cat is 9 months old and both eyes are starting to point outwards ... She's fit and healthy but God knows what's going on .. any help?

Aug. 20, 2018

Luke H.

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SnowPearl

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Appears as a red-point Siamese

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4 Years

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Aggression
Stumbling
Trouble Walking
Picks Fights

Blue-eyed, white bodied Pearl is our free-roaming cat that adopted us as his owners for about a year now. We found him roaming and very thin, and he found us and we nursed him back to health. He's a very loving cat, however he has a tendency to pick fights with our other free-roaming cats. He's around well behaved cats, and has improved in his behavior with time. Pearl used to be spooked easily, likely due to his eyesight, but has improved around us. He gets very nervous around people or cats he does not know or seen before. Around me however, he'll follow me up and down the street, purring and being very talkative as usual—I love it a lot. He allows me to carry him around and shows excellent comfort around family and the other free-roaming cats he knows well. We suspect he also has bipolar disorder, as he has frequent mood swings and can be unpredictable around other cats. He will be purring with joy one minute and jump up and run at you and attack your leg the next when you turn to leave. He usually doesn't do this with me, as I don't take it from him, nor do I allow him to fight with other cats—when he is rude, I blow a puff of air in his face to tell him it's rude to fight with others. It gets the point across and he doesn't hold any grudges. It works as he's improved over time. He's exceptionally smart however, as he is better behaved whenever I am outside with him. When I go inside, he watches me close and lock the door. As soon as he hears that click he knows I can't get back outside fast enough to catch him chase our Russian Blue across the yard. Scary smart, but I love that about him. Really wish he didn't mess with the other cats though, but our gentleman tabby keeps him in check while being very friendly with him. Regarding the eye condition, he's always had it as far as I know. From the day I met him as a young adult cat he seems to have always had it. When he stumbles it's like he's stumbling in love and affection, and is very comfortable and talkative around me. He has the sweetest voice too, it warms my heart. His eyes add to his personality and doesn't seem to affect him very much at all. He's my sweet quirky kitty who's a real sweetheart, and has found a loving home here with my family and I. He loves to sleep in one of our blanketed boxes we set outside for all of the cats, or perks on the side of the grill and curls up for a nap. He's quite the demanding cat, and gets jealous much easier than other cats, but holds a special place in our hearts.

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Luna Lovegood

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Siamese mix

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6 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Lazy Eye

Hello there, I have a 6 month old siamese mix kitten. Her name is Luna Lovegood and I just noticed within the week her left eye has become a lazy eye. I'm trying to figure out how this happened. I do remember about 2 weeks ago she was playing and she ran into the coffee table hard. Could that be the reason?

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Misty

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mixed

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3 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Crossed Eyes

I recently adopted what looks like a brown/gray tabby with crossed blue eyes. The paperwork from the shelter listed Lilac Point Siamese as part of her mix so I just assumed that was the reason for the blue and the crosseded...ness. We haven't noticed any issues with her vision except possibly when we're trying to play with her. It seems like moving toys, such as a feather teaser, hold very little interest for her and I'm just wondering if she might be having trouble following the motion or if she's just not interested. It seems like she'll play for a minute or so but then she just kinda wanders off. She often acts like she wants to play but I don't know what to do for her. She has a bunch of stationary toys of all kinds, too, but pretty much the only thing she plays with on a regular basis are the little brightly colored stretchy hair ties for little girls, and then only in the kitchen where the floor isn't carpeted. I just feel like a bad cat mom because I don't play with her very much but I don't know if there are accomodations I should be making for her vision.

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Quinn

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domestic short hair

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6 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Eye Leakage

My kitten was a stray after getting off of milk and when I took her home I noticed she has one lazy eye. It’s been about 2 month and it is less noticeable unless she is tired but it leaks a little bit all day long.

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Kisa

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European Shorthair

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5 Weeks

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Cross Eyed

I'm about to adopt a kitten but we don't get many pictures. On the visit her eyes seemed normal but all black, now on the picture it seems as if one eye is looking a different direction. Can I upload a picture somewhere so I can get help determining whether my kitten has normal eyes?

Crossed Eyes Average Cost

From 443 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$300