We are told that our eyes are the windows to our souls; hence, motivational speakers advise us to learn to smile with our eyes. The first thing most people spot on anyone’s face is their eyes; thus, Destiny’s Child said the brown eyes of the man told it all with one look. Kelly Clarkson, on the other hand, could not let her ex see her tears behind her hazel eyes. Everyone has their preference for eye color; even Hitler wanted a master race with blond hair and blue eyes, a selfish move because those were his traits. However, not everyone has both eyes of the same color. Some people have two different eyes on each eye, although it can be hard to notice. For instance, after watching all the episodes of 24 and “Designated Survivor,” did you see that Kiefer Sutherland is both blue-eyed and green-eyed? Other celebrities like Dominic Sherwood have different colors in one eye; his left eye is half -blue, half-white. What might surprise you is that being odd-eyed not only affects humans but animals too. One particular animal, a cat named Olive, is taking over Instagram with amazing eyes. She was introduced to Instagram in 2017 as Odd Eyed Olive and here’s everything you need to know about her.
Why the different colors?
Upon visiting Olive’s Instagram profile, besides the picture, you will notice that she defines her condition as sectoral heterochromia. The term is also referred to as segmental heterochromia and occurs when a domestic cat has two colors in each eye. Usually, according to Pictures of Cats, each eye is blue and yellow or orange, with the intensity and density varying. For Olive, her eyes are blue and yellow. The condition is all about genetics, and it is caused by the cat’s dominant white gene and piebald gene (white spotting gene). Just like humans whose skin colors are determined by the amount of melanin with albinism being caused by lack of it, cats also have melanin. When the dominant white gene stops melanin production, in cats, it not only affects their fur but the iris too. There is some similarity to albinism because most albinos have eye problems. The gene inhibits melanin production causes the entire eye to be blue or part of it to be blue. It appears blue because the eye lacks pigmentation.
Chances of going deaf
Unfortunately for Olive, chances of going deaf are high. According to Wikipedia, although there is a misconception that odd-eyed cats are usually born deaf in an ear, there is some truth in the belief. White cats, like Olive, with blue eyes, have a higher probability of developing genetic deafness, but so far, Olive has not displayed any problem with her hearing. The white gene may result in a beautiful cat, but it comes loaded with more disadvantages than most humans know. The white-dominant gene also results in the gradual degeneration of the cochlea, only a few days after birth. Science dictates that any discoloration, even if it appears later in life, would significantly reduce the likelihood of deafness. Olive’s white fur bears no sign of getting specks in the future.
It runs in Olive’s family
The thing about genes is that no one knows who will get the dominant gene or who will carry the recessive gene, at least until after birth. However, even then, you might be raising the alarm for nothing. Cats may be born with blue eyes, but later on, as they mature, the color can change. Therefore it is not until your kitten is six or seven weeks old that you can be sure of its eye color. Olive’s sisters, Fifi and Skyla, as well as her brother, Charlie, have blue eyes. However, all her siblings have some specks of other colors, meaning their chances of going deaf are little. Since the blue eyes also indicate that they have fewer melanocytes, the cats are very sensitive to light. Regardless of the lack of pigmentation, one thing that we can all agree on is that the cats are beautiful with their distinctive blue eyes.
Other types of heterochromia
Olive has sectoral heterochromia, but there is another type of heterochromia called complete heterochromia that is prevalent. Unlike sectoral heterochromia, complete heterochromia entails a cat whose both eyes have entirely different colors such that one is blue while the other is yellow or green. Another type is the central heterochromia in which the iris has two colors such that the pupillary has a different color from the ciliary zone. The ciliary zone color usually has the true iris color as explained on Wikipedia. It also affects humans and wife to Charles Rothschild, Rozsika Edle von Wertheimstein had it. Her eyes were brown, but each had a purple ring going about a quarter-inch around the brown color.
Cats that are mostly affected by heterochromia
While most people conclude that all white cats are at risk of the hereditary condition, some breeds are more at risk of developing odd-eyes. One such kind is the Khao Manee which translates to “white gem.” It is common in Thailand and Indonesian cultures and dates back to the ancient Siamese royal places where it was a favorite pet. Turkish Angoras assumed to be the first long-haired feline to arrive in Europe, also have a high chance of being odd-eyed. Turkish Van and Japanese Bobtail are also cat breeds prone to develop the condition.
Does it affect other animals?
Besides humans and cats, being odd-eyed is also seen in other animals such as dogs, horses, and even cattle. These animals usually suffer from complete heterochromia. Horses with pinto coloring get it while dog breeds like Shih Tzu, Catahoula Leopard Dog, and Australian Shepherd are also at risk. Sectoral heterochromia is more common in certain dog breeds including Chihuahua, Great Dane, Dunker and many more.