6 min read

Cats With Googly Eyes Are Real, And They're Beautiful

Some cats begin their lives in a state of crazy-eyed cuteness.

For lack of a better term, they're googly-eyed.

Perhaps they're still calibrating those wondrous orbs, getting everything sorted out before they can survey the world with the suave, self-assured serenity of a serial killer sophisticated animal.

passerby3 / flickr

Or, they could be tracking several mice in their fervid imaginations, each moving in different directions.

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Or, in kittens where this phenomena is prevalent, perhaps it's a rare unguarded moment in their development. If the eyes are indeed windows to the soul, is it possible that kittens are too honest to cover up all the crazy that's going on in their heads? Is this a rare glimpse into the chaos that is a cat's soul?

Kat_Chan / Instagram

Well, aside from our natural predilection for associating cats with the occult, there's also this thing called science.

"Googly eyes" is a fairly broad classification, only a hair more specific than "freaky eyes" or "dude-your-cat's-freaking-me-out."

"What some may refer to as 'cross-eyed' or 'googly eyes' is a medical condition called strabismus," Christy Michael, lead veterinarian at DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital, tells The Dodo. "This condition can exist in several animals including cats. There are multiple causes that can result in strabismus, and may simply be inherited genetically and passed down."

Strabismus results in one or both eyes wobbling inward or outward, although they're still, thankfully, locked into the socket. It's caused by an abnormality in the muscles behind the eye, or in the nerves that control those muscles.

In some breeds, like Himalayan and Persian cats, it's hereditary.

In any case, if your cat happens to have those very interesting eyes, Michael recommends her to a veterinarian to determine cause and treatment.

"If it turns out to be inherited," she explains, "Treatment is often not needed as it won't affect your pet's quality of life."

But strabismus, rarely, could also signify conditions somewhat less benign, like feline leukemia virus, meningitis and water on the brain, known as hydrocephalus.

A little more common is a condition called eyelid agenesis, which, according to Vetbook.org, often happens to more than one cat in a litter, domestic or wild.

That's when the eyelid doesn't form right, or not at all. As a result, the eye is literally wide open all the time, an uncomfortable and dangerous situation to say the least. The good news is ophthalmologists have managed to repair agenesis in these unfortunate cats.

And what's this starry-eyed specimen's story?

boomrq / Reddit

Dr. Martin Coster of the Angell Animal Medical Center's Ophthalmology practice tells The Dodo it's impossible to know for certain just from looking at the photo.

"This is a mis-wiring of the neural connections between eye and brain, most likely," he notes. "Certainly infectious diseases can be implicated. It could also be issues with the muscles of the eyes."
Then there's just the heaps of harmlessly adorable googly-eyed cats.

Some cats get their googly eyes later in life. Like this one, who lost an eye in a street fight. The human in his life gave him this distinctive patch.

And, in case you were wondering, it does occur in dogs as well. Not quite with the same frequency, but the results can be stunning.

PAWS Chicago / Facebook

Then, of course, there's the ... wait a minute. Not cool, dog. Not cool.

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NifyMag DIY / Facebook