Cats come in all shapes and sizes, and with different fur types - long, smooth, short, curly, and fluffy – but there is one thing that makes them pretty distinct from each other, their coat markings. For example, if you saw a cat that was a Siamese breed, they are almost instantly recognisable, simply because of the markings and colour of their coats. The same can be said with a Bengal cat.
But did you know there are some things that can cause a coat to change colour? In this Pets4Homes article, we will look at several factors that can come to change your cats coat. Some are understandable, whilst you may find some surprises.
In theory, a colour change of a coat can affect any breed of cat, although sometimes the changes may be so subtle, that their owner does not really realise. This is very true of cats with markings such as tabby because there are so many different colours, it is hard to distinguish if there has been a change. Cats that are more common to be seen for coat differences breeds such as the Oriental type, Siamese’s etc.
Believe it or not, even black cats can have a coat colour change.
Strange that it may seem, the temperature can change a coat colour. This is especially visible on Oriental breeds, with cats such as Siamese and Himalayan that have different colours on their legs, head, ears and tail. These colours are known as points and there are several types of Oriental cat with different colour points, chocolate point or seal point for example. The reason the colour is different is that the temperature change in that part of the cat's body.
Siamese kittens are born white and they only get their points as they grow older. The difference in the skin temperature determines these points, with the face and legs becoming darker with a cooler temperature (exactly the same as the other points).
This may sound strange, but it does have a benefit – if the cat is running a fever, their coat can change to show the higher temperature. A really early indication of a sick cat!
Even air temperature can change the colour of a coat, depending on the season and how cold or warm the day is.
A good diet is essential for cat’s health, especially as the diets are manufactured to include all the nutritional ingredients they need. A deficiency of certain ingredients in a diet could actually change your cat's coat colour. For example, all cats need amino acids, they actually need one more amino acid dog’s (12, to a dogs 11).
One essential amino acid is called tyrosine. If this amino acid was missing from a diet eaten by a black cat, for example, the coat could change and develop a red tinge to it. The reason behind this is that tyrosine is an essential amino acid that helps make melanin, which is the pigment in dark fur.
Other minerals can also change cat’s fur. If copper and zinc were missing, or too low in the diet, the cat's fur may get lighter.
We already know that temperature can change the colour of a cat’s coat, so it stands to reason that weather can also have an effect. One of the weather elements that can be shown is sun exposure. Cat owners can be all too aware of how their feline friends like to bask in the sun (as long as they have their sun lotion on their ears).
Prolonged exposure to the sun can lighten the fur – this phenomenon also happens with humans! It is the same effect as having the hair bleached. Again, if the fur is black, it can become lighter with a reddish tinge.
Occasionally some medical and health problems can make cats coats change colour. Certainly, an unkempt coat is an indicator that the cat is not feeling well. Some believe that kidney disease, liver disease, and thyroid problems can all have a detrimental effect on a cat’s coat, including its changing in colour.
It goes without saying if your cat is concerning you when it comes to their health, regardless of their coat colour, take them to the vets for a checkup.
Yes, cats and dogs are just like us humans, they can start to go grey as they get older. This is probably the one certainty of your pets changing coat colour. If your pet is grey anyway, you may find that their coat changes to white! The most common areas for coats to change is around the face and muzzle, and also on their tummies and sometimes paws.
Although coats can change colour they can also be good indicators of other issues that are going on. If the fur seems short and brittle, for example, it has been groomed to the point of almost being bald, it can be an indication is the cat is stressed, or they have parasite problems.
Coats that are unkempt such as matted fur can mean the cat has a dental problem, where did they want to groom or osteoarthritis where it hurts them to reach areas they would normally. Bear in mind cats such as Persians have a large undercoat and are unable to remove mats themselves without help from a brush and an owner.
These are actually the breed seen most often in vets, being shaved all over! As said above a tatty coat is also an indicator of a thyroid problem. If you are worried about your cat’s coat condition, always speak to your vet for further advice.
As you can tell there are several reasons why a cat's coat can change colour, most of these are due to environmental reasons, but if the environment is the same and you’re still noticing it, seek further advice – it may just be health-related.