Tell us what features and improvements you would like to see on Pets4Homes. Help us by answering a short survey.To the Survey
Everybody has heard of black and white cats. Indeed most cat owners have had at least one of these bicoloured cats during their lifetime. So these cats are often thought of as very ordinary. But this is not the case. Here are a number of rather interesting facts about black and white cats.
For obvious reasons, black and white cats are often known as bicolour cats. But many of them are also sometimes called tuxedo cats, though this name is more commonly used in the USA than in Europe. The name refers to the fact that the most common black and white cat has a mainly black coat with a white chest and paws, bearing a resemblance to a formal dinner suit worn with a white shirt. But of course not all black and white cats have this pattern. Some have much more white than this, others have random or piebald patterning, and some are almost all black, with just a small white patch on the chest. Strictly speaking these should not be called tuxedo cats.
Black and white is possibly the most common cat colour, Estimates vary, but some experts say that 70% or more of all cats are black and white. This might make you think of them as ordinary, but some have very unusual patterning, from Hitler type moustaches to just a few white toes, to all white with just black ears. These cats may all be classified as black and white, but they are very different.
Many people think of black and white cats as being non-pedigrees or moggies. But many breeds can have black and white examples. The commonest are perhaps the British Shorthair, Maine Coon, Manx, and all the Rex breeds. Many people do not realise this, perhaps thinking that all Maine Coons have to be tabby patterned, for example. But bicolour Maine Coons are not at all unusual, and are very beautiful. Of course, some cats cannot be black and white, for instance Russian Blues or Siamese. But if you want one of these cats in a black and white colour, you may be able to find a cross breed example, for example a half-Siamese cat which has black and white colouring
Many people do think of black and white cats as being uninteresting, and perhaps for that reason rescue organisations find them hard to re-home. Along with pure black cats, there are always many black and white cats looking for homes for much longer than the more exotic looking ginger and tortie cats.
The black and white colouration is caused by a particular gene, called the white spotting gene. This gene is not a particular colour, but simply prevents the formation of the black colour in patches over the cat's body. It acts similarly to the gene causing a cat to be all white, but only acts in certain areas. No other cat colours are formed in this way
Those cats we think of as black and white have the white in patches, as explained. But cats may also have a black and white tabby pattern, and in this case they are known as silver tabbies. There are also other possible black and white patterns, sometimes with each hair having both black and white areas, as in chinchilla and black smoke cats.
Like kittens of most colours, black and white kittens are all born with blue eyes, usually these will change into some shade of green or gold when the kitten is about a month old. However, some kittens keep their blue eyes into adulthood, and it is possible to have a black and white cat with blue eyes.
A British black and white cat called Merlin has the record for the world's loudest purr. In 2015, he let out a 67.8 decibel purr, which is far louder than the average cat.
Despite the fact that black and white cats are often considered to be ordinary, there have been a number of famous black and white cats. Palmerston is the resident cat at the Foreign Office in London, and he made headlines in 2016 when he had a very public spat with Larry, the Downing Street cat. William Shakespeare, Sir Isaac Newton, and Beethoven, all owned black and white cats. A black and white cat lived in the White House in the USA when Bill Clinton was President, and American Vice President Mike Pence owns a black and white cat. There have also been a number of black and white cats in fiction, perhaps most notably T S Eliot's Jellicle Cats in 'Old Possom's Book of Practical Cats'.
Finally, not that many people are aware that a black and white cat received a medal in the Second World War. A bicolour cat called Simon was a mascot on board the HMS Amethyst, and in 1949 he was awarded the Dickin Medal for protecting the sailors' dwindling food supply from rats during the conflict.
You should by now have realised that black and white cats are far from ordinary. In fact, they can be quite fascinating, just like any other colour of cat in fact. So perhaps you would like to own one. If so, this is not too difficult. Most rescue organisations will be delighted if you want one of their many black and white cats. And as explained above, you can find bicolour cats in a number of different breeds. So here's hoping that you find the purrfect black and white cat.
Do you like this article? Have something to say? Then leave your comments.