You may have seen a cat with reddish brown fur when it should clearly be black. You may have seen cats with black fur on their sides, back, tail, face, and feet. Also, you may have seen your cat’s coat color change over time. Here are some factors that may affect the color of your cat’s coat and the reasons why a cat’s coat color changes over time.
1. Temperature affects cat coat color
The coat color of oriental cats such as Siamese and Himalayan cats is determined by skin temperature. The skin temperature is lower on the extremities of the body (such as the feet, tail, and ears/face), resulting in a white or cream colored body and darker “spots”. However, skin temperature is not the only determining factor. My mother has Siamese cats that are darker in color during the cold Maine winters.
2. sunlight changes a cat’s coat color.
Believe it or not, dark colored cats bleach in the sun. If a cat spends a lot of time outdoors or lying indoors in the sun, the coat color may lighten.
3. Nutrition can affect your cat’s coat color.
A lack of the amino acid tyrosine in the food can cause a black cat’s coat color to change from black to light red. Tyrosine is required for the production of melanin in a cat’s coat, and if tyrosine is lacking in a cat’s diet, the coat will turn lighter black. Other nutritional problems, such as copper deficiency or excessive zinc intake, can also cause a cat’s coat to become lighter in color. However, changes in coat color can also indicate kidney, liver or thyroid disease, so be sure to consult your veterinarian before feeding your cat nutritional supplements.
4. Age-related changes in cat coat color
As they age, cats grow white hair just like humans. However, unless your cat is very dark in color, you may not notice your cat’s silver fur creeping in. Siamese cats with seal spots and Oriental cats with black spots also have darker coats as they age. Siamese kittens are born white and begin to develop colored spots after leaving their mother’s womb, so this phenomenon may be a continuation of this process.
If you are unsure about your cat, your veterinarian is your best source of information.
by JaneA Kelley