Why do cats change hair color?

Recently a relative who had not seen our cat Kato for a long time came home and told us: “Kato is much blonder, but if this cat was white.”

And I thought, “I’m going to talk about this in Cat Stuff.” I asked you about social networks, and you sent me many photos that showed that I was right, so I researched … and today I bring you what I discovered.

Some cats change hair color, in the case of Kato, the changes occurred especially as an adult, from being a white kitten, it became a semi-white cat – blond tabby. But why does this happen? Is it normal? Is it bad?

Before responding to all this with a “depends,” it is critical to observe if it is an abrupt change. If we see something abnormal or suspicious, we must visit the veterinarian. It is better to go and leave with a diagnosis of “the cat is fine” than to remain in doubt, not to go, and make it something more serious that could have been avoided.

The cat hair can be an indicator of your health, so you should observe and take into account their changes, to detect whether it is healthy hair or if there is something else.

That said, there are several reasons why cats can change hair color (with more or less intensity), and it is quite common that some of these situations occur throughout the life of our cats.

For the genetics

One of the most common reasons for the change in color is the genetics of the pussycat. For example, there are many breeds of cats in which the color of a child is different from the color of an adult.

There are breeds that are genetically programmed in such a way that the color changes according to the ambient temperature, as is the case of the Siamese cat.

Color change in Siamese cats

The Siamese breed has a gene that produces melanin (gives hair color) depending on body temperature.

To understand us, the gene stops painting color when the average temperature of cats is exceeded (38-39.2 C). This absence of color (that is, white cat) causes several curiosities to occur:

  • Siamese cats that are subjected to higher temperatures, for example, in summer, can develop partial albinism.
  • Siamese babies are usually born very white because in the mother’s womb the temperature is warm. As they come in contact with the outside, the gene begins to color their fur.
  • The body of the pussy is colder around the ears, legs, and tail. For that reason, they are usually the most colored areas of the Siamese.

By age

Another common factor is that the changes take place with age. Specifically, they tend to be in two periods:

  • When the cat stops being a baby. Many cats experience changes in the fur up to 5-6 months.
  • When the cat is ancient, among some of the things that can happen, one that does not involve health problems is the appearance of gray hair.

For the environment

There are many external factors that can influence the cat’s coat and its color changes. For example, cats that are frequently bathed or have access to the pools (although they do not get in, but do lie where there is chlorinated water) may experience changes produced by-products with which they are in constant contact. The temperature and the sun are other environmental factors that modify the color of the hair of the pussycat.

For the Sun

The sun also influences. A cat that has plenty of suns can end up with a lighter hair tone than the original. In black cats that usually results in having more reddish or brown hair. The sun affects the hair structure (as it happens to people), and high sun exposure can also cause hair dryness and make it weaker.

For food

As in everything, and as it happens to the majority of living beings, the feeding of the cat is fundamental. If the cat does not consume the nutrients it needs, it will be more likely to develop abnormalities, diseases, etc.

The change of hair color can be an indicator of the lack of some nutrient or vital element. The veterinarian will determine the diagnosis.

The Dr. Serge Martinod points in this article that “diet deficient in the amino acid tyrosine and phenylalanine makes hair color changes from black to red, because of a reduction of melanin pigment.”

For health problems

The change in hair color may mean that there is a health issue that is failing; in those cases, the difference is usually more abrupt.

As always, the veterinary professional is the only one who can determine the cause and the procedure to follow.

Some of the most common are:

For suffering stress

When the pussy experiences anxiety or stress, it tends to suffer abrupt changes in your body.

These changes can cause variations in the coat, I know because it falls faster than usual or because gray hair appears.

For problems in the hair growth cycle

It occurs when the cat has a question that is slowing the correct growth of its hair. By not expelling the hair well when she moves it, she becomes old and begins to turn a dull color.

For vitiligo and alopecia

Vitiligo is a change in pigmentation in the cat’s hair and skin. As such, it should not always be a health problem, but it is often related to lupus and uveitis. With what should be taken into account, mainly when it occurs suddenly.

Alopecia areata, located in specific areas of the body, can also lead to changes in coat color in those affected areas.

For decompensation of essential elements (lack or excess)

Many are the elements involved in color, such as the lack of tyrosine or copper, as well as excess zinc.

In any case, the veterinarian will perform the relevant analyzes to see what the cat is missing or leftover, and the reason why this occurs.

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