View Full Version : Question for other owners of black cats

01-05-2004, 05:58 PM
I have had Shadow (I didn't name him) for about 7 years now. When I got him he was full grown and probably at least 5, so he's getting to be an old man. When I got him, he had white spots on his abdomen, in his armpits, and a few on his chest (yep, right in the places that humans get body hair in adolescence-- coincidence? Any other black cat owners' cats have white hair in those places?).

Anyway, I noticed lately that he really has a lot more white hairs. They are mostly on his shoulders, his chest, in his ears, and on his face (which is where old men get more hair when they acquire more body hair later in life). Is this possible? Is Shadow getting whiter over time? Do cats go white over time like people do? What about these locations, are they common places for a black cat to go white? He'd have to live to be 100 to change from a black cat even to a black and white, but I really do think he's getting a whiter over time.

If you have a black cat, have you noticed this phenomenon? Anyone know why it happens?

01-05-2004, 06:08 PM
I have three black cats, all female, and the older two, sisters, are about nine years old. Sophie, a longhair with some Persian in her ancestry, has a small whie locket. Sylvia, who's a different shade of black, and shows signs of having Siamese in her genes, has a few white hairs in the locket spot, and a dib of white on her right hip. Serena, who's only two and a half, has a dusting of white at the locket area.

All three have been the same color since I got them as youngsters. None has shown any signs of getting gray. I've owned cats as old as 19 that never went gray.

White markings in any color cat are very common in the areas you mentioned. Consider, for example, my orange tiger Freddy (http://community.webshots.com/photo/782975/16661499jHdDdhCSBB). Or Squash (http://community.webshots.com/photo/782975/106105905zgTNkh).

Sorry I can't be more helpful!

01-05-2004, 06:42 PM
I have had black cats off and on all my life. Some of them did get white hairs (in the places you mentioned, as well as elsewhere) and others didn't. However, none of them ever went completely "gray", although they certainly did seem to fade from deep black to a more duskier charcoal-black. Looking back, I think it has to do with the types of breeds (mostly mutt-cat, in my experience) than the color of their fur. Could be mistaken, though.

I have noticed that the males seem to get "gray" moreso than the females. I had a female black kitty grow to be about thirteen and she was jet black the day she died. I had two toms that were younger (approximately ten-ish) but started the gray around the mouth and neck around age nine or so. These were the ones that seemed to "fade".

At present, I have a solid black female (very small, but adult) that is about three. I'll holler back at you in about five to seven years if she starts the same process. :D

01-05-2004, 07:01 PM
Piper Grace (she's about a year old) has a few white hairs-though I haven't really paid close attention to where they are and how frequent. She's had that since we got her.

01-05-2004, 07:24 PM
My black cat Panther was born jet black, with the exception of one white spot on his nether-region. He is 10 years old now, and has a scattering of white hairs on his body and legs. The other black cat, Inky, is still jet black. I have no idea how old she is.

01-05-2004, 07:31 PM
Our five-and-a-half-year-old black cat (with a small white spot on his chest) gets a sprinkling of white hairs over his body every winter, in addition to the handful of white hairs at his crotch and in his "arm" pits. The body hairs go away in the spring. The other white hairs don't.

This is probably more a result of his mother being a hairless than his being black. On the other hand, the big ass is certainly a result of him being black.

;)! ;)!

01-05-2004, 07:45 PM
My year old squirrel-tailed black beauty, Darla Lynn (say it fast :) ) has some light "charcoaling" in her pits and belly.
She also is getting some long white hairs on her luxurious tail. Probably due to the smattering of Siamese in her heritage.

01-05-2004, 08:15 PM
When I brought Boojum (all-black domestic shorthair) home from the Humane Society as a 6-week old kitten, he was uniformly black except for a halo of white-tipped longer hairs, mostly on his tummy, legs and tail. Those all fell/grew out within a year, and now at 13 years, he's all black except for one small white tuft on his tail which I think is a result of a catfight (which I presume is also the source of the notch in his left ear). And his yellow-green eyes.

I'll look for white spots on his armpits and abdomen, but I suspect that Shadow's white hairs are simply inherited markings that were almost, but not quite, completely dominated by the black fur trait.

In childhood, my neighbor mistakenly slammed the door on the tail of his black cat, and when the poor thing healed, she had a white spot on the place where her tail was crushed.

Lady Kate
01-05-2004, 08:52 PM
I've had Vernon since he was a tiny kitten. He's now 13 years old - will be 14 in May. He was completely black as a baby, except for the two white toes on his back right foot (my three-year-old daughter says it looks as though he were a white cat at one time, and someone held him by those two toes and dipped him in black paint). Over the last few years, Vernon's hair seems to be getting lighter. He's still very black, but almost dusty looking. I don't really know how to explain it other than that. Oh, and a few white hairs have shown up around his mouth, but just a spattering. It makes him look quite dignified.

01-05-2004, 09:10 PM
The tuxedo cat I had developed an additional white patch at an injury site. I've seen elderly cats that start to get a little grayish around the mouth area.

french frog
01-05-2004, 09:17 PM
It means it's ripe. You can cook it now.

...sorry :D ....

01-05-2004, 09:24 PM
Peeky (never ask a 5 year-old and a 3 year-old to name a cat you get something like Peekee Bubbles: Queen Pretty Kitty) was 23 (human years) when we put her to sleep. She had dulled from a jet glossy black to a duller black, but she stayed fully black, no white spots and only 3 white hairs at the end.

01-05-2004, 09:56 PM
My 16-year-old mutt-cat seems to be getting more white hairs in his black patches as he gets older, I think.

Anonymous Coward
01-05-2004, 09:59 PM
I had an siamese cat whose "mask" almost faded to gray by the time she was put down at 18 years.

01-05-2004, 10:52 PM
My little Siam (now 8 months old) developed the cutest white "freckles" on his black face a few months ago.

Cherokee, the 1 year old black Persian, has brown hair underneath that hangs down (so he looks somewhat like a buffalo when's he's walking toward you), and white long hair on his paws.



It's a feline thing!

rocking chair
01-05-2004, 11:15 PM
winken the wonderful has a few white hairs from nod the naughty. noddy swatted her. otherwise at almost 12 she doesn't have any white that isn't injury caused.

strange that injury can cause white hairs.

01-05-2004, 11:21 PM
My parents had a calico cat named Callie that recently had to be put to sleep. She was 20 years old. From older pictures we have of her, she had a darkish face, mostly browns and dark oranges. By the time we put her down, her whole lower jaw and most of the upper part of her muzzle was white. I know very old dogs get greyish/white muzzles, and I think most cats do too, just not to the extent of dogs.

01-05-2004, 11:50 PM
From what I'm seeing, it's more common for male cats to turn white, especially on the front of the body, than females, and more common for mixed breeds than purebreds. Shadow is most certainly a mixed breed, and an older boy, so maybe he's just graying like any old man.

As for injury sites getting white, that happens to people too. Well, it happened to me, anyway. But I don't think this is what happened to Shadow because it's too diffuse. It's a sprinkling all over his back, face, and chest, and the longer hair in his ears have gone from black to almost all white.

Maybe he's just a freak :) but he's my freak!

01-06-2004, 12:14 AM
Ticking on dark furred cats is common as they get older. I've seen it mostly in pointed breeds like Siamese and Birman but we had a tuxedo male that seemed to have it as well. We didn't get him till he was older so it was impossible to tell if it had been there all the time.

Quick lesson in cat coloring for anyone interested. Cats start out as white in the womb. When the color genes kick in it starts on the back and moves down. The last part to be colored is the feet and belly, since they're the farthest from the back when the cat is in a fetal position. Thus the most common place for a black cat to have white lockets is on the feet and underbelly. IANA vet or a geneticist so if anyone out there is please correct me as I'd love to know the facts. This is just what I've learned from showing cats and speaking with breeders.

01-06-2004, 12:51 AM
Puck: I don't have a cite for this, but I read that a tricolor cat was cloned and she came out in a totally different color pattern from her genetic identical twin. Apparently there are phenotypic factors that take place in the womb that affect fur color in cats. Weird, huh?

Also, I have a half-Siamese who has changed color quite a bit over time. He was almost pure white when I found him at about 4 months old, with only the dark points. Now he's white but striped with brown all over his body. I heard that in Siamese that has to do with body temperature; the cooler the area, the darker the fur, which is why tips are dark and body is generally light. He's a bit chunky, which may be why he's gotten darker? Could this be why the cloned kitten was a different colo, from a difference in womb temperature? Would it remotely have anything to do with why Shadow is getting whiter, or is that totally unrelated?

01-06-2004, 09:01 PM
My black long-hair (http://home.earthlink.net/imagelib/sitebuilder/misc/show_image.html?linkedwidth=actual&linkpath=http://home.earthlink.net/~dwyr/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderpictures/p5300007.jpg&target=tlx_new) is dark as coal all over, except for maybe a dozen white hairs scattered randomly about. She's been that way as a kitten. (I can also state that she's been the cause of a number of my white hairs.) Although I did notice when she was a kitten she actually had tabby-like stripes, black on black, but you had to have her under a strong light at just the right angle to see them. I'm not sure if she still has stripes or not.

My sister had a black long-hair as well, a male. His color seemed to vary with the season. Progressing from black to silvery-frosted back to solid black again.

rocking chair
01-06-2004, 09:57 PM
dwyr, my winken has the very dark stripes. they can only be seen in very direct sunlight. rather like a black jaguar's spots.

nod the naughty and malenka the miraculous are tuxedo cats and their black is deeper than winken's. wink has a lightish grey undercoat.

01-06-2004, 10:40 PM
Just about every black cat I've owned has had the tiger markings if you looked in the right light. I'd say the tabby coat, so effective as camouflage, is likely the base or default feline pattern, and solid colors would be overlays on it. Can any cat genetics expert conform or refute this?

01-06-2004, 11:05 PM
Just did some searching on cat color genetics, and found this site (http://fanciers.com/other-faqs/color-genetics.html). Another excellent site is this one (http://janecky.com/runyen/bio554/cat/) -- scroll down to the link for non-agouti black, in regard to striping of black cats.

As far as cats getting white hairs as they age, this article (thttp://faqs.org/faqs/cats-faq/breeds/trad-siamese/) about traditional (round-headed) Siamese gives the breed standards, among which I found this: "_Penalize:_ Improper (i.e. off-color or spotted) nose leather or paw pads. Ticking or white hairs except in aging cats." So, that would be indirect confirmation that cats can gray with age, wouldn't you say?

Q.N. Jones
01-07-2004, 12:22 AM
My black kitten C.C. (Cosmic Creepers) has white hairs on her chest, the tip of her tail, and a white patch on her lower tummy. They're longer and wirier than her regular hairs.

She's only 6 months old, so I don't know if she'll get more as she ages.

01-07-2004, 12:26 AM
Rubystreak, my vet told us that about Siamese, too. The colder temperatures they face during kittenhood, the darker they get. We had a foster kitten who was flame pointed. We asked the vet why his color never progressed any further tham his tail and nose, and he told up it was likely because he'd been born & lived outside, and when he came into our warm house at 6 weeks old, the color stopped.

01-07-2004, 08:12 AM
Originally posted by Rubystreak
When I got him, he had white spots on his abdomen, in his armpits, and a few on his chest (yep, right in the places that humans get body hair in adolescence-- coincidence? Any other black cat owners' cats have white hair in those places?).
LittleCat (who is almost entirely graphite grey, not black) has similar markings. Sniffs_Markers calls her the Naked Lady Cat. Peach coloured underarm hair and pubic triangle by her back legs.

01-07-2004, 08:16 AM
I got Elvis when he was kitten. He had a few white hairs on his throat but otherwise black. Now the old boy is around 14 and has sprouted the gray hairs you describe.

01-07-2004, 05:38 PM
Obsidian: Is it only in kittenhood that they can get darker? My Siamese guy was outside in the summer as a kitten and was pure white, but after I took him in and got him healthy, he got fatter, and thus he got darker. Now he is covered in brown tabby stripes on a white background (he's lovely, btw). Theoretically, 'cause I can tell you right now it ain't gonna happen, if he lost a lot of weight, thus making his fur warmer b/c it's closer to his body, would he get whiter, I wonder?

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