November 06, 2019

Why your cat probably isn’t the colour you think...

Why your cat probably isn’t the colour you think...
Dr. Chris Brown

This is the story of how a black leopard led to me to a bizarre discovery that may change the way you look at your own cat.
Warning: Your cat has been keeping a big secret from you!

Your little mate may be living a lie. In fact my own apparently black and white cat Cricket isn’t as she seems. Neither are most brown, blue, grey or other coloured cats.

And it all came from researchers studying the incredibly rare black leopard in Southern Africa. While tracking their movements using infra-red night vision cameras, they discovered something amazing. They weren’t actually completely black. Instead, the infra-red light revealed they actually had spots just like regular leopards but the way their coat absorbed sunlight gave them the black appearance.

After reading about this discovery, I decided to check if the same phenomenon applied to pet cats. And sure enough, under infra-red light, I’m living with my own little leopard. And chances are, you are too. You see, instead of Cricket appearing black and white, she’s actually been hiding tabby stripes and spots all this time as you can see.

So how has this happened? Well, cat coat colour genetics are incredibly complicated but essentially the gene for the tabby stripes and spots persists in almost every cat, even when it’s masked to our eyes by their ‘other’ solid colour that sits over the top. They basically carry around their family history of being a spotted or striped wild cat (before domestication) wherever they go. Sometimes you just can’t escape your relatives!

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