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Checking in cats: where does white fur come from?


A check in cats is sometimes white fur. In some parts of the cat's body there are no pigment cells due to a gene mutation called leucism, so the fur remains colorless here. The speck can spread almost completely or only cause very small, almost invisible white spots. Two beautiful pied cats cuddle on the windowsill - Shutterstock / Aspen Photo

For a speck, it doesn't matter which coat color or pattern the cat actually has. This means that both single-colored black, red or black tabby cats with tabby patterns can get white fur in some places.

Checking and leucism in cats

The check is usually based on a weakened form of so-called leucism. This is a gene mutation in which there are no pigment cells on the skin surface. This means that no melanin is formed, which is responsible for the coat color. The cat fur remains colorless and appears white.

While cats with leucism have completely white fur, the pigment cells in pied animals are only partially present, so that white spots appear on the fur. Otherwise, the actual coat color with a possible pattern can be seen in the places that are not affected by the mutation. This creates cats with a pretty cow pattern, fur noses with white socks or white snowflakes on the chest, but also tricolor animals.

The most beautiful kitten with a cow pattern

White fur hides original color

What the pattern will look like in a speck cannot be predicted if a pied mother cat is expecting cubs. The surprise is especially great for cats with leucism who have completely white fur. Such an animal still has genes for a certain coat color, they just don't work because the cat has no pigment cells on the skin. However, it is possible that she will pass on her "hidden" coat color to her kittens.