When a dear friend decided it was time for 2 kittens she had her heart set on a solid black kitten, and a solid white kitten. She’d even picked out their names: Pyewacket and Carnac the Magnificent (trivia quiz, what movie and what TV show are those to names from?)
Our friend Angela Giannini who’s opening up her own cat shelter this Summer: Cats Valley in Redwood City, CA, knows a lot about cat colors and patterns from the perspective of a shelter’s director and told us that solid white kittens or cats are rather rare. This was news to us! Auntie Cat Faeries’ first cat was solid white female named Abra Cadabra. So we thought that our Feline Editor at Large should tell us if this is true and a bit about why it’s.
Our friend Jan didn’t get her solid white kitten, instead she adopted two solid black brothers, two mischief makers who got the names Pyewacket and Carnac. One day she hopes that a solid white kitten will join them whose name might end up being Endora! (More trivia, who would the kitten be named after?)
This month we feature tuxedo cats who are a mix of white with black, gray, or occasionally brown.
Newton’s Purrspective – White Cats
Cats come in a multitude of colors and patterns. So having a color preference is perfectly natural. Perhaps you want a cat that reminds you of one you had as a child. You may believe a certain color embodies all the qualities you are seeking in a feline companion. Or maybe you dream of two kittens, one black and one white, curled into a perfect Yin Yang symbol.
When you start your search keep in mind that some colors are far more common than others. For example, let’s say you have your heart set on a white kitten. Unfortunately, your quest may take a bit longer than expected. Only five percent of the general cat population is white (dominant white, not to be confused with albino, which is the absence of color). Feline genetics are complex and often unpredictable. Fun fact: The white allele is actually a mask that hides a black or red cat underneath!
Of these white cats, 15-40 percent will have at least one blue eye. Blue or bi-colored eyes are striking and can be an additional attraction that makes them even less available in shelters. However, in this case beauty does come with a price. 60-80 percent of these cats are born deaf. In odd eyed cats deafness may only be associated with the ear on the side of the blue eye. http://messybeast.com/whitecat.htm But if you have finally found your special white kitten do not let this deter you from adoption. A deaf cat can lead a normal happy life with a few precautions.
Of course, deaf cats must never be allowed outside. Also keep in mind that they can’t hear you or other animals approaching. Your primary communication with Kitty will be through sight and touch.
Another reason to keep white cats inside (even if they can hear) is their susceptibility to skin cancer. White cats lack pigment to protect them from damaging rays of the sun and squamous cell carcinoma may occur on ear tips, eyelids and the nose. Unfortunately, there is no feline sunscreen so the only prevention is avoidance. This skin cancer can be treated if caught early, but why take the chance? https://www.oncolink.org/frequently-asked-questions/cancers/vet/veterinary-oncology/treatment-and-prevention-of-skin-cancer-in-white-cats
Appearance may be the initial attraction when adopting a kitten, but personality is the key to success. Personality conflicts with people or other cats account for 25 percent of the return rate to shelters. http://news.berkeley.edu/2012/10/23/cat-color/ If your veterinarian says Kitty’s behavior is not due to a health issue please look at other options such as environment enrichment or Cat Faeries flower essences.
Some people choose kittens based on a belief that certain colors are associated with specific traits. Does this mean you should you judge a cat by its color? In most cases the answer is no. Unrealistic expectations are a setup for failure. There is no scientific evidence to link personality with color but folklore and cat food commercials will continue to perpetuate stereotypes.