Why Do Some Black Cats Have Stripes?

why do some black cats have stripes

Black cats hold a special spot in my cat lovers’ hearts across the globe. And, while they might not have the most unique pattern, it seems that no two black cats will ever truly be identical. Oftentimes, black cats start to “rust” with age, which is somewhat similar to how ginger cats develop freckles as they grow old. 

We see some black cats with hints of white in their coats, but what about when black cats have stripes? You might need the help of the sun to see them, but there are certainly black cats with stripes. If you’re wondering how a black cat could have stripes, just keep reading!

Fever Coat

Before we delve deep into why some black cats have stripes, it’s important to note that black kittens with fever coats can appear to have stripes. However, these “stripes” are only temporary and will typically fade by the kitten’s first birthday. In an article on Cattitude Daily, we explain that,

“Kittens with fever coats are typically born to mothers that have been subjected to fever-inducing infections or extreme stress during their pregnancies. The higher-than-normal temperature within the womb results in kittens with cream, reddish, or frosted silver-gray coats. This occurs because feline coat pigmentation is heat-sensitive, and high heat prevents pigments from properly depositing in the fur.”

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White random whiskers

For those of us with solid black cats, our mini house panthers will have solid black whiskers, too. The main reason that cats’ whiskers are white is because their whiskers do not hold pigmentation the way their fur does. It’s not entirely uncommon for your cat’s whiskers to change over time, or even for them to have whiskers that are not all the same color. Similar to the way that dogs go gray with age, many senior cats that once had solid black whiskers will start to turn white. It’s nothing to be alarmed about, and simply part of the aging process, even for cats who once had solid black whiskers. So, if your black cat’s whiskers are fading into white, consider their age. With that being said, scientifically speaking, the amount of pigmentation needed for a cat to have solid black whiskers is rather high—thus making it quite rare! If you have a solid black cat from head to whiskers, paws, belly, and toes, know that your black cat is considered rare in the domesticated cat coat world.

Tuxedo cats usually won’t have stripes

Ah, tuxies, a beloved of many cat lovers. These sassy pant cats are a combo of black and white, with black typically being the predominant coat color. Tuxedo cats often have white paws and white bellies, and while there might be some doppelgänger tuxedo cats out there, no two will ever truly be identical. Tabbies have the most unique coat pattern, with their coat’s spots and stripes equating to a feline fingerprint. And we know that some tabby cats can have white in their coats, but it is never dominant. When it comes to tuxedo cats, they usually won’t have stripes because of the strong white coat color in their DNA.

Tabby gene

If you’ve ever looked at your black cat and sworn you’ve seen stripes in their coat, you’re certainly not alone. Regardless of age, many black cats will possess faint stripes in their coat that can be seen in the sunlight. This dazzling array of beautifully faint stripes throughout their coat is impressive and just goes to show you how incredible cat coat genetics can be. Black cats with stripes possess the “tabby gene” and although their black coat is genetically dominant, the suppressed tabby pattern will still present itself in many cases. Furthermore, this tabby gene can make it appear as if your black cat not only has stripes but some of those stripes may appear brown or gray in comparison to your cat’s silky black coat.

Technically, these stripes are “hidden” because the gene is suppressed, but when the sun hits the coat just right, they are revealed quite nicely. So, really, it’s like you have two cats in one—a black cat and a tabby! If you examine your stripped black cat closely, you may even be able to make out a faint hint of the classic tabby cat “M” on their forehead. The term “ghost tabby” was coined to properly identify these special black kitties of the cat world—which sounds pretty cool if you ask me!

why do some black cats have stripes

Want to learn about one of the coolest naturally occurring cat patterns of all? Check out this next article on Cattitude Daily to learn all about chimera cats!

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