1. Only 5% of Cats Have Pure White Fur
While many cats are born white and develop their color as they mature (like Siamese and Greek cats), 5% of cats maintain their pure white color into adulthood. Some breeds known for producing pure white cats include Persian, Siberian, Devon and Cornish Rex, Turkish Van and Angora, Scottish Fold, American and British Shorthair, Maine Coon, and Norwegian Forest Cats.
2. White Cats Are Masters of Disguise
White cats do not possess the gene for white color. This gene masks their true color, making them appear white. A white Persian cat, for instance, might actually be a tri-color cat with pale shades.
3. Special Eye Colors
One notable feature of white cats is their eyes. Their eyes can be blue, green, yellow, or even two different colors! While blue eyes are more common in white cats, certain breeds, such as Siamese, Persian, Himalayan, Birman, and Java, tend to have blue eyes.
4. White Cats With Blue Eyes Are Prone to Deafness
White cats, especially those with blue eyes, have a higher risk of inheriting deafness. However, not all white cats with blue eyes are affected by this genetic condition. Studies have shown that:
- 30-40% of white cats with blue eyes are deaf.
- 60-80% of white cats with only one blue eye are deaf in the ear on the same side as the blue eye.
- 10-20% of white cats without blue eyes are deaf.
5. The White Siamese
Decades ago, geneticist Patricia Turner came across an overexposed photograph of a Siamese cat. This photograph inspired her to create a completely white Eastern cat with blue eyes that would not be deaf. The breeding program began in England in 1962 by crossing Siamese cats with white domestic shorthairs, resulting in the White Siamese or British White breed. These cats possess the personality and physical traits of Siamese cats but are completely white and lack the characteristic points of typical Siamese cats.
6. White Cats Can Regain Hearing with Hearing Aids
Researchers have surgically implanted cochlear devices, which provide sound sensation to individuals with severe or profound deafness in both ears, into naturally deaf white cats. With these cochlear implants, the cats respond when called and exhibit behaviors that show they can hear. After three months of use, the auditory nerves of these cats were indistinguishable from those of normal hearing cats.
7. White Cats vs. Albino Cats
There is an important distinction between white cats and albino cats. The differences lie in eye and skin color:
- White cats have melanin pigmentation, albeit less than cats with other coat colors. Their skin is extremely pale and appears almost white, with a hint of pink.
- Albino cats are born with a defective or absent TYR gene, which is necessary for melanin production. They lack pigment and have the lightest blue eyes or even pink eyes. Their skin, especially around the nose and ears, also appears pinkish due to light reflecting off the blood vessels.
8. Symbolic Meanings of White Cats
Legend has it that dreaming of a white cat is lucky, but seeing one at night is considered unlucky. In some countries, white cats symbolize purity, while in others, they bring misfortune. For example, seeing a white cat on the way to work may indicate impending job loss or work-related issues.
In North America, white cats are believed to be envious of the innocence of babies and may cast a curse upon them. However, in certain Mediterranean countries, a white cat forming a bond with a child signifies greatness as the child grows.
9. White Cats as “Silver Screen” Stars
White cats have long been popular characters in children’s movies, particularly in classic Disney films. Some notable examples include Mr. Tinkles from Cats & Dogs, Snowbell from Stuart Little, Simon’s Cat, and Hello Kitty.
In conclusion, white cats are beloved for their beauty and purity. There are many intriguing aspects regarding these white-coated felines, such as their true fur and eye colors. The meanings associated with white cats vary between different cultures, from symbols of luck to signs of misfortune, much like black cats.