I love black cats. They look so full of elegance and their onyx-colored fur has a shimmering glow to it.
Not all black cats are fully black though.
You can sometimes find a black cat with white fur on its chest or on other parts of its body.
This unique feature lends an additional air of mystique to these already enigmatic creatures.
Why do some black cats have this white spot?
Some black cats have white spots or markings on them due to a pigmentation mutation called Piebaldism. This results in white fur popping up against the cat’s natural coat color. This discoloration doesn’t affect the cat’s health hence there isn’t any need for cat owners to worry.
In this article, you will gain an in-depth understanding of the genetic factors and breed predispositions that can result in black cats with a white spot on their chest.
Why Do Black Cats Have White Spots?
A cat’s coat color and pattern are a physical manifestation of the genes inherited from its parents.
The different gene combinations lead to the diversity we see in cat coats such as color, pattern, length, and texture.
The color and tone of your cat depend on a pigment known as melanin.
And melanin compromises of two components, eumelanin and pheomelanin.
Eumelanin produces black and brown shades while pheomelanin produces red and yellow hues.
Here’s an interesting fact.
You might like the color white for your shoes or cat but white isn’t considered a natural color for cats.
It actually means an absence of any pigmentation in that area.
Piebalding In Cats
The main reason that black cats can have that charming white chest spot is due to a genetic phenomenon known as piebalding.
Piebaldism has nothing to do with pies.
The word originates from the bird ‘magpie’ whose plumage has both black and white feathers. Bald refers to the absence of color rather than hair.
Piebalding is a result of the White Spotting gene, also known as the ‘S allele’ gene.
If a cat has this dominant gene, it will display varying degrees of white spotting, a pattern often referred to as ‘piebald.’
The piebald pattern is interesting because the size and location of the white spots can vary greatly, even for cats in the same litter.
If a black cat only has a white spot on its chest, the dominance of the ‘S’ gene is relatively minimal.
In other instances, this gene can result in an almost entirely white coat.
It’s important to remember that while we can generally predict a cat’s coat color and patterns based on genetics, nature often throws in a curveball, contributing to each cat’s unique and wonderful appearance.
Dr. Christian Yates from the University of Bath states that piebald patterns happen even before the cat is born.
It occurs during the development stage of the embryo. The cells that produce the pigment of the fur don’t spread properly through the embryo.
Thus in areas without pigmentation, the cat’s fur will be white.
There isn’t any concrete evidence to determine the degree of piebaldism in a cat.
Some researchers believe that it can be due to factors like temperature while the embryo develops.
Piebaldism not only happens to cats but to other animals like horses and dogs as well.
Is There Such A Cat Breed As The ‘Tuxedo’?
There are some black cats that come with a fair bit of white marking on their bodies. Some of them have black bodies and white paws which makes it look like they are wearing socks.
Others have white markings or spots on their bellies and necks.
Such cats are called tuxedo cats.
A cat needs to be black and white to be considered a Tuxedo cat.
That’s where the name came from as the bicolor coat pattern makes the cat look like it’s wearing a tuxedo.
I once had a cute tuxedo cat that was part of the cat community in my neighborhood for years. Her name was Tux and she had the scratchiest meow I ever heard on a cat.
I fed her for close to 10 years before she mysteriously disappeared. I still miss her to this day.
There aren’t any specific cat breeds that are more prone to being a tuxedo cat. The distinctive look of a black cat with a white spot on the chest can be found in a variety of cat breeds
The Tuxedo cat has also been famous for a few other achievements like being the first cat on Mt Everest, running for mayor and being the richest cat in the world.
Different Types Of Black And White Cats
The world of black and white cats goes deeper than just your tuxedo cat. There are different names based on the striking contrast and variety of patterns.
Here are some different types of black and white cats:
Also known as moo cats, these cats have large, random patches of black and white that’s similar to a dairy cow hence the name.
My cat has this exact coat pattern.
Cap And Saddle Cats
These cats look like they are wearing a little black ‘cap’ on the top of their head and a black ‘saddle’ on their backs.
The rest of the cat’s body is usually white in color.
Van Pattern Cats
Cats with the Van pattern have mostly white bodies with black coloration typically on the head and tail only.
Mask And Mantle Cats
This is a similar variation to the cap and saddle cat.
These cats have a black ‘mask’ on their faces and a black “mantle” or “cape” on their back.
I guess you can also call them the “Feline Zoro”.
A black cat with just a white patch of fur on its chest or neck is called a locket. Because it seems that the cat is wearing a locket.
Origins Of The Black Cat
Pure black cats can be from a specific breed or a mixed breed. Not all black cats are completely black in you were to look carefully.
So many black cats actually have a grayish or reddish-brown tint to their fur. Some even have markings on their coats that are barely visible due to the darkness of the fur.
The only cat breed that is considered to be a true black cat is the Bombay cat. The Bombay breed is exclusively black. This means that the cat’s whiskers will also be black in color.
This can seem rather strange as most black cats have whiskers that are white by default.
Are All Black Cats Bombay Cats?
Not all black cats need to be of the Bombay breed. The Bombay is just more special as it is the purest of all black cat breeds and only comes in one color. This is what makes the Bombay cat so rare.
There are other cat breeds that are also able to produce cats that are solid black in color.
These cat breeds are:
- American bobtail
- American curl
- Devon rex
- British shorthair
- American shorthair
- Cornish rex
- Maine Coon
- Norwegian forest cat
If you are looking for a cat that comes in an all-black coat, you are definitely spoilt for choice.
Black Cat Superstitions
Black cats have gotten a bad rep for the longest time. They are associated with Halloween and witchcraft during the middle ages.
In Western cultures, a black cat is often regarded as a bad omen and a symbol of bad luck.
Many believed that a curse will befall you if you see or cross paths with a black cat.
Some folklore even label black cats as shapeshifters or messengers for evil spirits.
It is sad to know that many black cats were hunted and exterminated due to such beliefs.
Not everyone regards black cats as evil or unlucky.
Sailors prefer to have black cats on board as they saw a black cat as a sign of good luck.
In ancient Egypt, all cats were regarded as good luck and many households kept cats as pets.
These cats were even mourned for and mummified when they died.
What Is The Rarest Color For A Cat?
The rarest color for a cat would be the cat without color or the Albino cat. I know what you are thinking.
“Isn’t the Albino just a white cat?”
A cat is considered an albino when the TYR gene which gives the cat color is damaged.
The skin of the albino cat appears pink but it’s actually the color of light reflecting blood flow. Shine a bright torch on your arm and you’ll get what I mean.
A white cat is able to have eyes of different colors. Whereas an albino cat has eyes that are devoid of any color. This gives the eyes a light blue or pinkish hue.
Another rarity of a cat would be a male calico cat with blue eyes. If you ever know of one, please do send me a picture.
What Is National Black Cat Day?
I got to admit that I never knew there was such a day called ‘National Black Cat Day’. There is an ‘International Cat Day’ which falls on 8th August.
National black cat day falls on the 27th Oct and it’s meant to celebrate our love of black cats and the low adoption rates that these cats face at pet shelters.
There is still some widespread belief about the ‘evil nature’ of black cats that is affecting their adoption rates.
If you are looking to adopt a cat soon, please give these black cats a second chance. They are as sweet as any other colored cat out there.