Sunday 7 March 2021

Can cats be piebald?

Yes, cats can be piebald. In fact, they are very common. They are referred to as 'bicolour cats' or cats with a 'solid-and-white' coat. But the cat below is not common. Not by any stretch of the imagination. This cat is amazing. I think this rare cat is a piebald but a rare pattern.

Unusual bicolor cat
Very unusual, in fact strange, piebald coat. Photo: Facebook

The word piebald is an amalgam of 'pie' from magpie (a black-and-white i.e. two coloured bird) and 'bald' meaning a bald or white patch.

Unsurprisingly the gene that causes the piebald or bicolor coat is called the piebald gene. It is also referred to as the white spotting gene.

People ask if cats can be piebald because we are far more familiar with the word being used to describe a horse. You'll see the piebald coat pattern on many animals including dogs too.

The location of the white fur and how it migrates during development of the cat in the womb is governed by the piebald gene and how it operates on the migration of the melanoblasts from the neural crest to paired bilateral locations in the skin of the embryo.

Strange bicolor cat
Strange bicolor cat. Photo: Facebook

Sometimes the gene causes cats to be deaf and sometimes one eye may also have no pigment in the iris causing it to be blue. Blue eyes are caused by white light refraction and not pigmentation.

There is an amazing mainly white bicolour cat on the internet (see photo above). I have just written about her. She is very rare. But she is a piebald cat in my opinion although the pattern is incredibly unusual. There may be a polygene effect (multi-genes working together).

Black and white cat - a piebald cat
This is my late female cat.  A black-and-white. I loved her deeply.
Photo: MikeB

The coat looks genuine by which I mean the photo is not edited or the cat is not dyed. Yes, some people do dye their cats to make waves on social media.

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