What’s the Difference Between Albino Cats and White Cats
There are some people who think that an albino cat is the same as a white cat. Part of the problem is the prevalence of wrong information on the WorldWide Web. Some people post pictures of white cats and label them as albinos. There are also websites that offer unfounded explanations for feline albinism. Together, these confuse people. This article will help you learn the true differences between an all white cat and an albino feline.
It is important to understand that albinism is a genetic disorder. Having a white-colored cat is normal. This is the main difference between an albino feline and a white kitty.
This genetic disorder follows a recessive pattern of inheritance. Both the parents of the cat should have the gene that codes for albinism. If only one feline parent has the recessive gene, then you will not get an albino kitten. However, this kitten will carry the recessive gene. If it mates with a male cat that also has the albino gene, they will produce kittens with albinism.
The problem is in a specific gene that either mutates or gets damaged. This defective gene affects the cat’s ability to produce the pigment that gives color to the different tissues of the body. These include the hair, the skin, the eyes, and other tissues.
It is also possible that the defective gene does not lead to the complete loss of melanin production. Instead, there is a reduction in the production of the pigment. Cats that have this kind of albinism are known as partial albinos. They are not true albino cats.
One of the most accurate ways to differentiate albino kittens from white kittens is determining the color of their eyes. The iris is that part of the eye that contains melanin. The retinal pigmented epithelium also contains melanin.
White kittens and cats will have irises that come in a wide variety of colors. There are those with green, deep blue, brown, and different shades in between. There are also cats that can have heterochromia. This is a condition whereby the cat has two different eye colors. One eye can be blue, while the other can be green.
On the other hand, an albino cat will have a very limited color variety in its irises. A cat with true albinism will often have an iris that is very pale blue in color. There are also albino felines that may have pinkish or bluish-pink irises.
The pinkish color does not indicate the presence of pigments in the iris. Instead, it is the effect of the cat’s tapetum lucidum. This thin strip of tissue at the back of the inner eye reflects light back into the front of the eye. The central portion of the eye contains many blood vessels. The reflected light passes through these blood vessels, producing a pinkish appearance in the iris.
Another way you can differentiate an all-white cat from an albino kitty is by looking at the color of their noses and the inner ears. Normal cats will have the same color of skin that is present in their hair. As such, if you have white kittens, you can also expect the skin to be white. If the cat has dark colors, the same pigments that give these colors can also be present in the skin. The only difference is that the skin will have a lighter hue of their coat color.
An albino cat will have the skin of the inner ears and the nose colored pink or pale pink. Again, one should not confuse this as a lighter shade of the color red. Because of the absence of melanin in the cat’s skin, reflected light passes through the different blood vessels in the skin. This produces the characteristic pinkish hue in an albino kitten.
Leucism vs. Albinism
There is another health condition that can make people think that a cat has albinism. This is called leucism. What happens is that there is a defect in the way the pigment cells differentiate. A problem during the migration of these cells in the neural crest can also lead to leucism.
In true albinism, the cat is unable to produce melanin. A leucistic cat, on the other hand, can still produce pigments. The only issue is that something goes wrong during the process of cell division or during the process of neural crest migration. This can lead to hypopigmentation.
Pigmentation often occurs in cooler parts of the cat’s body. Those body parts that are warmer will often have a lighter shade. This can lead to a coat pattern known as piebald or pied. You have a cat that has a normal color, interspersed with areas of hypopigmentation.
The only way you can differentiate an albino cat from a leucistic cat is by looking at their eyes. If you can see any color other than pale blue, red, or pink in the cat’s iris, then it is a leucistic cat. An albino kitty will not produce any pigmentation in its eyes.
Melanin does not only give color to the skin, eyes, and fur of cats. It can also improve the cat’s depth perception. This allows the cat to hunt in a more efficient manner. Melanin can also help the cat in fighting disease and infections. One of its most important functions is protecting underlying tissues against harmful UV rays.
Because of the absence of melanin, cats are more vulnerable to the harmful effects of UV radiation. They can go blind. An albino cat can also experience sunburn a lot more often than normal and leucistic cats. With prolonged UV exposure, they can develop skin cancer.
It is for this reason that albino cats require a different kind of care. They need more frequent veterinary checkups that focus more on their vision and skin health. They should also get protection against the sun’s UV rays.
To conclude, an albino cat is not the same as an all white cat. The former does not produce pigments, while the latter can produce pigments. They also differ in the kind of health conditions that they are more vulnerable to.