White Cats Profile: All About White Cats

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    White Cats Profile: All You Need to Know About White Cats

    White cat rolling in the grass.
    Fabian/Flickr/ CC BY-ND 2.0

    White cats have long been loved for their pristine beauty. Their snow-white brilliance, often coupled with blue, green, golden, or "odd" eyes makes them stand out among multi-colored cats, such as tabbies, calicoes, and tortoiseshells. We have traditionally celebrated white cats in February because their pristine, snow-white coloring reminds us of the snow in that month. This same likeness accounts for the many white cats named Snowball or Snowy. By the same token, white cats are often...MORE named Casper, and my own long-ago white kitten was named Puff, because of her resemblance to a fluffy dandelion "puff."

    White Cats, Blue Eyes, and Deafness

    A genetics coupling causes many (but not all) white cats with blue eyes to be deaf. White cats with "odd eyes," i.e. one blue eye and one green, hazel, or golden eye, are sometimes deaf in the ear closest to the blue eye. These anomalies occur only with the dominant white gene, and even some cats with that dominant gene are exceptions if they are born with even small patches of color other than white. According to this exceptional article by Sarah Hartwell,

    • "5% of the general cat population is white cats (i.e. pure white). 15-40% of these pure white cats have one or two blue-eyes."
    • "Of those white cats with one or two blue eyes, 60-80% are deaf; 20-40% have normal hearing; 30-40% had one blue eye and were deaf while 60-70% had one blue eye and normal hearing."

    Read more about deafness in cats, its causes, symptoms, and diagnosis, along with ways you can help your cat cope with hearing loss.

    White Cats and Skin Cancer

    The sun is the enemy to white cats, as repeated exposure can cause squamous cell carcinoma, particularly in areas when the hair is thin or non-existent, such as the ears, nose, and eyelids. This form of skin cancer can be painful, unsightly, and ultimately fatal unless diagnosed and treated early. The only sure prevention of squamous cell carcinoma in white cats is to keep them safely indoors, out of the sun. I lost my own white cat, Arthur, when she was 18 years old, to that disease, and will forever regret all those years she was allowed free access to the outdoors during the day.

    Those who treasure their white cats as much as I treasured Arthur will want to do everything possible to ensure long and happy companionable years with a healthy Snowball, Casper, or Puffball.

    Next, find out more about several popular cat breeds which allow white as a color.

    Continue to 2 of 2 below.
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    White Cat Breeds

    White cat with blue eyes
    NatalieShuttleworth/Getty Images

    Several cat breeds allow white cats in addition to other colors and/or color combinations, while a few other breeds only allow white cats. According to Hub Pages, Among these  cat breeds which allow white as a color option,  here are just a few of the most popular breeds:

    • American Shorthairs  The CFA calls the American Shorthair "a true breed of working cat." As such, we should expect the cat to express strength, power, endurance, and agility, and its physique should reflect these...MORE traits. 
    • Maine Coon  "WHITE: pure glistening white. Nose leather and paw pads: pink" (CFA)
    • Oriental Longhair  "With over 600 color, pattern, and coat length combinations to choose from, you’re guaranteed to find an Oriental that will tickle your fancy." Pure white is one of those 600 colors. (CFA)
    • Persian cat "In the Solid Division, only the pristine whites come in three different eye colors. Some have brilliant copper or deep blue eyes, others the surprising combination of one blue and one copper eye of equal intensity." (CFA)
    • Siberian "WHITE: pure glistening white. Nose leather and paw pads: pink desirable." (CFA)