Colour Change

Otis’s cat-friend had kittens last week and they are adorable! Their eyes are just starting to open now, and their ears straighten up.


You may be able to tell that they are a funny colour, almost black underneath with a grey top coat.


Being the geek that I am, and knowing that we will be bringing home the kitten with the white belly, I thought I’d look into kitten colours. 

I found a really interesting article online that spelt out cat colours, patterns and white spotting a for the everyday person – and includes  pictures! Here it is. Because the mum is a tortoiseshell (black base with a red pattern) and I’m pretty sure the tom cat was black, and black is a dominant gene I think the kitten will be black – looking surprisingly similar to our own Princess Penny.


Aside from that, I also discovered that the grey hairs on both kittens are called “fever coats” and occur either when the mother is ill or under stress, or if the particular kitten was under stress in the womb. I know the mother had antibiotics in April for a cold, and because both kittens have it I strongly believe it is a fever coat. After a few months the fever coat is shed to reveal their true colour.

This led us onto discussing the fact that foals are often born a different colour, and change in the first moult. This makes it really hard to fill out the passports, because indeed it is a legal requirement that

You must get the foal microchipped and have a passport before it’s 6 months old, or by 31 December in the year it’s born (whichever is later).

Since 2009 new passports have to be accompanied by a microchip. I hope that the added expense of having to pay for a passport and microchip discourages indiscriminant breeding, and I guess that was the aim of the law. I was also amazed that the fine is unlimited.

One of my Mum’s friends bred a foal a few years ago and he was the most fascinating colour. Almost a dun, he became a lot darker by the time he needed passporting – even the vet didn’t know what colour he would be – and each year since then he has become more roan. Maybe passports, especially with modern technology, could be more easily updated so you can put “current colour” and “predicted colour” when first registering a horse and then, like you do with the lifetime height registration, put “mature colour” or words to that effect. Perhaps there is also the space to update bodily markings because whilst whorls don’t change, scars are acquired over time.

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