Why Some Black Cats Grow White Fur

Caitlin Dempsey


A black cat lying down on a table with school paper work.

When we adopted our cat as a three-month old kitten, her fur was 100% black. After our black cat grew into an adult cat, I noticed that she started sprouted white hair. At first, this white fur was just singular strands of fur that would pop up in various places around her body: one month it would be a single white fur on her shoulder and another month, there would be a single white fur on her chest.

As my black cat grew older, the number of white hairs on her black chest increased so that by the time she was six years old, she had a significant collection of them.

All cats can experience the growth of white fur but the change is most striking in dark colored cats like black cats. (Related: Two Things That Turn Black Cats’ Fur Red)

A side by side view of a black kitten and the same cat as an adult with a lot of white fur on her chest.
As my all-black kitten grew up and became an adult cat, she developed more and more white hairs, particularly on her chest. Left: Aged four months, Right: Aged six years. Photos: Caitlin Dempsey

Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why black cats start growing white fur.

White fur develops with age

As it was the case with my cat, one of the most common reasons for black cats to start growing white fur is simply due to their age. Just like human hair can turn gray or white as we age, the same can happen to a cat’s fur.

As cats get older, their fur may start to turn white, especially around the face, paws, and chest. This process is known as graying, and it is a normal part of the aging process for cats.

A black cat lying down on a table with school paper work.
As some black cats age, they develop a lot of white fur. Photo: Caitlin Dempsey.

Genetics can cause white fur growth

Another factor that can cause black cats to start growing white fur is genetics. Some cats may have a genetic predisposition to developing white fur as they age. This can be determined by a cat’s breed or family history.

For example, Siamese cats are known for their distinctive colorpoints, which are the dark-colored fur on their face, ears, paws, and tail. As Siamese and other colorpoint cats age, the points may turn white or lighten.

An old colorpoint cat with whiter fur in the areas that are normally dark.
Colorpoint cats have darker faces, ears, feet, and tails. As they age, the fur in those colorpoint areas can lighten. Photo: © Sharon/stock.adobe.com

Hormonal changes

Hormonal changes in the body can also cause a change in fur color, leading to the appearance of white hairs. This can happen due to a variety of reasons, including changes in hormone levels that occur during pregnancy, aging, or illness.

Hormonal imbalances can also cause a cat’s fur to change color, so it’s important to consult with a veterinarian if you notice any sudden changes in your cat’s fur.

Health Issues

In some cases, certain health conditions can cause a change in fur color, leading to the appearance of white hairs.

For example, a condition called vitiligo can cause patches of white fur to appear on a cat’s coat. Vitiligo is a skin disorder that results in the loss of melanin, the pigment that gives color to the fur, skin, and eyes.

In addition to vitiligo, other health conditions such as thyroid problems can also cause a change in fur color.

Not all black cats will develop white fur

It’s important to note that not all black cats will develop white fur as they age. The extent and pattern of the color change can also vary between individual cats. Some cats may only have a few white hairs, while others may have a significant amount of white fur.

The speed at which a cat’s fur turns white can also vary, with some cats developing white fur slowly over time, while others may change more rapidly.

Change in fur color

While a change in fur color can be a normal part of the aging process for cats, it’s important to keep an eye out for any other changes in your cat’s health. In some cases, a change in fur color can be an indication of a more serious health issue, such as a thyroid problem or vitiligo.

If you notice any sudden changes in your cat’s fur color or if you’re concerned about your cat’s health, it’s always a good idea have your vet take a look at your cat.

In addition to checking for underlying health issues, it’s also important to maintain your cat’s overall health as they age. This includes providing a balanced diet, regular exercise, and annual veterinary check-ups.

Older cats may also require more specialized care and food to maintain a healthy coat.

Some health conditions will revert white fur back to black on a cat

This same black cat of mine developed feline acromegaly. Feline acromegaly is a rare condition where a benign tumor that presses against the pituitary glands. This conditions can often trigger uncontrolled diabetes and the standard treatment is targeted radiation (SRT treatment) on the tumor.

Since the tumor triggers the release of growth hormone, other symptoms of feline acromegaly include a growth in the cat’s organs, changes to the jaws, and an enlargement of the organs. One of the additional changes that I observed was a growth in the thickness of her coat as well as the disappearance of her white fur.

A side by side comparison with a black cat with white fur on her chest and the same cat with feline acromegaly with no white fur on her chest.
A six years old, my black cat had a generous sprinkling of white fur on her chest (left photo). At eight years old and afflicted with feline acromegaly (right photo), all but a few sparse white hairs remained. Photos: Caitlin Dempsey.


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About the author
Caitlin Dempsey
Caitlin Dempsey holds both a master's in Geography from UCLA and a Master of Library and Information Science. She is the editor of Geographyrealm.com and an avid researcher of geography and feline topics. A lifelong cat owner, Caitlin currently has three rescued cats: an orange tabby, a gray tabby, and a black cat.