Albino cats are not simply kitties that happen to be white. They’re very rare, with only two percent of all cats being albino. They also require different care than white cats.
Albinos have a genetic alteration that makes them different from all other cats, including white cats. Albinism is caused by a gene called TYR. The TYR gene determines the presence of tyrosinase, an enzyme needed by the body to produce melanin.
Melanin is the pigment that decides the color of a cat’s eyes, skin, and fur. An albino cat is born with a damaged or missing TYR gene. This genetic abnormality and lack of melanin is what makes a cat albino.
Here’s what you need to know about albino cats, including how to tell them apart from white cats.
How Does An Albino Cat Look Different From A White Cat?
An albino cat will have skin that appears pink, along with eyes that can range from a very light blue to a hue of reddish pink.
Pink isn’t the actual color of the skin, but rather light reflecting blood flow. The same goes for an albino cat’s eyes. The lack of melanin allows the reflection of light to play a trick, mirroring back the blood vessels of the eyes.
White cats can have any color eyes and may even have heterochromia, or two different colored eyes. Albinos do not have the melanin to produce a range of eye colors, such as gold, green, or brown.
A true albino cat follows all the above requirements. There are degrees of albinism, however.
Albino Cat Health
Albino kitties need a little more TLC when it comes to keeping them healthy.
Here are a few things you should know about albino cats‘ health:
- Albino cats are light sensitive. Due to their lack of melanin, they are especially sensitive to sunlight. They’re more prone to sun damage and skin cancer because of this. If you have an albino cat, be sure to monitor their time in direct sun.
- Albino cats can also suffer eye damage from sunlight. Again, the lack of melanin leaves the eyes defenseless to UV rays and can cause blindness in an albino cat.
- Albino cats may suffer from immune system issues. Melanin is important in keeping both cats’ and humans’ immune systems strong. These cats may be more susceptible to illness or immunodeficiency due to this.
- If bred for their albinism, albino cats may also be prone to overall health issues. Albino kittens that are bred come from a short-spanned breed of albinos, which makes them more prone to developing health issues that may not be as big of a threat to a white cat.
- Albino cats can also be a bit clumsy. This is thanks, once again, to their lack of melanin. Melanin aids in depth perception, so albinos may bump into things occasionally.
Are Albino Cats Deaf?
Studies show that white cats are often harder of hearing than other cats and more likely to be deaf. Albino cats sometimes get the stigma attached to them that they’re more prone to deafness or hearing disabilities.
Some mistake albinos for white cats and assume they must be the same. However, there is no evidence that they are more prone to deafness than white cats.
Do you have an albino cat? How can you tell the difference between a white cat and your albino kitty? Let us know in the comments below!