Why do cats have gray hair?

Why do cats have gray hair?

White is one of the colors that cats have on their coat. Many specimens show dark colors adorned with more or less amounts or tufts of white hair.

But, when the hair changes color and turns gray or whitish, it can be a sign of management problems that we must solve. The fur and fur are faithful reflections of the general health of the cat. Let’s see in detail everything related to gray hair in cats.

You may also be interested in: Why do cats eat grass?

The importance of your cat’s hair

The state and color of our cat’s hair is not just a matter of aesthetics. The coat fulfills important functions of protection, insulation and preservation of body temperature. Therefore, to maintain the well-being of our cat, we must take care of its coat.

To achieve this, it is essential to protect it from parasites with regular deworming, provide it with good nutrition through a quality diet and prevent the appearance of diseases.

The color of the cat’s hair

The color of the coat is due to melanin and its two components, which are eumelanin and pheomelanin. The first provides brown and black colors. Pheomelanin, for its part, produces red and yellow. Its mixture is what gives rise to the particular coloration of each cat’s coat. It is genetically determined.

Do old cats have gray hair?

Age produces a loss of pigmentation ability . For this reason, white hairs appear, without melanin, known as gray hair. In cats these begin to appear on the face of the elderly.

Although it is considered that cats begin to age from 7-8 years, the truth is that gray hair is not usually appreciated until years later. It is, therefore, a normal physiological process . But there are other causes that can cause gray hair in cats, such as stress and, more often, improper diet.

Cat food and hair

Obtaining a coat in perfect condition depends directly on the food that the cat eats. The coat of a healthy specimen is shiny and smooth in texture. Today, the spread of commercial cat food makes it difficult for us to find problems derived from poor nutrition.

Inadequate feeding would take weeks or even months to observe mantle abnormalities. Low-quality food that does not contain the necessary proteins or the essential balance of nutrients for the cat can lead to changes in the color of the coat.

The importance of protein for cat hair

Proteins are basic for the structure of the hair and its correct growth. They have to be of quality and contain essential amino acids for the cat. These are the ones that your body cannot synthesize, so we have to provide them with your diet. A protein deficit has repercussions.

One of them is hair without pigment, which falls easily, grows slowly, etc. This is not to say that the white hairs of cats always indicate a protein deficit . There are white cats by genetics that, of course, do not suffer from any pathology. In this section we refer to cats of other colors whose hair color changes.

Specifically, phenylalanine is the essential amino acid precursor of melanin. That is why it is needed for the correct pigmentation of the hair, like tyrosine, another amino acid that is produced from phenylalanine and is also a precursor of melanin. Black cats will have a greater need for these amino acids.

Mineral deficiency in cat hair

There are several minerals that contribute to the good condition of the hair. Specifically, copper is influenced by color. It is a mineral necessary to synthesize eumelanin, which is responsible for the dark coloration of the coat. Copper is involved in the metabolism of tyrosine.

If a deficiency occurs, one of the first signs is going to be a loss of color , resulting in a reddish or grayish coat. It must be taken into account that copper may be lacking because it is not provided in sufficient quantity in the diet or because it contains an excess of zinc or calcium. Both are minerals that make it difficult to absorb copper.

Good food for cat hair

The gray hair caused by the aging process will not regain its color. But there are causes of white hair that we can influence. Thus, if we have established that the cause of the loss of color is an inadequate diet, we can solve it by starting a quality diet .

This must present a balanced composition and be adapted to the nutritional needs of the cat. Likewise, we must give the recommended amount for each day . We can opt for feed, wet, dehydrated or homemade food.

In any case, always bearing in mind that the cat, as a carnivore, needs the first ingredient to be protein of animal origin, either from meat or fish. To establish a correct homemade diet, it is necessary to contact an expert in feline nutrition.

Stress prevention for shiny hair

On the other hand, if the cat is under stress, it is convenient to review its living conditions to discover where the fault is. Cats need what is called an enriched environment in which to climb, jump, play, hide, etc.

An educator, a veterinarian specialized in feline behavior or an ethologist can give us guidelines to help us reestablish their well-being if the problem is located on a psychological level.


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