At first glance, albino cats might just seem like your average white cat, but these two felines are indeed quite different!
For many pet owners, white is undeniably a beautiful coat color. I mean, there is just something so special about white cats. Perhaps it could be the pristine soft white fur or the vibe they give off, being just so sweet and like perfect little angels (even though we think ALL animals are perfect!).
However, not all white cats are the same -- there are some cats that are born with albinism. Albinism is defined as a genetic condition that results in an entire lack of pigmentation. This lack of pigment can be seen in both humans and animals -- and in this case, cats. Other than a white coat, albino kittens and cats will also have no coloration in their skin and eyes.
What Exactly is an Albino Cat?
Albinism can be found in virtually any domestic cat breed; From the Siamese to the Bengals to the Oriental Shorthairs, this lack of color can exist in various breeds of felines, however rare. In fact, partial albino cats might be more common than you think -- cats such as Siamese cats, the Burmese, and the Tonkinese actually all get their colorpoint coloration from a partial albino genetic makeup.
True albinos are born with a missing or damaged gene called TYR. The TYR gene is responsible for the presence of Tyrosinase, an enzyme that is needed in order for the body to produce Melanin. Consequently, Melanin is the substance that creates the pigment responsible for the color of a cat's fur and skin, not to mention, their eye color.
This lack of Melanin is what makes an albino cat. Considered extremely rare, these cats only make up for about 2% of the feline population.
How Do I Know If My Cat Is An Albino or Not?
Albino cats will have all of the following: pale pink skin, white fur, and reddish-pink eyes or pale blue eyes. Don't worry, pink isn't the actual color of the cat's skin, but rather the light reflecting the blood flow inside. The same goes for the eyes: the lack of pigmentation lets it reflect light and mirrors the blood vessels in the eyes.
Pro tip: the easiest way to determine whether your kitty is an Albino or not is by looking at their eyes -- your typical white cat will, and can, have eyes of different colors, while an albino cat's eyes will only be a range of very pale blue or pale pink, and sometimes a pale pinkish-blue.
Have you seen an albino cat? Let us know on the Wide Open Pets Facebook page!