When Elli’s owner adopted her as a kitten, she was a black and white tuxedo cat.
And she stayed that way for about a year, but then, her coat started changing.
In 2017 the beginning of her transformation from vitiligo began.
Elli’s perfect tuxedo coat began to lighten in parts, causing little white spots around her face and on other parts of her body.
Soon, in the space of a few months, her whole coat started to show the change.
After another year or so, the transformation seemed to be complete, as Elli’s markings stayed stable from then on.
A loss of pigment brings new patterns
Cases like Elli’s above are just one of the patterns that can emerge from having vitiligo.
The condition is completely painless and is not only found in cats but dogs and even humans too.
The cause of the condition is not entirely known, as there are different forms with different origins.
But it is thought to be a genetic condition that results in an immune response when triggered by an individual’s environment.
For instance, even ‘greying’ hair as people age can be considered a form of vitiligo, or a “manifestation of the vitiliginous process”.
Marble, or snowflake?
Because there are different forms of vitiligo, the condition can produce different patterns.
In cats, this means a variety of beautiful patterns can be seen, like Elli’s.
But even those with the same type of pattern can look unique.
It’s not just cats that start off black that develop vitiligo either, although the condition can be less noticeable.
Ginger, tortoiseshell, and tabby cats can all show signs of vitiligo.
No matter their initial coats and colors, cats with vitiligo are beautiful.
Once they are given the all-clear by a vet that they are healthy and not suffering an underlying condition that is causing the loss of pigmentation, these cats live happily and healthily with their admiring owners.