Vitiligo has given these cats beautiful marble markings

When Elli’s owner adopted her as a kitten, she was a black and white tuxedo cat.

Black and white tuxedo kitten sleeps on the back of a couch
Elli as a kitten in 2016. Pic credit: @elli.vitiligo/Instagram.

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.

Black cat with white markings sleeps
The markings on Elli’s face begin to change, leaving her with some white spots. Pic credit: @elli.vitiligo/Instagram.

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.

Black cat with white spots sleeps on a couch
This is what Elli looked like in August 2017, about 4 months after she began to show signs of vitiligo. Pic credit: @elli.vitiligo/Instagram.

After another year or so, the transformation seemed to be complete, as Elli’s markings stayed stable from then on.

White and black cat with vitiligo sits on a couch
This is how Elli has looked since 2019, and she continues to look this way now. Pic credit: @elli.vitiligo/Instagram.

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.

An infographic depicting the different forms of vitiligo
This infographic shows some of the forms of vitiligo and their potential causes. Pic credit: @SarahHartwell/

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.

Black and white cat whose vitilgo makes him look marbled
Scrappy the cat started showing signs of vitiligo at 7 years old. Pic credit: @Sracppy/Facebook.
Black cat with white spots laying on the floor
A ‘snowflake’ cat, where the de-pigmentation doesn’t develop more than a sprinkle on a cat’s coat. Pic credit: @PamPramuka/

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.

A ginger cat with vitiligo lays on a table
This ginger cat used to have a vibrant orange that can still be seen around his face. Pic credit: @SaaraTuovinen/

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.

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