I am an Affilate!

I hope you enjoy any product or service that I recommend. :) Just so you understand, I may take a share of any sales or other compensation from the links on this page. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Thanks if you use my links, I really appreciate your support.

​​Why Is My Cat Getting White Hairs?

If your cat is getting white hairs you may be curious or concerned and looking for a reason for this…

​​Why Is My Cat Getting White Hairs?

There are a number of reasons why your cat may develop white hairs. First and foremost, it might simply be genetic, as many cats will develop changes in their fur over time and it’s not unheard of for a completely black or white cat to develop patterning in their fur.

So, now you know. But, what other things can cause this? Is old age a big factor for cats getting white hairs? Is it normal for this to happen? Keep reading for these answers, and much more…

Do cats get white hairs as they age?

Staring black cat on grass.

Staring black cat on grass.

Yes. As a cat ages, it is completely normal to start getting white hairs. It will typically start with one or two, but as the years pass you shouldn’t be surprised to see a few more. While you won’t see the dramatic changes that you would with a human, it is not uncommon for a handful of hairs to change to completely white.

Cats have a lot of melanocytes in their fur, which basically means they have a little more pigment in their fur than other animals such as dogs. This makes the whitening of the hairs a slow process, but it still happens nonetheless.

Can diseases or fungus cause white hairs?

Diseases and fungus can also affect changes, effectively bleaching out the pigment from hairs and old age will also do the same – but not until your cat is quite a bit older. Unless your cat is showing signs of being sick, the hair whitening is completely natural and nothing to worry about.

Is it normal for cats to get white hairs?

Yes. Even if you brought home a completely black or white kitten, over time it is perfectly normal for some of their hairs to whiten over time. If it’s a dramatic change, then you might want to bring your cat in to the vet to rule out any chance of disease or other health issues, but in most cases what you are seeing is perfectly natural.

Sometimes their fir just loses a bit of pigment as they age, it’s just at a less accelerated rate than humans get.

What age do cats start getting white hair?

Some cats start to get white hairs in their 20s, which for a cat is between 2 and 3 years old (with the Farmer’s Almanac noting this as being the equivalent of 24 – 28 in human years). Other cats may not have any changes until their 50’s, which is just a little under 9 years or age.

It will be different with each cat, as they are all individuals, but white hairs are perfectly normal and you are more likely to see them than not – your cat is just getting older and it’s only natural to lose a little pigment in their fur as the years go by.

Can a cat’s fur turn white from stress?

Stress can affect changes in your cat’s fur, but it is not always permanent. Sometimes the shock of a vet visit, a near-death incident, or even a really cold bath can stress your cat to the point that discoloration of the fur occurs. In some cases, it will disappear completely after a month or two, but this is not always the case.

Much will depend on their overall health and stress levels and if your cat is older, it is likely that the discoloration will be there to stay.

Do cats get grey hairs?

Cat’s do get grey hairs, but typically not until they reach quite advances years of age. More commonly, you will see a bit of haze developing in the eyes. While this also may be a symptom of cataracts, your vet can help you to rule this out, as sometimes this ‘hazing’ is simply part and parcel of getting older.

Dogs tend to go gray a lot more quickly than cats, and while it has not been studied heavily, there are indications that cats have more pigment to their fur due to a higher volume of melanocytes. Even so, some whitening of the fur is completely natural as your cat gets older, much the same as with us.

Are white and grey hairs, in cats, the same thing?

Black and white cats on the floor.

Black and white cats on the floor.

While they can be, there are other factors which can cause white hairs. Mites, for instance, can leave a bit of a film on cat hairs that makes it appear as if the fur is turning white. Fungus can damage pigments in your cat’s fur, discoloring it completely as well.

Stress or other health conditions will typically produce white hairs, but gray can also happen – a lot of it will depend on your cat’s overall health and their genetics. Some cats will tend to white and others to gray – it really just depends on the cat.

Why does my kitten have grey hair?

With kittens, graying is not uncommon and is just a sign of the fur that your cat is going to have when they are older. While you brought home a black cat, there is no guarantee that this will b e their color for their entire life and you might well see changes in their fur pattern as they get a little older.

Eventually their fur will be quite distinctive and that’s how it should be. These little characters have a big personality and it’s only natural to see changes in their looks as they get older and become the cats that you’ll be spending the next 15 or 16 years with.

Is a black cat with a few white patches still considered black?

That all depends. If the fur is mainly black and you’ve only got a few white hairs, then certainly, but when you get a few more patches of white into the mix then your cat might be considered ‘tuxedo’ or if you’ve got stripes, then you might have a ‘sable’ on your hands.

Part of the fun of growing up with our furry friends is seeing what happens with their markings and cats can really have some very unique patterns – in some cases, even their children might not have that exact look! So, don’t fret if your black cat is ‘deviating from the program’ a little.

The fur that they eventually wear might well surprise you and if you spend a lifetime together, we can guarantee that you’ll never forget that distinctive patterning which your cat has grown right in front of your eyes.

Can a kitten’s fur pattern & color change as they grow?

Yes! A cat’s fur can change very little or quite dramatically over the years, much the same as it does with humans. A lot of us start off with blue eyes, for instance, but this is something which quickly changes. It’s the same with cats.

Over time, a black cat can turn completely gray, develop ‘tortoise’ patterns or sable stripes, it all depends on the cat’s DNA and it’s completely normal for them to develop in ways that you didn’t expect.

Just be sure to take lots of pictures to show the changes and you can enjoy them later when your cat is the older, set-in-it’s-ways feline that you’ve learned to love coming home to and playing with every day.

As long as the hair changes aren’t related to their health, it’s just the same as the changes that we get when we are getting older – something to expect and to cherish, because it’s simply a sign of age and character.

Lindsey Browlingdon