Why Don’t Cats Go Gray?

Dogs get gray hair but cats age without this fur color change. Why?

Why don’t cats go gray like dogs do? Betsy Joliat

I’m jealous of my brown-and-black tabby, Fergie. When I adopted her as a 1-ish-year-old she sported a cute little white patch around her mouth and chin. I was in my mid-20s and my hair was blond. Eighteen years later, Fergie’s white patch is the same size and shape as the day we met — I have photos to prove it — but my blond hair now has gray highlights. She’s a super senior, but I’m only middle-aged and her lack of gray hair seems unfair.

One of my favorite dog friends is a black Labrador that started showing his age with lots of white hairs on his muzzle and around his eyes.

Cats have the edge over dogs and people when it comes to graying (or whiting), but they are not immune to it. I couldn’t find out why this is the case; it seems they’re just lucky. Cats can get gray hair, for the same reason we do: a decrease in melanin production with age. The good news for vain cats is that they’ll most likely maintain their coat color for life, and if they don’t they’ll probably just have few white or gray hairs around the muzzle or eyes. Black cats beware: Grays will be most visible on you.  

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