Neurologic Disease in Tricolor Cats

Tricolor cats are three colored cats. The word refers to calico cats: white, orange and black. Calico is an American term. In Britain these cats are referred to as tortoiseshell and white or for short tortie and white. These cats are not a cat breed. The word describes a type of cat coat.

Here is a tortie and white cat:

Tricolor Cat – Photo by Philip James

The neurologic disease that affects tricolor cats is neuraxonal dystrophy. The cat suffers cellular dysfunction and dies. It affects normal tissue and is progressive so the disease becomes more severe over time.

The trait is autosomal (not sex linked) recessive. The symptoms, which normally appear at 5-6 weeks of age, are:

  • ataxia (poor coordination)
  • hypermetria (movements overreach intended goal – goose stepping)
  • abnormal hair coat

If a young calico cat has cerebellar disease, neuraxonal dystrophy is a possibility. It needs to be distinguished from FIP and cerebellar hypoplasia.

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