On the Lovemeow.com website, they have an article entitled, “Black Cat Grows Magnificent White Winter Mane”. The story comes from the Reddit website. Nobody who has seen the picture has described why this cat developed a white mane during one winter. The cat’s owner says, ““My black cat unexpectedly grew a white winter mane one year.”
I thought I would try and figure out what is going on. I hope Sarah Hartwell has time to chip-in and leave a comment because she is one of the country’s leading experts on feline genetics.
Firstly, this cat is not a black cat. This cat is a black smoke. The fact that this cat is a black smoke cat rather than pure black makes all the difference. Here is a picture of Helmi Flick’s Maine Coon Quin who is also black smoke:
You can see a great similarity between Quin, this magnificent black smoke Maine Coon cat and the cat which is the subject of this discussion.
A black smoke cat could be described as a black cat with part of the colour in the hair strands missing. The pigmentation, eumelanin (melanin) is missing from about a half to three-quarters of the hair strand nearest to the skin but this varies over the cat (white fur = a lack of pigment – transparency).
The pigmentation is missing because of a gene in the cat called the inhibitor gene. It’s symbol is I. When you part the hair of a black smoke at you will see black hair at the top of the coat fading to white or transparent hair lower down. This gives the smoky appearance.
In the case of the so-called black cat with a magnificent white winter mane, this is my reason why the mane turned white:
In winter months there is less sunlight. Sunlight falling upon a black or dark coloured cat is absorbed and vitamin D is created which is then licked off by the cat and ingested. Vitamin D is linked to the production of an amino acid called tyrosine. Tyrosine is linked to the production of a pigment in the skin which is transferred to the hair strands. The pigment is called melanin – its full name is eumelanin. Less light = less vtitamin D = less tyrosine = less melanin = white fur.
In addition, there are natural variations in the black smoke cat coat.
The well-known book Robinson’s Genetics states that, “the extent of the white undercoat is variable… The white undercolor itself is not always stark white…”
Conclusion: this cat’s coat turned white (transparent) because of a reduction in melanin because of less sunlight.