The Ragdoll is a pointed, longhaired cat. “Pointed” means that the extremities of the cat have darker fur. As you probably know this is because the production of pigment in the cells of the skin is dependent on the temperature of the skin. Where the temperature is at body temperature there is no (or little?) production. When the temperature is a little bit lower than at body temperature pigment is produced. Kittens are born all white looking like an albino cat as they have been at the body temperature of their mother before birth. Within days the kittens begin to form pigment on the nose and ears. The phenotype (the physical characteristics of the cat that can be seen) is a form of “Himalayan albinism”. Other animals have this characteristic e.g. rabbits and mice.
This is the best picture that I have seen of this phenomenon. Of course the best known pointed cat is the Siamese.
This is a really nice picture of a mother Ragdoll cat and her white kittens. The adult eyes are blue because they also lack pigment. All kittens are born with blue eyes. The adult eye colour appears at about 3 weeks of age. The photographer says that the six kittens when not all huddled together for warmth, formed two groups on the basis of their smell. Kittens are born with their eyes closed. The three kittens with pink noses grouped together. The other group have grey noses. The photographer guessed that the pink nosed cats have a different body odor than the grey nosed cats. The difference in odour is the difference in body odour between the mother and father. Interesting.
Kittens find the mother’s nipple through the sense of smell. Apparently most kittens favour a particular breast and they locate this preferred breast through smell. A kitten’s eyes begin to open at 8 days and are opened at 14 days of age.
The “albinism allele” (the genes that produce the temperature sensitivity of pigment production) also affects the cat’s “visual pathway”. Siamese cats are predisposed to a squint. I have not read about that in respect of the Ragdoll cat and am not sure why.
Associated page: Pointed cat coats.
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