Picture of a domestic cat who wears her heart on her sleeve

If English is your language, you have probably heard of the phrase “to wear your heart on your sleeve”. However, if case English is not your native language, it means to show your emotions and feelings. Nowadays it can be a form of mild criticism denoting that the person is overly emotional and cannot control their feelings. I would disagree with that because I think it can be a good thing if a person wears their heart on their sleeve. But in this photograph, we have a literal example! Although domestic cats don’t have sleeves on which to wear their heart, they do have fur and this cat has a small heart-shaped pattern on each sleeve! It is the first time I have seen two hearts in these positions on a domestic cat. Sometimes you see black fur in the shape of a heart on a cat’s flank (see below) or under the chin but I think this example is the best I have seen. This is a bicolour cat.


Picture of cat who wears her heart on her sleeve

Picture of a domestic cat who wears her heart on her sleeve. Photo in the public domain.

The piebald gene (white spotting gene) caused this marking. It masks the black fur to varying amounts making those areas white. In this instance it almost covers the entire body leaving these small, black heart shapes. This is a random outcome and not the result of a God given design!

As a postscript, the phrase to wear your heart on your sleeve comes from the era before William Shakespeare in which a woman tied “her favour to a man’s leave”. I presume this to mean a tying a piece of cloth, perhaps a handkerchief, around the arm of the man she loves. He wears it as a sign of their love for each other. William Shakespeare coined the idiom in his play Othello from the year 1601: “But I will wear my heart upon my sleeves for daws to peck at”. The word ‘daws’ was a reference to jackdaws.

Here is another heart shaped patch of fur. This is more typical.

Hearts and Moustaches on cats

Heart shaped patch on the cat’s flank. Picture in the public domain.


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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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