Video of albino jaguarundi rescued in Colombia where it will live in a sanctuary

Albino jaguarundi cub in Colombia
Albino jaguarundi cub in Colombia. Screenshot.
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Sometimes, the people of Colombia visit PoC for which I’m grateful. As I say, the people living in 86% of the world’s countries visit PoC to varying degrees at varying times, which is why I decided to see if I can find anything about domestic cats in Colombia. I was entirely unsuccessful! Obviously, there are domestic cats in Colombia but they don’t appear to have a cat fancy and it would seem that the vast majority of domestic cats are non-purebred in that country. It would be nice to know more about the relationship between domestic cats and humans in Colombia

Colombia does have some fantastic wild cat species and one of them is the jaguarundi. This is a rather peculiar looking small wild cat species which for many years baffled the scientists as to how to categorise it taxonomically. The video states that it is part of the puma family and might still be because some scientists suggested that the jaguarundi is more closely related to the cheetah and puma than to the other South American cats. My reference book – Wild Cats of the World – brackets the jaguarundi with the puma and the cheetah as part of the puma lineage in their diagram on the phylogenetic relationships of eight cat lineages.

RELATED: Jaguarundi – a comprehensive and fully illustrated page

Note: Immediately above is an embedded video from YouTube. Sometimes they are deleted at source or the video is turned into a link which stops it working here. I have no control over this.

It is interesting to note that this albino jaguarundi does look more like a real cat than the adult version. That statement might surprise you. However, the adult jaguarundi hardly looks like a cat at all with its elongated, low-slung body. It looks a little bit like a marten. South America is blessed with 11 different wild cat species of which the largest is the jaguar (31-121 kg) and the smallest the oncilla (1.5-2.8 kg).

There is a difference between an albino white cat and an all-white cat. As a distance they might look the same but the genetics are quite different. The latter can be produced by the dominant white gene whereas albinism is “due to various gene mutations that affect the production of normal pigmentation” to quote the doyen of feline genetics: Sarah Hartwell. I always go to her website to try and understand feline genetics. She told me that she finds the study of genetics easy. Sadly, my experience is the opposite.

True albinos (amelanistic) lack melanin which is the pigment which provides cats with colour. Albinos are white with no markings. Significantly, they have unpigmented eyes which means that they are pink. To the best of my knowledge, you can identify an albino cat by their pink eyes. They are very apparent in this video and in the screenshots from the video.

Apparently, there are various degrees of patchy albinism which is also called piebaldism. The latter is a reference to the piebald gene which causes white areas in a cat and is typified by the bicolour cat. This gene can cause one eye to be blue because it lacks pigmentation. The blue eye of a piebald cat is blue because of the refraction of light through the cornea and lens as I understand it. But the albino cat’s eyes are pink. It also lacks pigmentation but clearly in a different way because it does not refract light.

This particular jaguarundi cub will remain in a reserve all its life to keep it safe. The cat was nursed back to health. The veterinarian in the video is Carlos Madrid. He states that the albino cat is predisposed to certain health disorders without stating them. And of course, it lacks camouflage. This makes it vulnerable to predators. Ironically, albino wild cats are also vulnerable to human cat collectors! Whenever something rare is living in the jungle, you can be sure that a human somewhere will want to possess it. Rarity fascinates humankind.

And sometimes sport hunters like to shoot all-white cats because it gives them a kudos and a status which they so desperately seek. It is an ugly aspect of humankind’s behaviour. The last remaining white tiger in the wild was shot by a hunter.

One website says that 2% of domestic cats are albino. I must say I find this incredible. I would have thought that the albino cat is much rarer than this. My research indicates that for wildlife generally albinism is estimated to be present in 1 in 20,000 to 1 in 1 million animals.

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