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The CAT with vitiligo became an internet sensation

Just like humans, it’s common for cats to sprout greys over time, giving them a distinguished appearance.

But when a black feline named Scrappy quickly developed white patches all over his body when he was seven years old, ageing wasn’t to blame.

The pet’s usual markings are down to vitiligo - a skin condition more common in humans - but his uniquely patterned fur has transformed the moggy into an internet sensation.

A black feline named Scrappy (pictured) quickly developed white patches all over his body when he was seven years old, caused by the skin condition vitiligo

While the skin condition is incredibly rare in cats, it affects roughly one in 100 people in the UK, causing pale, white patches to develop on the skin.

 

It most commonly occurs on skin exposed to sun, such as a person’s face, neck and hands, with marks varying from a few small white patches to larger joined-up areas of paler skin.

 

Scrappy’s owner told the cat’s near 25,000 Facebook followers that as a kitten, he had a pure black coat, which began to develop white patches seven years later, before quickly giving him a speckled appearance all over his body.

 

His guardian believes the change was caused by vitiligo and one vet agrees.

 

Scrappy’s owner told the cat’s Facebook followers that as a kitten, he had a pure black coat (shown left), which began to develop white patches seven years later (right), before quickly giving him a speckled appearance all over his body

From looking at the photos it appears that Scrappy may have vitiligo, which is a condition characterised by a skin pigment abnormality which causes white patches to appear on a cat’s face, body and feet,’ Sarah Elliott, field veterinary officer for Cats Protection, told MailOnline.

‘Vitiligo is extremely rare in cats and it is a genetic condition which develops in cats as they get older.

‘At the moment, vets are unable to predict which cats may go on to develop signs of vitiligo.

‘From the very small number of cases we have seen, vitiligo does not cause any ill-effects.

‘However some cats with vitiligo may be more susceptible to the sun’s harmful rays, as are any cats with white ears or noses.

Vitiligo is a long-term condition that causes pale, white patches to develop on the skin die to the lack of melanin. This stock image shows the hands of someone with vitiligo

Vitiligo is a long-term condition that causes pale, white patches to develop on the skin die to the lack of melanin. This stock image shows the hands of someone with vitiligo

While the skin condition (shown) is incredibly rare in cats, it affects roughly one in 100 people in the UK, causing pale, white patches to develop on the skin 

‘For these cats it is best to keep them indoors during the hottest parts of the day to help prevent sunburn which can trigger the onset of feline skin cancer.’

Dogs and buffalo have also been reordered as having the condition, Mother Nature Network reported. 

The 17-year-old cat has lived with the condition for a decade and his striking appearance has earned him thousands of fans on Facebook and Instagram.

The feline enjoys sleeping on his back, gazing out of windows, bird watching, playing and cleaning - like most cats – and his owner says Scrappy is affectionate but has ‘grumpy days’.

However, for humans with vitiligo, life is often harder, because human side-effects include inflammation of the iris, hearing loss and even skin cancer, as well as dry or itchy skin.

There is no way of predicting how a person’s skin will be affected and white patches are usually permanent.

It’s thought vitiligo occurs due to a lack of melanin in the skin, which gives it its colour and protects it from the sun, but no-one is sure what causes this lack of melanin.

Vitiligo in cats appears to be caused by a lack of melanin too. The pigment gives cat’s skin and fur it’s colour.  



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