Amazing Color-Changing Kittens: What Is Fever Coat? July 20 2017, 52 Comments

Kittens are pretty magical. They can bring even the most jaded people to their knees with a single, tiny mew. They can instantly brighten any day and make the sun feel like it's shining even if it's storming. But they can't change colors, right?  Funny story: It turns out they can. 



While the above photo would satisfy all my Lisa Frank-fueled childhood dreams of a hot pink kitten, the "color-changing" kittens we're talking about are born with bright silver. As they age, their fur changes until they are a completely different color than the fluff they were born with, a phenomenon known as "fever coat." 


Fever (or stress) coat occurs when the mother cat is ill with a high fever or stress during pregnancy and doesn't usually have any negative effects on the kitten's overall health.

A stray moggy from the UK, Georgie, gave birth to a litter of six kittens born with this unusual coloration. Maggie Roberts, head vet at Cats Protection HQ in Sussex, was contacted in regards to Georgie's strange brood. Four of the kittens only had the silver patches on their legs, but two were completely covered in the silver fur. 




After a bit of research, it was determined that the kittens most likely have fever coat. As they aged, the kittens shed their silvery outer coats and showed their true colors: two black kittens, three torties, and one tabby.



More recently, a tiny, premature kitten was brought to the National Kitten Coalition, discovered hours after he was born.  Co-founder Susan Spaulding worked 'round the clock to save this fantastically colored preemie, whom they named Rizzo. 




The silver portion of Rizzo's fur will eventually turn black, like other cats with fever coat. "Just as with Siamese points, which are due to a temperature-sensitive gene, the coloring shows darker on his extremities because their temperature is cooler," says Spaulding, who has had a dozen or so cases of fever coat over her years working in cat rescue. 


Rizzo in action (still a bit wobbly!):


Rizzo's changing coat:


Bruce the cat is another example of a rescued kitty that grew out of his silvery fever coat into a handsome black cat.



Have you ever had a color-changing kitten?


[h/t LoveMeow, The Ross Gazette]