The Cat with Vitiligo

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14th October 2017  •  3 min read

Vitiligo is a skin condition in which pale white patches develop on the skin. It’s caused by a lack of melanin, a pigment in the skin. It’s most commonly observed in humans.


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Vitiligo is a skin condition in which pale white patches develop on the skin. It’s caused by a lack of melanin, a pigment in the skin. It’s most commonly observed in humans.

Michael Jackson always asserted that he had vitiligo. Many people across the world were sceptical of his claims and presumed that he had been bleaching his skin. Following his death in 2009, however, his autopsy confirmed this claim and clarified that he certainly did have vitiligo.

Another prominent figure with vitiligo is Canadian model, Winnie Harlow, who has become a spokes model for the skin condition.

Winnie Harlow, a model with vitiligo.

While vitiligo is rare in humans, affecting about 1% of the population, it’s even rarer in animals.1

Black cats are very often overlooked at shelters because they’re deemed as boring or even as bad luck. People are sometimes so reluctant to adopt black cats that the Cat’s Protection in the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland designated October the 27th as “Black Cat Day.” In the United States, “Black Cat Appreciation Day” is held on August the 17th. In 2014, Toronto held a Black Friday event in which people could adopt a black cat without paying an adoption fee in the hopes that it would encourage the adoption of black cats. This trend caught on in America and many shelters now offer free black cats on Black Friday each year.

Nevertheless, the general disfavour to black cats didn’t affect David Platt from Yorkshire. In 1997, David adopted a black cat who he named Scrappy. He recalled that Scrappy seemed to be different to the rest of the litter: “The other five kittens were all playing together and were very cute,” he recalls. “Scrappy was sat on his own and, although he was cute, I knew to others he wouldn’t be seen as being as cute as his siblings.” 2 

He knew he had to take him home.

 

After a few years, David noticed that Scrappy was slowly changing colour and developing patches of white throughout his jet black fur.  At first, he was worried that Scrappy may have had a stroke. Rushing him to the vets, the vet told him that he couldn’t quite figure out what was wrong with his fur and sent him on his way. The changes didn’t seem to be bothering Scrappy and he continued on as his playful and mischievous self.

As the white patches multiplied, David went to another vet who suggested that Scrappy had vitiligo. Eventually, as the vitiligo spread and spread, Scrappy’s fur became a unique marble pattern.

Scrappy went on to become somewhat of a celebrity due to his obscure markings. He has gathered over 130,000 likes on Facebook and 149,000 followers on Instagram!

Unfortunately in April of 2017, Scrappy passed away, making it to the ripe old age of 19. 3


 

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Footnotes:

  1. The British Journal of Dermatology “Evidence-based management of vitiligo: summary of a Cochrane systematic review.”
  2.  http://www.catster.com/lifestyle/scrappy-the-cat-was-born-pure-black-but-now-hes-turning-white
  3. https://www.facebook.com/seniorscrappy/

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Rachel
Rachel
2 years ago

I LOVE SCRAPPY

Kelly Noble
Kelly Noble
2 years ago

Scrappy…you were beautiful!

cactus girl
cactus girl
14 days ago

what a gorgeous sweet kitty! I LOVE ALL THE KITTIES!!

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