White cats enjoy a special admiration because of their snowy coats that seem to sparkle. Their names often reflect their coloring and include Snowball, Caspar (for the ghost) and Puff (for powderpuffs).
But along with their beauty, some problems can arise. They may have genetic defects caused by a deterioration of the inner ear. They could be born deaf.
A large percentage of white cats with blue eyes are deaf. Cats with one blue eye and the other eye a different color may be deaf on the blue-eyed side. Research has shown that the percentage of white cats with 2 blue eyes that are deaf is 60-80%; with one blue eye, 30-40%.
White cats, with their pale to pink skin pigment, are also prone to squamous cell carcinoma due to extended sun exposure. They are particularly vulnerable to this skin cancer around the ears, nose and eyelids where fur is thin. Unless treated early, squamous cell carcinoma is fatal.
White cats can also suffer from sunburn. To prevent these problems, keep your white cat indoors especially when the sun reaches its highest time of exposure. There are also pet sunscreens available commercially, but check with your vet for safety before using any product.
Please remember to have your white cat or any color cat checked by the vet annually or bi-annually to help your cat remain healthy.
Please read our article, “Living With a Deaf Cat” for helpful information.