The cat with Vitiligo-19 Year old Scrappy used to be a Black Cat!
Meet Scrappy, a 19 year-old cat with vitiligo. This is a kitty who started off his life as a black cat. Over time his coat pattern changed and he became the cat you see below, a black cat with white speckles. Or perhaps a better description would be a black and white marbled cat.
However people tried to describe his stunning coat, Scrappy became famous as the cat with vitiligo.
So what’s the story of this awwmazing black cat with white spots?
Let’s head back to 1997, when a man called David chose Scrappy to become part of the family.
He recalls: “Scrappy was sitting on his own and, though he was cute, we didn’t think others would regard him to be as cute as his siblings. I made the decision to take Scrappy as I knew he would be the last one to be taken, if at all.”
In the photo above you can see his transformation from a black cat to a black cat getting white patches. On the left he is age five years, and on the right, he is aged seventeen.
It was thought that he had vitiligo, a skin condition that is extremely rare in cats. Vitiligo in cats is caused by a lack of melanin and it usually causes white patches to appear on the skin. Rarely do they become as strikingly beautiful as Scrappy.
This hasn’t affected his health in any way and Scrappy, who lived to be 19 years-old, remained healthy and happy throughout his life.
David says: “Despite his age, he picks scraps with the neighbourhood cats (hence the name Scrappy!) I guess you could say that he rules the street.”
His ever-shifting tapestry of black and white fur made him a hit on Instagram and his loyal fans can’t get enough.
David adds: “Scrappy is a total diva! He isn’t the best cat to take photos of as most of the time he looks the other way or walks away, he can also be quite grumpy at times.”
Despite being grumpy and aloof, he was always very affectionate towards David.
In fact he was the only person that was allowed to rub Scrappy’s belly so the relationship between the two of them was obviously very special.
He also had a wart at the side of his nose and like his vitiligo, it didn’t affect his health at all.
He loved being in the sun (like most black cats who sunbathe), so the fur on his belly looked brown in colour under certain lights
What an awesome senior cat he was and indeed he lived to a ripe old age.
You can follow Scrappy on Instagram and Facebook, but sadly, Scrappy has now passed over the rainbow bridge and is with us no more.
He died in April 2017, but at the time he passed Scrappy had more than 250,000 followers on Facebook and Instagram, and had been written about endlessly in newspapers and magazines all over the world.
His owner, David, posted at the time on his Facebook page saying that Scrappy had died and his family were ‘heartbroken’.
David said: “He’d been up and down for weeks so we were expecting it, after speaking to the vets we realised the time had come. Everybody was drawn to his uniqueness, people said he was one in a billion.”.
It seems people were drawn to him because he had such a striking coat and he will always be remembered fondly as Scrappy, the cat with vitiligo.
Vitiligo in Cats
Vitiligo is a very rare skin condition in cats that through a process called depigmentation, makes the skin of a cat loses its natural skin to lose its natural pigment.
Becuasadse the pigment is lost in the skin, this change of colour is passed to the coat of the cat, making the fur in some areas turn white as well.
It’s this change which causes the striking marbled and speckled patterns in cats with vitiligo.
What Is The Cause Of Vitiligo In Cats?
A cat’s skin contains cells that produce melanin which is the pigment that gives skin colour. These pigment-producing cells are called melanocytes.
Vitiligo in cats occurs when the melanocyte cells are damaged to the point that they begin to die. Since that is the core function of the melanocyte cells there are usually no other damaging health effects for a cat that begins to lose their colour.
In most cats it is hard to find a cause for the start of vitiligo. It is generally believed that most cases are down to genetics and the trait is inherited from the cat’s parents.
It is possible that there are other causes for vitiligo in cats and the most common would normally be an autoimmune disease. In this case, rather than being hereditary, an autoimmune disease can trigger the immune system of a cat to attack some of the cells in the cat’s body instead of doing its normal function which is to attack bacteria and infections that attack the cat’s immune system.
In the case of a cat with vitiligo, an autoimmune disease can cause the immune system to kill off the melanocyte cells in the same way.
There may be other potential ways to trigger vitiligo in a cat such as the cat suffering from stress, being exposed to certain toxic substances or even possible neurologic disease.
Although the loss of melanocytes itself has no other effect on a cat’s health, if a cat develops vitiligo from non-hereditary causes then the underlying condition will still require treatment.
Whilst Scrappy is probably the most famous cat with vitiligo, he’s by no means the only one.
There are many cats with vitiligo and many are nearly as beautiful as him.
Here’s Ellie, a cat living in Germany with vitiligo whose condition unusually started when she was only three years old and has almost turned her white.
If you know of a gorgeous cat with the black and white speckled coat, please let us know!