Albinism is a genetic peculiarity but by no means a pathology. On the other hand, it can be at the origin of certain weaknesses which impose take precautions. Let’s take stock of the cause of this anomaly, the distinctive signs that an albino cat presents and what his master should avoid or favor so that his little particular feline is as well protected as possible.
Origin of albinism
Albinism is a genetic condition but also hereditary, that is, it is transmitted from parents. It can affect man like all animal species. This term includes various abnormalities due to a deficit or a total lack of melanin although the melanocytes have a completely normal structure.
The melanocytes are large cells scattered throughout the body such as:
- At the basal level of the epidermis,
- In the hair follicles,
- Within the internal tissues of the digestive tract,
- In the heart muscle,
- In the meninges,
- In the inner ear,
- At eye level.
The role of a melanocyte is to produce the pigment the most important part of the body which gives color to the skin, hair, hair, feathers and eyes. This pigment is called the melanin. It plays a very important protective role against the aging process due to the harmful effects of ultraviolet rays from the sun (UV rays).
Consequences of albinism in cats
In an organism without genetic peculiarity, melanocytes synthesize melanin through melanogenesis. In the case of albinism, there is a lack of pigmentation which is called thehypopigmentation. It usually affects the eyes, hair, and skin. But the biosynthesis of melanin being greatly reduced in the case of albinism, this also leads to insufficient development of certain constituents of the eye or of another organ. We are talking about hypoplasia.
Characteristics of the albino cat
The albino cat presents a melanin deficiency which results in the following characteristics:
- Pale pink skin on the body, pads, lips, nose, ears and eyelids,
- Eyes circled in red, sometimes turning red, sometimes minnows, but which can also be green or blue,
- A 100% white coat, without any spots of color, but a cat with white fur is not always an albino cat. Likewise, some albino cats are born entirely white, and their hair is partially colored after a few months.
Thealbinism may be totawhere partial. In the latter case, the cat exhibits only certain characteristics of albinism, so for an untrained eye it may be more difficult to detect this anomaly. One can take for example the Colourpoint cat which presents at least partial albinism.
Protect the albino cat because it is fragile on many levels
To know what precautions to take when your cat has partial or total albinism, you have to look at the daily consequences of this genetic and hereditary peculiarity for the small animal.
Any cat is nyctalope, that is, he sees in the dark. But the albino cat has an even more developed night vision than that of its congeners. On the other hand, he does not enjoy great visual acuity during the day. In addition, the fact that it has a melanin deficiency in the eye makes its eyes very sensitive to light and therefore more fragile. The albino cat is at risk of blindness.
The ideal is to keep the albino cat indoors during the brightest hours, taking care to filter the daylight through veil curtains, a dark mosquito net or shutters.
The ears of the albino cat are sensitive on different levels. If skin cancer is diagnosed in the small feline, to limit the serious consequences to which the animal is exposed, it may be decided by the veterinarian to perform an otectomy. This is a surgical procedure that involves cutting the ears.
Some albino cats are at high risk of deafness due to a malformation of the inner ear. If the animal does not seem to understand when its master addresses it, or simply calls it by name, it may be that it is hearing poorly. We have long associated this incomprehension with a lack of faculties when it is not. The albino cat is as intelligent as other cats, but he may be deaf.
It is better to avoid letting your deaf cat roam outside the family property because it does not perceive noises that could warn it of imminent danger. For example, he risks being knocked over by a vehicle because he cannot hear it and, for the same reason, he is particularly exposed to dog bites.
The albino cat is just as fragile in the skin as in the eyes or ears, because its skin is not at all protected against UV A and B. Its skin can therefore redden, even burn, at the slightest exposure to the sun. Of recurring exhibitions may be at the origin of serious diseases. It is therefore necessary to consult the veterinarian as soon as there is redness or swelling, or even thickening of the skin of your albino cat. Usually, the vet will submit the cat for a biopsy. This sample is necessary if actinic keratosis is suspected because it is a warning sign of squamous cell carcinoma, a skin cancer rapidly spreading.
The albino cat is therefore exposed to the risk of cancer. To protect it from the sun’s rays, it should not be left outside in the middle of the day, at least between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Before and after, exposure to sunlight is less direct. Better get your albino cat used to being walked on a leash From the earliest age. This allows him to take him out at any time under the vigilance of his master who, of course, will ensure that his little companion can stay in the shade.
At the same time, any albino cat must benefit from a sunscreen through a specific cream that can be prescribed by the veterinarian. Obviously, it’s a product designed for cats, an animal that spends a lot of time licking itself. Sunscreen for albino cats is non-toxic. No question of using sun protection for humans unless it is a organic sunscreen for children, without any chemical additive, fragrance-free, ultra soft and suitable for very sensitive skin.
Even if albinism is not a disease, the albino cat must be the object of special attention because it is fragile. It must be shown very regularly to the veterinarian so that surveillance can be implemented throughout the life of the cat.