Hock Marks in Cats

Show-worthy purebred cats must reflect the characteristics of the breed perfectly, down to the smallest of details. Even the slightest deviation from this set of breed particularities will make the difference between cats fit to enter cat shows and pet quality cats. Among these minute details are hock marks. They might go unnoticed to the untrained eye, but breeding experts consider them a defect. But what are hock marks and why are they important?

What are hocks in cats?

The hock is the joint between the knee and the fetlock in quadrupled animals. As you can see in the picture below, the angle points vertically.

15-year old Seal Mitted Ragdoll Cats Caymus and Murphy IMG_4842

This marks the difference between cats, which are digitigrade, and humans, which are plantigrade, While humans place the full length of their foot on the ground when they walk, cats only place their digits on the ground, but not the soles of their feet, which determines the vertical angle of the hock.

What are hock marks in cats?

Hock marks are small areas in the hock area where the cat’s fur is colored differently than the rest of the fur on the cat’s leg (usually much darker). Since these colored patches are not included in the breed particularities, then they are considered to be a defect. For Ragdoll cats, hock marks will disqualify cats in cat shows. Ragdolls with hock marks are pet quality, not show quality.

In the pictures below you can see Ragdoll cats with hock marks.

Seal Mitted with a Blaze Ragdoll Cat Murphy Hock Mark Non-Show Quality

Ragdoll Kitten Fifi loved by Sarah hock mark 4″ src=”https://www.floppycats.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Ragdoll-Kitten-Fifi-loved-by-Sarah-hock-mark-4-625×336.png” alt=”Ragdoll Kitten Fifi loved by Sarah hock mark 4″ width=”625″ height=”336″/> Ragdoll Kitten Fifi loved by Sarah
Ragdoll Kitten Fifi loved by Sarah
Ragdoll Kitten Fifi loved by Sarah

Are cats with hock marks sick?

No, they are not. Hock marks are not a symptom of any disease or disorder in the cat. They are simply patches of darker colored fur.

Are hock marks hereditary?

Yes, they are. They are not generated by dominant genes, but recessive genes. This means that the hock marks will not be passed on every time from the parents to their offspring, but they might appear in some, also depending on the genetic background of the second parent.

If both parents have hock marks, then their offspring will also have hock marks. If one of the parents has the hock mark gene but does not have hock marks and the other parent has hock marks, then their offspring have a 50% chance of developing hock marks.

If both parents have the hock mark recessive gene but do not have hock marks, then their offspring have a 25% of developing hock marks.

Purebred cats with hock marks do not have official reproductive rights (they may not reproduce with other show-grade cats of that breed) precisely to exclude the chance of this defect being passed onto future generations.

Can you remove hock marks?

No, you can’t. Some have tried shaving the colored area repeatedly, but that can only lead to a slight change in color; it is enough to eliminate the hock marks.

To sum up, hock marks are small areas of fur colored differently than the rest of the fur on the cat’s hock and leg areas. These are not a health hazard, but they are a breed defect and they make cats unsuitable for being shown in cat shows. Cats with hock marks are pet quality.

Does your Ragdoll cat have hock marks? Tell us in the comments section below.

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Hi, I’m Jenny Dean, creator of Floppycats! Ever since my Aunt got the first Ragdoll cat in our family, I have loved the breed. Inspired by my childhood Ragdoll cat, Rags, I created Floppycats to connect, share and inspire other Ragdoll cat lovers around the world,

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  1. Charlotte Piegaro says:

    Hey Jenny. I love your website. I just learned another interesting fact on your site. Never knew how our daughter could afford to buy us Sophia 12 years ago – now I understand. Who knew that dark mark on her “hock” was the clue. Either way – she is such a joy. And love her “flops” onto the floor for belly rubs. Keep up the great job!

    Charlotte & Sophia Ticklepuss

  2. My Yoda has hock marks, and he’s absolute perfection ❤️

    1. Anonymous says:

      Yup, my Everett is pet quality. He doesn’t mind and neither do I.

  3. Is it considered a hock mark if it’s on the front let with darker fur color around the pad higher on the leg?

    1. No, because it’s not on their hock. But would be the same sort of thing – that it’s a mismark, making them not show quality.

    1. If you send me a photo of your Cocoa’s hock mark, I would love to include it here!

  4. Sarah Balcer says:

    We were looking for a seal mitted Ragdoll for our family to commemorate this COVID-19 summer. We went to our breeder and he had one, just one, available in July 2020 and her name was FiFi (for Nefertiti)!!! She would have been SQ (show quality) except for the hock mark – but then I never would have been able to afford her!! Ha ha!! So we LOVE the hock mark on our FiFi!!! Thank you for using her pictures!! Very good information.

    1. Archie's Person says:

      I recently purchased a male ragdoll, blue mitted, with a barely there blaze… he is my first ragdoll…personality wise, I was well educated and have wanted one for years…I paid extra and received breeding rights… well, from reading this and one article just before this one, I’m realizing my little guy isn’t breeding quality… he has one large dark grey spot high up on his hock… very disappointed that a breeder would sell breeding rights to a kitten that isn’t up to par…. just goes to show I should have done more research before making a purchase and forking out the extra money…we are both to blame….but either way, he’s a keeper and here to stay.

      1. Well, breeding quality is different than show quality. The hock mark is a show quality issue, not a breeding quality issue. There are many breeding quality cats that aren’t necessarily show quality.

  5. Lisa Barrett says:

    Fun, informative post, I had no idea cats had hocks. Thanks for the information, I appreciate it!

  6. SUPER PAWESOME & FABULOUS POST…just fascinating, Jenny honey! Miss PSB has a hock mark (grey spot) on one of her rear legs. Never even knew of the term “hock mark” until reading this post! TYSVM!!!
    🙂 <3

    Big hugs & lots of love & purrs!

    Patti & Miss Pink Sugarbelle 🙂 <3 <3 <3

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