From their extraordinary coats, unique fur colors, to striking blue eyes, Ragdoll cats are absolutely stunning as colorpointed cats. If you’re looking to adopt a Ragdoll kitten, it’s important to know in advance what color points are and understand how their coat color changes over time.
How Colorpoint Cats Change the Color of their Fur Over Time
In this article, we will address all the frequently asked questions about Ragdolls’ colorations.
Background Information about Colorpoint Cats
Throughout their lives, colorpoint cats change their coloration pattern quite a bit. This is a fascinating process that is entirely based on genetics. Colorpoint cats get their fur color from a genetic mutation that affects an enzyme in the metabolic pathway between tyrosine and the final pigment. This mutation is temperature-sensitive, so pigment production becomes dependent on the cat’s body temperature. Higher temperatures will inhibit pigment production, while lower temperatures will boost it.
Colorpoint cats have darker extremities (with various patterns), because their body temperature is lower in these areas. They present a lighter shade on the rest of their bodies, because the local temperature is higher there. However, the unique temperature distribution over each cat’s body depends on a wide variety of factors, and it changes throughout the cat’s life.
This local temperature map is one of the reasons why there is a very large diversity of color-pointed cats.
Changes in Body Temperature
Since color-pointed cats are genetically wired to change their color due to fluctuations in their body temperature, they are essentially a living heat map. Here are a few of the factors that typically cause these fluctuations and what you can expect:
Body temperature varies greatly as cats age. Young cats have alert metabolisms, which keep their temperatures up, and their extremities are rather small, so they are more likely to have bright white or pale ivory fur when they are young. As these gorgeous cats age, their metabolism slows down, which causes their body temperature to decrease. This is when the first changes in color can be noticed in a colorpoint cat, as they start to develop darker colors on their paws, nose, ears, and tails.
Depending on the specific genetic background of each cat, the darker areas in the extremities could get larger, the lighter area could get darker, or even both. The older they get, the darker those colors will be.
To give you a better idea of just how much colorpoint cats can change fur color as they reach adulthood, here are some pictures where you can observe the differences between kittens and adults. Notice that the fur on the cats’ paws, faces, ears, and tails get darker as they age.
However, how much darker these get depends entirely on the individual. This is just one of the amazing traits of these adorable floppy kittens.
While it is perfectly normal for colorpoint kittens to start out with white fur and get darker points as they enter adulthood, there are other reasons why Ragdoll colors might change throughout their lives. Here are a few of them:
When a cat suffers local injuries, like scratches, bumps, and bruises, scar tissue is formed. Scar tissue is not as efficient in conducting heat, so colorpoint Ragdolls can get darker fur in the areas where they suffered these injuries.
Health problems can also cause dramatic temperature fluctuations in a cat’s body color. A large number of acute diseases cause fever, while chronic diseases usually lead to a lower temperature. These changes can be visible in a Ragdoll coat. The longer the temperature change is maintained, the more the pigment changes will have the time to come up.
Where are color points generally found in cats?
There are several places on kitties’ bodies besides their luxurious coat that different colors can appear. As mentioned earlier, color points are dark color patterns found on cats. These color points can help us distinguish cats’ breeds, so cat owners need to be aware of where they should look for.
Here are some of the most common parts of a cat’s body that can change color:
The Nose Leather
Noses are very important for distinguishing colorpoint cats from other cats. In the case of colorpoint cats, their nose is always darker in color than the rest of the body. Cats’ noses are always cooler than the rest of the body. This results in continuous pigment production in the nose area, thus causing its darker color.
Cats’ paws are the furthest parts from the center of their bodies, so they are often the coldest parts of their bodies. This results in excessive production of pigments in the paw pads, and the specific color can be unique to each cat. This is why cat breeders often use paw pads to differentiate between colorpoint cats when they’re little.
Types of Color Point Cats
Any cat owner can tell you that cats come in all shapes and sizes, and that they all have unique personalities. At Floppycats, we joke that each Ragdoll kitty takes pride in being unique, so they make sure to have different color points. Some of the most common color points found in Ragdoll cats are as follows:
Wondering about what tortie point means? The word “tortie” comes from tortoise shells. Tortie points are found in the form of mottled or flickered points, rather than solid ones. This coloration is also observed with tortoise shells, and that’s how these spots got the name of tortie points.
Any cat with any albinism sensitivity to temperature is referred to as a cream point cat. Cream colorpoint cats have darker extremities, while the rest of the body stays a warm cream color.
Most cat lovers mistakenly confuse cinnamon point cats with chocolate point cats. Cinnamon point cats are characterized by having rusty-brown and warm-colored color points. This unique coloration is due to the specific alleles that cinnamon point cats inherit from their parents.
The fawn point is a lighter version of cinnamon colorpoint cats, that almost looks like rose gold. Colorpoint cats with a paler version of cinnamon points at their extremities, such as nose, paws, tails, etc., are called Fawn point cats, and they can exhibit a range of pink tones.
The rarest type of colorpoint cats is the chocolate point Ragdoll. They have warm milk chocolate-colored noses, paws, tails, ears, and faces. In contrast, all chocolate point cats have light brown coats. This gives chocolate point cats a look that is similar to seal point Siamese cats. A simple method to differentiate the two is by looking at the paws. Chocolate point cats have pinkish toes, while seal point cats have dark brown toes.
Lilac Ragdoll cats are known to possess white coats and light greyish-colored color points. Lilac point cats are one of the most famous cats when it comes to colorpoint cats because of their beauty, which contributes to their price range. Because they start out as white kittens, it is a very noticeable change of color over time.
Flame point cats (also known as redpoint cats) are characterized by having orange points on their extremities that give them a very distinct look, especially compared to their base color, which is a brighter apricot shade compared to other cats.
Can’t differentiate between a tortie cat and a chocolate tortie cat? Well, no need to worry! A regular tortie cat can have all kinds of flecked color points. Meanwhile, cats that only have chocolate flecked points have the honor to be called chocolate tortie cats.
Colorpoint cats with dark grey color points are classified as blue point cats. A blue Ragdoll cat has a dark grey nose, ears, tails, paws, and feet. This adds a certain elegance to cats, and that’s why blue point Ragdoll cats are so sought after by cat lovers all around the globe.
Colorpoint Cat Breeds
Many cats are classified as colorpoint cats, not only the Ragdoll breed. Different cat breeds exhibit different color point patterns, so we have a short account of all the colorpoint cat breeds, to help you find the perfect cat for your family.
American Shorthair Cat
Colorpoint American Shorthair is a mix of Siamese and American shorthair breeds. This beautiful mix results in a cat with color points resembling that of Siamese cats, but with shorter fur and more muscular bodies. Colorpoint American Shorthair cats can have tortie points or even tabby markings, which aren’t usually present in Siamese cats.
The Siamese cat breed is the most famous amongst all the colorpoint cat breeds. These cats are well known for their playful, energetic personalities and unique vocals. But what sets them apart from all other cat breeds is their color points. They have highly defined color points that come in many color groups.
Colorpoint Shorthair Cats
Not a fan of the American shorthair breed? Well, no need to worry, as there are many other shorthair colorpoint cat breeds. Most of these breeds originate by mixing Siamese cats with other shorthair cats. As a result of this thorough mixing, you can find shorthair colorpoint cats in 16 different color pairs.
The Snowshoe cat breed is another color point cat breed recognized by the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA).
The Snowshoe cat breed is another colorpoint cat breed recognized by the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA). The Snowshoe breed is also a result of mixing Siamese cats with other cat breeds. This is why Snowshoe cats can have different sets of color points. Common color points that are associated with snowshoe cats are:
Birman cat breed is a trendy colorpoint shorthair breed amongst lovers of color-pointed cats. The biggest reason for the immense popularity of this fantastic cat breed is the sheer number of color points it has.
Due to the diligent work of some adventurous breeders, Birman cats can be found having ten different types of color points, namely:
- Seal Point
- Blue Point
- Lilac Point
- Chocolate Point
- Red Point
- Cream Point
- Tortie Point
- Smoke Point
- Silver Tabby
You can predict the cat’s coloration by the way its parents look, although, as stated, there can definitely be big differences between kittens, even in the same litter.
Tonkinese cats are quite popular amongst color point cat aficionados. Like all other color point cats, Tonkinese cats are also characterized by darker extremities. Color points common in Tonkinese cats are:
- Cream point
- Lilac point
The CFA also classifies Burmese cats as color point cats, due to different color point patterns that are common for the breed.
They are produced by mixing Siamese cats with wild Bengal cats and continuously rank high in popularity polls.
Diseases That Can Cause Cats to Lose Color Points
It is important to know that there are some diseases that can affect the production of color points in cats and cause them to lose their color points. Here are a couple of them:
Albinism is a condition where not enough pigments are formed in the body, resulting in cats having completely white coats.
This can show up in cats who are bred to be colorpointed, as no matter what genes a cat inherits from its parents, albinism can turn all those genes recessive. That’s why we recommend that cat breeders test for any albinism-related genes before crossing a pair of cats.
Asthma can also contribute to affecting color point production in cats. As mentioned earlier, color points are formed at the coolest parts of the body because of body temperature, but asthma can completely change this equation, because kitties experience fever-like symptoms during asthma attacks. If asthma isn’t treated for a long time, these fever-like symptoms can significantly increase the body temperature and inhibit pigment production even in body extremities.
Read more about Feline asthma from our Interview with Sarah Brandon, DVM.
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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,