Fever Coat in Cats: What Is It? Is that bad? What you need to know!

Kittens are amazing and, at times, downright magical to look at. They can make you laugh when you’re feeling down, jump over tall objects in one jump, and sometimes even change color! What are you waiting for? How do kittens change color?

This may seem like a far-fetched idea, but it’s true! Kittens with fever coat can and do change color. What exactly is a fever suit? The name has a negative connotation, but in reality, it is a harmless (and impermanent) thing.

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What is a Fever Coat?

Fever coat, or stress coat, is an infrequent phenomenon. This occurs when a pregnant cat has a high fever, extreme stress, or certain medications. When these things happen while the mother cat is pregnant, the baby’s coat is affected and does not develop properly.

Why did it happen? Since the pigmentation in cat fur is sensitive to temperature, the higher temperatures while kittens are in the womb means the pigment in their coats doesn’t settle as usual. The result is a kitten born of one color that gradually turns into another!

Kittens born with fever coat tend to have silver, red/brown, or cream colored fur. Often their root hairs will become darker and lighter as they exit the body. Fever coats can occur in all cat breeds—patterned or solid—and don’t last long. It only takes a few months to a year for a kitten’s coat to turn into its proper color.

the back of a kitten with a fever coat

Do Fever Coats Have Negative Effects?

No, not at all! Fever coats on cats are purely a matter of pigmentation, so there shouldn’t be a problem lingering after their coat changes color. Even though the “fever” in the name indicates a possible harmful effect, there won’t be any health problems or genetic disorders or anything like that. Really, the only potential negative is if you prefer the kitten’s original coat to the modified one.

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Fever Coat Type

There are several different types of fever coats that cats can have.

1. Color Patch

Some kittens will develop blotches of color, meaning some of their coat is the correct color, while others are feverish coat color. A good example of this is a brown cat that has the correct coloration of its head and tail but has a feverish coat color on its belly. Another example is a kitten whose fur is lighter at the roots but has a distinctive coloration at the tips of the fur.

2. Back Stripes

Back stripes are a less common type of fever coat. Think of the stripes on a tabby cat, but imagine they are red, gray, or white. It’s so adorable (the black cat with white stripes looks like a little skunk!). Like other types of fever coats, these too will eventually fade to their true colors.

3. All-Over Color

The all-over color is probably the most common type of fever coat. This fever coat occurs when a kitten is born completely silver, red, or white, but look closely, and you’ll see clues as to what its real fur looks like underneath. A great example is Bruce the cat — you can see the complete transformation in this video!

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Conclusion

While the name may sound a little scary, a fever coat is nothing to worry about. It’s just a matter of pigmentation in the kitten’s fur because the mama cat had a high fever, stress, or certain medications while pregnant. So if your cat has any type of fur fever—whether it’s their entire coat, stripes, or patches—just sit back and enjoy a neat story telling your friends about your magical pet!

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Featured Image Credit: Tongik, Shutterstock

Fever Coat in Cats: What Is It? Is that bad? What you need to know!
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