As you grow older (much older), you may no longer sport that beautiful red, brunette, blonde, or black hair you always wore.
One day you look in the mirror and notice your hair has speckles of gray! What’s a cat parent do when their cat’s whiskers start to turn black, and your hair turns gray?
Q. What can you do?
A. You can’t do anything about the aging process. Unless you or your cat has other concerning symptoms
Q. Should you be worried?
A. Your hair is starting to turn gray or white, depending on your genes, unless you call on Miss Clairol for a hair dye job. No fear; this is a normal aging process for you and your cat.
There are no worries unless you are concerned about the medications you take, or you have some other underlying health condition causing your gray hair.
It would be best to speak to your doctor if you do not feel well because maybe it is not in the aging process. Perhaps you have some health issues brewing.
However, most times turning gray is because you are getting older, and your cat’s whiskers can turn black or another color as they age with you.
Why Are My Cat’s Whiskers Turning Black?
Cats are going to have either white, black, or copper-colored whiskers. The color of their whiskers may change as they age, much like when you notice you are getting gray. The following are the possible reasons why your cat’s whiskers turn black.
While the hair on your head may turn white or gray as you age, the fur and whiskers on a cat also turn color, and it is not always white or gray.
The genes of a cat determine what color fur that cat has and what color it changes to when it ages or is ill.
When some cats age, their whiskers, if white, may turn black, which is known as black hair. Many cats have black whiskers, and as they age, their whiskers may turn white.
My cat, Mia, turned 13 in 2022. Mia is all black with short hair and a small white dot of fur on her throat. Her whiskers are black, that is until a year ago.
I noticed that Mia’s whiskers on the right side were turning white, but the whiskers on the left side were still all black. I attribute this to the aging process, as she displays no other symptoms other than that it looks weird.
If your cat is not black, you may not notice this color transformation as readily. When a black-haired cat ages, you may also notice strands of white hair throughout its black fur.
The fur on the face begins to turn white. You may see a change of color on the chest, stomach, and paws.
Temperatures can be another factor in why your cat’s whiskers are changing color. The colder a cat becomes the darker its fur. The majority of cats tend to change color as they age.
The fur may become darker or gray. Also, if your cat is in the sun a lot, the sun can bleach the darker fur a lighter color.
Hormone Imbalance: Tyrosine Deficient, the Most Serious Reason for Cat Whiskers Turning Color
Another reason why cat whiskers turn black is due to a possible hormone imbalance in the cat’s body. Some cats become deficient in Tyrosine or Taurine, an amino acid.
Tyrosine has many jobs, but one is that it produces melanin. Melanin is the pigment found in hair and skin color.
If your cat is deficient in Tyrosine, it can contribute to hair color changes in your cat. This deficiency is much more dangerous than whisker color changes.
If your cat is on a homemade diet, it may lack the essential mineral called Taurine. Lacking Tyrosine in your cat’s diet puts your cat on a dangerous path.
The primary health issue this deficiency causes is cardiomyopathy, meaning an enlarged heart. The heart does not pump enough blood effectively through its body to sustain the cat and keep it healthy. This cardiomyopathy leads to congestive heart failure.
While the human and cat body can produce amino acids, some amino acids like Tyrosine must be obtained through the food your cat eats.
When cat foods are processed, natural Tyrosine is destroyed through the process, and manufacturers must replace this mineral back in the cat food.
You will see on the label of ingredients that Taurine should be listed. If you do not see Tyrosine on the label, do not buy the food. The job of Tyrosine is as follows.
- It creates cell protein, so the cells function properly.
- It transports and stores nutrients for the body.
- Cats cannot synthesize Tyrosine as dogs and humans can.
Side Effects of Cats Who Do Not Receive Enough Taurine
The following is a list of health concerns that affect cats when they do not get enough Tyrosine. Sometimes the vet can reverse these symptoms through Tyrosine therapy.
Often the damage is already done, due in part to cat parents’ being unaware that their cat needs this essential amino acid, and the damage is done such as blindness and cardiomyopathy. The vet cannot reverse the damage already done.
- Dilated Cardiomyopathy
- Tooth Decay
- Developmental concerns in offspring
- Hair Loss
- Changing Hair Color
- Gastrointestinal Issues
When a cat is born and up to two years old, it begins to age dramatically fast. By the time a cat reaches the age of ten, it is considered a senior.
However, some cats start to undergo color changes as early as three to five years of age.
You may not notice color changes until much later. Some cats never present a color change and remain status quo.
What To Do About My Cat’s Whiskers Turning Black?
There is not much that you can do about the aging process. If you are turning gray, you may run for the hair dye or opt for Botox injections for wrinkles.
Your cat does not have these human options. Truth be known, I bet that a cat does not care if they are aging, unlike a human.
They do not run to the bathroom mirror and go crazy because a whisker has turned black, white, or orange. I doubt that cats are too concerned and take their aging in stride.
The only thing to be concerned about might be if your cat is deficient in Tysorine or Taurine. This deficiency creates other signs and symptoms that continue to become worse over time if not treated.
Some vets say that it is difficult to diagnose a Tyrosine deficiency. But only your vet can diagnose if your cat is deficient in this mineral and provide the correct treatment. You must provide the following information to your vet. Your vet may take a few of these actions.
- An in-depth medical history of your cat to your vet
- Relay noted symptoms
- A complete account of what your cat eats
- Your vet may do a blood panel
- May perform an eye examination, searching for any retinal degeneration
- Ultrasounds of the heart
- Chest x-rays
- Synthetic Taurine supplementation
- Diet changes
Your cat’s healing process depends on how long it has had the symptoms and to what degree the symptoms are. While other conditions like a Tyrosine deficiency can turn a cat’s whiskers black, aging is the top reason for whiskers to change color.
You are your cat’s best advocate. You need to know your cat’s mannerisms and its daily routine. You are the one living with your cat, not your vet. The vet relies on you, the parent, to give them everything they need to know to treat your cat if these symptoms arise.