Caturday felid trifecta: Cats with vitiligo; dead cat cloned by Chinese firm; clouded leopard cubs debut at the U.S. National Zoo

October 5, 2019 • 8:00 am

The Cheezburger site gives some photos of cats with vitiligo, a condition that occurs in other mammals. The link in the caption below goes to a fuller explanation.

There are different types of depigmentation in felines; Leukoderma (“white skin”), leukotrichia (“white hair”) or vitiligo, which leaves cats with a “snowflake” appearance. All the conditions are very rare and purely cosmetic, meaning the animals who have the rare condition aren’t physically affected by it.

Vitiligo is one form of leukoderma. It usually causes loss of pigment on the face and feet, and this form of vitiligo has been linked to cats that derived from South-East Asian (Siamese, Burmese and related breeds).

And the second link says this about the condition:

Vitiligo is one form of leukoderma [“white skin”]. Originally this was thought to be rare in cats, but thanks to social networking and the internet, more and more cases are coming to light. it usually causes loss of pigment on the face and feet. Antibodies are formed against the pigment-producing melanocytes. The melanocytes are destroyed leading to white areas of fur or pink areas of skin. This form of vitiligo has been found in cats derived from South-East Asian stock i.e. Siamese, Burmese and related breeds. This may be due to the founder effect where early imports, or an influential stud, passed on the gene(s) for vitiligo. Those genes might not be expressed unless triggered by some external event e.g. stress or illness (both of which release stress hormones).

Michael Jackson famously said he suffered from vitiligo, and this site gives a list of famous people who had the condition, including Steve Martin, Joe Rogan, and model Winnie Harlow, currently very popular.

Below are some cats with the condition, which doesn’t seem to be harmful. Indeed, it produces some lovely moggies:

Via PrincessPicklebricks
Via PrincessPicklebricks


And in a wild cat, also from Princess Picklebricks:


This article, about a clones kitten in China, comes from ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation); click on screenshot to go there:

From the report:

Seven months after Huang Yu’s pet cat Garlic died, the British shorthair has been given a 10th life.

Born on July 21, the new Garlic was created by Chinese firm Sinogene, becoming the Beijing-based company’s first successfully copied cat.

The pet-cloning outfit has made more than 40 pet dogs so far — a procedure that costs a hefty 380,000 yuan($78,109), while the price for a cat comes in at 250,000 yuan($51,382).

. . .Pet cloning is illegal in many countries but approved in countries including South Korea and the US, where singer Barbra Streisand announced last year she had cloned her dog.

The first major success in animal cloning was Dolly the sheep, born in Britain in 1996 as the first mammal cloned from an adult cell.

Four genetically identical copies of Dolly were cloned 11 years after the famous cloned sheep, who suffered ill health and died prematurely in 2003.

In 2005, researchers in South Korea cloned the first dog. The Sooam Biotech Research Foundation in Seoul said it had so far cloned some 800 pets, charging $100,000 each.

This is, I guess, done the usual way: a cell is taken from the moribund cat (possibly when it was still alive), cultured, “de-differentiated” so that the nucleus can resemble that of an undifferentiated zygote, and then that nucleus  is injected into an unfertilized egg from another cat, an egg from which the nucleus has been removed. What we have then is the equivalent of a fertilized cat egg containing the same genetic information as the donor cat. These manipulated zygotes,  are grown in vitro for a few days, and then implanted into a surrogate mother (a cat in this case). This procedure is usually done in replicate so that the chance of getting a viable embryo is increased.  Mr. Huang said this:

“I blame myself for not taking him to the hospital in time, which led to his death.”

The happy owner said he hoped the personality of the new Garlic would be as similar to his old white-and-grey cat as its appearance.

In this case it seems to have worked: here’s the cloned kitten, named Garlic, for which the similarity between it and its deceased source cat is said by Mr. Huang to be “over 90%”, though I have no idea how he measured that:


This is a way, albeit an expensive one, to keep your pet living on after it dies. In theory, you could keep a cat going forever by repeated clonings, though I don’t know if that would work.


Here are two rare clouded leopard cubs (Neofelis nebulosa) born at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C., who debuted in September. The video is over an hour long, so just watch as long as you want.

I cosider this one of the most beautiful of all wild cats, if not the most beautiful, though I have to admit I have a penchant for tigers and for Pallas’s cats.

h/t: Su, Peter, Michael

21 thoughts on “Caturday felid trifecta: Cats with vitiligo; dead cat cloned by Chinese firm; clouded leopard cubs debut at the U.S. National Zoo

      1. I always thought it would be cool to clone myself and see where things went wrong. Ohhhhh so *that’s* what have me intimacy issues!

    1. Somehow I could not easily suppress the thought: if so clumsy, no wonder you are rare.
      Could suppress it in the end.

  1. “Man, that guy really can’t get over the death of his cat.”

    “We should get him a new one. Nothing cures grief like a kitten…”


    “Why do you always want to clone everything, Bob? The other day I said we should have lobster for lunch and you asked if we could clone the lobster.”

    “Because it’s cool!”

    “OK, well…I don’t see why not…”


      1. I still have my first two kitties’ ashes sitting next to each other in nice boxes on my DVD shelf. I also have a picture of each on my desk. They really were the best friends — well, family — I ever could have hoped for.

  2. My daughter is a vet. She tells me pet owners are all over the map in terms of their needs. Some will spare no expense, spending thousands on surgery and treatment just to give their pet a chance to survive a little longer. Others come in stating up front they don’t want to spend a lot. Some owners are really bad, waiting until their critter is sagging and on death’s door before bring it in – at which point, euthanasia is all that can be done.

    1. I think that when it comes to something like cancer or other diseases that will eventually kill the pet and for which the treatments are terribly painful, owners/servants should allow the disease to run its course until the pain becomes too great and then move to euthanasia. When one of my cats got lung cancer at 17 years old, we didn’t try to extend her life through chemotherapy and drugs. Imagine how terrible that would have been for her, not knowing why we’re putting her through such pain and suffering for months, just so we can have her for a little longer. If it’s a one-and-done surgery, that’s a different story, but I think things like chemotherapy for pets are selfish and for the benefit of the owner, not the animal. That’s just my opinion though.

      1. I euthanized my 8 year old black lab when she got cancer. She was suffering & I knew that treatment wasn’t going to help her. I would have paid anything if it had been worth it but it was clear to me that the right thing to do was to euthanize her. It was so awful. Even the bet was crying.

        1. Yeah, I’m on my third cat, but my family and I had to euthanize the first two, and I was the first to suggest it both times. They were suffering and it wasn’t fair to them to keep them alive so we could have just one more day with them. It was about them. About them dying with dignity, when it was time, in our arms.

    2. I had to put my 13 year-old dog down last April. She had a very large tumor in her abdomen that was pushing her intestines to one side. It was very fast. I considered surgery but that only gave her six months, nine if we included chemo. At first I said yes, but then realized it would be putting her through a lot of pain and she wouldn’t be able to comprehend what was happening to her. Six months later I’m still gutted. If I had money to burn I would’ve cloned her. I still have her brother(littermate). I’m hoping he’ll last another few years.

      1. You did the right thing, and good for you for being unselfish, I know it’s hard, but you did well. Sorry for your loss.

  3. Clouded leopards are my favorite cat. For their size they have surprisingly large canines enabling very nasty bites.

  4. Please remove, I had accidentally closed the tab for the discussion I intended to post it under.

  5. Re the zoo video – I liked the animals – today local media had an article about a political suggestion in front of the “congress” (I think) on banning zoo animals.

    We have already restricted circus animals to nothing much more than dogs, cats, cows and horses, and non-CITES listed smaller birds [ ; but why allow sea lions!?].

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