I have a what was once a black male Domestic Short Haired cat, but he is
now getting white hair sprouting all over his body
and neck. Is this an indication of a problem or
is it normal? He is seven years old and acts healthy
(plays, eats, uses litter, etc.)

Teresa
Springfield, MO

I am reminded of a joke I once heard. A young boy asks his mother why she has grey hairs. The mother replies that a grey hair develops every time the son does something that causes her stress. The son ponders this for a second and then asks: “Mom, why is grandma’s hair all grey?”

Most of the cats and dogs I know have minimal stress in their lives. Nonetheless, grey or white hair often develops on pets as they mature. Grey hair is most noticeable on pets with black coats. However, grey or white hair is common in pets of all colors as they mature.

Grey and white hairs develop when hair follicles stop producing pigment. Failure to produce pigment is part of a normal aging process, and it is not truly linked to stress in most cases.

Grey hair almost never means that anything is wrong. In general, I recommend that people view grey hair in pets as a mark of distinction. So long as your cat does not have bald spots, red or itchy skin, malodorous skin, or any other symptoms there is little to worry about.

And that’s a good thing. Because, according to conventional wisdom, worrying could cause you to grow grey hairs.