What Causes a Black Cat's Fur to Turn Gray?

Even cats are susceptible to a few gray hairs here and there.
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To you, your cat might seem a superhero, immune to everything from weakness to aging. However, that isn't reality. Cats, just like all other living things, go through the natural aging process. In black cats and other dark kitties, that includes a little graying of the fur.

Black Cats

Cats -- especially black cats -- often get gray hairs as they grow older, according to the ASPCA. Although cats with other coat colors also can go gray, the change is much more prominent in dark fur. If your elderly tuxedo cat has a salt-and-pepper look, think of it proudly as a badge of honor for all of the time he's spent making you happy on this planet -- aww.

Graying Cause

WIth cats as with humans, pigmentation within hair follicles slowly but surely decreases as time goes on -- kind of a bummer for both species. The less pigment a cat's follicles have, the less melanin, the component that is essentially responsible for the color of the coat. In many ways, cats aren't as drastically different from people as you might think, from graying hair to vision loss as part of the "aging package."


Cats are typically classified as "elderly" when they hit approximately 12 years old, according to the ASPCA. If your black cat is gradually growing gray, you also might observe some other signs of aging in him, including thinner-textured fur, dryness and weakness of the claws, weight gain, looser skin, reduced physical activity and a lot more sleeping.

All of these things are perfectly normal and ordinary aspects of growing older, so don't drive yourself insane with worry.


Color and texture changes aren't the only things you might notice with your kitty. Older cats sometimes lose enthusiasm for the pastimes they enjoyed during their younger years, and grooming might be one of these things. If your fluff ball simply doesn't have the passion for maintaining his coat anymore, you might notice that his hair has become a lot more tangled and matted.

If so, lend him a hand and brush his coat on a regular basis. Not only will this keep your cat looking gorgeous, it can be an excellent owner-pet bonding activity.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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