Science Focus - the home of BBC Science Focus Magazine
Why do so many cats have white paws? © Getty Images
© Getty Images

Why do so many cats have white paws?

Published: 30th May, 2022 at 18:00
Subscribe to BBC Science Focus Magazine and get 6 issues for just £9.99

This distinctive feature can be seen on moggies everywhere.

The white socks of domestic cats have their origins deep in the past. During the process of domestication, which began around 10,000 years ago, the tamest moggies were bred together to produce calmer, friendlier animals, but there was an unanticipated consequence in the form of white flashes and paws.

Advertisement

These features are caused by a developmental quirk, which occurs whilst the embryonic kitten slumbers in its mother’s womb, and which stymies the ability of would-be pigment cells to mature properly. People liked these unusual markings, so they bred the animals together, and over time, white socks and splodges became more common.

Read more:

Asked by: Peter Robinson

Advertisement

To submit your questions email us at questions@sciencefocus.com (don't forget to include your name and location)

Authors

Helen Pilcher
Helen PilcherScience writer, presenter and performer.

Helen Pilcher is a tea-drinking, biscuit-nibbling science and comedy writer, with a PhD in cell biology.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Sponsored content