The Science Behind How Cute ‘Tuxedo’ Cats Get Their Patchy Fur

Emilio Cogliani

From the two-tone coats ofcats that look like they’re sporting dapper tuxedos to the distinctive piebald patterns flaunted by some horses, many animals that we’ve grown to love have fur marked by white patches. But where do these patches come from?

Scientists previously thought that piebald patterns form when pigment-producing cells move too slowly to cover the entire body of a mammal while it’s still growing in the womb, resulting in white patches on the skin and fur.

A new study published Wednesday contradicts that theory. Piebald patches may actually result from a failure of pigment-producing cells to multiply, Dr. Ian Jackson, professor of geneticsat the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and a co-author of the study, told The Huffington Post.

“These cells originate from alongside the developing spinal cord and move through the developing skin so that they cover the whole body,” he said. “The…

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