Siamese kittens often squint, like this Siamese cat kitten poking its head around a wall, looking at you

Why Do Siamese Kittens Change Colour?


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Did you know Siamese kittens are born all cream or white? In fact, these kitties only develop their distinct colouration when their body temperature drops below 33 °C. That’s right, Siamese cat kittens change according to their temperature!

Siamese cats are famed for many things. For example they’re social butterflies and chatterboxes, and of course have amazing two-toned coats. While each of these traits is pretty awesome, perhaps the fact that they change colour according to their temperature is the most fascinating characteristic of all.

Then again, they aren’t the only ones to do this…

Siamese kittens have a heat sensitive enzyme

Picture this. It’s the end of a summer holiday and everyone you know is back at work or school. They’ve all turned a rich golden brown from spending time in the heat. Siamese kittens are just the same and also change colour when they get hot or cold, but the opposite way around.

A Siamese kitten lying in the Spanish sun, looking at you with blue eyes

A super cute mutation

Because of their genetic mutation, Siamese cat kittens get dark in the cold and light when they’re warm.

All Siamese have a mutated enzyme called tyrosinase that only activates under 33 °C. When they’re first born they’re cream or white because of the high temperatures in the womb. As they develop outside of the womb and their body temperature fluctuates, they begin to get darker fur on their nose, ears, paws and tails.

It hits their extremities

This is kind of like humans on a cold wintry day. The first bits on us to feel the cold are our nose, ears, fingers and toes.

Likewise, these parts of Siamese kittens are also the areas of extremity that don’t retain the same heat as the rest of their body. So although their tummies stay warm and their coat colour keeps light, the cooler their tips get, the richer their deep colours will develop.

Here’s why it’s the other way around for us humans…

Siamese kittens go light in hot weather unlike humans

What do Siamese cats have in common with humans?

Tyrosinase is the heat sensitive enzyme responsible for producing melanin. Melanin is in all plants and animals and helps to regulate harmful UV rays and vitamin D production. The colour of your hair, skin and eyes are all a result of how much or little melanin your body produces, which is dependent on where your ancestors spent the majority of their time.

Humans living in hot climates

People have developed higher or lower levels of melanin production for different climates.

Hot weather requires you to have higher melanin to protect you from harmful UV rays and to regulate how much vitamin D your body produces. A higher melanin count prevents you from having vitamin D poisoning from too much sun and also results in a deeper and richer brown skin tone.

Humans living in cold climates

On the other hand, people who historically spent more time in the ice, snow and cold needed to absorb every last ray of light. They produced very little melanin – resulting in lighter skin – to easily absorb the sunlight that could then be turned into vitamin D.

Even today, people who live in countries where winters are long and days are short often take vitamin D to stay healthy and stave off depression.

And this is why humans tend to get darker in hotter climates and lighter in the cold. So although we tend to see things in black and white, it would be far more accurate to call humans ‘high’ or ‘low’ melanin than simply black and white.

To sum it up, Siamese kittens aren’t the only ones to change colour according to changes in temperature. But their interesting mutation has resulted in the breed representing colours the opposite way around to us.

Siamese cat kittnens like to lie around like this one on a white table

Siamese kittens develop into 4 colour points

Colour point is when a cat’s points are darker than the rest of its body. Siamese cats are famous for having colour points and many other breeds with colour points have Siamese in their breed DNA.

The heat sensitive enzyme that causes Siamese kittens to change colour doesn’t affect what colour their tips go, but rather how deep this colour becomes. They’ll develop their unique hue coded into their DNA and passed down from their mama and papa cat.

It’s not just Siamese cat kittens that change colour either. You might notice your adult Siamese changes too, becoming lighter in summer and darker in winter. Read more fabulous feline facts about the Siamese cat personality.

Psst … speaking of cat breeds. Have your ever wondered what pet you’re most like? Take our PET PAWSONALITY test! Find out what breed you are at heart and share it with your friends – click here:

Four colours of the Siamese cat kittens’ rainbow

Siamese kittens develop into different hues we characterise in these four ways:

Seal pointInspired by the colour of an ocean dwelling seal that appears to be a brown colour that’s a mix of black and brown tones. Think seal-coloured points with a cream coloured body.
Chocolate pointRich brown like toasted cocoa. Think in between milk and dark chocolate with a white chocolate body.
Blue pointIn the case of a Siamese cat, ‘blue’ is more like a slate-coloured sky. A blue point Siamese will have a light ‘blueish’ white body colour.
Lilac pointThink pink. Lilac point Siamese cats have ‘pinky-grey’ colour points with a more graded contrast to their light ‘pink’ white body. Lilac point Siamese cats also have darker blue eyes.
siamese cat kitten sitting on concrete block looking up

Health needs of Siamese kittens and cats

The same mutation that gives Siamese kittens the ability to develop the highly prized colour points also causes decreased night vision. This is great for Kiwi Siamese cat owners, as it means the breed isn’t a good night hunter and poses less of a risk to natural wildlife than some other purebred cats.

Here are some conditions Siamese kittens and cats can be prone to:

  • Lung infections
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Cancer (mammary tumours)

Read our article on whether you should spay and neuter your cat to help prevent mammary tumours.

If you have Siamese kittens be sure to read ‘Is dog insurance worth it, and cat insurance too?’ to discover why the sooner you get them on a pet plan the better cover they’ll have.

Free pet insurance for your sassy Siamese

Pet insurance covers your pet for the medical conditions listed in your policy, which may be hospital visits, emergency vet costs, surgery, dental and so much more.

But, it’s important to note no pet plan offers cover for pre-existing conditions. This is why it’s so important to get your pet a plan while your pet is small. Sign up before they develop a condition that will be termed pre-existing. Getting a pet insurance plan early on gives your pet broader protection against the unforeseen.

Besides, with us you get one or more months of free pet insurance depending on the age of your pet! PD Insurance offers Canstar award-winning insurance with no lock-in contract – why not just sign up online and see how it goes? Click below to get your pet a quote for great quality, affordable cover.

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