If you have brought home a kitten from a rescue shelter, it can be difficult to determine the kitten’s exact lineage, and you may be wondering whether it will be long-haired or short-haired. Often, the shelter may know the mother but the father may be a mystery. In this case, even if the mother is long-haired, there is no guarantee that her kittens will be the same, as the father’s genetics play a part too.
To make matters more confusing, the vast majority of kittens will have soft and fluffy coats when they are young, regardless of their breed. You will typically have to wait until about 8 weeks before differences begin to show. So, how can you tell if your kitten will be short or long-haired?
There are a few ways to determine with relative accuracy what coat your kitten will have. Read on to find out how!
The simplest method of determining whether your cat will have a long or short coat is by their genetics. If the kitten’s mother is long-haired, chances are high that some of her kittens will be long-haired too, even when fathered by a short-haired male. Some may have a medium-length coat and others a short-haired coat, but the genetics of the mother will definitely cause long or medium-length hair in most of the kittens, especially if she is a purebred, long-haired cat like a Persian.
If the mother is a mixed breed, there are likely to be more variations, and it can be far more difficult to predict, especially if the father is not known. Try to get information about both parent breeds, as this is likely to give you a good indication of what to expect.
Four genetic mutations produce long-haired cats, three of which are fairly breed-specific, while the fourth can be found in all long-haired breeds and mixed breeds. If you wanted to, you could take the kitten to be tested by a vet to check whether any of these genes are present.
Kittens will usually start exhibiting tell-tale traits at around 8 weeks old that will indicate the likelihood of their coat being long or short. If your cat is going to have long hair, you should notice the tail beginning to get fluffy, and they’ll start showing signs of ear tufts and tufts of fur around their paws. These may be slight in the beginning, but such traits are absent in short-haired cats, so with these signs, you can be sure you’ll have a long-haired or at least a medium-haired adult cat.
Another physical trait to look for is the appearance of any markings. Long-haired cats commonly have smokey, swirling, or tortoiseshell patterns in their fur, though this is not always the case. If your cat has these patterns and the aforementioned traits, they are likely to have long hair. Kittens with smooth and shiny hair as opposed to fluffy, thick hair will most likely be short-haired.
If possible, it’s best to wait till a kitten is around 10–12 weeks before adopting them. This way, they will all have the signs of whether they’ll be long or short-haired.
Most kittens look the same up to around 8 weeks, and it can be difficult to tell what their coat length will be. However, after this point, they will begin to show a few signs that will make it easier to predict whether they’ll be short or long-haired—namely, a fluffy tail, ear tufts, and tufts of hair between the toes. Finding out as much information as you can about the parent breeds will also help you predict their coat more accurately.
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