The Reason Some Cats Look Like They're Wearing Socks

iStock.com/TheKoRp
iStock.com/TheKoRp

As anyone who has tried to dress a cat in a fashionable outfit knows, animals aren’t really fond of clothing. Especially boots. That’s probably why some pet owners delight in pointing out that white cat feet sometimes look as though the animal is wearing socks. Nature can do what a human cannot—give some cat breeds the appearance of wearing apparel.

But why do some cats look like they’re wearing socks? Why aren’t their feet the same color as the rest of their bodies?

Science has an answer. Specifically, piebaldism. That’s the name for a condition caused by a mutation in the KIT gene responsible for distributing melanocytes, the cells that “program” pigment throughout a cat’s body.

In the absence of piebaldism, the melanocytes are evenly distributed, giving a cat a coat of fur that’s uniform in color. But if the KIT gene is mutated, cats won't have enough of the cells to cover the entire body and the cells they do have won't be evenly spread. As a result, portions of the coat will be white.

Genetics always play a role in a cat’s coat color. In the case of Siamese cats, it’s also partially temperature-dependent. In that breed, an enzyme can suppress melanin production, and the abdomen will appear sandy in color because it’s warm. Relatively cooler extremities, like the ears, will be darker.

Remember that it's always best to enjoy your cat's natural coat. Dying it can be harmful to the cat, and trying to put actual socks on them can be harmful to you.

[h/t Popular Science]

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Massive Swarms of Migrating Dragonflies Are So Large They’re Popping Up on Weather Radar

emprised/iStock via Getty Images
emprised/iStock via Getty Images

What do Virginia, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Ohio all have in common? Epic swarms of dragonflies, among other things.

WSLS-TV reports that this week, weather radar registered what might first appear to be late summer rain showers. Instead, the green blotches turned out to be swarms of dragonflies—possibly green darners, a type of dragonfly that migrates south during the fall.

Norman Johnson, a professor of entomology at The Ohio State University, told CNN that although these swarms happen occasionally, they’re definitely not a regular occurrence. He thinks the dragonflies, which usually prefer to travel alone, may form packs based on certain weather conditions. If that sounds vague, it’s because it is: Johnson said that entomologists haven’t worked out all the details when it comes to dragonfly migration. They do know that the airborne insects cover an average of eight miles per day, while some overachievers can fly as far as 86.

Based on the radar footage shared by the National Weather Service’s Cleveland Office, the dragonfly clouds seem almost menacing. But, while swarms of any insect species aren’t exactly delightful, these creatures are both harmless and surprisingly beautiful, at least up close. Anna Barnett, a resident of Jeromesville, Ohio, even told CNN that witnessing the natural phenomenon was “amazing!”

Amazing as it may be to see, it’s hard to hear news about unpredictable animal behavior without wondering if it’s related in some way to Earth’s rising temperatures. After all, climate change has already affected wasps in Alabama, polar bears in Russia, and no doubt countless other animal species around the world.

[h/t WSLW-TV]

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