A Woman Rescued Kitten Siblings Only To Discover That One Of Them Has A Rare Condition

Kittens are incredibly cute, making it tempting to adopt them on the spot. Their adorableness is the first thing that appeals to us, especially when they’re tiny kittens. When cat owner Nicole decided to take on the responsibility of adopting two sibling tuxedo cats, it seemed like a piece of cake, considering how small and sweet they were. However, she didn’t get them at an adoption center and didn’t know their history. Then something unusual happened. The cats that were once identical started to vary drastically in their appearance. One of them was definitely changing before her eyes. Read on to find out what this kitten was going through.

She Found Them In An Unlikely Place

elli.vitiligo/Instagram
elli.vitiligo/Instagram

Nicole was visiting a farm in Germany when she spotted animals that seemed not to belong there. Hiding in the corner of a barn were two little kittens. The siblings were only about four months old at the time. That’s a very young age for a cat to be without their mother.

Without any certainty of what had happened to their mother, or how long they had been on their own, Nicole had to act fast if she wanted to save the kittens. The shelter of the barn could only do so much for them.

Nicole Helped Them Recover

elli.vitiligo/Instagram
elli.vitiligo/Instagram

The animal-lover caved and collected the cats. She took care of them and got them the medical attention they needed. Miraculously, the kitties were in great health. On top of that, they were cute as can be. When it comes to cats, behavior is everything.

Many stray cats that are found that young are incredibly timid. Like humans, kittens need to be socialized from a young age to prevent them from being terrified of the world around them. Fortunately, these cats took a liking to Nicole.

Then Nicole Spotted Something

elli.vitiligo/Instagram
elli.vitiligo/Instagram

The siblings were named Elli and Rosie. They looked absolutely identical: black coats with a bit of white around their mouths and between the eyes. So when Elli started changing in appearance, it was an obvious change when compared to Rosie.

It started as just a few little speckles of white on her face. They could even be described as little white freckles. But then Nicole noticed a tiny spot of white in Elli’s thick, black coat.

Elli Seemed Her Normal Self

elli.vitiligo/Instagram
elli.vitiligo/Instagram

The faint white was so subtle that it almost seemed like it had always been there. Plus, Elli’s behavior hadn’t changed in the slightest. She didn’t seem extra tired or moody. She was her usual, loving self.

Elli also loves to be outside. She finds solace on a window sill at Nicole’s place. Clearly, she didn’t notice a change in her fur, and if she did it didn’t bother her. She was as outgoing as ever.

Something Was Happening

elli.vitiligo/Instagram
elli.vitiligo/Instagram

As time progressed, it became obvious that Nicole definitely was not imagining things. The white on Elli’s face was progressing, becoming larger spotches around her eyes. More and more single, white fur strands were appearing in her coat, too.

Before long, Elli had a salt-and-pepper coat. Her fur was beginning to look like the hair of an aging human. But she was just a kitten, so what could be causing this? Nicole continued to watch as Elli transformed before her eyes.

Her Energy Was Unaffected

elli.vitiligo/Instagram
elli.vitiligo/Instagram

Most cats enjoy spending much of their time lounging around, stretching out on the sunlit carpet or curling up on the couch. Elli enjoyed that, too, but she also liked to do a bit of exploring.

Even as her fur changed, Elli was still climbing on her kitty toys and venturing about the backyard. Her eyes were wide open and she wasn’t sleeping extra long or looking like she needed medical attention. Regardless, Nicole decided it was time to take her in to the vet.

Here’s What Elli Has

elli.vitiligo/Instagram
elli.vitiligo/Instagram

Nicole brought her nearly-white kitten into the veterinary office, explaining that Elli had been born a tuxedo cat. The changes that had been subtle progressed over time, so that it now was blaringly obvious that something was affecting Elli’s fur.

The kitten was diagnosed with vitiligo. The disease causes a loss of pigmentation due to the destruction of melanocytes. Melanocytes are the cells that give hair and skin their unique pigment. These cells form melanin, a dark brown to black pigment influenced by people’s genes.

The Disease Exists In Other Animals, Too

Ronnie Owens/Pinterest
Ronnie Owens/Pinterest

The disorder can occur in all kinds of species, including dogs, humans, and even reptiles. The loss of pigment happens in blotches, and the extent and rate is unpredictable. Researchers know very little beyond it having to do with certain genes.

For animals who had naturally blotchy fur, like this Saint Bernard mix, the disease can make their fur look even more unique. Since we’re used to seeing these dogs with varied fur colors and tones, the white really embellishes the look.

Some Models Have It

Robert Kamau/GC Images/Getty Images
Robert Kamau/GC Images/Getty Images

While humans don’t have fur, often the skin is impacted for those who have vitiligo. The disease doesn’t have any negative health effects, but can impact self-esteem. That’s why it’s so important that models like this one help to normalize the unique look.

The most common kind is generalized vitiligo, which occurs on both sides of the body symmetrically. Other kinds impact one side or just a small part of the body. It usually appears before the age of 20, and only exists in 0.5-1% of the population.

Elli Is Cuddly As Ever

elli.vitiligo/Instagram
elli.vitiligo/Instagram

Nicole told Love Meow that Elli was incredibly cuddly and affectionate, which made her think that the cat was more like a dog. Even as her fur changed, her loving demeanor remained the same. Since the cat doesn’t feel any discomfort, it doesn’t have anything to worry about.

In fact, the vitiligo is nothing compared to when Nicole first found the cats. She reports that the vet told her they were riddled with mites and ear infections. As far as Elli is concerned, she’s never felt better.

Elli Is A Standout Next To Her Sister

elli.vitiligo/Instagram
elli.vitiligo/Instagram

Rosie still loves hanging around her sister, even if they don’t look the same anymore. Like Elli, Rosie seems not to have noticed a difference in Elli. Animals tend to be less reliant on their sight than humans are. At the end of the day, she knows that’s her sister.

It must be odd-looking to start out looking exactly like your sister, only to grow up and take on your own unique look. However, humans do this all of the time. Unlike animals, we have fashion and makeup to express our own characters. In a sense, vitiligo was the only way that Elli could become truly distinguishable from her sister.

Her Confidence Is Apparent

elli.vitiligo/Instagram
elli.vitiligo/Instagram

While Elli appears to not have a care in the world about the color of her coat, some of her confidence has to be chalked up to her owner, Nicole. The loving cat owner told Love Meow that Elli, “looks like a little snow owl.”

Her positive outlook is likely to register to the cat since animals are so sensitive to humans’ moods, particularly of their owners. Some would even say that Elli’s coat looks better with the vitiligo since it sets her apart from the average tuxedo cat.

Elli Became A Role Model

elli.vitiligo/Instagram
elli.vitiligo/Instagram

Nicole decided to record Elli’s transition on social media. The adorable cat gained tons of followers, especially from people who have vitiligo. Some feel insecure about their skin having blotches of white and brown. However, seeing the cute cat is a reminder that different can be beautiful.

Elli’s owner posts various before and after photos to celebrate Elli’s new snowflake coat. The before and afters show how different her fur is, but also reveal how much her sweet character has stayed the same.

Rosie And Ellie Side By Side

elli.vitiligo/Instagram
elli.vitiligo/Instagram

When Rosie and Elli are beside each another, it almost feels like you’re looking at a before and after of Elli. The cats have the same eyes, and used to have the same fur, too. However, Rosie appears to be a little bit chunkier than her playful sister.

Rosie also has a small black spot on one side of her nose, and her black fur comes down more on one side of her mouth than the other. Her lack of symmetry shows that neither cat is “perfect,” but that makes them all the more uniquely adorable.

Elli Is Nearly Grown Now

elli.vitiligo/Instagram
elli.vitiligo/Instagram

Unlike many other species, cats only take one year to reach their full maturity. Some cats will continue to grow at a very slow rate, taking 18 months to mature. However, the change in Elli’s fur is unpredictable and may continue throughout her life.

The pictures do reveal that the change in Elli’s coat seems to be slowing down, just like her growth is slowing down. Though her coat is now more white than black, it’s likely that she’ll always have a bit of black fur to maintain her signature look.

The Steady Progression Of The Vitiligo

elli.vitiligo/Instagram
elli.vitiligo/Instagram

This progress photo that Nicole made shows how Elli’s vitiligo progressed in a short time span. In the first photo, she is only slightly smaller than she is in the third photograph, but her fur is significantly darker.

The middle photo shows an Elli that is very similar to the last photo, but the fur on her arm consists of slightly more black fur, as does the space above her left eye. Today, even the darker parts of her first appear more gray on her body than black.

Light Body, Dark Ears

elli.vitiligo/Instagram
elli.vitiligo/Instagram

Elli’s hind legs, her mouth, and some of her chest has always been white. However, this previously contrasted the deep black of her coat that covered most of her body. Now, her body is significantly more white.

The white fur, with its subtle hints of dark fur, give the illusion that her coat is a light gray color. However, the fur on her face still has very dark parts of it. Additionally, her ears are almost entirely black as ever, creating a pattern that definitely makes her stand out among other cats.

She Still Loves Being Outside

elli.vitiligo/Instagram
elli.vitiligo/Instagram

The older cat adores sitting on ledges, including the window sill and even on top of the door when it’s open. Being that Elli and her sister were found in a barn, it makes sense that they have a deep comfort of being outside.

It’s reassuring that Elli hasn’t lost her sense of adventure. Some humans who have vitiligo are embarrassed to go outside due to the social stigma of their skin. Animals like Elli show one way that humans can learn from their demeanor.

Another Before And After

elli.vitiligo/Instagram
elli.vitiligo/Instagram

After looking more closely at Rosie, you can tell that the before and after photos of Elli are authentic. In this one, Elli has the all-white nose that distinguishes her from her sister in both photographs, and she looks slightly more slender than Rosie.

You can also tell that both photos are the same cat by that adorable little nose, and the slant in her eyes. These comparison photos help remind us that the cat is still the same even after her fur has grown lighter.

Meet Nicole

elli.vitiligo/Instagram
elli.vitiligo/Instagram

Nicole rarely posts photos of herself on Elli’s Instagram and Facebook. Omitting herself helps keep the attention on Elli, who she clearly thinks the world of. This photo shows the love and affection that Nicole feels towards the kitten she saved.

Scaredy cats would not let you grip them this tightly, but Elli’s paws are relaxed as her owner embraces her. Their loving relationship shows that Elli has managed to trust Nicole despite her rocky start in life, and that Nicole has earned that trust by showering the unique cat with love.