This Litter Of Stray Kittens Was Found In A Shed With A Rare Coloring Condition

A litter of kittens found in an old hay shed were an unexpected sight for one woman in Virginia.

But, as they grew, the sight became even more unusual.

The kittens were born silvery-gray coats, a phenomena called “fever coat,” which most commonly occurs when the mother gives birth while experiencing a high fever or stress.

Apart from their distinctive looks, the kittens were healthy. Their mother had nursed them, though apparently suffering from upper respiratory issues. According to Love Meow, she was also found by animal control officers less than a day later, caught in a humane trap.

A woman named Debbie, who had years of foster experience, was willing to help out. She couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see such a rare occurrence.

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~ New baby gray foxes! Umm, I mean gray kittens 😁! • These photos were sent to me by an animal control officer. I was surprised to say the least. And, I had to zoom in to get a closer look! • What I know about the kittens so far is that there are four, and they were found inside a shed behind someone’s property. The homeowner opened the shed door and discovered them huddled in a corner. So, he scooped them up and brought them to the shelter. The kittens are about 4 weeks old, and appear to be in good health. Traps have been set to see if they can catch the momma cat. • Don’t they look like silver foxes? Or, maybe possums? Their coloring is very unusual and different, and is a first for me. I knew from the moment I saw them what their unique coloring is. Do you? • • #newkittens #comingsoon #thefoxkittens • •

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“The coloring on their ears, tail and feet are darker because temperature on these extremities is cooler. Their fur will eventually turn to a solid black or charcoal gray,” Debbie said. “This is my first fever coat litter in 14 years of fostering. There are two males and two females.”

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🔸New Arrivals! 🔸. • I picked up the Fox Kittens! • Here’s their story: The kittens were found in a hay shed behind a residential property. The property owner opened the shed door and discovered the kittens cuddled up in a corner with no momma cat around. So, she scooped them up and took them to the animal shelter. There are four 4-week old kittens and they are in good health. • The shelter staff returned to the hay shed to set up a trap for the momma cat. By using a few of her kittens as bait, they were able to trap the momma cat within a day. No kittens were in harms way, and the momma and kittens were reunited. • The momma cat is fairly young and very feral. She is a solid gray (blue) and has some URI symptoms (mostly eye drainage). But otherwise, she is in good health. She is extremely stressed and unlike Flo, it doesn’t appear that she was once someone’s pet. I don’t believe she has ever been touched by humans until now. • I am not set up to foster feral cats, but I am able to provide a temporary safe and warm space for her to care for her kittens until they are weaned. Once they are weaned, the momma cat will be returned to the shelter to be vaccinated and spayed. • The kittens are obviously not foxes, but because of their unique coloring, they resemble baby foxes. Their fur coloring is called “fever coat”. Fever coat in kittens occurs when a pregnant cat is ill with a high fever or is under severe stress sometime during pregnancy. This causes the kitten’s fur pigments to turn silver gray. The coloring on their ears, tail and feet (also called “points”) are darker because temperature on these extremities is cooler. Their fur will eventually turn to a solid black or charcoal gray. This is my first fever coat litter in 14 years of fostering, and I think it’s very interesting, and I’m excited to see them transform. A few of the kittens have white spots on their necks and bellies. It looks like I have two males and two females. • I just updated my Amazon wish list for those who would like to help me with supplies! (Link in profile). • Welcome little ones! • #thefoxkittens 🦊 • •

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Over the following few weeks, the kittens fur turned from the unique silver color to charcoal gray. Debbie has been watching the kittens intently, and their mother is seemingly appreciative, though maybe not as interested in snuggling as her cuddly children.

“Foxy momma has been extra hissy today, but so far she is tolerating me being close and touching the kittens,” Debbie posted to Instagram. “We’re off to a good start!”


Debbie has since socialized the cats and worked out some of their feral tendencies. That was one of her initial fears, especially with one of the more timid kittens, who she named “Kit.”

“I worried the most about her, because she didn’t come out of the den as much as the other kittens, and missed out on a lot of human interaction, which is detrimental to her socialization,” Debbie wrote. “She did pick up some of Foxy’s ‘feral ways,’ but in just a short time, she has come around nicely.

“She has an adorable round face and big goggly eyes, and she’s already purring up a storm. Just the way I like em.”


The kittens have now lost their silver coloring, but they are no less unique, and no less special fo their foster human.

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Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.
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