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Armitage Animal Clinic

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Introducing The Salty Licorice Cat

May 15 2024

Note to cat lovers: there is a new kitty in town! Or, perhaps it would be more accurate to announce a new fashion trend among our feline pals. Fluffy just got a new outfit! The gorgeous Salty Licorice Cat is definitely keeping up with current styles. These cats have ombre, or gradient, colored fur, that is white at the tips and dark at the root. In this article from Armitage Animal Clinic, a Newmarket, ON veterinarian talks about this cute cat.

Where Is The Salty Licorice Cat From?

Fluffy is a native of Finland, more specifically the Petäjävesi hamlet. The Salty Licorice Cat, or Salmiak cat, is a descendant of local wild and stray cats in the area.

Nestled in a picturesque region renowned for its lakes, farmlands, and eighteenth-century wood-log church, the town is usually quiet and peaceful. Or, maybe we ought to say that those were its past credentials. Its lists of local legends, sights, and fascinating residents will now need to include the Salty Licorice cat. 

You may be wondering about the etymology. Salmiak cat translates to ‘salty licorice cat’. Salty licorice is a very popular treat in the area. (More on that later.)

Describe the Look of the Salty Licorice Cat

Fluffy looks like a tuxedo cat, except for the white flecks in her dark coat. Though Salmiak cats’ darker fur is frequently black, Fluffy doesn’t exclusively wear that color scheme. Salty Licorice kitties can wear the distinctive pattern over coats of blue, brown, or tortoiseshell.

Fluffy often has lovely green or yellow eyes, and her tail is usually at least partly white.

Are Salty Licorice Cats A New Breed?

Fluffy is still not officially a breed. That Salty Licorice moniker just accurately characterizes the hue of her coat. This is also the case for many other cats, including tabbies and tuxies.

When Did Salty Licorice Cats First Appear?

There are a lot of questions about the kitties’ origins. We do know that Fluffy really came to the spotlight in 2007, when people began to realize how stylish some of Petäjävesi’s cats were.

There was initially some uncertainty as to whether or not the kitties would be able to procreate because all of the stray cats with that unusual coloration had been fixed. However, Fluffy was seen delivering some really adorable kittens.

What Gene Causes the Colors of Salty Licorice Coats?

Hannes Lohi, a geneticist at the University of Helsinki, is credited with the formal research. Scientists and animal welfare activists carried out the research, which he oversaw.

The team tested five Salmiak kittens and 178 others, who were all wearing regular coats.  They discovered a few intriguing facts about the color combination. For instance, not a single Salmiak cat possessed the particular genetic mutations linked to white fur.

Through whole genome sequencing, the researchers were able to pinpoint the genetic origin of the new kitty fashion. They found a previously unidentified mutation affecting a specific gene known as KIT, which is also connected to piebald patterns in horses and other animals. 

The gene mutation known as w-sal, for salmiak, was found in two copies in every Salmiak kitten. Some of the other cats had one copy because the gene is recessive, none of those carriers were able to don the Salmiak hues and patterns.

The study was published in May.

Why Does Fluffy Go by the Name of The Salty Licorice Cat?

The kittens got their names from a well-liked Finnish delicacy. As you can probably guess, it is composed of licorice dusted with salmiak salt. Also known as salmiak liquorice or salmiac licorice, the treat is immensely popular in northern Germany, the Benelux area, and Scandinavia.

Cats Can Eat Licorice?

While licorice is probably not a treat we would suggest, it isn’t harmful to our feline friends. In fact, it may even be good for them. It does have anti-inflammatory qualities, and may also benefit cats with respiratory problems. However, more research is needed. You should never give your pet any plant or drug unless your vet recommends it.

That aside, some cats appear to enjoy the flavor of licorice. To Fluffy, though, it’s most likely the texture or smell she enjoys. A gene abnormality in cats prevents them from tasting sweets. Some of these little furballs appeared to have missed that message, as we do know a few kitties who like to eat cake, cookies, and donuts. In that case, Fluffy most likely enjoys the fat content. Don’t give your pet any of these sugary treats. Even though it could be charming to share a donut with your feline pal, it just isn’t safe. These foods are not just heavy in sugar; many of them also include birch sugar, or xylitol, which is unsafe for cats.

What Is Salty Liquorice?

These little black sweets were first well-liked in the 1800s. Danish Galle and Jessen, candymakers, are credited with their invention and the beginning of what has undoubtedly turned into an enduring food obsession.

We can definitely see the appeal here. After all, it sounds quite cozy to curl up on a snowy night with a dish of sweets and a purring Salmiak kitty in your lap!

How Do You Make Salty Licorice?

Recipes for this popular treat abound online. All these are essentially little tweaks to the same basic recipe.


  • Eight tablespoons unsalted butter
  • One cup sugar
  • One-half cup dark corn syrup
  • One and a half cups condensed sweetened milk
  • 1/4 cup Blackstrap molasses,
  • Eight tsp. kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 1⁄2 tablespoons anise essence
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons black food dye

Combine the butter, sugar, milk, molasses, and salt in a saucepan and heat until boiling. After it’s boiled, take it off the heat and add the other ingredients. (Note: for a slightly healthier variation, you could substitute brown rice syrup for dark corn syrup and heavy cream for condensed milk.)

Spoon onto a pan lined with parchment paper and let cool for about thirty to forty-five minutes. Then, take it out and shape it. Remember to top with salt!

You might as well go above and beyond and obtain a mold to form one of these goodies into a cat. Actually, a lot of confectionery firms already do this!

Are Salty Licorice Cats Very Expensive?

That’s difficult to say right now. The cats are still relatively rare. Even though they are really, really cute, we as animal advocates do need to bring attention to the drawbacks of the designer breed obsession, and to encourage people to adopt, rather than shop. Sweet, endearing cats abound in shelters, just waiting for their forever homes! Remember, no matter what color our feline friends are wearing, they always make adorable pets!

Set Up An Appointment At Your Newmarket, ON Veterinary Clinic

Does your feline friend require a physical, immunizations, or parasite control? Has your cat not come in recently? For any and all of your cat’s veterinarian care needs, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Armitage Animal Clinic, your Newmarket, ON pet hospital. We are at your service.