The Maltese tiger, also called the blue tiger, is considered to be a tiger with a morphed coloration. It is claimed to inhabit the region of Fujian Province, China. Sightings of Maltese tigers in Korea and Burma have also been reported.
The term Maltese derives from a domestic cat that has slate grey fur. Cats of this coloration are abundant in Malta, therefore, this variation of tiger has acquired its name.
In support of the blue tiger principle, many breeds of felines have this coloration, with wild cats such as bobcats and lynxes also being reported. A black tiger was once thought of as a myth, but pelts have been collected to prove they are real.
The blue-grey coloration of the Maltese tiger’s fur is theorized as a genetic mutation as in domesticated felines. However, it is also believed that the mutation would produce barely-visible stripes, or no stripes at all.
A sighting around 1910 by big game hunter Harry Caldwell was noted in his 1924 book, Blue Tiger. He stated that the blue tiger was seen outside of Fuzhou and he proceeded to hunt for it. Caldwell’s hunting partner also mentioned the blue tiger in his 1925 writing, Camps & Trails in China, chapter VII.
‘The markings of the beast are strikingly beautiful. The ground colour is of a delicate shade of Maltese, changing into light gray-blue on the underparts. The stripes are well defined and like those of the ordinary yellow tiger,’ — Caldwell, Chapman (1925)
Another sighting of a Maltese tiger came from the son of a US Army soldier who was in Korea during the Korean War. He claims his father spotted the tiger in the mountains.
Image Caption: An artistic rendering of the Maltese tiger (based on a photograph of a normal tiger). Credit: Mamapajama97/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 2.0)