Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A quick lesson on colors...

We just want to take today to do a quick review of some of the different colors and expressions of colors so its a bit easier to understand. We breeders tend to have our own lingo about colors so this should help. We'll cover patterns tomorrow.

First is black or brown. The solid black cat like Chekov "Diesel" and Colette below is easy to figure out. They look black! Easy enough...

Then we have cats like Godomir and his daughter Arabesque below. How come both of them are called black or brown tabbies - they look like totally different colors. First, that's because the gene involved is the black gene so both are called black tabbies in some organization. In the US they are called brown tabbies.

Godomir is a darker brown with very little rufousing (that's the coloring that develops that can look anywhere from yellowish to reddish).

Godomir's daughter Arabesque is also a black/brown tabby but she is a very light version with lots of warmth/rufousing giving her a very golden brown coloring (although not truly golden - that's a WHOLE other complicated issue).

The next is the wonderful blue tabby. Blues are really a gray color although ideally they should be more of a slate blue color. The blue coloring is really the same gene as our black/brown tabbies and solids like the cats above but they add a gene called Dilution. This means the color is just less dense and shows up as blue IF you have a black gene with dilution.
Veksha is an example of a blue tabby. We don't have any solid blues unfortunately.

The second color gene for cats is the red/orange color. Most of us know them as orange tabbies or marmalade. Even a solid red cat has shadow markings so most look like tabbies either way.
Akhmir "Jorge" below from our girl Katie's first litter is a great example of a vivid red tabby with white.

Just as the black/brown cats can have the Dilution gene and look blue/gray the red tabby has the same and this turns them from red to cream.

Now just to complicate things, the red gene is linked to the X chromosome (males have 1 and females have 2). This means that female cats that have 1 X gene with red and one with black end up looking like little Charlotte "Nastya" here. She is a torbie with white - see the areas of black and red?

If you take the tortie/torbie like Charlotte and add that nice Dilution gene you get a beautiful dilute torbie with areas of both blue and cream. Angelina "Sasha" is a beautiful little blue cream torbie with white from our very first litter.

Yet another gene that adds to the variety of looks in our cats is the inhibitor or silver gene. If a cat has this gene the color of the areas that would normally show as that yellowish ground color are turned a whitish color. The tabby marked areas are then left as the black for cats like Esenia Valenvic. She is a black silver tabby. If you have a solid black cat that has the silver gene you get a smoke color like her daughter Francesca "Pepper."

If you add the dilute gene to the mix AND the silver gene you would get a blue silver like our young boy Bossa Nova.
Remember, even among silvers you will get a variety of expressions from large tabby areas that still give a darker over all look to those like Bossa Nova that have a pale silvery look.
There are also red silver and cream silver as well as blue smoke, red and cream smokes but we don't have pictures of those at this time.


LC said...

What color exactly is Drago considered? Does he have the rufousing (sp?)?

Sue of Prekrasne Siberians said...

Drago is considered a black/brown mackerel tabby. He does have the rufousing from his mom and dad. Both of them are lighter in color and a lot of rufousing in the more warm range.