SILVER AND GOLD: SMOKE, SHADED AND TIPPED CATS
This article looks at the history and genetics of the silver and golden cats. There are many terms used to describe the different smoke, shaded and tipped cats and these are different depending on whether a cat is longhaired or shorthaired! Some terms are now only found in older books, so I've included the various alternative names. "Agouti" refers to a cat with any of the tabby patterns. "Non-agouti" refers to a solid-colour (non-tabby) cat.
Smoke, shaded and tipped are due to the inhibitor gene (silver-restriction). This gene restricts the colour to the hair tip while the shaft is either white/ivory (silver series) or golden (golden series). Tipping/shading causes the normally yellow-brown agouti band to be both lighter in colour and wider, starting closer to the root and ending nearer the hair tip than in tabby cats. The tipping colour is known as the top-colour, while the pale colour of the hair shaft is known as the undercolour. These patterns are most striking on the eumelanistic colours (black, blue, chocolate, cinnamon, lilac), because of the contrast between pattern colour or top-colour and the background or undercolour. Shading and silver also occurs in reds and creams which are sometimes termed cameos.
Chinchilla, or Tipped (sometimes known as "shell") is the lightest degree of tipping. In this case, only the hair tip is coloured while the hair shaft is silver. This gives the cat a sparkling appearance. For many cat fanciers, the Chinchilla Persian Longhair (Silver Chinchilla) is the epitome of the tipped cats. It has black tipped fur on a white undercolour. The best known shorthaired equivalent is the Burmilla, part of the Asian group. Because Chinchilla cats are genetically tabby, faint tabby markings can sometimes be seen on kittens. In shorthairs, the chinchilla pattern is known as "tipped". These should have pink nose leather.
Shaded, and PewterThe next degree of tipping is known "shaded". The colour extends further along the hair shaft, usually about half way. The colour is darkest on the back, creating a mantle of shading, hence the historical term "mantled silver." Shaded silvers are the "black" form; but the shading can be a variety of colours. Shaded Silver lies between the extremes of Silver Tabby and Chinchilla and is commonly produced by mating a Silver Tabby to a Chinchilla. The amount of tipping is variable, ranging from a poorly-defined Silver Tabby through dark- and light-shaded cats to a dark Chinchilla. While they are all attractive, show standards set out clear definitions of the degree of colour permitted on a show-quality shaded silver. These should have pink nose leather.
Smoke is heaviest degree of tipping. Unlike tipped and shaded cats, smoke cats are genetically solid colour, not tabby, cats. The pale undercolour is reduced to a small band near the hair root. A smoke longhair often appears to be solid coloured with a pale ruff or frill. In shorthairs, smoke varieties appear solid colour until the coat is parted or the cat is in motion, exposing the undercolour. The width of the silver undercolour is variable, resulting in lighter and darker smokes, but show standards set out clear definitions of the degree of colour permitted on a show-quality smokes. Smoke cats have coloured nose leather.
In genetic terms, the silver tabby is identical to the tipped and shaded silver cats but the pattern is diffused because pigment is restricted to the tips of the hairs. Silver tabbies occur in ticked, classic, mackerel and spotted patterns which are described in Striped and Spotted Cats.
EARLY "SILVER" CATS
The origin of the Chinchilla Persian breed was a female cat called Chinnie, born in 1882 when Silver Tabbies and Black Smokes were already familiar. Chinnie was probably either a Silver Mackerel Tabby or a Spotted Tabby Longhair whose pattern was diffused by her long hair. Her weak markings would be considered heavy by modern standards! Her exact ancestry is unknown though it includes prize winning grandparents on one side and a stray tomcat on the other. Chinnie was unusual enough for interested parties to want to breed similar cats from her. She was mated to Fluffy I, a prize-winner of unknown parentage, who was a very pure Silver with undecided tabby markings" (probably Chinchilla). Sadly, many of their offspring died or strayed, and Fluffy I himself vanished in 1886. However one of their descendants, Beauty, was mated to a Smoke and produced the first recognisable Chinchilla in Champion Silver Lambkin who practically set the standard for the breed. The Chinchilla was recognised for exhibition in its own class in 1894. Beauty continued to produce kittens and her descendants were mated to blues, silver tabbies and others. Blotched tabby, mackerel tabby and dilution were introduced into the gene pool from those very early days. Both tabby patterns can be seen in newborn kittens. Early Chinchillas had a range of levels of tipping and some confusion as to how much tipping was ideal. Orange eyes were preferred and in 1895, "Fur and Feather" carried an article regarding a green-eyed Chinchilla, "It is useless to think of exhibiting her on account of her green eyes". Green eyes later became a defining feature of Chinchillas.
In 1900 the Silvers class was split into Silver Tabbies, Chinchillas or "Self Silvers" (light tipping) and Shaded Silver (heavy tipping). Then, as now, there were many cats which fell somewhere between tipped and shaded, plus different judges had different ideas as to where the line should be drawn. The same cat was sometimes rejected from both classes due to different judges' opinions, or was sometimes entered into both classes and won both! The Chinchilla and Shaded Silver classes were then combined to prevent confusion. In 1903 Frances Simpson described Chinchilla shading as "a short of bluish lavender to the tips of the coat", and "delicate tips of silvery-blue". Breeders of the time describe it as "palest silver, lavender tint and lighter - in fact practically white - at the roots " and "pure silver of a bluish tinge". In 1907, the Chinchilla (Self Silver) was described: "A good self-silver has fur that is white at the roots and shades softly to a faint grey at the tips. The colour is rather that of old-fashioned silver lustre ware than of modern silver. The ideal self-silver must have neither markings nor shadings, nor must there be any black tips to the hair, either oh the back of in the tail or elsewhere". It wasn't until 1930 that the standard referred to the tipping as "black".
In 1926, after a curious cat ("a mixture of colours") owned by Mrs Boutcher won the Any Other Colour class, Lord Sylvester suggested the starting of a new breed called "Marked Silvers". The suggestion was not taken up. The cat was likely a silver tabby or shaded silver with markings of some colour other than black. In 1927, HC Brooke commented that some 50 years previously, there existed a pretty variety of short-hair tabby that was, in 1927, quite extinct. The ground colour was a creamy tint and the markings were always rather narrow and were reddish-brown. Since "sandy-coloured" or "lemony" red tabbies were frowned upon by cat fanciers, quite possibly this was a red-silver tabby. Red and cream Chinchillas had appeared in the USA in 1934 through breeding Silver Chinchillas to Red Self Persians. In 1951, Soderberg wrote wrote that the Chinchilla was unsuited to living in industrialised town because "It is a light-coated cat which is perhaps hardly suitable to the soot and grime of large industrial towns, but it is doubtful whether it needs much more attention than its darker-coated fellows."
By the 1990s, breeders were becoming concerned that Chinchilla cats were following the ultra-type route taken by other Persians. Traditionally, the Chinchilla had retained the longer muzzle. In America this temporarily resulted in a new breed classification, the Sterling, for the traditional-type Chinchillas. Older-style Chinchillas remain more popular with members of the public, but the showbench Chinchilla has moved inexorably towards the squashed-in look of other Persians. Outcrossing to other, already ultra-typed, Persian varieties is losing the old Chinchilla look. The photos below show cats of both types.
The Burmilla is a tipped silver cat of Asian/European Burmese type. Burmillas arose in 1981 as a result of an accidental mating of a lilac Burmese female and a Chinchilla male. This produced four Black Shaded Silver kittens of Burmese type and with a short, dense coat. The following year, there was a planned mating of a Blue Burmese female with the same Chinchilla male. These were the founding cats of the Burmilla variety although there have been a number of Burmese-to-Chinchilla matings since then in order to widen the gene pool. The Burmilla was recognised by FIFe in 1994. In addition to the Burmilla there are also Asian Smoked and Asian Shaded Silver cats in a variety of different top colours. These are all bred in both shorthair and longhair forms.
Finally, there is a different form of tipped fur found in the Chausie, a breed derived from hybridising F chaus (Jungle Cat) with the domestic cat. Black Chausies with silver tipped fur (grizzle) occur; this is looks like a reversed chinchilla, but apperas to be a form of black agouti inherited from F chaus.
THE EARLY COLOURS
Tipping is not restricted to black. It can occur in any of the solid colours. The naming convention is given in the table below. Red on silver and cream on silver are also early developed colours and hence have a number of synonyms! The term "shell" was used to describe the cat having a shell of colour rather than a solid (to-the-roots) colour. "Cameo" described the type of red - similar to the colour of old cameo necklaces - with "Cream Cameo" (pictured here) simply meaning a paler form of this. The introduction of the red series means tortopiseshells also appear, giving us the Tortoiseshell Chinchilla (Shell Tortoiseshell, Silver Tortoiseshell), the Shaded Tortoiseshell (Tortoiseshell Shaded Silver) and the Smoke Tortoiseshell, (Tortoiseshell Smoke). Tortoiseshell tabby (patched tabby) also occurs on the silver undercolour e.g. the Silver Patched Tabby (Silver Tortoiseshell Tabby).
THE EARLY COLOURS AND A CONFUSION OF NAMES
Chinchilla = Silver/Silver Chinchilla (shorthair) = Tipped/Black Tipped
Silver Ticked Tabby (Usual Silver Abyssinian/ Somali)
Red Chinchilla = Shell Cameo/Red Tipped
Red Silver Tabby = Cameo Tabby
Red Silver Ticked Tabby (Red Silver Abyssinian/Somali)
Broken Full Colour
Tortoiseshell Chinchilla = Shell Tortoiseshell/Silver Tortoiseshell
Blue Chinchilla/Blue Tipped
Blue Silver Tabby
Blue Silver Ticked Tabby
Cream Chinchilla = Shell Cream Cameo
Cream Silver Tabby = Cream Cameo Tabby
Cream Silver Ticked Tabby
Broken Dilute Colour
Blue Cream Chinchilla = Shell Dilute Tortoiseshell
THE NEWER COLOURS
Luckily the newer colours follow a general formula without too many confusing synonyms e.g. Chocolate (Chestnut) Chinchilla, Lavender (Lilac) Shaded Silver etc.
[colour-name] Silver Tabby
[colour-name] Silver Tabby-Tortoiseshell ([colour-name] Silver Patched Tabby)
[colour-name] Silver Ticked Tabby, [colour-name] Silver Abyssinian/Somali
Some of these colours have probably turned up historically, but have not been recognised as distinct colours. For example, some early tipped, shaded and smoke cats were described as poorly coloured. "Poorly coloured" Blue Smokes were very likely Lilac Smokes, a colour not recognised or understood at the time.
The Golden series is also relatively recent and is still uncommon:-
Golden Chinchilla, [colour-name] Golden Chinchilla
Shaded Golden, [colour-name] Shaded Golden
Golden Smoke, [colour-name] Golden Smoke (hypothetical, as golden should be impossible in non-agouti cats)
Golden Tabby-Tortoiseshell (Golden Patched Tabby)
Golden Ticked Tabby, [colour-name] Golden Ticked Tabby
Golden tabbies are derived from Chinchilla/Shaded Silver cats. Because the Inhibitor gene is dominant, a shaded/tipped cat might carry a hidden recessive form of that gene. If two recessive carriers are bred together, there is a good chance that some kittens will inherit two copies of the recessive gene, giving rise to a Golden. They cats are different from other tabbies, being brighter in colour due to wider colour bands on the hair shaft. A separate "wide band" gene is thought to be at work as well.
Smoke is caused by the combination of the dominant Inhibitor gene with the recessive Non-agouti (non-tabby) gene. The Inhibitor gene gives rise to a pale undercolour. The extent of this undercolour is variable and the smoke can be described as light, medium or dark depending on the amount of top-colour, called "veiling," and the extent of the pale undercolour i.e. how far the pale colour extends along the hair shaft. Occasionally a Smoke can be so light in colour that on visual inspection it is Shaded cat (e.g. a very light Black Smoke resembling a Shaded Silver), although true Shaded cats are genetically tabby, not solid colour. This "overlap" in how the cat looked caused confusion among early fanciers and breeders. In smoke cats, the undercolour varies from almost white to a bluish grey. Cats with darker undercolours may look self coloured, especially in black cats. It is possible to have a cat which is genetically a smoke, but which is visually solid black! The heavy tipping combines with a very narrow white hair base so that the smoke effect is lost. This variation in the relative amounts of undercolour and top-colour appears to be due to modifier genes and mirrors the way in which modifier genes act on shaded silvers to produce both shaded cats and chinchillas (and often in the same litter). Some smokes, known as overlaps, never develop the silvery undercoat and only prove to be genetically smokes when bred. Cat fancy standards define the ideal amount of veiling for an exhibition quality smoke.
Smoke kittens sometimes show faint tabby markings, as seen in the photo on this page. Young smoke Persians look almost solid in colour except for a silver tracery (clown lines) where the agouti areas would appear in a tabby. Not all kittens have clearly visible clown lines, but those that do have them tend to develop more striking adult coats. In adults, the presence of clown lines is penalised. The smoke effect is more obvious in longhaired cats and is not restricted to black smokes. Other colours can be combined with the Inhibitor gene to produce blue smokes, chocolate smokes, lilac smokes and red smokes. Black, blue and red are the longest established and best known varieties. Blue smokes certainly appeared early on, but were usually dismissed as "poorly marked" individuals. The Red (Cameo) Smoke has red/orange tipping on a whitish undercolour; because of the way in which red colour is inherited (Tortoiseshell and Tricolour Cats), the males are red, but the females may be either red or tortoiseshell.
The non-agouti gene has no effect on the red colour as red is produced by a different pigment (phaeomelanin). This means that the difference in appearance between Red Smokes, Red Shaded Silvers and Red Chinchillas is not due to the cats having the agouti or non-agouti gene as it is with the other colours; it appears to be due to the Inhibitor gene causing the pale undercolour and other modifiers dictating how far along the hair shaft the undercolour and top-colour extend respectively. However, the Agouti gene affects the eumelanin colours such as black, blue, chocolate etc which makes a difference in whether the non-red areas of tortoiseshells turn out as smoke (Non-agouti) or as silver tabby, blue silver tabby etc (Agouti). The Cream Smoke, Cream Shaded Silver and Cream Chinchilla are due to the presence of the dilution gene in addition to the red gene. In the tortoiseshells, this turns a red/black tortoiseshell into a blue smoke tortie or a blue silver tabby tortie.
Shorthaired solid colour cats tend to have have ghost tabby markings which are particularly visible in kittens. As a result of ghost markings, Smoke shorthairs may appear to be Smoke tabbies. Hence the Black Smoke Egyptian Mau has visible spots on a Smoke background. According to Phyllis Lauder's book "The British, European and American Shorthair Cat" (1981), the Smoke factor can turn up in unexpected places. Lauder had a Blue Cornish Rex with underfur of the ash-white colour proper to a Smoke. When the cat was 2 years old, she noticed that the fur behind his ears looked silver. At the time, he could not be described as Smoke according to the standards for that colour (which demanded a light silver fril; and ear tufts and an ash-white undercoat tipped with blue), but he was nevertheless a Blue Smoke. The appearance of the smoke factor was not always welcomed by breeders. In particular, there were complaints that Red and Cream longhairs showed an undesirable degree of white in the undercoat.
The best known silver tabbies are the shorthaired black versions which are widely used in advertising; these are simply called Silver tabbies and have black markings on a silver undercoat. A show-quality silver tabby will not have any "tarnishing" (yellowish tints, particularly on the muzzle). Other silver tabbies are prefixed by the name of the marking colour e.g. Blue Silver Tabby, Chocolate Silver Tabby, Lilac Silver Tabby, Cinnamon Silver tabby and Fawn Silver Tabby. Pewter Tabbies are now more correctly known as Blue Silver Tabbies. In the red series, there are Red Silver Tabbies (Cameo Tabbies) and Cream Silver Tabbies (Cream Cameo Tabbies) which have red markings and cream markings respectively on a silvery background, and also Tortoiseshell Silver tabbies.
The Inhibitor gene has also been introduced into Abyssinians and Somalis to create silver-undercoated varieties of ticked tabby. These are popular in Britain, but are less well known in the USA. The short-lived Alaskan Snow Cat had the silver ticked tabby pattern, but had a more rounded shape than the Abyssinians and Somalis.SHADED SILVER AND CHINCHILLA (TIPPED)
Shaded Silver and Chinchilla are also caused by the dominant Inhibitor gene in combination with the dominant Agouti gene. The underlying tabby pattern is demonstrated by chinchilla kittens which appear silver tabby until the hair grows long enough for the white undercolour to be properly developed. As the hairs become longer, the tabby pattern is diffused and only the very tips of the hair are coloured, producing a sparkling effect. Occasionally a Smoke (Non-agouti) can be so light in colour that on visual inspection it appears to be a Shaded cat (e.g. a very light Black Smoke resembling a Shaded Silver); however it is different genetically.
The first silver chinchillas were developed from unsound or spoiled silver tabbies mated to lightly tipped smokes. Unsound or spoiled silver tabbies were those where the silver undercoat was evident at the base of the black hairs which formed the markings. Because chinchillas resulted from crossings to smokes, it was thought that a single factor (what would now be called a gene) was responsible for chinchillas, shaded silvers and smokes. There are light, medium and dark smokes and light smokes were sometimes mistaken for shaded cats and bred with chinchillas. Selective breeding has increased the amount of undercolour and reduced the extent of top-colour. The long fur emphasises the undercolour and prevents the hair tips from forming a recognisable tabby pattern. Some tabby effects may still be seen in body areas with shorter fur: the face and lower legs. The longer the fur, the better the pattern is dissipated, hence shaded shorthairs are at a disadvantage compared to the longhairs. Although some Shaded shorthaired cats have a tabby pattern at birth, this should be dissipated by hair length in adulthood. Sometimes the tabby pattern persists into later life and is considered a serious fault (or the cat is quietly reclassified as a tabby). There are likely to be various modifier genes which further disperse the tabby pattern and reduce the pigmentation of the hair shaft by creating wider bands.
The Shaded Silver and the Silver Chinchilla (usually known simply as Chinchilla with no colour qualifier) are the most familiar of these cats and the longest established. They are not the only colour variants though. The Blue Chinchilla is the dilute form of the Chinchilla and appears almost identical. Blue Chinchillas are most easily distinguished as kittens when the blue colour is less diffuse. The Chocolate Chinchilla is also most easily identified in kittenhood. Adult Chocolate Chinchillas have dusky-brown or "off-black" tipping. Lilac Chinchillas, Cinnamon Chinchillas and Fawn Chinchillas are also possible.
The Red Shaded Silver and Red Chinchilla (and also the Tortoiseshell Shaded and Tortoiseshell Chinchilla) are produced by a combination of the Inhibitor gene and the red gene. The difference in appearance between the Red Shaded Silver and Red Chinchilla is due to modifiers acting on the extent of the undercolour and top-colour along the hair shaft. The Agouti gene affects non-red colours such as black, blue, chocolate etc so it does make a difference in whether the non-red areas of tortoiseshells turn out as shaded/tipped (Non-agouti) or as silver tabby, blue silver tabby etc (Agouti). The Cream Shaded Silver and Cream Chinchilla are due to the presence of the dilution gene in addition to the red gene. In the tortoiseshells, this additionally turns a red/black tortoiseshell into a blue smoke tortie or a blue silver tabby tortie.
In 1969 or the early 1970s, Mrs Worthy of Hertfordshire bred some unusual Devon Rex twins whose white coats were “sprinkled exotically with lilac highlights”. The only photo is a black and white one, showing the cats as having darker noses (not surprising, since the hair is shortest on the nose). These would seem to be lilac tipped, though by all accounts they were somewhat unexpected!
The Chinchilla's sparkling looks mean it is often associated with luxury, quality and class; Chinchillas are therefore used in advertising products that want to appear a cut above the rest; anything from luxury carpets to gourmet cat food.PEWTER
In the early days of breeding silvers, cats with orange eyes were preferred, but these eventually lost out to the green-eyed cats. During the course of breeding Shaded Silvers and Chinchillas, what appeared to be orange-eyed Shaded Silvers appeared. To differentiate them from the green-eyed shaded silvers, they were called Pewters or Pewter Tipped. Some of the earliest Pewters may have been genetically blue (grey) rather than black or may have been light Smokes. Still uncommon compared to Chinchillas and Shaded Silvers, the modern Pewter has heavier tipping than the Shaded Silver resulting in a darker mantle. The first Pewters were bred sometime in the 1970s and found in the "Any Other Colour" classes along with Shaded cats of then unrecognised colours such as Chocolate Shaded and Lilac Shaded. The Black Pewter gained Championship Status in 1986 in the UK. Still considered by some to be a poor relation of the Shaded Silver, the Pewter remains comparatively rare.
In the late 1890s and early part of the next century, orange eyes were standard for Chinchilla and Shaded Silver cats. Green eyes, now a prominent feature of these cats, were considered a fault in those days. Those with a sense of history are pleased to see the ancestral eye-colour being bred again. Blue Pewters have also been recognised.
The term Pewter Tabby was used historically to describe the Blue Silver Tabby.MASKED SILVER
Historical Masked Silver.
Masked Silver (black smoke) LaPerm.
Resembling the Shaded Silver in all respects apart from dark mask and dark legs, the Masked Silver is believed to be a "light" Black Smoke. Before the Shaded and Smoke cats patterns were known to be genetically distinct, this was regarded as a sub-type of Shaded Silver and a number of attractive Masked Silver Persians were bred. Some were described as having darker bodies (mantles) than Shaded Silvers". On the body, the top-colour is reduced to no more than half the length of the hair producing the visual effect of a Shaded Silver. On the face and legs, however, the top-colour extends further along the hair shaft, indicating the cat's true type. It is more apparent in modern Shaded shorthairs although some very attracted Masked Silver Persians have been bred in the past. Many kittens that initially appear to be Masked Silvers are actually solid colour cats with "fever coat" (a grey or mottled coat caused by the warm temperatures in the womb), so it's necessary to wait until adulthood to see if the cats really are Mask Silvers. Martine Sansoucy of Butterpaws LaPerms has seen a number of masked silvers and notes that they appear to be smokes rather than shaded silvers. Butterpaws BC The Crow, known as "Cairo" is a black smoke that meets the general description of a masked silver. As can be seen from the photo, the different textures of fur on the face and the body give the impression of a masked cat with the black colour being more intense on the straighter fur.
Some authors have written that the masked silver dates back to 1900, but were probably referring to the shaded silver, a variety not recognised in Britain at the time and considered to be a badly bred chinchilla. According to Milo Denlinger in 1947, "Masked silvers are a new variety and very few are bred." Denlinger went on to describe the variety: "The ideal masked silver is a very beautiful animal; in colouring or, I should say, marking, they should resemble the Siamese Cat; that is to say, they should have a black mask, or face, black feet, and legs. The body should be as pale a silver as posible." The eyes were to be deep golden or copper. Several authors have observed that the description of the masked silver resembles that of the Siamese. The Masked Silver was also described by Mery and others in the 1960s.EARLY GOLDEN CATS - SABLES
Mirroring the silver series, there is the newer and less common golden series. One of the most famous early chinchillas was called Silver Lambkin, and it seems likely from descriptions at the time that he gave rise to both silver and golden kittens. Unknown to early breeders who did not have the benefit of genetics knowledge, where there are Chinchilla Persians, Silver Tabby Persians and Silver Tabby Shorthairs there will usually be Golden and Golden Tabby cats too. These were generally considered normal brown tabbies, known as "brownies" and discarded, though some Golden Tabbies no doubt found their way into the Brown Tabby Class since early writers differentiated between the "Brown Tabby" and the "Sable Tabby".
The GCCF studbook of 1925 listed a "sable chinchilla" male called Bracken, whose parents were Caiville (male) and Minetta (female). Bracken appears to have been an early Golden Persian and apparently had a chinchilla female littermate. An influential "silver" (Chinchilla) female, Recompense of Allington, was born from another mating of Caiville to Minetta and there is a 75% probability that Recompense carried the Golden gene which popped up in Chinchilla descendants later on. Evelyn Buckworth-Herne-Soam's 1933 book included a chapter on the Brown Tabby Longhair. She commented on the very successful Brown Tabby Longhair of 1896, Champion Birkdale Ruffie and also on a much later "rich sable colour" cat called Treylstan Garnet and referred to the colour class as "brownies", then the term for the brown tabby (as opposed to "silvers"). In 1927, Mrs Sydney Evans placed her Longhair Sable at stud. The cat was acquired from Mrs Jourdain who knew of several cats of that variety and hoped that they might become better established. All were bred from Chinchilla stock. Sable was excellent in type and had a good sable coat with black tips (called ticking, but not to be confused with the Abyssinian) along the spine and on the tail, head and paws. His eyes were emerald green. Assuming that the "Sable Tabbies" of history were in fact Golden Tabbies, the following descriptions of Sables from around 1903 give an insight into the early history of the golden series.
The 1903 "Book of the Cat" stated: "There is a distinct kind of brown tabby, which may better be described as sable. These cats have not the regular tabby markings, but the two colours are blended one with another, the lighter sable tone predominating. At the Crystal Palace Cat Show of 1902 the class was for brown tabby or sable. I was judging, and, considering the mixed entries, I felt that markings must not be of the first importance, and so awarded first and second to Miss Whitney's beautiful sable females, the third going to a well-marked though out of condition brown tabby. ... These sable marked cats are rare, but still more beautiful would be a cat entirely of the one tawny colour - a self sable, without markings. "The most suitable factors to obtain this colour," so writes Mrs Balding, "would probably be tortoiseshell-and-sable tabby, as free from marking and as red in ground colour as possible. A cross of orange, bright coloured and as nearly as obtainable from unmarked ancestors, would be useful. Some nine years ago I purchased a dimly marked bright sable coloured cat, 'Molly,' shown by Mrs Davies at the Crystal Palace, with a view to producing a self-coloured sable cat; but 'Molly' unfortunately died, and I abandoned the ide The nearest approach to a self-sable I have ever come across was a cat I obtained for the Viscountess Esher, which had, alas! been neutered. He was almost unmarked, and of the colour of Canadian sable, with golden eyes - a most uncommon specimen."
Frances Simpson wrote: "For sables we, of course, go to the Birkdale strain. I remember the incomparable "Birkdale Ruffie" in his full glory at the Crystal Palace - a mass of red-brown fur, of the style of "Persimmon Laddie," but with more distinct markings and a very keen, almost fierce expression; in fact, he looked like a wild animal! Then "Master Ruffie" appeared as a kitten, and later as a mild edition of his sire. From this celebrated strain Miss Whitney's lovely sables are descended. ... the brown tabby and sable, though often classed together, must not be confounded. The brown tabby is supposed to be the common ancestor of all our cats, and hence the tendency to revert to that colour. ... They appear in very unexpected places - in a litter of chinchillas or blacks, or among our oranges, and sometimes where no brown ancestor can be traced. ... As regards the sables, I may remark that they are late in maturing and do not acquire their marvellous colouring till about the second year ." (She also remarked that sable tortoiseshells existed)
Miss Southam described Birkdale Ruffie in Frances Simpson's The Book of the Cat: It was at the West of England Cat Show in 1894 that 'Birkdale Ruffie' scored his first real success winning two first prizes in the open and novice classes and two specials. Here at last his beautiful sable colouring, his dense black markings, and wonderful expressive face were appreciated. The year 1896 was the occasion of his sensational win at the Crystal Palace show. He simply swept the board, carrying everything before him - first prize, championship, several specials, and the special given by the King (then Prince of Wales) - for the best rough-coated cat in the show. Again, in 1897, he was shown with great success at the Crystal Palace, winning first prize, championship and special. This was the occasion of 'Birkdale Ruffie's' last appearance before the public, as it was during the following month my sister was taken dangerously ill, and for this reason his pen at the Brighton show was empty. After her death we determined to subject him no more to the trials and discomforts of the show pen so 'Ruffie,' who was now seven years old and a great pet, both for his own sake and that of his mistress, only too gladly retired […] watching his facsimile, his little son 'master Ruffie,' growing up more beautiful each day and ready to take up the thread of his father's famous career in the exhibition world.
Into the latter 'Master Ruffie' made his debut without any of the numerous anxieties encountered by his celebrated parent. The way was paved for him, and when he appeared at the Crystal Palace show in 1899, in all the full glory of his youth and beauty, it was difficult for the judges to realise that it was not their old favourite who was now confronting them through the wires. 'Master Ruffie' has only been shown on two occasions - in 1897 as a kitten, and in 1899 at the Crystal Palace, when he returned home with his box literally filled with cards, his winnings including three first prizes, four specials, and a championship. I am sorry we can manage to get no really good photo of 'Master Ruffie' … steadfastly refuses the face the camera. Again and again the button is pressed in vain, and only the glimpse of a vanishing tail upon the negative is all we have to show as 'Ruffie's' portrait! [Master Ruffie] is a very cobby little fellow, being perhaps shorter in the legs, which makes him appear to be a somewhat smaller cat than his father. 'Birkdale Ruffie' was noted for the extreme beauty of his expression; he had certainly one of the most characteristic faces ever seen in a cat, and his son inherits the same. The former was constantly the subject of sketches in the illustrated papers, those by Mr Louis Wain being especially lifelike. Some of 'master Ruffie's' descendants are, I believe, in the possession of Miss Witney, and have met with great success in the show pen."
Miss Witney wrote "'Brayfort Fina' is, I may say, a sable tabby, being particularly rich in colour all throughout - indeed, more often of an auburn tan than brown. ...'Fina' was bred by Miss G Southam, and is by 'Master Ruffie' ex 'Bluette,' her sire being a son of the famous 'Champion Birkdale Ruffie.' [In 1902 'Fina' took first] at the Bath Specialist Show in the same year, where her gorgeous colouring was called in question and an unsupported protest was made that she was dyed!THE GOLDEN SERIES
Breeders have selctively bred for very pale chinchillas, which suggests another factor restricts the colour to the tip of the hair shaft and allows only very thin bands of colour (if any) along the hair shaft. This is called "Wide Band" (currently no single gene is yet identified) and explains the corresponding golden series of tipped and shaded cats. This widens the pale bands along the hair shaft, producing the golden hair shaft. The Inhibitor and Wide Band go hand-in-hand to create tipped colours, but what if a cat inherits Wide Band and no Inhibitor?
Golden tabbies have been derived from Chinchilla and Shaded Silver cats. Because the Inhibitor gene is dominant, it is believed that a silver cat might carry a hidden recessive form of that gene. If two recessive carriers are bred together, some kittens may inherit two copies of the recessive form. With no dominant Inhibitor (silver) gene, they can be golden chinchillas and shaded goldens. This theory is shown below; the "silver agouti" means a tipped or shaded cat. The Wide Band effect is necessary to widen the pale areas of the agouti hairs. Because smoke cats are non-agouti, a "golden smoke" would be impossible. The naming convention is below. Being a newer variety, the naming convention is standardised hence [colour-name] indicates the tipping/shading colour e.g. Blue Shaded Golden, Tortoiseshell Golden Chinchilla. Where a cat is described with no addition "colour-name" the tipping/shading/tabby etc is assumed to be black. The Golden Tabby is equivalent to the Silver Tabby with distinct markings on a golden background.
Golden Chinchilla, [colour-name] Golden Chinchilla
Shaded Golden, [colour-name] Shaded Golden
Golden Tabby-Tortoiseshell (Golden Patched Tabby)
Golden Ticked Tabby, [colour-name] Golden Ticked Tabby
Golden Smoke, [colour-name] Golden Smoke (hypothetical)
i (non inhibitor)
i (recessive inhibitor)
Golden series cats are different from other tabbies, being much brighter in colour due to wider colour bands on the hair shaft. The hairs are almost wholly golden with a darker tip and a pale or greyish undercolour near the base of the hair. This variability of chinchilla and shaded cats, and the existence of golden series cats, has led breeders to hypothesise the existence of a separately inherited recessive "Wide Band" gene that would brighten brown tabbies to golden tabbies and brighten shaded cats to chinchillas (tipped cats). This affects the banding pattern of individual hairs, producing a wider-than-normal band of bright colour. Wide Band would determine the width of the hair shaft colour (the undercoat) between the pigmented tip and the follicle. The presence or absence of the Inhibitor gene does not affect Wide Band since Golden Shadeds lack the Inhibitor gene, but have a shading pattern comparable to Silver Shaded cats. According to this theory, golden series cats would not be golden due to a recessive form of the inhibitor gene, they would be golden due to the separately inherited wide band gene. Still others consider it more likely that the colour is caused by multiple interacting genes (polygenes) producing a combined effects.
These photos from Lisa Wahl (www.blindcougar.org) show golden tabbies. Some have red markings and others have brown markings, but the background colour is bright golden. The cats came from a breeder who had died, leaving behind a line of golden "Maine Coon type" cats she had developed from barn cats, plus extensive breeding records. Some of the 50 cats rescued have very red undersides, and black paw pads.
TRADITIONAL LONGHAIR SILVER AND GOLDEN, SHADED AND TIPPED
Chinchillas are classified as a Persian variety in all countries except for South Africa. South African breeders have not followed the extreme typing route that the Persian breed took. The modern squashed-face Persian looks very different from its ancestors due to breeding “typier” cats after World War II. Chinchillas had first reached South Africa after World War II with Connie Gheude, wife of the former Belgium Ambassador to the Congo. They settled in Cape Town and founded the Mohinette cattery with an imported Dutch stud cat, Nanouk van Tasmania of Nanouk. He was rather small and his progeny had sharp faces, upright ears, long noses and rather long bodies. The rounded-headed, small-eared cats became the global standard for Persians. Traditional Longhairs lost popularity on the showbench because judges rewarded the more extreme look. Chinchilla Persians were crossed to other colours to import the brachycephalic appearance. This adversely affected their colouring and by the mid 1950's, some breeders in the USA advocated pure colour breeding (Chinchilla to Chinchilla) to preserve the breed. The golden colour is recessive to silver, and for many years “brownies” that turned up in silver litters were placed as pets. By the 1960s, their beauty attracted attention and they were bred in their own right as Chinchilla Goldens and Shaded Goldens. In the USA, by 1996, silver/goden cats were separated itn the Shaded and Smoke Division (which included Cameo and Tortie varieties) and the Silver and Golden Division (tipped/chinchilla varieties, excluding cats with the red gene).
The leader of this movement was Jeanne Ramsdale of Dearheart Cattery. In her book “Persian Cats and other Longhairs” (1976), she highlighted the differences between Persians and Chinchilla Longhairs. She campaigned for colour-bred Chinchilla Longhairs to get their own breed standard. Pure colour breeding in Traditional Longhair Silver and Golden, Shaded and Tipped varieties closed off a sub-set of the Persian gene pool. This preserved the pattern, colour and conformation genetics of the Traditional Longhairs, but also produced smaller, less cobby cats than the modern Persians. This was enough motivation to call them a breed in their own right. She argued that colour-bred Chinchillas should be allowed to have longer noses than contemporary Persians, giving them sweet, smiling faces, as opposed to the squashed face of the modern Persian. The additional health benefit of the longer nose would be normal tear-ducts, normal breathing and absence of the jaw malformations (e.g. undershot jaw) found in snub-nosed Persian breeds. Some registries made allowances for the silver and golden varieties to be “less extreme”, but they were still judged against the Persian Standard which meant that judges favoured the flatter faced cats.
Before her death, Mrs Ramsdale appealed to breeders to separate the Traditional Longhair Silver and Golden varieties as a distinct breed that preserved the aesthetics of the old fashioned chinchilla and avoided the health complications associated with the brachycephalic head. To be registered as the new/preserved breed, a Persian had to have a pure colour-bred pedigree of 4 generations containing Silver and Golden in Shaded and Tipped varieties only. This was strongly opposed by most Persian Chinchilla breeders, especially those that out-crossed to other colours to “improve” type. It would mean shrinking the Persian gene pool. Two breeders in different continents decided to implement Mrs Ramsdale’s plan. These were Jeannie Johnson (Ivey League cattery), Fort Lauderdale, California, USA and Stella Slabber (Cherie cattery), Cape Town, South Africa.
Jeannie Johnson registered the breed name “Sterling” with TICA in the early 1990's. Over twenty years of work went into this breed recognition attempt and it gained international support. The Sterling was accepted by International Cat Exhibitors (ICE) for championship status in 1998, having completed all requirements for new breed status. Ivyleague Turbo, a male chinchilla bred by Mrs. Johnson, received Best International New Breed (Provisional) in 1998 and 1997. Ivyleague Princess Nina heralded championship for the Sterling. Information about the breed was published internationally and was well-received. It maintained its own registry under the International Sterling Society. However, few Persian Chinchilla breeders switched from the Persian breed standard to the Sterling breed standard. It lost impetus when Mrs Johnson died, and TICA scrapped the Sterling breed standard due to lack of support.
A group of South African breeders of Chinchilla Longhairs succeeded to separate the breed under the name “Chinchilla Longhair” with breed code “CHL” with the SA Cat Council (SACC) in 1996. Stella Slabber, supported by Dr Johan Lamprecht, played leading roles in this. The breed was accepted by the Cat Association of South Africa (CASA) with experimental status. It thrived in South Africa and the number of catteries that bred Traditional Longhair Silver and Golden registered with SACC and CASA increased annually. The breed did well at cat shows, became popular as pets and as animal actors due to their photogenic looks (the general public tends to find the squashed faced cats as sad-looking or unhealthy looking). By 2010, those breeders sought globalization of the Traditional Longhair Silver and Golden breed standard. This would allow the cats to be exhibited competitively outside of South Africa. The Traditional Longhair Silver and Golden is found in the following colours: Silver or Golden base colour with either black or blue tipping or shading (blue tipping was found in early Chinchillas.) Ppure Chinchilla-to-Chinchilla colour-breeding was considered essential i.e. no more outcrossing to smokes or other colour Persians. While this removed residual tabby markings (and left shaded silvers in limbo), it also reduced the gene pool and produced in finer-boned, smaller cats when compared to other coloured Persians.
Cape Town resident Stella Slabber saw the Chinchilla Longhairs in Jeanne Ramsdale’s book and contacted the author to obtain cats from the Dearheart cattery. In May 1971, she obtained two colour-bred Chinchilla kittens – a breeding pair - from Mrs Ramsdale (Dearheart Alexander and Dearheart Jennifer). Seven more Dearheart cats were later imported into South Africa. Dearheart Alexander x Dearheart Jennifer produced Ch Cherie Alexis. Dearheart Daniel x Dearheart Chantilly produced Cherie Chansonette. Ch Cherie Alexis X Cherie Chansonette produced Supreme Champion Cherie Dear Niki. The other imported Dearheart cats were Supreme Champion Dearheart Merlin, Dearheart Marguerite and Grand Champion Dearheart Nicholas. The success of these cats soon attracted attention from other breeders. The South African Chinchilla closed gene pool was small, but healthy. Several catteries were involved and they imported fresh blood from the USA and Sweden. No Chinchillas appear to have been imported from the UK or Australia, probably due to shipping and quarantine restrictions. Cats were later exchanged between South Africa and the USA. Twenty five years after the first Dearheart cats arrived in South Africa, the Chinchilla Longhair breed was proposed and accepted by the SA Council (SACC) in 1996.
The body type of the “Traditional Longhair Silver and Golden” resembles that of the early Persian, being semi-cobby and not “massive”. They are smaller and lighter than the modern Persian. Males weigh 3.5 – 8.5 kg (compared to 5.5 – 8.5 kg for male Persians) while females average 3.5 kg (compared to 3.5 – 5.5 for female Persians). Some Persian breeders dismiss this as the negative result of inbreeding. The head is not brachycephalic and has a slight nose break. There is dark nose-liner on the nose pad. There are no tear duct problems. The ears are medium-sized. Eyes are vivid green/aquamarine with dark eye-liner. Lips and paws are pigmented. Traditional Longhair Silver and Golden, Shaded and Tipped varieties requires a pedigree of at least 4 generations of pure colour-breeding, as well as conformance to the breed standard. Allowable out-crosses are Persian Chinchilla or Shaded varieties in Silver or Golden with Black or Blue tips that are colour-bred for at least 3 generations. This outcross preserves the 4-generation colour-bred pedigree.
The name “Traditional Longhair” was chosen because the word “Chinchilla” was firmly associated with the Persian breed. “Sterling” was rejected because it implied Silver alone.
GENETIC THEORIES FOR SHADED CATS AND SILVER TABBIES
The earliest genetic theory suggested a Chinchilla gene which was a version of albino. Work by Keeler and Cobb seemed to indicate that the gene producing "silver" or "smoke" in cats was an allele of the same gene that produced the Siamese coat pattern i.e. a form of albinism. They described the effect of silver as and producing the following types of hair (1) all white, (2) all black (in dark silvers or smokes), (3) black hairs with white tips, (4) hairs with white and grey or black bands, and (5) white hairs with black tips. However, this would rule out the possibility of Shaded Sepia, Shaded Mink and Shaded Pointed colours. Since these colours have been shown to be possible in experimental breeding (even if not present on the showbench), the Chinchilla gene theory was obviously incorrect.
Another early theory proposed a single dominant "factor" (Inhibitor gene), but this could not explain the variations of shading. Many early breeders, without the benefit of genetics knowledge, understood there were "factors" controlling colour and pattern, but did not realise that the two factors were involved. The thought that the cats fitted on a single continuum. Their breeding experiments didn't identify the presence of two "factors"because darker shaded silvers (agouti) were thought to be poor quality of smokes (non-agouti) and they were bred together. The apparent continuous gradation between chinchilla through to smoke would have resulted in some matings between mis-identified cats. For some while, it was believed that Smoke, Shaded and Tipped were all variable effects of the "factor". To early fanciers, this "one gene theory" seemed to be borne out by the fact that some Shaded cats were so dark as to be poorly marked Smokes, while Smokes occurred in a range of intensities from light through to dark. And of course, the earliest shaded and chinchilla cats were seen to have come from mating tabbies with smokes so it made sense at the time to consider there to be a single "silver" factor. Eventually, breeding would demonstrate that Smoke cats were genetically different from Shaded and Chinchilla (Tipped) cats and not variable expression of a single gene.
The current theory, and even this may ultimately be disproved, is that there are at least two genes involved and that these interact to produce different effects. There are also a number of as yet unidentified polygenes which may influence the colour and pattern.
Originally, the Inhibitor gene was thought to work similarly to White. In white cats, either the melanocytes (pigment-forming cells) are absent or abnormalities in the cells means that pigment can't be produced. The Inhibitor gene does not work this way.
In silver tabbies, the pigment cells produce far less pigment than normal. Pigment is laid down at the hair tip, but little is laid down on the hair shaft which appears silver or grey rather. If pigment was entirely absent, the hair shaft would be pure white. Sometimes the Inhibitor gene fails to completely block phaeomelanin (the red pigment) and the resulting breakthrough of reddish colour is known as "tarnishing". Tarnishing can often be seen on the muzzles of random bred silver tabbies, but rarely on pedigree silver tabbies (a refinement which sets the purebred version apart from the random-bred version).
In Non-agouti (non-tabby i.e. solid colour) cats, the Inhibitor gene only lightens the undercoat area. Where it fails to completely block residual pigment production, the undercolour is grey rather than white.
In addition to the dominant Inhibitor gene (not present in the Golden series), a silver cat may also have the Wide Band gene The existence of a "Wide Band" gene is disputed. If it exists, Wide Band determines the width of the hair shaft colour (the undercoat) between the pigmented tip and the follicle. The undercoat length varies, being narrow on the cat's back and wider at the belly. It is believed that the presence or absence of the Inhibitor gene does not affect Wide Band since Golden Shadeds lack the Inhibitor gene, but have a shading pattern comparable to Silver Shaded cats. There may be polygenes which affect the undercoat width rather than a single Wideband gene; some ideas are mentioned in the section below.
Wide band is considered as either an effect (due to interacting genes) or as a gene. Leaving the exact mechanism aside, it can be treated as a dominant gene when looking at inheritance. If a non-agouti cat (self/solid cat) has dominant wide band (Wb), this will not show up unless it also has silver in which case it is a smoke. In tabbies, Wb may account for the different appearance of silver tabbies, shaded silvers and chinchillas (tipped). If a non-agouti cat has silver but has recessive wide-band (wb or narrow-band), it could account for the poor smokes and hidden smokes. Wide-band is noted to have an additive effect - one copy is wide band, 2 copies is even wider band. There may even be multiple alleles of wide-band.
While the Agouti gene permits the hairs to have bands of colour, separate genes for banding frequency, band width and band placement probably influence the banding pattern of the hairs. An ideal Shaded Silver hair would have a single broad band of pigment at the tip of each hair. Shaded Silvers have a mix of three patterns: a single broad band and wide undercoat; a few broad bands and wide undercoat or multiple thin bands (as seen in the background colour of Silver Tabbies).
Burmilla breeders who rarely saw tipped cats in early generations, but saw them frequently in later generations, even suggest that in addition to dominant wide-band there may be a second recessive "super wide band" gene for tipping. However these effects are equally attributable to inheriting either one or two copies Wb.
In goldens, wide band refers to the yellow banding of the hair shaft. Wide-band would have no effect on a non-agouti cat as the hair shafts are not banded. A eumelanin series cat (black/brown) can have the recessive form of inhibitor gene (golden), but doesn't have true red pigment (phaeomelanin), so the undercoat is warm cream or apricot rather than bright golden. For that reason, it's suggested that some poor quality silvers are really creamy goldens that give the illusion of having silver.
EFFECT OF OTHER GENES
There are probably other genes that influence the number and width of coloured bands on each hair and reduce or eliminate residual tabby markings on the chest, legs and sometimes tail. Yet other genes probably influence the sparkling appearance. In addition to the Agouti gene and Inhibitor (silver) gene, a Shaded cat may also have the Wideband gene (hypothetical) plus genes which influence the number and width of coloured bands on each hair and reduce or eliminate residual tabby markings on the chest, legs and sometimes tail. Yet other genes probably influence the sparkling appearance.
Some tipped and shaded silver shorthairs may have the ticked (Abyssinian-type) tabby gene in addition to the classic or mackerel tabby gene(s). This only shows up if matings of Shaded Silvers to Classic Tabbies unexpectedly produce ticked tabby kittens. Since ticked tabby masks out any other tabby pattern, it could only have been carried by the Shaded Silver parent. Tipped or Shaded Silver kittens born without a tabby pattern probably carry the ticked tabby gene, while those born with a discernible tabby pattern may lack the ticked tabby gene.
Breeder of Shaded Silver American Shorthairs, Carol W Johnson, suggested at least two modifier genes which affect ticked tabbies and which dissipate residual tabby markings in shaded shorthairs. She referred to them as Chaos and Confusion. A third gene. "Erase" was proposed by Cathy Galfo (working with Oriental Shorthairs) and appears to reduce or remove residual barring on the extremities. Currently, these names describe effects rather than actual genes. Johnson noted that the each hair in a shaded cat differs in band number and width; ranging from solid colour and solid white through to multiply banded and singly banded. She termed this "Confusion" as it "unco-ordinated" the hair follicles to so that they produced different banding patterns to their neighbours. In contrast, Abyssinian-type ticked tabbies have even banding and relatively even colouration which stops abruptly at the belly (like a tide mark on a boat!). Shaded cats with high levels of Confusion (uneven band width) had a more mottled or "sparkling" appearance and a more gradual blending and fading of the colour from back to belly.
However, the confusion effect can be achieved with polygenes. Except for genes on X and Y chromosomes, each cell has 2 copies of each gene. The 2 copies might be identical or different and normally one is dominant to the other. Sometimes, e.g. when the genes are different but co-dominant, one copy is deactivated; this happens in foetal development. One cell might have activated the gene telling it to make 3 bands of colour while the cell next to it might have activated the slightly different copy of the same gene telling it to make 5 bands of colour. There might be a gene located elsewhere on the chromosome which, if switched on, override those genes entirely with an instruction to make a solid coloured hair! So while "Confusion" is a good name for the phenomenon on a visual level, a single Confusion gene seems unlikely.
Johnson's "Chaos" gene further disrupts the striped pattern by abnormally mixing ticked hairs into normally solid coloured regions (and vice versa). This effect is visible in the modified tabby pattern of the Sokoke. An mechanism for this was described by Australian Mist breeder Truda Straede who suggested a gene which disrupted a normal tabby pattern into a "finely divided tabby pattern" (Striped and Spotted Cats). Straede had never seen the Sokoke, but predicted the patterns existence based on her work with "small pattern spotted tabbies" and "large pattern spotted tabbies". Chaos might eradicate residual necklaces and ghost striping in ticked tabbies and in Shaded cats. In addition to Confusion and Chaos, Johnson has hypothesised a rarer gene causing roan. In roan, solid white hairs are intermixed with normal hairs. This occurs in the Lykoi breed and in the Salt-and-Pepper mutation found in Eastern Europe. In Shaded shorthairs, "Roan" might result in Shaded Silvers so pale as be visually Chinchillas. Cathy Galfro proposed a separately inherited "Erase" gene, different to Confusion and Chaos, which removes residual markings from the neck, legs and tail of Shaded Oriental Shorthairs. MORE-THAN-TIPPED BUT NOT-QUITE-SHADED CATS
The criteria for each degree of tipping is an ideal and there are many cats that visually fall between two ideals. Although the genetic combinations are different and are due to two interacting genes (Smoke = Inhibitor + Non-agouti while shaded/tipped = Inhibitor + Agouti), the variability of expression results in cats that look intermediate in colour. There are pet quality cats where the tipping is too heavy for it to be a well marked chinchilla, but too light for it to be a shaded silver. There are also shaded silvers dark enough to resemble the genetically different "light" black smoke. These differences are caused by various polygenes. Before the genetics was understood, there was believed to be a single recessive "chinchilla gene" that controlled the degree of tipping.
In Tipped/Chinchilla and Shaded kittens, the tabby pattern may still be visible as it is the long hair that diffuses the colour. In Smoke shorthair cats, just as in many solid black cats, a tabby pattern is often still discernible in the form of ghost markings, especially when young. The pet kitten picutred in this section appears to be a black smoke tabby and white, but in adulthood, his tabby markings will vanish. Those cats which meet neither the Chinchilla/Tipped nor the Shaded standard are still attractive pets.SUNSHINE, BIMETALLIC AND PLATINUM
For some years, strangely patterned Siberian cats have been turning up. Some resemble tortoiseshell in having both silver regions and golden regions. They couldn’t all be chimeras, so there had to be some unidentified mechanism at work. This is described in "Bimetallic" Siberians & Platinum Persians.PSEUDO-GOLDENS
Over the years, there have been accounts of pure silver Persian kittens turning to a pale golden colour as they mature. This is due to an additional mutation that causes the round eumelanin granules to become elliptical and to appear as a beige or pale golden colour smeared along the hair shaft causing a pale golden undercoat. They are also clumped at the tip to give the shaded or tipped effect. Its mode of inheritance not fully understood. Thisis described in more detail on Amber and Russet - Late Colour Change Genes.LATE COLOUR CHANGE "GOLDENS" & THE BLACK MODIFIER GENE
A "late colour change" mutation, again causing an end result of golden, has been observed in Norwegian Forest Cats. The Black Modifier gene, found in Norwegian Forest Cats, brightens black or blue areas of the coat to Amber (apricot-to-cinnamon colour) and Light Amber (pale beige). At birth, kittens appeared to be black or blue, and lightened to Amber or Light Amber respectively. Amber has also occurred in conjunction with silver: the kittens were born as poorly coloured black-silver or blue-silver tabbies whose tabby ghost-markings faded as they matured and their colour became a bright apricot to cinnamon colour with dark brown paw pads and nose leather with no black rim (the black rim is characteristic of silvers). Their original birth colour could be seen only on the back and tail.
This Norwegian Forest Cat was bred by Yve Hamilton Bruce from a silver mackerel tabby female (imported from Denmark) and a classic red tabby and white male. The result was 1 silver tabbies and 2 silver tabbies with white. At just over 3 months old, this silver and white tabby male developed a large patch of bright red hair on his back. Eventually the whole fur will become amber. The effect of amber during the colour-change stage depends on the original colour - solid black or blue, bicolour or tabby.RECESSIVE SILVER
As detailed above, silver (the inhibitor gene) is dominant while the recessive (hidden) version is golden. If a cat is not silver, genetically it must be golden. The phenomenon of a non-silver cat producing silver offspring when bred to an apparently non-silver cat has been documented several times. For example, Neils C Pedersen, Feline Husbandry, 1991 (pg 67) reported "several cases on record of black cats breeding as smokes." Robinson’s Genetics for cat Breeders and Veterinarians, 4th Edition, 1999 (pg 142) reported "occasional cats with no visible white undercoats that nonetheless breed as smokes.” Gloria Stephens’ Legacy of the Cat, 1989 & 1999 admitted "we do not understand about silver or the gene(s) that cause a solid-colored cat to be smoked.” The variability of smoke cats, ranging from poor smokes and hidden smokes to light smokes, is mentioned as far back as Frances Simpson in the early 1900s (this book pre-dates modern inheritance genetics so you have to rely on descriptions, some of her light smokes are evidently smokes). Some apparently solid cats are genetically smoke, but other genes prevent the pale undercoat showing up. However, could there be another form of silver, one that is either hypostatic (masked fully or partially by other colour genes) or is a second recessive allele of the inhibitor gene I and is recessive to both I (silver) and i (golden), but which produces a form of silver, perhaps i2 where dominance is I > i > i2.
All non-silver cats are, by default, by golden, though the golden will not show up in solid (non-agouti) cats. However, unexpected silver cats has turned up from time to time when two non-silver cats (by default golden) have produced silver offspring or a non-silver (golden) mated to a heterozygous silver (silver carrying golden) have consistently produced silver kittens, but non goldens even though the law of averages would expect half of the offspring to be non-silver.
What are the possibilities?
In North America there is a phenomenon in some breeds called "powder coat" and "high colour." A powder coat means a lighter colour cat while high colour indicates a darker colour. This reflects variations in depth of colour. It is seen in solid colours such as cream, lilac and blue, but descriptions of variations in tone have been mentioned by Soderbergh (1950s) and Frances Simpson (early 1900s), especially in blues and the variations are generally attributed to polygenes. The inheritance of powder coats is predictable. In some Burmilla and Burmese lines, powder coats have been linked to unexpected silver offspring (mismating was ruled out) leading some to wonder if the powder coat and a hypostatic silver are linked.
Whatever the actual genetics turn out to be - and whether there is a single Wide Band gene of a handful of polygenes - the Silver and Golden series are attractive cats in both longhair and shorthair varieties.