Sarah Hartwell, 2018

Caramel is cause by the Dilute modifier gene acting on the dilute colours blue, lilac, fawn or cream. The resulting colours are blue-based caramel, lilac-based caramel, fawn-based caramel and apricot. The three caramel colours are hard to distinguish without knowing what is in the pedigree.

Recently a breeder believed s/he had a caramel Oriental kitten and applied to register it as caramel. There was no caramel anywhere in the pedigree. The dam was genetically fawn (dilute of cinnamon). The sire was genetically lilac (aka lavender, dilute of chocolate). So why did the breeder think this was a caramel kitten? Some are down to lighting conditions, but even in good daylight some lilac kittens have slight “off” colour.

Lilac carrying cinnamon can express very strangely and while it isn’t the same visually as dilute modifier it is all too often mistaken for caramel by those unfamiliar with true caramel colours. Many lilac-carrying-cinnamon cats have been labelled caramel based on the strange shade that can occur and not on the presence of the dilute modifier. Sometimes experienced breeders with imperfect dilute-coloured cats will label them caramel. If not caught and corrected on the pedigree, this becomes a problem later on for people wanting to breed caramels.

This is an effect of the cinnamon gene. It can alter the tone of lilac cats carrying cinnamon, and to a lesser extent can alter the tone of blue cats that carry caramel. The effect can be more pronounced in cats that are lilac-creams carrying cinnamon.