Copyright 2022, Elizaveta Lipovenko & Sarah Hartwell


This section is an English language summary of information on the Russian website Shaded Cats

Traditionally, gold and silver were seen as related colours belonging to the category of tipped colours. Ideally the tipping should not exceed 1/8 of the hair, and there should be no trace of tabby markings. This was achieved in silvers, but not in goldens. Typically, golden cats had ticked fur with 2 or more bands of colour, and they had residual markings including rings on the tail. Traditional golden cats still had the genetic colour – black, blue etc – visible.

The new goldens that appeared in Europe were not ny11 (tabby-based goldens) they were ny25 (ticked-based goldens). The new goldens attracted a lot of interest in Russia. In adulthood the cats had extremely uniform tipping with no hint of a tabby pattern. There were no markings on the chest and no wide rings on the tail. These cats had a huge advantage because they were closer to the "ideal" golden colour in the standard. But they also were deficient against the standard because the hairs were not tipped with the genetic colour (and the nose leather did not have a dark outline which should be present in agouti cats). The new extreme golden and new silver cats increased in popularity with many breeders being drawn into it, not always because they like it better, but because it was competitive and was "the way to go" to succeed at shows.

Some breeders tried to remove the pattern and to make the colour as warm and bright as possible. To accomplish this they outcrossed to genetically ticked tabbies to remove any trace of a tabby pattern. Ticked-based silvers and goldens still had ticked hairs (pale grey in the case of silvers, yellow in the case of goldens), but this was not detrimental to the overall effect. Breeders, particularly in Russia, continued to select the brightest gold chinchillas to breed with and the brightest, most orange, golden cats had pale toes and pale markings around the eyes. Some cats were a pale yellowish gold with nearly-white toes. Some breeders worried that this bleaching turned golden cats into something else. Others believe that there is no really bright golden colour without some degree of bleaching. This caused debates over which was the true golden colour –gold with not bleaching, or bright gold with bleached toes and bleached underparts. The bleached (or "excessive") version was termed "Akita" after the Akita Inu (Shiba Inu) dog, and was also known as "copper." The term "light gold" is now preferred. Nobody stopped the breeding of the extreme golden cats with bleaching and the colour was seen as more distinctive than the ordinary golden-red colour, which was too much like an ordinary red-ticked cat. At first, many of the Russian breeders did not feel the need to separate the Akita/Copper/Light Gold cats into a new colour, but saw it as a natural evolution of colour to create the perfect golden cat. Even the pale goldens were not a problem – while they may not be show-quality, they can produce bright red kittens.

From 1st March 2021, associations affiliated with WCF had to segregate the standard golden kittens from the light gold (copper, extreme golden) phenotype golden kittens which have pale bellies and white feet. The light gold British cats are not the same as ny 25, 11 or 12 cats. Kittens with standard golden colour get a normal EMS colour code (e.g. ny, ay) in their pedigree, whereas the extreme golden kittens with white feet get an "x (y)" colour code while the new colour recognition process in in progress. This keeps the new colour separate from the original golden colour so breeders can decide whether or not to use a light gold cat in their golden programmes. Eventually the new colour gets its own code. While the new colour process is in progress, the light golds can’t compete in the golden class, but can be shown in fun classes. Eventually they will get their own class and colour standard.


The official WCF website states that in order to recognize a new colour in an existing breed, a report is required on the origin, history, genetics and breeding rules of the colour varieties. The first presentation of material was sent in 2021 and an updated version was being prepared in 2022. In Russia the term "urajiro" is used for countershading (where the ventral surface is very pale compared to the dorsal surface). It is not a new phenomenon, nor did it "suddenly appear." It is the natural result of continued selection of purebred British sires for the brightest and purest gold possible without any signs of residual pattern. The effect is very noticeable on gold, which is almost devoid of tipping. At first, breeders paid no attention to it and did not deliberately develop it.

For example, one of the most famous first counter-shaded sire was Zur Sternenbucht Golden Macavity (born 2010) and registered as BRI ny 12 i.e black-tipped golden. One of his ancestors is the equally famous Marvellous Golden Radetzky(born 1998), registered as BRI ny 25 i.e. ticked golden whose toes and underside were a milky colour, merely dusted with black at the tips. These cats were not registered as x-colours (unknown) but as existing colours, in spite of their diverging phenotypes from earlier tipped and ticked golden cats. Over the past 15 years, many cats exhibiting gold with counter-shading came from the GoldenBri and Galeksy catteries. They have common roots - sires from the Sun & Snow cattery, descendants of the German cat Velasques Rubio d'Oaxaca (born 2006) and his litter brother Velasques Volcano, the ancestor of many golden chinchillas with counter-shading.

Eventually the counter-shaded golden effect was noticed and breeders’ opinions were divided. Some really liked this effect and began to select for ever greater purity and contrast of the highlighted areas. Others, on the contrary, reacted negatively and selectively bred to reduce the highlighted areas and weaken the contrast. However, both sets of breeders remained unanimous in one thing: the brighter and richer the shade of gold, the closer it is to red and the farther it is from faded, greyish or yellowish, the better. The efforts of both sets of breeders were successful; they achieved two very different variations of the bright golden colour. In addition to the counter-shaded golden cats and the non-counter-shaded goldens, many "intermediate" variants have survived, for example, golden cats with strong and contrasting highlighting of the toes, but a coloured chest, or vice versa. In addition, it turned out that counter-shading can be characteristic not only of golden chinchillas (ny 12), but also of golden shaded, golden ticked, and golden tabby. In ticked and shaded cats, the highlighted areas are usually covered with black tipping and judges do not suspect any "white" is hidden beneath the tipping. However, it is not these cats that have been the most successful among all types of British golden cats for a long time, but the lightest and brightest golden cats – the chinchillas, which are characterized by minimal (if not completely absent) tipping. There is simply nothing left of the tipping to "dust" their brightened zones with – the eumelanin colour is reduced to a minimum, just enough for the tip of the tail.

Based on the degree of counter-shading, Elizaveta Lipovenko divided the golden chinchillas into two types: "copper" (low contrast, where counter-shading is weakly expressed or almost absent) and "akita" (high contrast, where counter-shading is strongly expressed). This is not quite the same definition as European researchers were using (they had used "copper" to denote high contrast cats). Among the most striking differences between copper and akita, copper may have highlighted fingers, but does not have highlights above the nose, "glasses" around the eyes, and the chest is highlighted unevenly or not at all and looks completely golden. And of course there are the numerous intermediate options which breeders can work with to produce either type.

For a long time, all variations of minimally tipped gold, including copper and akita, peacefully coexisted as EMS colour code ny 12. But today the difference between them have become so great that both types cannot coexist under the same code or to judge them by the same standard. The two variations have diverged too far. Russian breeders decided on their own supplementary standard for counter-shaded gold, or at least their own colour code that would complement the existing one. They suggested nyl (ny "light") instead of the traditional ny. The colour is not new, but has become necessary to supplement the old description which does not mention the effect of counter-shading as either an advantage or a disadvantage. Nobody forbade it; it was just not previously noticed and was considered unimportant.


Then another problem appeared when two of these golden cats were bred together and produced kittens that looked like silvers! Some of these "silver" kittens developed a clear "gold" colour. Some became "silver with strong rufism". Some remained "silver", completely devoid of pheomelanin, and it was often impossible to distinguish them from ordinary silver based on phenotype because there were simply no visual differences. At the same time, many breeders have bred gold to gold for a long time without ever producing any "pseudo-silver" kittens. This phenomenon, unlike counter-shading, was indeed "new" and "unprecedented" for breeders of British cats, and they first started talking about it around 2018-2019 when several litters had been sired by the most famous ancestor of "pseudo-silver" kittens, Infinity Jewel Cosmos Golden (born 2017). There had been earlier reports of such kittens, but they were not believed and were even accused of using a silver sire, not the golden one declared on the pedigree!

Today, the birth of a "pseudo-silver" is no longer rare and has been independently discovered in various breeding catteries. At first, the breeders used the name "sunshine," unaware that this name was already "taken" by breeders Siberian cats, who called one of their existing colours "sunshine" and achieved its recognition by the WCF. Breeders of the British goldens feel hard done by because they are having to jump through hoops to get an existing colour recognised, while the breeders of Siberians did not. The inheritance mechanisms for these colours are known, although the "golden gene" has not been identified in any breed of cat. In Siberian cats, a colour that was once considered a defect (rufism in silvers) was also being legalized because the "sunshine" mutation also created "bimetallic" cats (EMS colour nus) which exhibit both silver and golden colours at once. For breeders of copper and akita, this added insult to injury because so many obstacles were thrown in their way. They also saw other colours being recognised by WCF (based on recognition by TICA etc) and given EMS codes, while the letter "t" does double service as charcoal in Bengal and as amber in Norwegian Forest Cats. Surely there was room for a code for their long-established golden cats?

(To recognize sunshine in Siberian there was a regular show in Italy and afterwards the new colour was accepted at GA WCF in 2017. The mutation is recessive and it is possible to test for sunshine at Antagene laboratory in France. The non-agouti cats are "normal" black, blue etc. The heterozygotes cats for Agouti gene and homozygotes for sunshine are a little bit different "dark sunshine." )


The Russian club "Feliz" decided to try to find a solution to the simplest problem of breeders: how to finally achieve official recognition for the long-existing and increasingly popular "counter-shaded gold" group of colours. For the "copper" variation, it would seem that there should be no problems - their phenotype did not contradict the old colour standard ny 12, whereas the effect of counter-shading was simply not described. Breeders were shocked when WCF judges, under pain of losing their license, began to withhold titles even from ordinary non-countershaded gold even if the paws were not white.

On May 8, 2021, a large-scale workshop-presentation-ring was held at the Feliz club show with the participation of about 30 golden cats, including representatives of both types, as well as various intermediate variations. The WCF leadership was informed in advance about this presentation ring and its objectives; they were sent extensive study material collected by the breeders, including the presentation of the "new" colours, the draft standard, photographs, videos, pedigrees, and genetic tests. Yet after almost a year, these materials seemed to have disappeared, and the decision on the recognition of counter-shaded golden colours was entrusted to a new set of people. These people had nothing to do with British chinchillas, they did not know the history of golden British cats, they were unaware of the genetic research and they did not distinguish British gold from Siberian sunshine (so it’s not even worth discussing British "sunshine" – or whatever name is eventually chosen to avoid conflict with Siberian sunshine - with them). They had not seen any of the presentations, photograph, or pedigrees. The breeders felt that the new parties had no interest in the British golden cats. Having already spent $2,000 on the previous presentation material, the breeders had not received the courtesy of a single comment or question, in fact there was no evidence the presentation had even been reviewed.

After the preliminary ring-presentation, Feliz planned to hold an official ring-recognition of counter-shaded golden colours at one of the next shows. Representatives of the WCF were invited to this ring in advance, as per the procedure, and their preliminary consent was obtained. The date of the ring was determined and the arrival of two representatives of the WCF was again agreed. However, one of the representatives suddenly pulled out and breeders’ requests to either entrust this important mission to another foreign representative or to one of the Russian specialists, was refused. They were offered the opportunity to hold another "preliminary ring," and were told that the previous one had been held contrary to some new rule. They searched the official WCF website for this new rule and there was nothing there. Again they felt discriminated against.

Communication with WCF management is complicated by the language barrier, but given the increasing popularity of the Russian-bred "akita" and "copper" colours there are doubtless breeders outside of Russia who also love golden British cats, both with and without counter-shading. Meanwhile, golden British risk remaining in limbo at WCF shows with judges afraid to award prizes because the golden standard is no longer adequate.


Registries that use the EMS codes identify golden using “y” (e.g. “ny” = black golden). The EMS codes cand be extended and it is proposed to adopt “yl” (e.g. “nyl” = black light golden) or pattern code 13 (extreme/countershaded golden) as a way of identifying the new golden phenotypes in BRI/BSH/BLH.

BRI golden colours are a problem in LOOF (France) which has its own interpretation of EMS codes. LOOF only allows golden shell/tipped/chinchilla (12 – an EMS code not available for BRI) and shaded golden (11 - the EMS code for shell/tipped in BRI ) and it does not use the “y” colour code for BRI. It has a strange system for golden tabbies. A golden tabby is classified as an ordinary tabby i.e. black tabby, blue tabby etc and instead of using the EMS code for golden, LOOF adds this in brackets after the classification. A black classic tabby (ny 22 in EMS) is “n 22 brown classic tabby (golden)” in the LOOF system. An added complication is that cats cannot be registered online with “(golden)” so the breeder or importer must ask the LOOF secretaries to add this note manually. A cat imported into France with a pedigree stating “ny 22” gets re-classified as “n 22 brown classic tabby (golden).” If a breeder does not get the manual addition of “(golden)” this impacts later generations. If a cat’s parents are accidentally not registered as “(golden)” LOOF will not register their offspring as “(golden)”. This means some breeders register such offspring as “shaded” as a way of indicating they are golden. A black golden mackerel tabby kitten (EMS ny 23) ends up registered as black golden shaded (EMS ny 11) to distinguish it from a less valuable brown mackerel tabby (n 23). This makes a mockery of pedigrees when golden seems to appear out of nowhere.

LOOF does not allow breeders to register a BRI as ticked tabby (25), which applies to both ordinary ticked tabby and golden ticked tabby. The light golden colour (counter-shaded golden colour) developed in Russia is a combination of ticked tabby and golden - it is important to track the ticked gene in pedigrees to prevent unwelcome surprises in offspring. Golden ticked BRI and non-golden ticked BRI can only be registered as golden shaded in the LOOF system.

Another issue is that cat show judges are faced with cats whose colour does not correspond to their registration because LOOF forces the colour to be incorrectly registered. A good black golden tabby, registered as a brown tabby gets marked down as a “bad brown.” Instead of a golden tabby competition class, the cats end up in different classes (for non-golden cats) and are not judged against other golden tabbies. The same applies to ticked BRI – they may be very good golden ticked tabbies, but because they get registered as “shaded,” judges mark them down as “bad shaded” or “too dark colour.” Outside of LOOF, in particular in FIFE or WCF judging, a judge can requalify the cat as a golden tabby, golden ticked tabby etc so that it ends up with the correct classification.

The LOOF system causes confusion when selling a golden BRI to a novice and explain why it is registered with an incorrect colour. It is a problem when selling a cat abroad because the pedigree has to be corrected to show the “y” (EMS code for golden) on cats that LOOF registered as shaded or without any reference at all to the golden colour. A similar problem is encountered with ticked BRI registered with LOOF as golden shaded. This makes a mockery of the LOOF colour classifications, confuses buyers who have to rely on their own examination of a cat or kitten to see what it really is (which affects the price) and even leads to accusations of deception because breeders are forced to register golden BRI (ticked or otherwise) as golden shaded or as plain tabbies.

The emergence and popularity of the light golden (counter-shaded) BRI causes even more problems in LOOF as they very clearly don’t match the colour recorded on the registration! Golden is actually a range of colours and buyers like to know if they are getting an ordinary golden or an extreme/light golden.

LOOF also lacks a category for “sunshine” (a term unfortunately used for pale golden BRI, even though it is a distinct and separate colour in Siberians). In BRI, "sunshine" is almost white with peach/apricot undertones. A black golden sunshine shaded BRI resembles a red silver chinchilla BRI except it has black paw-pads, a dark tail-tip and the eyes are green (or sometimes gold), rather than bluish. It is a very faded form of golden. Sunshine can also be seen in silver cats, giving them slight apricot tones (sometimes called bimetallic). Because there is no LOOF classification for them, they can only be entered in the wrong classes and be disqualified as wrongly coloured!

LOOF needs to update its categories – to match the internationally understood EMS system - to accommodate golden tabby, golden ticked and ticked BRI so that breeders are not forced to wrongly register their cats. The current recommendation are: extending the EMS codes with either pattern code “13” or colour code “yl” (light golden) and accommodate BRI “sunshine” (e.g. EMS code “u” added after the base colour.) It would be better for breeders, judges and buyers if LOOF properly adopted the EMS codes.