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Blacktabby or Golden - What Should We Call The Colours ?!

by Jette Eva Madsen.

As time goes by and the colours of our cats get more and more sophisticated the breeders wish to put name on more and more different colours. For the basic colours that is the colours that is decided by one gene only, it is quite easy to decide which colour the cat has. As an example only were few of us have difficulty to decide if the cat is blacktabby A-D-ii or if it is bluetabby A-ddii.

When we talk about blacktabby and goldentabby however we get problems because both theese cats have nearly the same genetype and the written genotype is exactly the same: A-D-ii.

The history behind goldentabby is that suddenly some very warm, abricot coloured cats appeared from a line of blacktabby and silvertabby matings. This phenomenon appeared by the persian cats and it was noticed that the golden cats usually had green eyes. After some time the persian breeders formed a standard for the golden tabby longhair that mainly differed from the blacktabby in the description of the colour of the eye. Obviously the breeders wished that the colour of their cats were equally warm and golden regardless of the colour of the eye. It seems however as if the genes that make the blacktabby cat beautiful warm in the coat colour at the same time influences the colour of the eyes so that they often become a shade of green instead of a shade of yellow.

A few years cats with the warm apricot coat-colour appeared in other breeds and since then there has been a great confusion as to when to call the cat goldentabby or blacktabby.

The problems with the two colours arise because they are genetically nearly the same. They only differ in a few polygenes called the widebanding genes and possibly in a few rufus-polygenes deciding how warm the colour is. Furthermore depending on exactly how many widebanding- and rufus-polygenes the cat has there is a gliding transition between the colour we call blacktabby and the colour we call goldentabby. That gliding transition makes it nearly impossible to decide exactly when we should call the blacktabby cat a goldentabby.

Some years ago when only the longhair cats had the goldentabby colour it was much easier because then you could use the colour of the eyes as a guideline and say that only the green eyed cats should be called goldentabby.

I believe we should notice what kind of colour our cats have and I also think we should do it as precisely as we can. I think however that as precise as we can stop with the colours that is directly linked to one gene. That means we notice if our cats are bluetabby or blacktabby. I believe it give more confusion to try to decide on small differences of shades as if the colour is so grey that it should be called blacktabby or if the colour is warm, apricot shaded enough with wider bands of ticking and no grey underwool what so ever that we could take a chance and call the cat golden. Also the shade of brown or golden will vary depending on the age of the cat, the time of the year, and the length of the coat so to me it seems to be useless to try to decide on this matter.

What we can decide is however, if we believe that the kind of browntabby we breed is an attractive colour to our eyes. If we prefer the more golden warm colour we can work with that colour but I still believe that we should call our cats blacktabby and concentrate our energy on the health, temper and type of our cats.