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More About The New Colors of The Norwegian Forest Cat

by Jette Eva Madsen.

After the Hörby Meeting in Sweden last spring it has been widely acknowledged that the new colors we talk about on NFC are perhaps not chocolate and lilac. It is now believed that the colors of all the Swedish cats are cinnamon and fawn. I know of one example in Norway where it is still thought that the color of the cat is cholatetabby.

I also know that the Swedish breeders plan to make a testmating to a fawn aby that carries the longhair gene. Such a testmating would immediately shed light to the theori about cinnamon and fawn but we have to be patient since it has not been done yet.

Where do the colors come from?

If there is now indeed both a family with the colors cinnamon and fawn and a family with chocolate and lilac it seems as if there has been at least two diferent mixtures with the breeds we know to have theese colors. The reason for saying this is that chocolate, lilac, cinnamon and fawn is not found in the natural population of farm cats, and other non pedigree cats in northern Europe.

What is usually done when breeds are mixed?

That two breeds is mixed deliberately or by mistake is however not the same as automatically approving of all the new things that is brought into the breed. There are manny known examples of mixing of breeds for one or another reason. After such a mixing there will be a selection with the goal of breeding the unwanted traits out of the breed.

A good example of this is the appearence of pointed Maine Coons. To this day I have not heard of any Maine Coon breeder that believe that pointed should be part of the genetic make up of a Maine Coon. Therefore the pointed specimens are neutered.

The same thing could be done with NFC's without problems. If we do not decide to select against the new colors we have to face an interesting problem.

How do we tell the colors apart?

There is no approved breed of cats where all colors are allowed. If we decide to allow the dilutions for chocolate, lilac, cinnamon and fawn we would have the first breed where all colors are allowed except for pointed pattern.

To this day there is very little experience with the mixture of all theese colors and the silver gene. There has been work going on with the mixing of all colors in the siamese/oriental breed. The work was started in England and is now carried on in Denmark. After approximately 10 years of breeding there is however only very little information and results since it is an extremely dificult task to mix all colors and distributions of white.

As it is now breeders allready have great problems of telling if kittens are cream or creamsilver, bluecreamtabby or bluecreamsilvertabby, Bluetabby or bluesilvertabby. There is even often problems telling a red or a redsmoke apart.

Can any of you immagine how breeders in the future should be able to tell if a cat is fawntortietabby or fawntortiesilvertabby, fawn or fawnsilver, bluecreamsilver or lilaccreamsilver, goldentabby (light brown tabby) or cinnamontabby? I can go on for very long mentioning the colors that will pose great problems and perhaps I should make up a list.

As support to my wievpoint of problems with telling the colors apart I have in the magazine from the Swedish NFC club notised that the page where the litters are listed also have had a few litters with cinnamon and fawn kittens. I have also notised that the colors have been written as fawn or perhaps fawnsilver wich prooves to me that I am right when I foresee a great problem with deciding the colors if we allow them all in our breed.

The posible influence of the behaviour of the breeder

If the new colors are approved of in the breed of forest cats I wonder how it will influence our breeding habits.

Up until this day we have emphasided mostly on the type of the cat. Will the mixture of all theese colors force us to change that attitude and firstly take into consideration what colors the parents have? And what colors they carry recessive genes for? I believe it will since it is necessary for us to be able to tell the new owners what color their new kitten has. Changing focus from type to color will mean that the type of the NFC will be less homogen and the colors will be better defined.