by Jette Eva Madsen, 20.08.2002.

What is new?

For some time now there has been very quiet around the x-colored Forest Cats. Silence has ruled, especially after the cats living in Sweden now have been reregistered as blackgolden and bluegolden.

Suddenly, however, the discussion has started again and a lot of people takes an interest in our breed.

The questions that has come up now is whether the x-colour indeed is a new mutation or whether it is some kind of perhaps unknown modifier gene.

How did it begin?

The story of the x-cats dates back some 10 years or more, and the last 7 years the topic has been discussed with passion and energy.

For the innocent bystander the breeders of Forest Cats must look very ambiguous after the same cats have been registered several times now.

The story of the cats that were for so long said to be something very special in the world of Norwegian Forest Cats can be summarised as follows. The cats started out being registered as the usual Forest Cats colours. After some time they changed to being registered as X-lilac or X-chocolate. The X was added since lilac and chocolate are not recognised colours for Forest Cats.

A few years later most of the colours were changed again. Now they were called X-cinnamon and X-fawn since some of the most renowned judges seemed to think the colours looked more like cinnamon and fawn. As we all know today a test mating proved the colours were not cinnamon and fawn.

And then some time ago the strangest thing happened. Suddenly the cats that were previously registered as x-something were miracuosly changed to blackgolden and bluegolden.

The present situation

The result is that cats that were previously prevented from competing at shows because the colour was not recognised in Forest Cats now suddenly appear at the show bench.

Another probably not foreseen result stems from the fact that cat breeding and showing is global, and offsprings from the first cats were exported to many European countries. The challenge that now appears is that the changing of colour has not been correlated, so presently pedigrees appear from Sweden with cats registered as bluegolden where in pedigrees from other countries (FIFe and non-FIFe clubs) the same cats are registered as for instance x-fawn.

  • Who is to decide what colour the cat should be registered as – the breeder, the owner, the person paying for the pedigree or the pedigree administration?
  • There may be several cats registered as x-something at the same pedigree. Breeders may have stopped, cats may have died, so how do we ever find out what the colour is/was of those cats?
  • Should we enter the cats in the pedigrees with more colours, and is it technically possible for the IT-system of most clubs to hold two colours for the same cat?

The revitalised discussion about what the x-colours are

The rumour has it that it is possible that the Forest Cats has some kind of unknown modifier gene and that is what causes the x-colour.

The theory of a “new” modifier gene fits a lot of the questions and test results about the x-colours very well. I will try to explain here:

  • Why did the test mating between an x-coloured cat and a fawn cat only give black ticked and blue ticked kittens? Because the gene was neither chocolate nor lilac, cinnamon, or fawn.
  • Is it a new mutation? Theoretically it is possible, but it is more likely that the same genes are present in other breeds as well.
  • Why have we not seen these genes in other breeds if they are present? A gene that causes a blue cat to look like something in between fawn and lilac has no future in a breed, where points are allotted to colour so therefore the cats showing the modifier will be sold as pets.
  • Why does it seem as if all x-coloured cats are agouti? The gene may only work in connection with agouti. This correlates to the theory about dilute modifier which is believed only to work in connection with diluted colours.
  • Why is it so difficult to distinguish between bluegolden, fawn, lilac, a blue with dilute modifier and the x-coloured cats? There may be more modifiers present so they act as polygenes and gradually change the colours. The widebanding genes are believed to act on a tabby cat to create a shell- and a shaded cat in more or less the same way.
  • The x-genes do not seem to be inherited as a simple recessive gene. The different inheritance may stem from the fact that the gene only show itself in connection with other genes or in case of a polygenetic nature when “more copies” of the same modifier gene is gathered.

When will we know?

The answers to the questions about the X-coloured cats are still blowing in the wind. Possibly we will never know the full nature of what caused the x-colours to develop, but I hope that a renewed and correlated work may reveal the secret of the mysterious X.

Most breeders and judges agree that some of the cats that were previously registered as X-something correctly are black- or bluegolden-tabbies. But the majority of the cats still seems to raise a lot of questions. The nature of the questions have however changed:

  • Why did the breeders of Forest Cats pretend they had a special colour when it was just ordinary golden cats?
  • Why did the breeders go trough the trouble to try to deceive FIFe and the general assembly by trying to pass a motion in order to recognise Forest Cats in lilac, chocolate, cinnamon and fawn?
  • How do they know the cats are golden?
  • Has anyone performed a test mating to a known golden for instance a Persian?
  • Why is it more difficult to recognise a golden Forest Cat than a golden Maine Coon?
  • Are the breeders of Forest Cats serious?

Is it not a sad ending of the story of the cats that were once believed to be something very special? The cats who perhaps represented a special mutation just known in Forest Cats. The cats that were pretty coloured and had a type that was better than the average typed Forest Cat?

And still do. Lets hope that we have now heard the last of this story. That the cats after some time really prove to be goldens and that the image of the breeders of the Forest Cats will not be damaged too seriously by this story.

An item discussed in this connection is the changing of the standard of the NFO and allotting points in the standard to colour and pattern.

And last but not least there are speculations about the future division of the breed with regard to shows.