by Jette Eva Madsen.

As a judge and exhibitor I have seen the frequency of colors change slowly. 10-15 years ago most of the cats were browntabby, browntabby/white, black, black/white. Occasionally we had a red, red/white male and a browntortie or blacktortie female and a few silver cats.

The intensity, quality and distribution of the color generally differed a lot from what we see to day. The browntabbies had a dull, cold color tone and mostly the tabbypattern were not nicely defined. The torties often had little red so you could barely see they were torties. The silvers and smokes were the colorgroup that caused most problems. Often you could not see the white base of the hair of the smoke variants and it could be very difficult to see if a silver was a browntabby or a very tarnished silver. Many cats was registered as a wrong color and when they were engaged in breeding it was discovered that they were disguised silvers or non-silvers.

With the influence of the natural selection for bright, clear colors made by the breeders the colors changed very fast and they still changes today. The browntabbyes have a warmer color, the silvers have a more clear, bright color, the tortie cats have plenty of red hairs, the tabbypattern is better defined and the amount of white and the distribution of white has become very attractive.

Apart from these changes that have turned the Forest Cat into an attractive pet and a very successive show cat there have also been a change in the number of cats seen in the different colors.

Right from the beginning the tortie cats were very popular and the few red males we had were busy in order to father tortie female kittens. This has lead to a steady increase in the amount of red and tortie at the show bench and today we have a situation where these colors are amongst the most frequently seen.

Starting out with the breed we had a few silver cats. Generally the color was not very clear but there still were a lot of interest in the breeding of the difficult silvers. Silver is a dominant trait so here there have also been a steady increase in the number of cats breed. However the raise in numbers was quite slow until a few years ago where the forest cats had new show groupings and the silvers were taking out into their own group.

Also the diluted colors were very popular. From the very beginning there were none but after a few generations blue kittens were born in litters here and there. These blue kittens were used for breeding but it was quite hard to raise the number of diluted cats since only few cats in the breeding stock were carrying the dilution. Still today the diluted colors are popular but rather scarce and many breeders work hard in order to bring in the dilution in their cattery.

The blotched tabby share faith with the diluted colors. It was always been very desirable but because of the recessive nature of the blotched tabby it has been difficult for the breeders to raise the frequency of the blotched tabby on behalf of the mackerel tabby.

Ticked tabby is a very new tabby pattern that was brought into the NFC with a novice cat called Raggen only a few years ago. This far it has not been a popular pattern probably because of the great resemblance to the Somali cat.

The popularity of this great variety of colors has led to the fact that it can be difficult to get hold of NFC’s in the more classic colors. At some shows there are no black NFC’s and also the groups of browntabby(white) cats and black(white) are procentually decreasing in numbers. This means that it is now time to start working seriously with the "good old fashioned" Forest Cat colors.

The future will probably bring even more colors to the breed. For some years there has been a line of chocolate and lilac NFC’s in Sweden and the breeders are working hard to get them recognized.

It is obvious that both the ticked tabby that was recognized some years ago and the chocolate and lilac dilution did not originally belong to the breed. Traits that are randomly distributed in a breed will appear in a lot of different cats within the breed and not just in one family. It is discussed if it is desired with these new traits in the breed but in the cat fancy today is a common tendency toward all breeds of cats slowly having all colors and patterns. This seems to be true for the NFC as well.

I realize that most breeders especially the newer ones want to be the owner of a special cat. Having a cat of a special color seem to be the solution to this need for many a breeder. For other breeders the hunt for special colors is a way to justify the use of inferior cats for breeding.

Personally I am not sure if a chocholatetickedtabbypoint NFC of the future would look very much like the original Forest cat that was recognized in 1976?