Mindful Monday – Cats of a Different Color

We talked about the peacocks of the cat world last week—the calico and the tortie. While researching for those posts I came across a site I thought you’d be interested in. Anyone with a quirky cat or who has questioned their cat’s sluggish or spirited or aggressive or sweet behavior or who has an interest in cat genetics will have a good time spent at this site.


Here I learned some interesting things. Did you know that cats are black unless they have inherited the sex-linked orange masking gene, which means they’re red (orange)? Yeah, in catdom, red is orange, dilute red is cream, grey is blue.

Dig this, male cats can only be black or red or a variation (grey, cream)—but what about white? Oh yes, white is piebald or lack of pigment. Female cats can be both black and red (back to our calico and tortie discussion).

Check this out, according to the experts, all cats are tabbies. Yeah, read the article. It is fascinating. Here’s another fact, in order to get a pointed cat (like the Siamese) the gene must be present in both the male and the female. Bicolor or tricolor cats are created by the incomplete dominant piebald white spotting gene.

Scientists took this study a step farther and had observers (not scientists) observe cat behavior among various cat colors and styles. They reported that long hair cats were more docile and short hair cats more energetic. Orange cats were friendly, white cats aloof, torties and calicos feisty and unpredictable (maybe unless they have long hair???).

When I was writing Book 41 of the Klepto Cat Mysteries—Cats of a Feather, I wanted to have Rags’s (the cat character’s) parentage revealed. This story featured a genealogy search for Rags’s father. I actually consulted a real-life cat DNA expert to find out what color cat would most likely produce a grey and white cat—along with a calico, and two kittens that had markings like their Ragdoll mother, Angel. Yes, Smokey, the cat I patterned Rags after, came from a Ragdoll and no one knew who the father was. My sister-in-law (who owned the female) had told me years earlier that she saw a black-and-white cat around at the time Angel escaped and came back pregnant. She always figured he was the father of the litter.

However, the DNA experts suggested that Smokey’s father was probably red (orange). Yikes. That was a surprise. I checked with my sister-in-law. Without telling her what I’d learned, I asked, “You said you saw a black-and-white cat around when Angel got pregnant. Did you see any other cats on your property during that time?”

She thought for a moment and finally said, “Well, there was an mangy-looking orange cat that I figured was a male hanging around.” Bingo!!!!

Do visit this site and enjoy.



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