BB cbcs Dd
The more we bred these cats, the more clear it became that not only did they carry a gene for which there was not test, but, they also presented coat colors that you don't usually see, and often times eye colors that you don't see associated with those coat colors. If you look at daughter two, with her sable coat, and her electric blue eyes, clearly you are seeing an unusual coat and eye color combination. This is often the case with the kittens that test as black kittens, but, are not black. They have an unusual look.
Daughter One gave birth to a whole bunch of kittens who carried the same unknown gene that she carried, but, she also gave birth to kittens that tested genetically normal. Below you will see one of her sons who tested as a BB cbcs Dd, normal Tonkinese Cat.
Non-conforming Cats with "Normal" Genetic tests
So, Nolan and I have identified cats whose genetic tests indicate a black cat, but, the cats are not black. But, the situation becomes even more complicated because after breeding these "black not black cats", in addition to producing more "black not black" cats, I have seen many cats that just don't match their genetic tests. When a cat tests as a black cat, and its not black, its pretty dramatic. But, below this level of drama, I have had lots of kittens out these cats that simply don't match their test results in other ways. Below you will see pictures of Tank, who is a great grand son. His genetic tests reveal he is Bc cbcb Dd, and should be a classic sable Burmese. But, in fact, when you meet him in person, you would swear he was a standard Tonkinese cat, a cat that carries one Burmese gene and one Siamese gene. (BB cbcs DD)
Genetics: BB cbcs Dd
Does that look like a black cat to you? Well, her genetic coat color test, which was done at two separate labs, came back as BB Ccb Dd, which should indicate a full on black cat. Having this little kitten in my lap, and reading a lab report that said, black cat, I was totally perplexed.
The Lori Luckenbaugh Cats
Lori Luckenbaugh decided to do her part for the American breeds and imported two street cats from Thailand. Nolan, ever helpful, found two brown cats for her and sent them off to her in Pennsylvania. When she was in for a shock. Her two very brown Thai Burmese street cats, tested as genetically black cats. More black, not black cats! This would be a rinse and repeat story. She contacted Davis Veterinary Genetics Lab, and told them, hey, my cats are not black.
The amazing part is that Nolan had sent her two street cats, from different parts of Bangkok, and as luck would have it, they would both be "black not black cats" . Her are some pictures of the pair of "black cats".
Crazy Beautiful Eye Color
One of the really unique feature of this group of cats is their eye color. Firstly, you find coat color and eye color combinations you don't usually see. Classically, Siamese cats (BB cscs DD) have blue eyes. In this group of cats, you will find classically sable Burmese cats with bluer than blue eyes. But, beyond this, they have beautiful eyes. The coat color, which probably stems from a as of yet to be discovered coat color gene, is interesting from a scientific perspective, but, when it comes to looking at the cats, they are not that much different than the standard fare currently available…. Siamese, Tonkinese, and Burmese. But what really distinguishes these cats, in my opinion, is their beautiful eyes. I have seen a lot of cats, but, I have never seen such beautiful eyes. Have a look.
So, here are two cats that seriously could be mistaken as the same cat. But, genetically, they are very different. One appears to carry normal coat color genetics and one seems to carry a new coat color mutation. In this case, they both have a pink brown color that is not like the brown you see in sable or brown cats you usually see from Thailand. They have their own odd color. And it is the same odd color, though they their coat color tests indicate they are genetically dissimilar.
So, you could conclude that these cats that flunk their genetic tests, and test as black cats, posses a different gene in the middle of their genetic equation, the big C is really another gene. And, that is possible. There is clearly something going on that is not being properly detected by the genetic tests currently available.
But, it gets even more complicated that that. While it is true that the kittens that test out as genetically black cats, that are not black cats, have a predictable unusual coat and eye color, there is another peculiar fact. They also give birth to cats with the peculiar coat and eye color that do test out normally. Let's take a look at the mother and daughter one. They are virtually identical when you see them in person, only upon genetic testing would you know that something was amiss.
BB CC DD
ALL OF THESE CATS ARE GENETICALLY BLACK AND YET THEY ARE NOT BLACK!
Now those are some seriously "not black black cats." Confused yet? You should be. It's confusing. Nolan Betterly and I have come to the conclusion there is probably a new gene in this group of cats, and, that more research should be done.
BB Ccb Dd
In the Western cat show world, people like the contestants to be very consistent. Siamese cats should not only have blue eyes, they should have a certain blue color blue eye. Anything to the left of that or to the right of that specified blue color, is considered a flaw. Breeders breed for uniformity and conformity. Its the way things are done.
Having seen so many cats come from Thailand, one of the key characteristics has been their beautiful eyes. No one set of eyes is like another but they are consistently beautiful. A wild mix of colors that come together like a wildflowers colors come together. They are stunning. And when you breed a cat with stunning eyes to a cat with stunning eyes, you get more stunning eyes. I depart from the cat show world in that I like this diversity of eye color. It adds to the beauty of the cat. I do not breed for a specific eye color, I breed for cats with beautiful eyes in the big picture. This group of cats with whatever coat color mutation they have, tend to have extra beautiful eyes. And I mean even more beautiful than the average beautiful Thai cat eye!
BB Ccb DD
So, this is the matriarch of this whole line of cats, and she is genetically a very straight forward Tonkinese. Her genetic tests results indicate she is BB cbcs Dd. Nothing remarkable here. But, as you will see, her daughters, are a whole different story. The presence of a big C in the middle of the genetic formulae would cause the cat to become black in appearance. When you have a big C in the middle, you get a black cat. As you will see, her three daughters all have a Big C, and none of them are black.
BROWN CATS THAT TEST AS GENETICALLY BLACK CATS: A POSSIBLE NEW COAT COLOR GENE IDENTIFIED IN THAI CATS
BB Ccb DD
BB Ccb Dd
Through a total streak of luck, Lori ended up with two cats from Thailand, unrelated, that both test as black cats, that are clearly not black cats. And, she bred them. The result is fascinating. In the litter, all the kittens were brown. Some tested as black cats, some tested as brown cats. The result, based on basic genetics, were predictable, BB Ccb DD, BB cbcb DD, and more interestingly, BB CC DD. Now this last result, belonged to a cat Lori called Nara. This one should be straight up a black cat and she is in fact not. Not only is she not a black cat, but, she is a very peculiar color.
BB Ccb Dd
BB Ccb DD
Dr. Douglas Schar and Dr. Anatoly Vinokur
So, as you can see, these three daughters were a lot of things, but black is not one of them.
There are several things we can learn from this part of the story. The mother gave birth to three daughters who test out as black cats. However, she herself tests normally as a Tonkinese cat(cbcs). Her daughters were all BB Ccb Dd or genetically black cats. This suggests that the big C is not really a big C, it just appears like a big C when tested using the currently available genetic tests.
The big C found in the middle of the three daughters genetic equation is probably a whole new gene that has yet to be identified. But, whatever that gene is, the mother did not carry it, so, the father must have contributed that gene to these three daughters. What the gene is, will only be discovered with time. But, only one parent has to carry the gene for it be passed to the next generation.
And, subsequent breedings have revealed that whatever it is, can be passed by one parent onto their children. The reason I say this is because Pamela, whose genetic formulae is BB Ccb Dd, when mated to a standard natural male tonkinese(BB cbcs DD) produced kittens that carried the same mutation.
New Coat Color Gene Discovered In Thai Cats
By Dr.Douglas Schar and Nolan Betterly
Normal people would not know this(count me out) but there are genetic tests for cats. This is very helpful to cat breeders such as myself because it allows you to predict outcomes of litters, study the relationship between health and genetics, and other catty things which would only appeal to, say someone who breeds cats. And this whole article may only appeal to someone really into cats, but, it is a story I am working on, and, I want to tell the story. Not only is it a story I am working on, it is a research project I am working on.
The story is about a new coat color gene that me and my partner in crime, Nolan Bettterly, accidentally identified or discovered, however you want to describe it. We came across this new gene quite accidentally. Really quite accidentally.
As ever with me, nothing goes according to plan, and things always take a turn for the weird. I start working on one project, and it morphs into a whole new project. Such is really the case here.
When I decided to breed Burmese cats I discovered that the breed was the most inbred cat in the world and had the most imperiled health as a result. It was on a crash course for extinction, one expert told me. I knew Burmese cats came from Thailand and if we needed new genetics, then we needed to get them from Thailand. I decided to import cats from Thailand to correct the inbreeding problem. Sounds straight forward enough, a breed started with Thai cats, that had been inbred for 100 years, needed some new blood. All perfectly manageable.
Along the way, I learned a lot about Thai Cat genetics. When you get them genetically tested for coat color, the result comes in a code, a series of letters that mean something to someone who knows what they mean. Once you learn the secret meaning behind the code, you can look at the code, and know what kind of cat you are dealing with. Here are a few examples.
BB cbcb DD= this genetic formulae is what you find with a sable Burmese cat
BB cscs DD= this genetic formulae is what you find with a seal point Siamese cat.
BB cbcs DD= this genetic formuae is what you find with a natural mink Tonkinese.
In any case, when you test a Thai cats genetically, you get a formulae from the lab, like those listed above, and over time, you learn what those codes mean. And, I tested a lot of cats. The flip side is also true. If I was having a sable Burmese cat tested, I knew that the result would be something like BB cbcb DD. Codes indicate cats, and cats indicate genetic codes.
You need to know all that information for what follows…….
So I was happily testing my cats coat color genetics, American Burmese and cats from Thailand, and over time, I rather got the handle of it. When I had a cat tested, I had a good idea of what the testing would reveal.
My whole cat breeding operation was made possible by Nolan Betterly, and his girlfriend Bew of Bangkok Thailand. They found and sent me cats to be used in my breeding program. I mean they literally found me cats in Thailand, and sent them on airplanes to me in Washington, DC. These two people are saints in my book and they have done more for Thai cats in America than anybody I know.
So, one day Nolan contacts me and says that he rescued a Tortie mother cat, and her three kittens, and would I like them. The mom was a tortie, and there were two sable kittens and one tortie kitten. All girls. Sounded good to me. And he sent me the following pictures of the mom and her adorable daughters.
The back story was that Nolan got a call from a warf manager who said there was a mother cat and three kittens, and, he feared they would be eaten by local workers if they were not collected. He and Bew rushed off into the night to save the cats, and ultimately, send them to me
So, Nolan sent me the four cats and once they got here, I did what I do, which is I had them tested genetically to find out a little more about them.
And that is when the boom dropped. When I got the results of their tests, I thought there had been a mistake. The three daughters, all clearly brown, tested as genetically solid black cats. I had the testing done at UC Davis genetics lab, and immediately contacted them to say there was some kind of mistake. They must have sent me the wrong results. Because, these three cats tested were not black cats but their genetics test results indicated black cats. In short, UC Davis Feline Genetics lab's response was no response. They never got back to me. I contacted them, said, whats up with this test result, and they ignored my calls and my notes. A great lab but their customer service could use a little help.
Everybody makes a mistake and I thought they had just made a mistake with the test. But, since they never responded to my questions regarding the peculiar test results, I had to go elsewhere to figure out what was going on.
So, now I have three brown cats from Thailand, that tested out as genetically black cats, none of this makes any sense, and I don't know what to do. Nolan and I were discussing this and he suggested I try a lab in England, they might be more responsive.
Needless to say, I was perplex and I wanted some answers. So I sent genetic samples for the three"black" to the genetics lab at Langford in England. Once again, all three cats tested as solid black cats. To my very pleasant surprise, when I called Langford, they actually took my call. I explained the situation, that the three cats tested were not black cats, they were brown cats, and I was confused. I was referred to a specialist, a Dr.Helps, who was beyond fabulous in helping me understand the situation. He explained that the cats carried a mutation that was not picked up by the current genetic test. Clearly the cats were not black, and the test was giving a false reading of "black cat". In his estimation, the cats possessed a coat color mutation as of yet undetected by the scientific community. When you test these cats, you get a reading that indicates a black cat, but in fact, it is not a black cat but a false reading. So, I thought it would be fun to follow the story as it developed through the generation in pictures.