Coat colour and pattern
An advantage of Siberian cats is that they come in many colours and patterns. Therefore, everybody can find a Siberian of their liking! However, for a new person in the field of cats, it might be difficult to understand the colour "codes" which follow a cat name and what this implies about the animal. Nevertheless, understanding these codes makes it possible not only to tell of what colour a cat is, but also what her future litters might look like.
If a cat shows on its coat one (or several) colours which do not form any pattern, she is called "solid" and her code consists just of the colour letters (see below).
Our not Siberian kitten Alpha showed no pattern and therefore has a solid, two coloured coat. His code is n 03.
If, on the other hand, there is a specific pattern on a cat coat, the cat is called "Tabby". All tabbies have an "M" shape on the forehead, rings of darker colour on the tail and legs and each hair of the coat is coloured with darker and lighter stripes. There are three different codes for tabbies:
22 – Classic (also called marble or blotched) tabby cats have semi-circular lines on their shoulders, which might look like butterfly wings if seen from above and a spiral pattern on the sides. Some cats have a very striking classic pattern in its contrast, while on other cats, the pattern is incomplete or almost impossible to notice due to little contrast.
Yelisey, Aksel and Angelina have a striking classic black coat, n 22, while Elina, Alanina and Agrippina have a classic three coloured coat f 22.
23 – Mackerel tabby cats have lines on their bodies, like tigers.
Angelur Shalunya is a mackerel cat, n 23. The picture was taken from the breeder of our cat, Vekha, Sladkoe Pyatnyshko.
24 – Spotted tabby cats have spots on their body, like cheetahs. The distinction between Mackerel and Spotted cats is not always clear 😺.
Vekha is a spotted black tabby, n 24.
n – Black includes cats with coats from black to brown.
Yelisey, Vekha, Angelina and Aksel are black tabbies.
a – Blue, a lighter variation of black, which people other than "crazy cat people" would define as grey.
Elina's brother King Diamond Slavicat is a blue cat. Our Argentina's fur is for the most part blue, however she has also some cream colour, and therefore she is not coded with "a".
d – Red, meaning orange, of course!
Our not Siberian kitten Romeo is a mackerel red cat with white, d 09 23.
e – Cream, a lighter variation of red.
Elina's father Beilis, is a cream cat.
w – White, Siberian white cats must have yellow-green eyes, if not they are considered Neva Masquerade cats.
Picture of Alisinya Markus Snezhnaya Sibir.
s – Silver, silver cats have white hair roots with coloured hair tips.
Yelisey's mother, Tsyganochka-Oblomov Fialka, is a black silver classic cat, ns 22.
y – Gold, cats with a "brown-red" fur, with black tip of the tail and lower side of the paws.
Picture of Yagodka Volzskaja Krasa, ny 22.
Tortie (or torbie) cats have usually two main colours, either red and black or cream and blue. All torties are female cats.
f – Black-Red tortie. The amount of red in a tortie cat can vary. Some look mostly red, while others are almost as a black cat, just with a warmer fur colour and few red spots.
Elina and Alanina are classic black and red torties, f 22.
g – Blue-cream tortie. The amount of cream in such cats greatly varies.
Argentina is a tortie cat. She has cream paws and spots next to the years. For the rest she is blue and white, g 22.
In addition to the main colour, cats can have white in their fur. This is coded with numbers, depending upon how spread the white colour is on the body of the cat.
09 - White fur below 40% of the animal.
03 - Bi-colour, equal amounts of white and another colour on the cat.
02 - Harlequin, coloured tail and small patches on the fur.
01 - Van, coloured tail and base of the ears.
If only the mouth and neck region of the cat is white, there is no additional "white number".
Sunny, our not Siberian cat, is a classic, red and black tortie with white, f 09 22.
33 - Colour point, the coat colour of the Neva Masquerade cats, a sister breed of the Siberians. Neva cats have always blue eyes (Siberians have yellow-green eyes) and white fur through the body besides on the extremities (face, ears, tail, paws).
Picture of Yesenia Siberian Samotsvet, n 03 21 33.
Genetics of colours
After the fertilisation of an egg, the kitten DNA, thus its genetic material, is compiled. Of each gene (which might code for example a characteristic of the fur), the kitten gets two copies, one from the mother and one from the father. The genes from the parents might be exactly the same, or vary a little. Genes which code for coat colour and pattern vary between cats. Thus a mother can give to the kitten genes for blue coat and spotted tabby pattern, while the father a black coat and classic tabby pattern. In this case, how will the kitten look like?
Not all the genes types have the same "power", called dominance. Some genes will be expressed all the time, independently whether the analogous gene from the other parent is the same or different (these gene types are denoted by capital letters). Other gene types, will be expressed (thus participate in how the kitten looks like), only if there is no dominant gene. Such "weak" gene types are called recessive, and are represented by a small letter.
For example, the black colour is dominant (B), while blue is recessive (b). Thus a kitten with both genes (one from each parent, Bb) will be black. However, if she mates with a blue cat (which has thus two blue genes, bb), some of her kittens will be blue (bb), while others will be black (Bb).
Below is a table listing coat colours classfied as either dominant (left) or their recessive (right) counterpart.
|Black (B)|| <-> ||Blue (b)|
|Red (R)|| <-> ||Cream (r)|
|Spotty tabby (T)|| <-> ||Classic tabby (t)|
Example: Let's look at litter A, parented by Yelisey (n 22) and Elina (f 22). Both cats have the recessive classic pattern (tt) and therefore all their kittens inherited the classic pattern (tt). Yelisey and Elina have black fur, however, one of the kittens, Argentina, has blue fur (bb). This means that both parents had a dominant black gene and a recessive blue gene (Bb) in their genotype. Cat genetics is not always that straightforward and many aspects are still not understood, but it is anyways a lot of fun!
Disclaimer: I actually do not know if and which of the black kittens have the BB or Bb genes, I would need to mate them and look at their kittens to find out. However, it looks nice this way, like in a school biology book.