I had to write this article, those colours have become more and more popular, and it seems to me that so many breeders just make up their own minds about what is and what isn't! And that this is allowed to continue really scares me, if we can breed to our own likes and not consider the standard no matter it's about the colour or the type, why do we even have a standard?
We actually do not know anything for sure, I have been pretty sure that this trait is recessive, I have studied and studied cats and pedigrees and photos and also read on the homepage of Leslie Lyon, who suggests the same.
However, I am not the one who can not admit that I was wrong, I have for a long time, been sure that the wide band is recessive based on studies I have done on pedigrees and cats. However, I have taken part of, and also done some matings myself and it is more and more inclined that we are dealing with two completely different traits, the wideband gene the old one that widens the bands on the hairs and that gives shaded is one, these cats can be very dark even if they clearly are shaded. Then we have another mutation that gives "shaded-like" cats, I write "shaded-like" as these cats appear to be shaded, but this predisposition also seems to affect smoke something that the wideband does not seem to do to that extent and which should be natural as the wide band expands the bands on the hair, a smoke has no bands to expand.
There are so many people who, for example, tell an owner of a golden, that this can not be a golden because the parents are not golden or shaded ... I have a question for you?
HOW do you know for sure when no one else knows anything at all when it comes to these colors? We also got the fact that, so many go their own way and find on their own standard based on their own opinion. This result in a whole lot of cats that actually are shaded or golden but where the owners have been told that they are too dark etc. There is an incredible number of hidden numbers, when it comes to how many cats we have that actually are shaded. And we should not even talk about the goldens, there we got a huge mass that even denies their existence.
This was just a small side step as I felt it was important to address this.
Ok, let's talk about what I really wanted to bring up in this article, what is golden or shaded? I know I have written articles earlier about what to look for, which might be correct also in the future, might need to be updated in the long term, we will see.
If we first go into shaded/shell and what is called pale silver.
First of all, a so-called high smoke is nothing to strive for.
The description of smoke, according to standard, is:
"When still resting, the cat appears to be solid coloured, but in motion, the silver-white undercoat is clearly visible".
Remarks: A smoke cat is a cat of contrast.
Though I have to say that it's remarkable that so many breeders, look the other way when it's about a high silver smoke, but if there is a darker shaded with some markings it's definitely, absolutely not a shaded? If so how can you call those high silver smokes, smokes? What should you register them as? Because they clearly do not match the description of a smoke? Of course, you should register them as smoke, since that's their genetic colour, but can you see my frustration here? A bad shaded is absolutely not a shaded, but a bad smoke with too much silver is considered smoke without any doubt?
I will get to the case, we do want to strive for good colours, no matter what colour we are talking about! And we want to stay with the standard, that's why it's there otherwise we could just start breeding house cats (they do not have a standard to follow) instead.
Well, that was long writing before I cut to the chase, again I will talk about shaded and golden, as I said above there are so many breeders today who every single day dismiss shaded cats as non-shaded?
This has become a money-making market for many breeders, and you really do not want people to know that shaded and golden are really not that common. I have also seen that a lot of breeders go only by how bright a cat is and nothing else, and a cat can be extremely bright for many reasons, but it's not necessary because the cat is genetically shaded.
So if we start here with a simple question just to make my point a bit more clear!
This is a Black classic tabby, when it comes to the pattern, right?
Then is this one not a Black classic tabby? And if it isn't, then what would you consider the cat to be?
So if we do have a cat that is a bit too dark but clearly does have 2/3 pure white in the bottom, shouldn't we then consider that a shaded?
Even if this cat might have some unbroken rings, maybe have some marking on the body (which for that matter even on a good shaded can be present from time to time, for example at a change of fur). In my opinion, that would be a shaded, not a good shaded, like with the high silver smoke, it's not a good smoke but it is nevertheless a smoke!
Important to not forget is that kittens who are shaded do have visible pattern as very young, this will dissapear when they mature, but might come back from time do time again when older.
Then we also have this aspect that I think I have brought up shortly earlier, I prefer a bit darker shade, I prefer contrasts. I like when you can see the edge when you can tell where the silver stops and the tipping starts. Non of this is either right or wrong, but it WILL be very hard to determine where the silver stops and the tipping starts, if you have a cat with very pale tipping. Since we today seem to have to do with two different traits, it's important form me to actually be able to determine what trait we are dealing with, this is a lot easier if you do have a good contrast.
I will try to illustrate what I'm talking about, below you got 4 cats, A, B, C, and D...
So as you can see one of those cats is actually shaded if we go by 2/3 should be silver.
How about those other three cats, which cat do you think is the darkest cat? The one with the pure black tipping or the one with the almost white greyish tipping? If we do breed for just a pale grey tone in the colour of the tipping, we can get almost any cat to become shaded, we also will have a hard time determine if the cat is shaded or not when looking at the bottom of the fur, since we cannot really see the edge. This will probably be an easier way since you this way do not need to search for a specific gene and instead can just search for the palest cat and just breed on that, of course, that's a lot easier, but is it correct? I just want to raise some questions and make you all think about it.
We need to keep in mind that on cats we do have genotype and phenotype, genotype is what the cats actually are, the colour or pattern the cat genetically are, and then we have the phenotype, what the cat actually appears to be when looking at it. From a show perspective, we might like those pale cats and we can just have a look at the cat and decide what the phenotype is, but if we want to breed shaded, what then? Wouldn't it be better for breeding to go for a genotype shaded cat who might not be perfect, rather than a phenotyped cat that appears to be really good shaded? (Especialy if we take into consideration that thos might have a completely different trait).
I just want you to start thinking and questioning what's the best idea-, and maybe, not judge the cats too quickly on the first impression.
Then we have the golden tabbies, those who some suggest do not exist but actually are described at least in the FIFe standard.
Also here I see over and over again, breeders looking only at the overall appearance and not into the details. When it comes to those colours we know less than we do about the silver shaded. We also do not completely understand those yet, I'm doing studies both breeding and also by getting pedigrees and pictures from those we have found, just to try to learn more. I will write an article about this when I'm finished when I learned more.
But I have to say I have seen a few who I think should be considered golden shaded but are registered as just black tabbies. I strongly believe that we do have a LOT more golden tabbies out there that we just do not know about, same with the silver shaded. I think there is a lot of "too dark" cats that actually are better shaded than many of the really pale ones. Can we all get together and try to breed according to standard instead of just out of our own heads?
At last, I would like to go back to the high silver smokes I know those are used in the breeding to get shaded, and I also know shaded who are given those extremely high silver smokes. In those cases I'm pretty sure that we are dealing with a completely new genetic makeup, a completely different trait? I start to believe that a lot of those who are today called shaded, actually are not wideband at all, but have some kind of another trait that affects also the solid cats.
Wideband should not affect the smokes at all, since this trait affects the bands on the agouti hair, how do you explain that on a cat without any bands on their hairs? So what are we dealing with here? I will try to look into this also after I'm finished with my other study.
By: Malin Sundqvist
Dagdrivarn Maine Coon