Cats have a fine coat inherited from their wild ancestors. It is this evolution, coupled with gene transfer, that has led to the range of colours and colours that we currently see in different breeds of wool.
Your cat’s colour and tone depend mainly on melanin and its two constituents: eumelanin and pheomelanin. The combination of the two, in greater or lesser amounts, determines the colour
of the animal. Eumelanin gives brown and black, while pheomelanin gives us red and yellow. They combine, mix, and result in your cat.
Everything is in the genes
As in the case of humans, coat colour is determined by the amount of melanin that is genetically transferred from father and mother to their offspring at conception. That is, it is the sum of both genes that determines the colour of the new kitten:
- Rich hues: Rich colours like black, chocolate, cinnamon and red all come from a gene called ‘dense’.
- Soft shades: grey, cream, lilac and blue are softer colours provided by a gene called ‘diluted’. The gene for red is unique in that it determines, depending on the combinations, whether the offspring will have pure colour, or they will have a combination of rich and soft shades. The latter case refers to what we call the tortoiseshell colour.
- White: White is a colour that predominates in genes other than those already mentioned, and normally it appears mixed with others, provided that the genes are combined. This is a gene that neutralizes other colours and will possibly appear as a solid colour if cleavage is done in the correct formula. This gene can cause deafness, especially in cats that have blue eyes.
Your cat’s colour and tone depend mainly on melanin and its two constituents: eumelanin and pheomelanin.
The combination of coat colour and eye colour ultimately defines every cat uniquely. It is important to remember, however, that the colour of their eyes is not directly related to the colour of their coat, although in fact there are some norms. Cat eyes can be green, blue, hazel, golden, copper coloured, and so on, and so on – there is a wide range of shades.