Chocolate and Lilac colorings

 

 

 

The list of chocolate and lilac Grand-Champions (with marks and entirely

colored ones) is still small. The Himalayans were recognized by CFA as

self-dependent breed in 1957. Cats with solid colors chocolate and lilac

were included later. In the following 37 years only 9 chocolate-point cats,

3 lilac-points, 1 chocolate, 1 lilac (4 of them from the legendary Cactusway

Cattery and 2 from Tyland) managed to get the title Grand-Champion. The

Himalayans were deprived in 1984 from their status of a breed and included as

sub-breed Himalayan Diversion in the Persian breed and the solid Chocolates

and Lilacs joined the main Persian breed.

 

Chocolates and Lilacs - where do the chocolate and lilac colors among longhaired

cats come from? Well, 3 breeders started independently: Brian Sterling-Webb,

Briarry Cattery from the UK, S. M. Harding, Mingchiu Cattery from the UK,

Regina van Wessem, Siyah Gush Cattery from Holland. Later on these 3 Catteries

worked together and mated their animals intensively. Then mixed lines were

imported from USA where inbreeding was continued.

 

The first longhaired chocolate male cat was registered by English Cat-Fanciers:

Briarry Bruno. The father of him was a shorthaired chocolate that is nowadays

called Havana Brown" in GCCF. By that time the color had a different name:

chestnut-brown. The strong Persian type (his grand-father Foxburrow Frivolous)

was combined with a Siamese color distribution (color-point) of his grand-

mother that was Siamese by her mother and chestnut-brown by her father.

 

B. Sterling-Webb began in 1947 to work with color-points. Before him a

chocolate-point colour has been defined as undesirable. Only in 1950 the

standard for chocolate color registration was defined.

 

S.M. Harding and B. Sterling-Webb raised the first longhaired lilac cat

Mingchiu Lilak. Derived from Briarry Bruno. The first lilac-point listed in

the UK, the Mingchiu Sula Three - the Great-Granddaughter of Briarry

Bruno was also the result of the cooperation of Harding and Sterling-Webb.

The mixed line of chocolates/lilacs from the 2 UK Catteries appeared in

USA for the first time and was subjected to a subsequent inbreeding.

 

Independently from the UK catteries Regina van Wessem also raised her own

line of longhaired chocolates and lilacs. The black longhaired male cat was

received in Holland as a result of breeding of a female of an unknown genotype

and blue-eyed white Persian cat and then it was mate to his mother. The result

was Siyah Gush Cheng Sen, a brown longhaired cat. The Hoog Moersbergen Cattery

kept up the work from Regina van Wessem after her death. The Holland-Lines had

a darker chocolate color than Briarry Minghiu but the better type. This line

appeared also in the US at the beginning of the 70ties. One of the most famous

chocolate cats was born, Willem van Hoog Moersbergen. American Catteries started

with both lines, the English and the Holland lines along with a combination out

of both lines (1969 - 1973).

 

 

 

Phenotype and genotype of Chocolate and Lilac

 

The CFA standard defines the chocolate color of solid colored Persians as

following: Rich, warm, chocolate-brown, expressed along from the root to the tip

of hair and pads should be brown. Chocolate-Point should have an ivory colored

body with no darkening, and spots of a milk chocolate color of a soft tone, tip

of nose and pads are brown-pink. Fact is there are 2 kinds of chocolate, or brown

color, controlled by 2 different mutations of gene Black (B): brown mutation (b)

provides dark-brown, and brownl (bl) mutation - light brown. Both colors are accepted

but need to be in a rich and warm color.

 

The lilac color of Solids is described as:

rich, warm, pale-lilac with a pink tint" hair color; the tip of nose and pads should

be pink. Lilac-point should have a white with a frosty coating color with no darkening,

spots - gray with frosty coating and pinkish tint; tip of nose and pads are coral pink.

 

Chocolate gene brown, or b (as well as a dilute gene, or d, controlling for a blue

coloring) is recessive. It displays itself when is double-dosed (bb), that is passed

from both parents. Considering a recessive character of genes of rare colorings and

turning to Persian color-points, B. Fox writes: "Everybody knows that Himalayan cats

have the many recessive genes: longhair is recessive to shorthair, color with spots -

towards even color. And now if one to add here the recessive lilac and chocolate genes

he will understand how difficult is to grow a real grand-champion of such color and how

long and laborious is this work".

 

It's impossible to get a lilac or chocolate phenotype if only one of the parents carries

the combination of genes of this color. The presence of the gene in both parents is

obligatory condition for a chocolate colored litter. If only one of parents has a chocolate

gene, then the offspring will merely be carriers of this gene but won't have this color.

 

Even harder is to receive a lilac cat. Lilac is a chocolate that carries another double

set of a dilute (dd) gene, controlling for a blue coloring.

 

Both parents must possess both genes of chocolate and blue color. If you want to get a

lilac kitten, you have to mate a blue female, carrying a chocolate gene, and a chocolate

male, carrying a blue gene, and vice versa. Out of this combination only one of four

kittens on average will have a desirable lilac color, in the case of bbdd combination

(that means that there may not be a lilac kitten in a given litter at all). The same may

result from a mating of two blue animals, carrying a chocolate gene.

 

Unfortunately, because pale-colored seal-points, especially young ones, occur often,

many false chocolate-points have been registered that are not appear to be real genetically.

How to distinguish a chocolate-point from a seal-point? A chocolate-point has an incomplete

mask, as if it's not fully developed. Color of muzzle and ears don't merge together as in

seal-point. The hair on the trunk should be paler, than in a seal-point, limbs should be

chocolate. If the coloring is correct the hair color turns from white into chocolate smoothly

Pads should be pink and on no account dark.

 

 

 

Chocolate gene carriers

 

Chocolate-points differ remarkably from seal-points by a more light color of body. They

don't get dark to that extent as seal-points when grow old. This makes their color more

contrasting than seal-points. Lilac-points have also a white color of body that never

turns gray when grow old as it is often the case of blue-points. In connection with a

peculiar feature of a chocolate gene to decolorize the background color of body, digressing

rom the B. Fox's article some additional information concerning Himalayas - chocolate gene

carriers, means animals with Bbcscs genotype.

 

First of all, let's turn to an acknowledged authority on genetics and cat colors,

R.Ribson: The locus of brown color is represented by two mutant alleles, denoted as b - brown

- and bl - light-brown. Heterozygosity by these two alleles causes considerable reduction

of color intensity of granules in comparison with norm (C. O'Bryan, Z. Robinson et all,

Cat genetics. Novosybirssk: "Nayka", 1993, c.47-48). What does this really mean?

 

A pair of cscs genes controls for a Himalayan (color-point) phenotype. Considering the

recession of a chocolate gene b (or bl), pigment in chocolate gene carriers (Bbcscs) is

formed in concordance with the presence of a dominant gene B, that is, black, not brown.

Result is seal-point. This is a, so-called, incomplete dominance. As a result, an animal

with this color carrying the recessive chocolate gene b is slightly paler than a typical

seal-point with BBcscs genotype.

 

As noted above, the main drawback of many seal-points is darkening of hair when they grow

up. The color doesn't become contrasting but with a dark-brown mask on the light-brown

background, or just brown. The hair of the chocolate gene carriers stays paler, as a rule,

and the contrast of a seal-point color remains.

 

The same counts for the chocolate gene carriers, dilute, blue ones that have Bbcscsdd

genotype. Blue-point animals with this phenotype have nearly white body, mask stays

blue and sometimes with a lilac tint. Often these animals are called carriers of a

lilac gene, even if it's genetically not correct: such a single gene doesn't exist.

The lilac phenotype (lilac-point) is determined by a combination of two couples of

chocolate and blue (dilute) genes. A lilac-point cat is in fact a blue-point cat

with a couple of chocolate genes. Blue-point cat with a single chocolate gene has

a blue-point color improved by a dilution of a gray background of body.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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