Caramel & Apricot
The colour genes are always present in pairs: BBDD for a black cat, bbDD for a chocolate cat, BbDd for a black cat carrying chocolate and dilution (blue). Chocolate and cinnamon take the same place (locus) on the chromosome.
This means that a black, blue or red cat can have one gene for chocolate OR one gene for cinnamon.
If this cat had two genes for chocolate he would BE a chocolate cat. If he had two genes for dilution (blue) he would BE a blue cat; if he had one gene for chocolate and one gene for cinnamon he would also be a chocolate cat, because chocolate is dominant over cinnamon. (Although you cannot see this in the way the genes are written; they are both recessive to black).
The combination of two genes for dilution (or blue) and two genes for chocolate in a black cat produces another colour: lilac (bbdd).
The combination of two genes for dilution (or blue) and two genes for cinnamon in a black cat produces the fawn cat (blbldd).
In the red cat two genes for dilution produces the cream cat. Chocolate genes have no visible effect in a red cat. Although the late Persian breeder Piet Prosé in Holland thought that red Persians carrying chocolate had a much brighter colour red.
The gene that produces caramel cats is a dominant gene on a different locus: Dm.
This gene is dominant, which means that one single extra gene can alter a cat into a caramel, provided also two genes for dilution are apparent. This happens to blue, lilac and fawn cats who carry this gene.
In cream cats which also have two genes for dilution, the extra Dm gene alters the cream cat into the apricot cat.
Cats with two Dm genes are homozygous for caramel, but can only produce caramel kittens when mated to blue, lilac, fawn and caramel cats or cats who carry the dilution gene.
A caramel cat with one Dm gene (a heterozygous caramel) gives this gene to 50% of its offspring. A caramel cat with two genes for Dm gives one Dm gene to its entire offspring.
But you cannot see this gene in red, black, brown, seal, chocolate or cinnamon cats, because the dilute modifier gene (Dm) is epistatic to these colours. This simply means that the colours black (brown), chocolate, cinnamon and red mask the Dm gene and thus can carry the gene that produces caramel or apricot without showing it.
So these red, black, chocolate and cinnamon cats can carry the Dm gene for caramel or apricot along for generations without anybody knowing it; as long as there are no genes for dilution (blue or cream) involved in breeding these cats, it will not appear.
And it can come as a big surprise when a black cat carrying caramel, undetected for generations, and also carrying blue, is mated to a blue cat and a caramel suddenly appears out of the blue!!
Thus caramel reveals itself only when the cat has also two genes for blue. This gene modifies the blue (or lilac or fawn) cat into a caramel cat. Blue changes to have a brownish tinge, darker than lilac, mud coloured almost. In tabby cats the caramel pattern gets a distinct metallic overlay. There is little difference between cats that are blue-based caramels and lilac-based caramels. The cats that are fawn-based caramels tend to have a much warmer ground colour and are very beautiful.
In my opinion the solid coloured caramel cats (and caramel points too), are a bit dull compared to other colours and by far not as attractive as tabby caramel cats are. The metallic sheen of caramel contrasts beautifully with the warm ground colour in tabbies. I can still remember a gorgeous oriental caramel classic tabby I had to judge in the U.K.
There is the same variation in caramel colour as there is in chocolate, blue or lilac coloured cats. So you will see paler and darker caramels, just as you can see paler and darker chocolates or lilacs.
In red cats the dilute modifying Dm gene changes nothing, but it changes cream cats to apricot.: a warm cream with a metallic sheen instead of the powdered effect of the cream.
Caramel tortie point cats can be easily identified, as apricot is much hotter in colour than cream, while the caramel has that metallic overlay.
In breeding caramel pointed and caramel tabby pointed kittens, I could not see much colour difference between blue-based and lilac-based kittens. Each time I got almost the same shade of caramel. But that was probably due to the fact that I had cats who carried many polygenes for light and warm.
Lilac could be clearly distinguished from caramel in pointed cats at an early age, as it develops only slowly.
Caramel pointed kittens develop their colour as quickly as blue or seal pointed kittens.
Caramel tabby pointed kittens can be tricky if they also carry many polygenes for warm and pale colouring and especially if the cinnamon gene is also involved. Then it often takes more time for the caramel colour to develop than 3 months.
And the colour in a caramel point changes all the time; sometimes it is more bluish, a week later it may have changed to more brownish overtones, which can be very confusing. When cinnamon is also involved in Siamese you might not know what colour kitten you have at first but have to wait a little longer.
A good help is the pad- and nose leather colour. Fawn points have pink nose leather and paw pads, while fawn-based caramel points have a soft mauve colour. The hairs between their pads usually give a very good indication of the colour of the cat.
I have seen the caramel colour for the first time many years ago when visiting the English breeder and geneticist Patricia Turner in the South of England. They were called Oriental "Pastels" at the time. Pat Turner told me that the American geneticist Don Shaw called the caramel colour "Barrington Brown".
He saw this colour first in the USA in Chinchilla Persians. Pat Turner used American chinchilla's imported to England in her breeding program to develop silver in her oriental cats. Then this colour showed up unexpectedly. Pat Turner and her friends carried out a lot of matings to understand the nature of this gene.
In some Tai-Bagheera cats in Germany, also bred with the help of American chinchilla cats (Jemari chinchilla's if I am not mistaken) to get silver Orientals; caramel popped up there as well.
At a meeting about caramel, organised by one of the independent Cat clubs in Holland in the early nineties with Pat Turner and many independent judges in Rotterdam, Pat Turner told us more about caramel and we discussed caramel intensively. There also the name "taupe" was used for the first time for the blue-based caramels. One of the Dutch breeders invented this name for her caramels as she thought it fitted the colour of her cats better than caramel. She had rather dark toned caramel cats (originating from the German Tai-Bagheera lines) and the meeting agreed that it was a good idea to call the blue-based cats with the Dm gene taupe and to keep the name caramel for the lilac-based cats with the Dm gene. We saw caramel, lilac, blue and taupe cats in solid and tabby Oriental and Siamese on this meeting.
Pat Turner promised to give the information about taupe and caramel to Roy Robinson, as she did. In Roy Robinson 3rd edition of Genetics for Cat Breeders he referred to taupe, but for the lilac-based caramels instead! When I bought the 4th ed. of Genetics for Cat Breeders this year, with very interesting new facts about many things, I discovered that taupe was still named for lilac-based caramel, which was never the intention. Fortunately the GCCF in the UK never used the name taupe, but used kept using caramel for all the different modified diluted cats.
A caramel cat (aaBBddDm) x a homozygous chocolate cat (aabbDD) gives 100% chocolate kittens with a gene for dilution (blue); 50% of the kittens are caramel carriers (aabbDdDm).
When a caramel point Siamese (aaBBcscsddDm) is mated to a chocolate point Siamese who carries dilution (blue) (aaBBcscsDd), you can get the following kittens: caramel point Siamese, SP Siamese with genes for caramel & dilution (blue), SP Siamese with gene for dilution (blue) and homozygous BP Siamese,
Although dominant, the Dm gene can only express itself when 2 genes for dilution (blue) are present.
If the caramel cat (aaBBddDm) is mated to a blue cat carrying chocolate (aaBbDD) we can make the following diagram:
Caramel female : aBdDm en aBd
Blue male carrying chocolate: aBd en abd
aBBdd | aBbddDm |
| aBbdd | aBBddDm |
aaBBdd = homozygous blue
aaBbdd = blue carrying chocolate
aaBBddDm = caramel
aaBbddDm = caramel carrying chocolate
If the caramel also carries chocolate she is: aaBbddDm.
Mated to homozygous chocolate (aabbDD) the result will be:
| aBbDd | aBbDdDm |
| abbDd | abbDdDm |
aabbDd = chocolate with gene for dilution (blue)
aaBbDd = black with genes for chocolate & dilution (blue)
aabbDdDm = chocolate with genes for dilution (blue) & caramel
aaBbDdDm = black with genes for chocolate, dilution (blue) & caramel
This way you are able to make more diagrams yourself. Just try.
Cream cats with the Dm gene change into apricot cats.
The English GCCF Standard of Points (the first registering body to recognise these colours) says for the
Oriental Apricot: "Coat colour: A hot cream with a soft metallic sheen, which becomes more noticeable with maturity. Tabby "markings "may be evident, especially in kittens and should not be penalised in an otherwise good cat. Hair: coloured to t"he roots. "No white hairs. Nose leather, Eye Rims and Paw Pads: pink
"Withhold certificates of First Prize in Kittens:
"1. Coat white at roots
"2. General Oriental withholding faults."
Oriental Apricot tabbies: "Markings hot cream with a soft metallic sheen. Ground pale apricot."
Oriental Caramels: "Cool toned bluish fawn, coloured to the roots. No white hairs."
"Nose Leather, Eye Rims and Paw Pads: bluish fawn."
Oriental Caramel Tabbies: Markings bluish fawn with a metallic sheen. Ground beige."
The caramel gene has been carried by many of the first tabby point Siamese, as a silver tabby moggie has been used to breed tabby points. She must have had some chinchilla's in her forebears, otherwise it cannot be explained. The only thing we know is that there lived a chinchilla breeder in the same street where the Moggie has been found. And in the early days of cat breeding many cats were allowed to roam free.
It took a long time before the caramels where recognised by the GCCF in the United Kingdom. They were registered as lilac point, lilac tabby point and lilac oriental (and sometimes blue or chocolate point) although they looked quite different. At some point you had to look hard to find a real beautiful old fashioned lilac coloured Siamese!
Some lilac tabby points looked like they were carrying cinnamon, and that is what we thought in the beginning. We have some dedicated breeders to thank for the recognition of the caramels. Now we can try to breed the real lilac coloured cats again.
In the seventies I imported a lilac point Siamese to Holland. I knew the breeder and the kitten's parents. I got pictures and he looked absolutely beautiful. So I went to pick him up at the age of 3 months, together with a pure chocolate point Siamese girl from different parentage.
All went well, but it surprised me that at 6 months his colouring was quite well developed.
He went to shows and became an international champion but was refused further titles because his colour changed so much. You must already know what happened: he was not a lilac but a caramel point.
My "lilac" point mated the CP girl and the result was 1 SP and 3 CP kittens! I could not believe my eyes! Later I repeated the mating with the same result, again 1 SP and 3 CP kittens. They were all looked at by experienced judges and were really SP and CP. But then the father could not be a lilac!
My cats all lived in the house and the stud cats had their apartments outside in the cattery, so the matings were all controlled.
I sent 7-generation pedigrees from both cats and a lot of hair I clipped from my studs tail base, (I could not show him any longer because of his strange colour) to Roy Robinson and Patricia Turner with the question what colour cat I had.
The answer from Roy Robinson was:" He is most probably a blue based caramel", otherwise he could not have sired these kittens. He was then re-registered as a caramel point.
I had a lovely caramel tabby point from him; with my caramel tabby point I bred many caramel point and caramel tabby point kittens. She came from a pale coloured line from Springfield's Bambuli (a real milk chocolate line from the famous CP Ch. Kimoki Dagmar) and she carried many polygenes for light and warm and her kittens always looked pale caramel.
In her litter I could always see the difference between caramel and lilac point kittens at about 6 weeks of age. Tabby point kittens proved to be more difficult, but when I looked at the hairs between their paw pads that colour almost always gave me the right indication of their true colour.
Related Link: (N) Morcheeba's Siamese & Orientals
Added: Monday, March 28, 2005
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