All through history the tortoishell and white cat has been favourite. In the old japanese prints we see them often as bobtails. Of these so called “Mi-ke” cats its was expected to bring good luck and fortune. Also in my own expierience its always the tricolour cat that is first to go, admitedly to petowners only. The catfancy was not yet ready it seemed to me, and for a long time, whilst I was breeding the oriental silver tabies and smokes, I wondered when someone would take the step to start the bi- and tricolours in the orientals..
Towards the mid 80ties, when I thought my project of the “silver” breed could not be improved anymmore (arrogance perhaps?) I decided it was time for me to pick up this challenge.
HOW TO DEAL WITH GENES?
With a small group of friends and breeders we sat up a program. First of all there was the siamese gene that needed our attention. It was clear to us that siamese with white were not desireable and should be avoided as much as possible. However it was also clear that it could not be excluded. On the general annual meeting of my club I proposed to issue peddigrees for the (to be born) siamese with white with a stamp on it “EXCLUDED FOR BREEDING”. I furthermore made it clear that the (to be born) siamese with white if I did not keep them personally to be bred back to orientals only they should be neutred and placed as pets. This proposal was accepted and has been delt with ever since.
Secondly there was the “white” gene or better known as the “Piebold” gene. This gene, known under the “S” should not be mistaken for the recessive white gene more of that later.
The Piebold gene regulates the amount of white in a cats appearance. In 1928 Kuhn and Kroning concluded after a series of observations that the S-gene is not completely dominant. That is to say that not all cats carrying the S-gene have the same amount of white. Looking at figure 1 we can see the varieties in the “with white” patterns/ partitions of which grade 1 is totally solid coloured and grade 10 completely white. Grades 4 to 6 are supposedly being caused because of the genotypes Ss whereas grades 5 to 8 caused by SS. A certain amount of “overlapping” does exist: a cat with white from 5 to 6 can be genotype SS as well as Ss.
Polygenetic white genes: genetics suppose that grades 2 and 3 are being caused by another gene, the one that causes such little amounts of white on the throats and tummies of the cats. How this gene is being passed on is not quite clear yet. It seems that certain combinations are semi-dominant a variety of appearances if possible, whereas in other combinations it seems to inherit as a recessive gene.
Something that causes for further complications is that its also possible to have cats that should have a little white but do not show it in theire fenotype. Its is quite likely that this second gene interacts with the S-gene that is responsible for the amount of white. This we hoped to find out by observing the “to be born” kittens.
“Unwanted white spotting”: Although the amount and the position of white is being determent polygenetically, and because of that variable, it is possible to breed selectively and “stabelize” the white in certain positions. We think here of the white feet in Birmans amoung others. As far as the bi- or tri-colours in our orientals was concerend, our highest ideal was the lilac cream and white Van variety, obciously a long road to go and even today not yet achieved. The primal ideal was to breed a face without the mustaches that interrypt the optical wedge look. Furthermore we liked the colour over the eyes running over the back of the head. A white colar round the neck seperating the “saddle” on the back from the head. The legs with white as far up as possible, again for the optical look to lengthen the legs. A full coulerd tail again to stress the length of it. None of all that was more important than the type.
Quite rightly we have been warned - from all sides of the recessive white gene. A gene that practically had been bred out siamese succesfully. It is however a different gene and the only difficulty we saw was that if they did occur we could not see the differents nor in some cases could they be spotted. To avoid - or rather not to take too much risk, we sat out with cats that did not carry the siamese gene as mentioned above and in later years, when we needed the outcross to siamese, we had to placed these kittens as pets and with the peddigree issued as mentioned above.
That lands us with the colourgenes: In the independent clubs tri- and bicolour cats have been bred in all sorts of breeds of cats. The fact that makes breeding tricolours slightly complicated is that the colour is passed on the X-gene, so inevitably lots of bicolours would be born (as males and females) and females exclusively as tricolours. (Females having XX as chromosome pattern and males XY).
Last but not least was our consideration to breed with as little as possible
cats the smallest number of kittens bearing in mind that most of the first generations
of kittens would have to be placed as pets. Health and character had to be delt
with as well. To get a new breed reckognised in the indepenent clubs we had
to produce 5 showcats of three different generations from two different lines
winning “excellent” with two different judges.In order
to achieve that and considering the above difficulties we sat out the
1) THE MARROCCAN STREETCAT
I got to know Mirte Voigt around 1987 at a catshow in Switzerland. She showed a tortie with white oriental there and told me this was the third generation after a streetcat she took from Morroco, when she was on holiday there. She had seen this paticular red and white female walking around her hotel and she managed to catch it after feeding it for three weeks.The appearance of this cat was sostrikingly öriental”she thought it would be an excellent start for a new breed. She took her home and started to breed with this cat, not knowing what to expect. A half a year after my visit to the Swiss show I became the proud owner of Erphea von Ghadaia a tortie and white oriental shorthair girl. I placed her at a friend Arie Jongenotter and he promised to breed the first litter for me and give me a girl back.When the time came she was bred to my (for that time) very extreme black smoke oriental Gr.Int.Ch. and Am. Ch.Felides Vivres Purr-Fume. Not that we needed the smoke gene, in fact it was something we really did not want, but I knew he did not carry the siamese gene and he was very typy. Erphea produced 5 kittens among which a tortie and white girl and a red and white boy. The red and white stayed with my friend, was called Felides Vivres Purrkins and produced a couple of litters.
This is the ‘STREETLINE” white gene!?
2) AN AMERICAN IN PARIS
The wellknown american breeder and judge Linda Jean Grillo had been breeding at that point over 8 years the oriental bi- and trivolours. Since Tica did only allow the start of that breed with orientals being bred back to american shorthairs also there the type was not yet finnished., but what it did give was a non related “with white” gene for our breeding program. One of LindaJeans cats lived at my friends Catharine Bastide and Daniel Noureaux in Paris. They produced a tortie and white for me with the understanding that I would give them back a bicolour at some stage (admitedly only very recently I managed to give one cat back and…not even a bicolour!)
The tortie and white I got from them was called El Shaklans Esmija and when I picked her up from the airport she went strait to her new home at friends of mine in Amsterdam. They would produce the first litter. Esmija was not very oriental yet but she had a lot of white creating the “dot “ -coloured patches rather than the mingled tortiecoats we see in torties without white.
For her we also chose Felides Vivres Purr Fume because of type improving and the absence of the siamese gene. Esmija produced 5 kittens of which three were bicolors. A black and white girl, a silvertabby and white boy and a cameo and white boy. The black and white girl was very pretty - was called after Daniele Noureaux - who sadly had passed away before his Esmijja produced her litter. “Danielle” went to a friend and breeder in Rotterdam who also managed to make her the first of our group International Kampioen. (after getting the breed regkognised in 1991 at the Langhaar Katten Verneiging show in Rotterdam.). This line was the “PARIS” white gene!
Later this black and white girl the PARISline was bred to her halfbrother from
the STREETLINE combination: PurrKins the red and white boy.
3) THE REXLINE
My own idea to get to where I wanted to be in the oriental bicolours had always been the following: take an american bred Cornish Rex - a bicolor to be exact - (very fine boning the finest of all breeds -, slightly longish heads, roman profiles, high legs and long tails and a tubelar body) and combine with an oriental with perfect ears and setting and a wide skull.
The rexgene is recessive and would be lost immediately unless breeding back into the lines, which was not an option.
The earsset and eyeshape would have to be corrected but my gutinstincts told me this was the shortest way. An it proved to be right.
I had an oriental lilac tabby girl who had litters before and again was not carrieing the siamese gene. She was mated by an american import Cornish Rex bred by my friend Vicky Depietro in New Jersey USA a black and white. His name was
May-iks Chiandre. This combination produced two bicolours: A blue and white female which was called Felides Vivres
Puss-Tel and a black and white boy. The boy was placed as a pet the girl was later mated by Gr.Int.Ch. Procul Harums Pretzel Logic a typy black smoke oriental shorthair. This prduced an ALL bicolour litter of 4 kittens one of which was a blue and white girl called Felides Vivres Whis-Purr. She was later bred back to the Streetline cat Purrkins and produced 6 bicolour kittens one of which was Floortje. Within 4 generations they looked definately oriental shorthairs and the owners of the fourth generation girl Floortje produced a few really outstanding litters from here on.
By this time it was end 1993, the breed was officially reckognised in the independent clubs and in TICA; in CFA they were working on it. We had used the three lines with which we had started the program sothat it was time to get new “with white” lines. Mid 1994 I brought back from america two orientals: a chocolate and white female called Mijjons Mixed Blessing, and a black boy called Mijons Double or Nothing (better known as Buzz). The latter was a very refined and very extreme oriental boy, who confusingly produced SMOKE. He was, as the then called Pat Turner told me, definately an “overlap”. Jetblack in colour, all through to the root of the hair, smoke kittens were being produced from him, with absolute non silver girls. But this as a side line only.
Buzz and Mixed Blessing produced really stunningly beautifull kittens and I have repeated that combination several times. One of the very best bicolours from them was called Felides Vivres Purr-Allel, a black and white female living with Cor de Wit in Rotterdam, who produced manier beautifull kittens from her together with Felitan Flying Dutchman, a silver spotted tabby male. Purr-Allel is now 9 years and as beautifull as she was when she was a kitten. She still is shown occasionally and winning finals in the CFA shows.
From 1994 till end 2001 we worked on with all the lines with white and what we have today is a results of the early program and the two Mijjons cats imported in 1994.
Today I am looking at my latest imports: a black and white boy and a VAN black and white girl 6 and 4 months old. They will be our new “with white” blood, being completely non related to the lines we have worked with sofar.
The girl is very pretty the boy slightly too heavy boned but with a lovely wedged head. Its as with everything give and take and we need to work on from here on to get the type AND the colour we want so much ” the Van lilac cream variety!”
Introducing the red is simple; we have a red and white male who lives as an open but at the same time as a pet as the only cat of two friends of mine. He does not spray and is just waiting for the right girl to get in heath.
After all these years I have to conlude that breeding the ideal cat is still
ahead of us. We have had beautifull stunning and great looking cats.
But to bring colour, type, health and disposition into ONE cat seems to me,
and I have to stress this after 25 years of breeding again: is an ongoing story.
But its a great story and a challenging one,.............. and we will go on!
M. Wright, S. Walters; Book of the cat, Dutch edition page 38-40.
R. Robinsons, Genetics for catbreeders, page 118-121.
I & R van Belzen, genetica van de Heilige Birmaan, Sistrum, 30 year, edition nr 7.
Y. Kleijn Het ontstaan van een nieuwe varieteit: Neocat, 1991 edition 6.