Showing posts with label piebald gene. Show all posts
Showing posts with label piebald gene. Show all posts

Thursday 31 August 2023

Boy adopts rescue cat with the same odd eye colour and cleft lip as himself

There is a nice symmetry in this relationship. The boy was bullied at school because of his cleft lip and odd-eye colour but he found his soul mate in a bicolour cat - grey tabby and white. The piebald gene causes the bicolor coat and that gene made one of the cat's eyes blue and the other yellow. And as it happens the cat has a cleft lip. Both of these conditions are fairly rare in cats.

Heterochromia iridium is the scientific name for on-eye colour. It was probably inherited by the boy although it might have been caused by trauma. For the cat, it was also inherited because the cat inherited the piebald or white spotting gene which gives him his coat and his odd-eye colour.

The boy's cleft lip is inherited as well. It may be a genetic mutation and deficiency or it might have been something that the mother came into contact with in her environment or what she ate or drink or the medications that she took during pregnancy.

This is obviously a great relationship because both the boy and the cat benefit tremendously from it. The boy can mentally process the fact that he was bullied by interacting with his cat. He can find solace there and some comfort. And of course, the cat will benefit tremendously as well.

It is possible to operate on a cat with a cleft lip. The boy has already undergone that operation quite clearly. I remember funding a cleft lip operation of a cat in Malta. The cat was rescued by a charming woman, Martha Kane, and she didn't have the money to pay for an operation so I used monies acquired through advertising on my website to pay for the operation. I'm proud of that. Although I forget about it most of the time and it has just come to my mind while writing this article.

Saturday 21 January 2023

Father and daughter 'wear' the same 'mask'

My reading of the genetics behind this father and daughter cat looking as they do (very cute and very rare) is that they have the white spotting gene or piebald gene in their genetic makeup and it has caused this highly unusual Zorro mask to develop. I guess it is just by chance that the white spotting gene had this effect upon the way the pattern developed. I don't think that there is any special genetic mutation going on here.

Father and daughter 'wear' the same 'mask'
Screenshot.

The white spotting gene normally simply results in a standard bicolour cat. These two are bicolour cats but the markings are remarkable. Normally the markings are just black-and-white blobs or a white background with markings being created by darker coloured fur. An example of a bicolour cat is the Harlequin. I have a page on bicolor cats. Please click on the link below.

Solid and white cat coats.


Monday 9 May 2022

Cat coats: solid-and-white - bicolor cats

black and white cat
Cat Coats Solid and White - Bicolor - photo copyright fofurasfelinas


This is another posting on cat coats. This time I discuss the impact of the white spotting gene on "solid" colored cats other than Tuxedo cats, which I have already discussed on this page. Tuxedo cats are very common and specific in their coat pattern so I've dealt with them separately. Both are bicolor cats meaning a cat coat of two colours, white and another solid colour.

Bicolour development - white spotting gene. Image: Sarah Hartwell.

The particular effect that the white spotting gene has on any one cat dictates the spread of white fur on the cat (or put it another way it restricts the spread of color). The cat fancy has given names to the patterns caused by this gene, which by the way is also called the piebald gene. It is considered a "semi-dominant" gene.

Bicolour faces white spotting gene. Image in public domain.

White spotted cats are one of the most common cats. The white spotting gene (represented by the letter "S" in the science of genetics) can change the appearance of any colored cat including tabby cats or tortoiseshell cats or a combination of the two (torbie). [See cat coats tortie and white]. When it affects a tortoiseshell cat, the cat is called a calico cat in the States.

Bicolours. The chart is by Sarah Hartwell of messybeast. Many thanks.

RELATED PAGE: White spotting gene charts.

A fine example of a cat with a solid and white coat is the Turkish Van (high grade spotting - see below). This has, of course, the "Van" pattern. Van is a town in the South east of Turkey, where the Turkish Van originally came from (including adjacent regions).

Another example of a well-known cat breed with a "solid and white coat" is the Japanese Bobtail. The Japanese Bobtail has a Bicolor pattern in both "solid and white" and calico (which is tortoiseshell and white mentioned above).

bicolor cat
Bicolor cat photo by tanakawho (this photographer is well known - see more of his work here plus the work of 2 other fine photographers). Picture reproduced here under a creative commons license.

I discuss, in brief, the workings of the piebald gene on the Tuxedo cat page as well as here. The effects of the piebald gene can be seen to varying degrees. The amount of white dictates whether the pattern is a grade 9 (almost total white with the colored fur limited to a few spots). This is called high grade spotting.

At the other end of the spectrum at grade 1 there is a very small amount of white. This is called low grade spotting. When the cat is low grade the genotype (genetic makeup in relation to the cat's coat) is normally heterozygous represented by the letters "Ss". Conversely when the coat is high grade (lots of white) a spotted cat is generally homozygous "SS".

Black and white bicolor Scottish Fold kitten from Russia (Siberia). Photo (excellent):  Анатолий Кузнецов.

The presence of the piebald gene results in white fur by causing special embryonic cells to behave in a defective manner. These cells are called "Melanoblasts" and they become the cells of the cats body that produce the granules of pigmentation that are embedded in the individual hairs. During the embryonic stage these cells migrate from the spine area. They fail to migrate properly and fully causing parts of the body to be without color. The wide variability of the effect of this gene is due, at least in part, to the presence of other unidentified genes called "polygenes".

The great Dr. Desmond Morris discusses bi-colour cats in his book Cat World. He tells us that such patterns are most common in non-pedigree cats. But of course, you will see this coat type in pedigree cats as well. It depends on the breed standard is to whether they are allowed or not. In the early days of the cat fancy the bi-colour cat was less likely to be accepted because they felt that they made a pure-bred animal look like a moggy.

This was prejudice against the coat but it was more likely to be accepted if there was some sort of distinguishing factors about the bicolour coat such as an attractive symmetry or the distribution of the colour was interesting.

In the early days of the cat fancy the black-and-white coat was referred to as a 'magpie cat'. And sometimes the bicolour cat is called a parti-colored cat. You will see "parti-colored" spelled in different ways. Apparently bicolour cats only attained championship status within the show cat fraternity in 1966.

You will see bicolour cats in longhaired and shorthaired cats and in many cat breeds such as the American Shorthair, British Shorthair, Devon Rex, Cornish Rex, Japanese bobtail, Maine Coon, Manx and Persians. These are just examples. There are others.

Here are some photographs of the solid and white coat pattern:

Cream and white - photo:
copyright Helmi Flick


Cat Coats Solid and White - Turkish Van - Photograph copyright Lazy_Lightning


Cat Coats Solid and White - Black and White Van pattern with a lot of white (grade 8 perhaps) - photograph copyright Helmi Flick.


Black with white (more than a Tuxedo). Photograph copyright Helmi Flick.



Cat Coats Solid and White - This is another black-and-white cat (hairless cat). This demonstrates how the white spotting gene affects the skin color as well. Perhaps more accurately it is the almost invisible downy hair strands near the skin which are pigmented.


Perhaps a more accurate description for this cat, a Sphynx Cat (or Sphynx-like cat) would be Black and Pink! Photograph copyright Helmi Flick.

Cat Coats Solid and White - Sources:
  • Beth Hicks
  • Messybeast - Sarah Hartwell

From Cat Coats Solid and White to Cat Facts

Sunday 7 March 2021

Can cats be piebald?

Yes, cats can be piebald. In fact, they are very common. They are referred to as 'bicolour cats' or cats with a 'solid-and-white' coat. But the cat below is not common. Not by any stretch of the imagination. This cat is amazing. I think this rare cat is a piebald but a rare pattern.

Unusual bicolor cat
Very unusual, in fact strange, piebald coat. Photo: Facebook

The word piebald is an amalgam of 'pie' from magpie (a black-and-white i.e. two coloured bird) and 'bald' meaning a bald or white patch.

Unsurprisingly the gene that causes the piebald or bicolor coat is called the piebald gene. It is also referred to as the white spotting gene.

People ask if cats can be piebald because we are far more familiar with the word being used to describe a horse. You'll see the piebald coat pattern on many animals including dogs too.

The location of the white fur and how it migrates during development of the cat in the womb is governed by the piebald gene and how it operates on the migration of the melanoblasts from the neural crest to paired bilateral locations in the skin of the embryo.

Strange bicolor cat
Strange bicolor cat. Photo: Facebook

Sometimes the gene causes cats to be deaf and sometimes one eye may also have no pigment in the iris causing it to be blue. Blue eyes are caused by white light refraction and not pigmentation.

There is an amazing mainly white bicolour cat on the internet (see photo above). I have just written about her. She is very rare. But she is a piebald cat in my opinion although the pattern is incredibly unusual. There may be a polygene effect (multi-genes working together).

Black and white cat - a piebald cat
This is my late female cat.  A black-and-white. I loved her deeply.
Photo: MikeB

The coat looks genuine by which I mean the photo is not edited or the cat is not dyed. Yes, some people do dye their cats to make waves on social media.

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