Post 604: black and white

Andy and Dougy have subtle color variations in their coats. There are hints of silver among the black. They are a soft gray underneath, though it registers as black until they roll over on their backs or you see them in strong sunlight. The color zones are most obvious after they’ve been trimmed up by their groomer, though they show best in soft natural light.


Andy catches some rest.


To just see Andy and Dougy, though, you just think of them as black cats unless you look a little closer or catch them in the right light. I find them fascinating to watch for these variations! They are very pretty cats. It just isn’t clear what color they are. Here they are in a strong flash light.

...don't look in the devil-cat's eyes!

…don’t look in the devil-cat’s eyes!


Here’s little “black” Dougy when he was a kitten. You may remember this from when it was my blog head.



Or Dougy dozing on my computer desk.



Here’s Andy in an early photo, when he was a bit older than a year and before he and his brother started going to the groomer.

Andy discovers the bliss of perching on fresh laundry. Bad kitty!

Andy as a yearling, untrimmed, in diffused natural light, enjoying a snooze on laundry I hadn’t put away yet…of course!


The person who gave me the boys called Andy a smoke Persian, and his papers stated the same. Dougy, who is a little darker than his brother, with copper-colored eyes instead of yellow, looks essentially the same as his brother to me, yet he’s listed as “black”.  What?  You tell me what color my kitties are!

Dreaming of little mousies dancing on their toes....

Andy, dreaming of little mousies dancing on their toes….

12 thoughts on “Post 604: black and white

  1. I see your boys sometimes look a bit reddish at times in photos also. Ali has no red in her but in certain lights looks like she is.
    Love that last photo of Dougy, and the photo of the demon kitty looking out through devil cats eyes.

  2. Dougy and Andy have GORGEOUS fur. It is cool to see all of the variations in the colors. My grandpa was an artist and I used to love to watch him draw and paint. He always pointed out all of the different tones that you had to use for hair/fur to make it look realistic. It is amazing how using different different shadowing can really change the look of a color. I think gray is a fitting undertone for your kitties. It makes them warm and soft looking. 🙂

    • Andy and Dougy say “Thanks!” Yes, they are pretty boys! I feel blessed to have them both, especially since they play well together. I agree the gray is a lovely undertone, and it does, indeed, give them a softer look than solid black or stronger white might. For that matter, they have very soft hair, and are a pleasure to pet and hold, if they are in the mood to be!

  3. Both the “Pointed’ gene and ‘Long Hair” genes require both parents to donate one to have effect. The “Exotic” breed is basically just Persian with a short hair gene to eliminate long hair. Sometimes called “the lazy man’s Persian’.

    The Himalayan breed is a Persian with the pointed pattern…like Calpurnia was.

    It wouldn’t shock me if the breeder ‘inflated’ the description a little, as boutique traits are in demand. Davout is supposedly a chocolate point but his points looks pretty dark to me. Now this breeder does have parents that produce chocolate kittens, but I wouldn’t be shocked that Davout is actually seal point (from a true black gene).

    • Wow! Thank you for taking so much time to explain the genetic aspects of cat hair color variation and to work through my questions!

      I suspect once the boys were deemed unfit for sale and were offered to me for free if I wanted them, Andy in particular no longer needed to be a “fancy cat”! Why they weren’t fit for sale wasn’t really clear to me either since pet quality Persians still command stiff prices, according to what I could find on the Internet. Of course, that facial asymmetry they have, though barely noticeable unless you look they straight in the face (and which cat likes that!?), might be a factor.

      It hasn’t caused either boy significant or noticeable problems, though Andy had one lower incisor rubbing against an upper canine that had to be extracted to protect the integrity of the canine tooth. He has a smaller jaw than Dougy, and the extraction solved a crowding problem. There is no gap in his lower incisors as a consequence of the extraction, which cost pretty much what a human tooth extraction might cost.

      I think one factor in offering the boys to me was one of the veterinarians is an old friend and former neighbor of mine. When I lived on the same street, his tabby Woody and I were best buddies. Woody loved to lounge on our patio, and spent more time with us than his own family. He was a lovable, big boy. Plus – a big plus for Woody – our patio was a haven away from his sister Callie, a sweet calico he absolutely hated and beat up every chance he could.

      The veterinarian knew I was a good cat person of many years standing and may have put in a word for me with the boy’s mother’s owner, who worked at the same clinic. I mean, I even grew catnip as a treat for his cats when they showed up in my yard!

  4. Cat’s coats are never all one color – even when genetically ‘black’, Of my cats, Gus and Julie and Calla were all ‘black’ cats but they sure looked different. Chinchilla Persians look almost white but are also black cats.

    The shade variation for a normal cat hair will result in a difference in color between the tip and base of a hair because the color intensity is reduced according to temperature. All cats have this to an extent, but pointed cats like Davout have it to such an extent that much of the color is gone all over the body. So warm areas near the skin are lighter, undersides that are kept warm are lighter, and when the groomer nips the dark tips off the hair the lighter colors show better.

    True “Smoke” cats have a mutation that omits color entirely on the inside of the fur. The same effect, accentuated by the Wideband gene gives the “silver” or Chinchilla cats that look white with hints of color. Smokes tend to have about a quarter of the fur be white. So if Andy is a smoke, you should be able to part his hair and see fully white, uncolored bases to the hairs. The pictures of Persian smokes seem to universally show that the ruff or mane looks grey or white. Maybe Andy just fades his black a bit more near the skin that other cats so shows a bit more grey.

    • Before I go off on a longer topic or two, I’d like to recommend anyone reading this comment take some time to check out your blog, , easily one of the more entertaining and beautifully illustrated blogs I’ve come across. I love those cats of yours! Davout, Rhea, and Anna all are new since I started following you, but they carry on a fine tradition begun by some venerable, handsome cats before them, all sadly missed.

      I personally don’t see the smoke Persian look in either boy when I compare them with photos of cats more typical of the standard. The one of Andy sprawled on his back shows the shade of gray his body hair is when trimmed short. Though the boys’ faces are black, their ruffs, when grown out, appear to be black fringed in that lovely light gray. Their legs are black. Their tails have some light streaking with white or silver hair. In strong sunlight, they both have a slight light reddish aura, a color that matches the darker tabby markings on their mother. Sometimes I think I can detect a tabby pattern on their heads, though I think it is more the way their skin peaks and wrinkles when they become alert to something of interest.

      That’s very interesting information on cat coloration. Though I was told by the lady who bred them they are a smoke Persian and a black Persian with a Birman father, I am not familiar enough with pedigree cats to not see that as two different breeds mixed, which is to say, neither one nor the other, but a blend of both, something closer to high class moggies than pedigree cats, though they had papers I didn’t send in since I wasn’t showing or breeding them- what would be the point?!

      Having met the paternal auntie and step sister of the boys when the girls were at the veterinarian’s one day when I was picking up medicine for Andy, I was surprised they were short-haired, looked Siamese for markings, but had the round skulls with short muzzles similar to that really pretty short-haired gray Belgian cat in this blog. (Mr. Bowie) . They were sweet natured as heck! (Dougy has a personality similar to his auntie, which was fun to see! Both are very gregarious and walk right up to you for some loving. Andy behaves similarly, but is a little more reserved and circumspect, always keeps an out open in case he decides he isn’t in the mood to socialize.)

      I remember reading about this topic on your excellent blog, wondering how it applied to my boys. I know photos aren’t the best way to evaluate such things since significant details (source of light, medium used to duplicate the image, whether or not Photoshopping or other image modification tools were used) are unknown to you, but I’d find you opinion of what kind of cat (Persian, presumably) they are, by pelage characteristics, perhaps body.

      Regardless of their pedigrees or lack, Andy and Dougy are beloved house pets, fancier than any I’ve ever had, but not fancy enough to show or breed. In fact the lady gave them to me stipulated that I had to have them neutered and couldn’t show them, neither activity of which has interest to me anyway. They both have some facial irregularities that make them cute to me, but would count against them in a showing, I’m sure. Andy has a Persian muzzle, but his head isn’t as broad as his brother’s. I think Dougy has a more typical Persian face and head than his brother.

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