British Shorthair Colours and Patterns
Most people think of a British Blue as being the colour of the British Shorthair breed. It is certainly the most popular and well known colour but in actual fact there are literally hundreds of colour and pattern combination British Shorthairs being bred all over the world. At Cuddleton British Shorthairs we can produce sixteen different colours and forty two different colour and pattern combinations including cinnamon and fawn based combinations. We were the first breeder in Australia to breed cinnamon and fawn british shorthair cats.
So lets start with a quick lesson in colours.
Cats come in three base colours, black, chocolate and cinnamon. There is also red which is a colour that is carried on a cats X chromosone so it is linked to the sex of the cat ie male (XY) or female (XX). White is a special gene that makes the hair grow with no pigment. If the cat did not have that gene it would be one of the base colours. Think of white as a coloured cat with the colour switched off.
Another set of genes acts on the three base colours and red to make them a dilute version of themselves. Black becomes blue, red becomes cream, chocolate becomes lilac and cinnamon becomes fawn.
Tortoiseshell is a mix of two colours. As noted above red is a funny colour gene in that it is located on the X chromosome in cats. Boys only get one X gene but girls get two. When girls get an X gene with red and an X gene with another colour they show both colours mixed together. The result is a tortoiseshell.
White Spotting (Bicolours)
Yet another gene is responsible for producing bicolour British Shorthairs. It affects the way the colour pigments spread along the kittens bodies in the womb. It spreads out and down the spine but in kittens with the bicolour gene it slows the spreading of colour down so that the colour doesn't reach their chest or feet. That is why bicolours have a random pattern and every one is different.
Tortoiseshell bicolour cats are more patched that a standard tortoiseshell. Tortie bicolours are more blobs of colour and standard torties are more a blend of colours. This is because the white spotting gene also makes the colour genes on a tortoiseshell clump up into patches rather than spread out all over.
British Shorthairs also come in colourpoint and tabby patterns. The colourpoint pattern has blue eyes and tabbies can have green eyes. We have chosen solid and bicolour patterns which have copper eyes.
Examples of the Colours
We first started breeding black British Shorthairs after importing a black girl, Catbalu Cinnamon Cinders of Cuddleton, from the UK. Since then we have bred some lovely black cats as well as black bicolours. Black cats can be hard to photograph almost seeming to absorb the light. In the fur they are inky and wonderful. Black bicolours look like they are wearing little dinner suits and look very striking.
Blue is where we started and is the most common colour for British Shorthair cats. We have owned and bred many blue cats and kittens and we are known for our blue bicolours. People are becoming aware of other colours now though and we often have people come to us for a blue kitten who end up falling in love with another colour instead once they see it. Are you a traditional blue lover or is a newer colour your pick?
We have had one tortoiseshell British Shorthair. Our old blue tortie girl Baleaburra Chintz Twinkle Toes, better known as Twinkie, had a very "mingled" coat with an even spread of cream and blue. You can see she had a blaze of cream down her nose which is very common with a tortoiseshell cat.
We have been blessed with our beautiful Crystal Flames Yamaica from Germany who is a Cinnamon Tortie Bicolour.
Red & Cream
We can breed red and cream British Shorthairs from our tortie girls but as yet we have not had any born.
Although we have had the chocolate gene since almost the beginning of our time breeding British Shorthairs we have had it in the dilute form, lilac. Our first chocolate British Shorthair was our UK girl Catbalu Trublue Brit of Cuddleton. Candy is a lovely girl and the colour of dark chocolate. From Candy we have bred chocolate kittens. It is a really unusual colour on a big shorthair cat and very eye catching.
We have bred quite a lot of lilac British Shorthair kittens as one of our first breeding girls was lilac. We also have several blue girls and boys that carry the chocolate gene and that can produce lilac kittens in solid and bicolour. It is a lovely colour that reminds us of the colour of a hot chocolate.
We were the first breeder in Australia to produce cinnamon British Shorthairs and one of only a handful now. We imported two kittens from the UK in 2007 that carried the cinnamon gene. Catbalu Cinnamon Cinders of Cuddleton and Catbalu Cuddleton. From them we have focused on breeding cats that carry the cinnamon gene producing a few cinnamon and fawn kittens along the way. We can breed both solid and bicolour cinnamon British Shorthairs but they are still very rare. Cinnamon is a rusty, reddy brown colour and really attractive. We now have our beautiful boy from the Czech republic Quido Honeypie.
Fawn is the dilute of cinnamon and we are very lucky to be the only Australian breeder of this colour too. Just like all of our colours we can breed fawn British Shorthairs in both solid and bicolour. Fawn is like the colour of a milky latte coffee.