Question of the Day – Can a Cat be Agouti and Albino?

A random search string asks:  “Can a cat be Agouti and Albino?”.  At first, I scoffed at the question, since it had an obvious answer.  Then I considered again and came up with the other answer as the obvious one.  So perhaps it is worth answering.

It all hinges on the further questions “What do we mean by Agouti?” and “What do we mean by Albino?” and “What do we mean by ‘be’?

In most cases there is only one kind of Albino to consider, the pink eyed Albino that every one is familiar with.  A cat with this gene pattern expressed will be entirely white, and no hairs will show an Agouti pattern.  But that doesn’t mean that the cat cannot carry an Agouti gene and pass it on to descendants, who could then show the Agouti pattern.  In this sense, the Albino parent must ‘be’ Agouti in some sense in order to pass it on.

In genetics, this difference between what is in the genes and what shows on the outside is called ‘genotype’ and ‘phenotype’.  For example, in the long hair gene the LL and Ll have the same phenotype – short hair, while only ll has the long hair phenotype.  From examining descendants you can sometimes infer the genotype, but not always.

So answer 1 is “no, a pink-eyed albino cat will have no hairs with an Agouti pattern.

And answer 2 is “yes, a pink-eyed albino can pass on an A gene to descendants if it has one.

But why are we restricting it to pink eye albinos?  Cats have more variants of the Albino gene than just the dominant C and c, pink-eyed albino.  There is the blue-eyed albino, and two different kinds of “Colorpointed” genes that produce three kinds of colorpointing.  These colorpointing genes fade the color on the hairs in a temperature sensitive way, so that the cooler ears, tail, feet and face are darker than the body.

So a colorpointed Albino not only can have an Agouti gene, but can express it as well, in a modified fashion.  littlemiao‘s cat Chun is just such a “Lynx Pointed” cat.

Answer #3:  if the Albino cat is colorpointed, it can have Agouti hairs.  That is called “Lynx Point”.

To sum up, if a Cat has the Agouti gene it ‘wants’ to produce Agouti hairs.  Other genes – albino, dominant while,  or hairlessness, can block the actual expression in the cat but the trait can still be passed on, possibly to be expressed in later generations.

I hope that guy comes back for the answer!

In any event, this seemed a better question than following up the search for “Green Colored Cats”.

About Oldcat

Engineer with Cats
This entry was posted in Cats, Genetics, Julius Caesar and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Question of the Day – Can a Cat be Agouti and Albino?

  1. littlemiao says:

    So my Chun-Chun is a modified agouti albino! Very interesting!

    It looks like Julius is sticking his tongue out and washing his whiskers at the same time in the second photo.


    • Oldcat says:

      He’s more wiggling around doing things at random – he’s too excited to keep anything straight when he’s that way – so you have to be careful that he doesn’t hook you with a claw.


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