I’ve gotten a few comments about Grant’s coloring – shaded golden. Not the most perfect golden by breeder rules, but striking nonetheless. The first thing you need to see is that he’s a tabby cat to start with. He’s also a British Shorthair.
It is a bit more apparent when looking at this kitten picture of his from the breeder. There are more visible stripes and more black stripes than he has now. From what I’ve seen of golden kittens, at birth he would have been much more like a standard tabby in looks.
Tabby cats have two kinds of hairs – solidly colored ones that form the stripes, and agouti hairs that have horizontal bands that when overlapped make a contrasting lighter pattern, like the black and white intermixed dots that make grey shading on old newsprint.
Tabbies have another variation – the undercolor. The base color of the hair, near the skin, can have a contrasting orange-yellow pigment placed on it – called rufousing. Tabbies with strong rufousing have a brown to gold base color. These are called brown tabbies. Cats with low rufousing appear grayish.
Anna is a tabby with very very strong rufousing. Almost everywhere she appears gold or brown. Julius was less so….
You can see the brown on the nose, cheeks and behind the ears. The front legs much less so, the back and sides even less, while the stomach was very gold brown. Still a brown tabby, though.
There is another gene, called Wideband, that has the effect of “pushing” the tabby pattern out toward the tip of the hair, removing most or all of the pattern. If the cat has a lot of rufousing, the overall color becomes the gold-brown.
(Not my picture or my cats – just too lazy to avoid the watermark.)
This is a picture of the famous cats Smoothie and Milkshake. These are British Longhairs – British Shorthairs with long hair. This came about because of the difficulties of England in World War II and the decade or so afterward with rationing. The gene pool for British Shorthair cats was almost wiped out, so the breed needed to be saved by mixing in Persians. This put some ‘undesired’ long haired genes in the breed.
Smoothie is shaded golden like Grant, but with long hair. Compare her to Anna, if the tabby pattern was pushed out and off the hair almost entirely. Yet there are still a few places where the black pattern remains – the tail tip, the bottom of the paws, perhaps the tips of other hairs.
Milkshake is a chinchilla or shaded silver. This requires one more gene – one that blanks out all of the underpigment of rufousing leaving it pure white. The remnants of the black pattern on the tips gives a silver look.
I expect that Grant is mostly done developing his coat toward a more pure golden. He likely will have hazy black tipping across his sides and paws, and some actual stripes on the spine and tail. The shaded gold also seems to give a distinct green eye color that he also has, although not as spectacular as Smoothie has.
The golds and silvers also seem to be smaller than average. Grant seems to be topping off at 8 pounds like the Minuets/Napoleons, rather than the 10-12 pounds of a normal BSH.