The Bicolour British Shorthair cat is incredibly cute! Still quite exceptional in the UK, these unusual cats certainly attract attention!
Bicolour British Shorthair cats and kittens are incredibly cute! They are much rarer than solid coloured British Shorthair cats, who are also referred to as ‘selfs’. Very few bicolour British Shorthairs are registered in the UK when compared to the number of selfs registered. This means that when you do see a bicolour British Shorthair, there is something very unusual and unique about them that is quite captivating.
They are called bicolour cats because their coats contain two colours: their original coat colour, and white. The white can appear anywhere on the cat. But it usually creates a face mask, and then covers most of the cat’s tummy and legs. Bicolour British Shorthairs come in every colour: blue, lilac, chocolate, cinnamon, fawn, cream, tortie, colourpoint, shaded, tabby, black and everything in between!
Here is a photo of one of our lilac bicolour British Shorthair kittens:
The genetics of the bicolour British Shorthair
Bicolour British Shorthair kittens have something referred to as the White Spotting gene. It is not yet fully understood how this gene works. The popular theory is that the White Spotting gene works in the womb whilst the foetus is developing. The gene inhibits the pigment from developing in certain parts of the cat’s fur. It is thought that the gene works either from the bottom up, or from the top down!
That is why most bicolour British Shorthair cats have white legs, tummy and a face mask on the lower part of their face. Bicolours are usually around 30-50% white. However, it is possible for a genetically bicoloured cat to have no white on him at all! We once had a lilac bicolour colourpoint who had just two toes that were white! So it is actually possible for a cat who appears to be a solid cat to have a bicolour kitten.
The bicolour, or White Spotting gene, is a dominant gene. This means that a cat need only inherit it from one parent in order to be a bicolour cat. It also means that, except for the rare example given above, only a bicolour cat can produce bicolour kittens.
When a kitten inherits two copies of the White Spotting gene, one from each parent, then that kitten will usually be more than half white. Some cat registries provide for bicolour cats, who are less than 50% white, harlequin cats, who are more than 50% white, and then vans. Vans are almost entirely white. They have a coloured tail and around 2 patches of colour on their body, often with a patch on their head. The lilac bicolour kitten in the first photo is more than 50% white.
Here is another of our kittens: an incredibly unusual black bicolour British Shorthair, and what a behemoth he is going to be!
Bicolour British Shorthair White Spotting gene
The White Spotting gene is referred to in genetics as WS (capitalised), whereas where there is no White Spotting gene it is written as ws (with lower case letters)
- No White Spotting gene is written as ws ws = no white
- One White Spotting gene is written as WS ws = bicolour: usually half white
- Two White Spotting genes is written as WS WS = van/harlequin: usually more than half white
Bicolour British Shorthair eye colour
The White Spotting gene can have a very interesting effect on eye colour:
- Usually a bicolour cat will have the standard eye colour of a cat of that colour.
- So a blue bicolour will have orange eyes, because that is what a blue British Shorthair will have.
- The White Spotting gene does not normally change a cat’s eye colour.
- But this is not always the case. Where the White Spotting gene extends to cover the area of skin around the eyes, then it can have a very interesting effect.
- The White Spotting gene can inhibit the development of pigment within the iris, as well as the fur. This means that a bicolour, harelquin or van British Shorthair cats will often have blue eyes. Sometimes they can even have odd eyes, with one eye blue and one orange!
We recently had a litter of kittens and one of them was more than 50% white. The white on her face does cover both of her eyes. She is so cute that we fell instantly in love with her and she is staying with us. She is the lilac kitten in the first photo, with the largely white face. Her eyes are not blue, but they are definitely a markedly different colour from her siblings’ eyes. Her siblings have brown eyes, which is normal for bicolour kittens. Moo Moo’s eyes are definitely in the orange spectrum, but they are paler and appear to be a more translucent tone. Eye colour takes about a year to settle down, so watch this space for more info!
British Shorthair bicolour silver tabbies
Relatively new to the cat world, bicolour silver tabbies are particularly unusual. They can occur in all varieties of silver tabby, and all colours: silver, golden, classic, mackerel, tabby, ticked and spotted. The bicolour pattern simply appears over the top of the standard tabby pattern and colour. The GCCF does not yet recognise bicolour tabbies, so bicolour tabbies must be registered with TICA or another official registering body. We very occasionally have bicolour silver tabbies available. The image above is Muffin - our first bicolour silver tabby girl.
Yes, tricolour cats are a real thing! Tortie bicolours become tricolour cats, or calicos. We will deal with this in more detail in a later article.
If you are interested in unusual British Shorthair colours, have a look at our silver shaded colourpoints.
Bicolour British Shorthair kittens...
Find out if we have any bicolour kittens available.
We are breeders of British Shorthair cats, focusing on excellent health and great temperament. We are based near Wrexham and Chester and are within easy driving distance of Shrewsbury, Telford, Liverpool, Manchester, Warrington, Runcorn and the North West.