The Golden Shaded British Shorthair

Understand the genetics of the Golden British Shorthair

The golden shaded British Shorthair is the one of the most recent colour developments in the British Shorthair breed. It is a strikingly vibrant, rich golden colour and the genetics behind the colour are very interesting, and not yet fully understood.

The genetics of the golden shaded British Shorthair

The best hypothesis of the genetics of the Golden shaded British Shorthair are that the golden colour is created when a cat:

  • is a tabby, and
  • has the wide-band gene, and
  • is not silver.

There is currently no genetic test for either the silver gene or the wide-band gene, so breeding any wide-band or silver shaded cat is a very interesting challenge! 

The silver gene

The silver gene is called the Inhibitor gene, because it literally inhibits the development of pigment in the fur.  The inhibitor gene is a dominant gene, which means that only one parent need be silver for a kitten to be silver.

The Wide Band gene

The Wide band gene restricts the pigment on a cat’s fur to the very tips of the hair. In silver cats this creates the Chinchilla….where the cat is a beautiful silver with just the very tips of her fur being coloured. The tip can be any colour but is most commonly black or blue. It creates an almost sparkly effect when the cat moves, and is very glamorous indeed.

Where the wide band gene is present but the silver/inhibitor gene is not….the cat becomes golden.

There are different thoughts on the inheritance of the wide band gene: some think it is a set of polygenes at work, others think it is a dominant gene, and some hypothesise that it is a recessive gene and must be inherited from both parents to be visible.  

The wide band gene can be exhibited to different extremes: some shaded cats have much more shading in their hairs than others, and when there is extreme wide-banding exhibited, the golden British Shorthair becomes the copper British Shorthair.

Copper British Shorthairs 

Copper British Shorthairs are even less well understood than goldens! There have been a very small number of extremely rich, warm golden coloured cats. These have come to be called 'copper' cats, because they are distinctly different from their golden relatives. Quite how these cats become copper is still a bit of a mystery, but all of the copper cats that have been documented have all descended from one foundation cat. We are lucky enough to have 2 cats who are descended from this foundation cat, so in theory it might be possible for us to have a copper kitten one day!  

So, these copper cats are:

  • all descended from the same foundation cat (who was not actually copper himself!); and
  • all come from lines of golden shaded British Shorthair cats and silver shaded British Shorthair cats

Current theories about the copper colour tend to focus on either there being a genetic mutation of a gene, which has produced the copper variation or are based on the idea of polygenes being responsible for the golden colour, and therefore the copper colour being a particularly strong set of polygenes that takes the normal golden colour one step further into the copper colour. 

There is no clear conclusion yet. Perhaps the fact that all copper cats are descendants of one male might suggest that there is something genetic at work here, but only time will tell. 

Golden Shaded British Shorthair kittens...

We might have some of these beautiful kittens available in 2019. Please see our kitten page for kitten availability, or contact us for more information.