Genetics Picture

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The genes for chocolate and cinnamon/sorrel

The allele for chocolate is causing the hairs to become lighter for other reasons than the allele for dilution. In chocolate cats the black pigment granules, which normally are round, are a bit flattened. This enables more light to be reflected - the coat looks paler. This allele is also recessive. A cat which otherwise would have been black becomes, as the name implies, chocolate colored. A blue cat becomes lilac. The chocolate allele doesn't work on the red pigment, so red stays red and cream will be cream. The chocolate allele first came from the Siamese and can therefore be seen in all breeds that have the Siamese pointed colors recognized. This is also present in the Oriental Shorthairs, which are very closely related to the Siamese.

The cinnamon/sorrel allele flattens the pigment granules even more than the gene for chocolate which makes the coats seem even lighter. This allele is recessive to both the allele for chocolate and the allele for normal pigmentation. An oriental with this color is said to be cinnamon colored and it describes the color perfectly. The sorrel color of the Abyssinian is genetically identical to the cinnamon of the Oriental, but since the Abyssinian is ticked while the Oriental is non-agouti they don't look that similar. Earlier the sorrel colored Abyssinians were called red, but the breeders back then realized rather quickly that they couldn't be genetically red since there were never born any tortoiseshell colored Abyssinians.

A diluted cat with cinnamon/ sorrel genes in homozygotic alleles is called fawn. This cat can be said to be more beige or ivory colored. This gene does not work on red and cream.

Denominations: B = normal pigment, black
               b = chocolate (brown)
               bl = cinnamon/sorrel (light brown)