Thursday, October 31, 2013

Hoax…or Real Life Mutant?!

It IS a mutant!!!
A genetic mutant, that is…

Although there doesn’t seem to be anything special about the cat in this picture her genetic code would suggest otherwise. This orange cat is a…(dun dun dun)….female!! Most orange cats are male due to the genetic requirements that females have to ‘inherit’ the orange color. Ok, so maybe the word mutant is a wee bit strong, it’s really more like genetic lottery winner!

“For a female cat to be orange she must inherit two orange genes — one from her mother (orange, calico, or tortoiseshell) and one from her father (who must be orange). A male cat needs only one orange gene, which he gets from his mother (orange, calico, or tortoiseshell). This is because the gene that codes for orange fur is on the X chromosome, and like humans, females have two Xs and males are XY. Genes on the X chromosome are said to be sex-linked.”, says Dee Walter Kruleski, a professor of biology and cat enthusiast. Dee also says there is additional genetic coding required for the tabby striped pattern in orange cats which makes this kitty even more genetically special!

According to Dee, these are some of the basic genetic codes for determining the color and pattern of a cat’s fur:
  • Agouti vs. non-agouti: Provides the lighter fur background with striped cats.
  • Black vs. non-black
  • Color deposition: Determines how pigment is deposited, and also affects eye color.
  • Dilute vs. non-dilute: Gray is a diluted form of black and tan/beige is a diluted form of orange.
  • Spotting: If two dominant genes are inherited, a cat will have white on more than 50% of their body. If a cat has one dominant and one recessive gene, then the cat will have white fur on less than 50% of their body. If she gets two recessive genes, there will be no white on the body!
  • White vs. non-white: Just one white gene and the whole cat will be white! It is called a masking gene. A white cat could have the genetics to be a calico, black or any color cat but the white gene hides the other genes’ expression and the cat appears all white. White cats are not albinos unless they have red eyes. Albino cats are extremely rare and albinism is the result of color deposition and not the white gene.
  • There are also genes for tabby stripping, silver tipping and seal-pointing.
All of this science and biology certainly makes you appreciate the beauty of your fanciful feline a little more, doesn’t it?

Michelle Brockman for
Jonah's Place 

References:, Dee Walter Kruleski

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