Are You Color Blind?
The Challenge of Working with Chocolate and Lilac Persians

BY CHASTITY McCARTY
Ceylon Cattery

Published August 2008

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Validation: Every breeder wants it. The Chocolate & Lilac breeder's world is no exception.

While validation can mean different things to different people, one common way we receive validation for our hard work as a cat breeder is by taking our next "big thing" to the shows. We bite our nails, perhaps eat an extra cookie or two, and hold our breaths while the judges hand out the ribbons... and hope to be called back for the finals.

The Genetic Challenge of Chocolate & Lilacs

In the Persian community, it is not easy working with minority colors such as chocolate and lilacs. Working with these rare, recessive genes often means taking one step back for every two steps forward in a breeding program. It means spinning the genetic color wheel and hoping it stops in your favor, especially when bringing in non-chocolate/lilac bloodlines to improve type.

In The Show Ring

Beyond the challenges of genetics, all too often chocolate breeders deal with "color" prejudice in the show ring. Many in the cat fancy feel the chocolate & lilac Persian or Exotic is not as competitive as the more common breed colors. It's understandable why some people think this way. With chocolate/lilacs being few in number to start with, even fewer make it to the show ring. and even less grand.

In The Beginning

Chocolates & Lilacs Persians were first accepted by CFA in 1957, a relatively new color in our beloved Persian history.

The colors were first introduced into the Persian gene pool when the Himalayan was created by crossing Siamese and Persians. This means all chocolate and lilacs are designated as CPCs, colorpoint carriers since they have Siamese in their background.

So few chocolate or lilac Persians have been recognized in the show ring throughout its history that we can literally count how many chocolate & lilac Persians have granded in CFA. To see the chocolate/lilac cats that have granded, PandEcats.com has published a series with photos beginning with, CFA "Chocolate Family Grands" Part 1.

In CFA, as of June, 2008, we've yet to see a chocolate tortie or chocolate or lilac bicolor grand ... so there's still much room for progress.

Improving Type While Preserving Color

There's so many things that have yet to be accomplished in our Chocolate & Lilac world - it is an exciting frontier.

In order to improve type, over all balance, coat, and refinement in the chocolate & lilac Persian, most breeders must mate their visual chocolate/lilac to their more popular cousins, the "pure" Persian (non-CPCs). There was a time when breeders would not place a "pure" Persian into a CPC breeding program, but, thankfully, that is changing. Most "pure" Persian breeders will still not use a CPC in their breeding program, however, for fear of introducing the recessive pointed gene they don't want.

Colorpoint Carrier?

All Chocolate and Lilac Persians have registration numbers designating them as CPCs, colorpoint carriers. Of course, with modern DNA tests, we can now determine whether a Persian ACTUALLY carries the recessive pointed gene or not. Perhaps the time will come when in order to be genetically accurate, the CPC designation will be removed from those cats that don't actually carry the pointed gene.

Learning From The History of the Bicolor

There was a time in the history of the pedigreed Persian when bicolors and calicos were not accepted colors. When they were finally recognized, many breeders of traditional colors of Persians (no "with-white") would not allow their cats to be purchased to go into a bicolor program... and would never have considered bringing a bicolor into their solid program.

How times have changed! Bicolors are now one of the largest and winningest color division of Persians. This was a result of advances in genetics that confirmed that the white on a bicolor was due to a dominant spotting gene, and was not related to the disqualifying white lockets that appeared on some Persians in the early years.

Perhaps now with the DNA test for the pointed gene, Chocolate and Lilacs that don't actually have the pointed gene will be welcomed into non CPC breeding programs too!

Milestones

In CFA, we've had the pleasure of seeing solid chocolate & lilac grands, pointed varieties, and even a couple chocolate tabby grands in recent years! What an exciting time we are living in today to see more and more colors in chocolate and lilac varieties being worked with. To go from a Siamese being mated to a Persian initially, to today - looking at a future that could include chocolate & lilac smokes, or chocolate & lilac bicolors or even chocolate & lilac smoke calicos - what an accomplishment!

Future Possibilities

The imagination is not limited to these beautiful color creations that are recognized for Championship status in CFA. Imagine what has yet to be seen in the show halls ... chocolate & lilac silver tabbies, chocolate & lilac patched silver tabby bicolors... but chocolate & lilac varieties and quality can and will be lost with out the continuance of strategically breeding in the pure non-CPC pedigrees.

The chocolate & lilac world is a world full of possibilities and big dreams just waiting to be taken on by breeders daring enough to accept the added challenges of these minority colors. Anything worth having, is worth putting the time and work into. It's certainly not an overnight accomplishment. It's not a one (wo)man job, but a job for every single Persian breeder out there. I hope to be able to be able to encourage breeders to see and understand the difficulties under which the chocolate and lilac breeders often must struggle... and to be open to recognizing and perhaps adopting some of their goals. I'd like to encourage my fellow readers/breeders to look at a chocolate & lilac Persian as a challenging work in progress. Not something to ignore because of its CPC lineage but something to embrace for the dedication it takes to help this coloration strive.

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SACF GC Ceylon's Lalique of BlazeStar
Solid Lilac Female Persian
Born: 11/29/07
Sire: Rivikats Made To Order of Ceylon
Dam: Katz Caprice's BetterBiDesign
Breeder: Chasity McCarty
Owner: Elaine Jordão
Photo by L. Johnson

 

 

 
 

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