Singing The Blues

BY PAMELA R. MARTIN
Castle Paws Silver & Golden Persians

Published March 2006

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Recently fellow silver breeder/exhibitor Missy Osivand said to me, “Pam, I always thought you were a purist and didn’t want the blues mixed in with our silvers?”  Well, I am a “purist” and  simply adore the colorbred silvers.  When I say colorbred, this refers to using silvers and goldens exclusively in the breeding program without the use of other color Persians for many generations.  As I see it nowadays, being a “purist” is one of the best reasons there is for the blues to be accepted into CFA Championship!

Around 1998 a small group of silver/golden exhibitors began singing for the blues to be accepted into CFA championship. They seemed to be partial to the Blue Goldens and didn’t have much to say in regard to the blue silvers as I recall.  They never really gave justifiable reasoning for their acceptance in my opinion.  “Liking them’, “would increase the gene pool” and the fact they are “accepted by other cat organizations” does not constitute their existence in CFA.  The blues can be used in the breeding program whether they are accepted in Championship or not. For that matter, any other color CAN be used as an outcross in the breeding program if so desired.  The blues can be registered in CFA.  They can be shown as well, in AOV (any other variety); however, they cannot obtain a title nor compete against other CFA cats.

At that time, the Golden color standard was still very unsuitable as originally written. Golden  breeders had worked on revising the color standard but couldn’t come to any agreements.   A proposal for the blues went on the Silver and Golden Breed Council Ballot several times, but failed each time.   Until the current issues with the Golden color standards were resolved it wasn’t a wise decision to include another color in the division.  This would only add to the confusion by mimicking an already inappropriate color standard.

7 years later, we have the golden color standard revised for the show season 2003-2004. It took 25 years to accomplish this, but clearly has given a revival and proved a beneficial tool for the  Goldens in the show ring.  Nonetheless, there is still a lot of work to do with the Goldens in regard to coat color. This won’t happen overnight, especially since there are so few of us dedicated to working with this very challenging (to say the least)  color and remember the Goldens have only been an accepted color in CFA since 1977.

Why are the blues such a controversial issue? Should we welcome the dilutes into our division?  What are the benefits?  Until 1994, we shared the division with the shaded and smokes so do we want to give consent for additional colors within our division again?  Let’s think about it.

The Blue Golden is said to help clear up the barring in Goldens which is a good thing since that is a desirable trait.  The Blue Goldens don’t appear to have barring while most “black” Shaded Goldens do.  For this reason, I fear the dilute Goldens may project the “black” Goldens as having an inferior appearance when indeed that may not be the case.   Barring on Goldens, by the way, is NOT a disqualification.  It is a quality we would like to eventually breed out like we did with the Silvers; nonetheless, but not possible at this stage of the game. One reason being due to the genetics of a Shaded Golden as explained in a previous article I wrote entitled “The Colors of Gold”.

“Jane Howard wrote, "true Goldens spring only from silvers or other Goldens". The Golden gene is actually a combination of several genes most commonly theorized as a mutation of the brown tabby gene. I will quote Carol Heide, one of the most active original Golden breeders, since I haven't yet  found  an explanation that says  it better:

"Both Silvers and Goldens are in reality shaded black cats with green eyes. The coloring granule in the hair shaft that makes a black cat appear black is a round coloring granule. In the silver, another gene or genes causes a reduced amount of the round coloring granule to "slide" to the end of the hair shaft devoid of coloring granules and "appearing" to be white. Thus, in the Silvers the round coloring granule is present only in the ends of each hair shaft and reflects light as to appear as black tipping.

The same coloring granule is present in the Golden. However, the "shape" of the coloring granule is changed. In the Golden the same coloring granule changes from round to an elongated or elliptical shape. This longer shape reflects light in many hues of Golden, depending upon the amount of coloring the granule contains. Again, I repeat, it is the same coloring matter found in the round granule that produces the black coloring.

Also, in the case of the Golden, the elongated granule does not "slide" completely to the ends of the hair shaft, but rather "smears" along the hair shaft, which causes the Golden to have coloring along the entire hair shaft generally, but not always, darker tipped at the ends. The important point is that the coloring material remains the same, only the granule shape changes.

This best explains why the Golden should not be compared in coat color pattern to the Silver. In addition to that, the elongated or elliptical gene is why "no barring on the legs" of a Golden is coincidental or just plain luck!”

Even though coat color accounts for only 10 points on our cats, an identical cat or even one of lesser quality perhaps, have been known to go over another golden due to some barring or perhaps more barring than his competition.   Consequently “coat color’ has been used as the determining factor in the show ring.

Being a Silver breeder the rationale may be more appealing and I will explain.  Judi Yearsley of Jayremington Persians brought up a most outstanding point in my opinion as to WHY we should give our consent and welcome the blues into our division.  
                                                                                  
“If there were categories for the Blue Silver and Blue Golden Persians, it seems breeders would/should not hesitate to register their cats accordingly -- registering a blue if that is indeed truly the case (as Pam did -- Pam registered the cat properly and showed her in AOV).  I think it is more to our advantage as breeders to have the option to register and show the blues in their own color classes, as well.”

There is no question as to whether a Golden is a dilute (Blue Golden) or your ordinary “black” Golden. This is easily determined at a glance; however, the Blue Silver is not as easily recognized especially if you aren’t specifically looking for them.  They can easily go unrecognized by the breeder/exhibitor as well as in the show ring and have been known to do that.

Blue silvers are actually registered and championed as “black” Silvers because breeders get nice kitties they want to show in order to obtain titles and they get by with this.  If the blues were accepted; perhaps breeders wouldn’t be tempted to incorrectly register their blues; therefore giving us more reliable pedigrees enabling those who want the blues out or in to keep it that way.   Additionally, more cats would be registered and more shown in CFA.  Exhibitors from European registries have told me they would proudly show their blues in CFA if and when they are included.

On the other hand; there are Silver breeders who believe the Blue Silvers should not be accepted since they are so similar and this would confuse the judges.  I disagree with that comment.  With a proper color standard in hand, the judges could easily detect a Blue Silver from a black Silver.  In addition to that, the judges see dilutes in other cat breeds; therefore, are very familiar with the color. The blues are NOT a “NEW” color but an existing color that pops up in our litters when two blues are bred; two cats carrying the dilute gene are bred or one carrier and one blue.

Gretchen Winchell says, “The blues are as natural an occurrence as any blue is to a black, or cream is to a red. We have not invented a new color. This is merely a dilute to an already accepted and shown color.”

Over the years, we’ve only had two Blue Goldens and two Blue Silvers born at Castle Paws, but we’ve never bred specifically for the blues until  Annie came along.  Since I liked Annie so well, I felt slighted that she couldn’t earn a title within CFA.  This sparked my interest in the blues so I showed her AOV at our Dixieland Silver & Golden Specialty Show at Charlotte, NC in 2004.  Annie  was very well received and most of the judges were interested in discussing the color. It was suggested that I bring copies of the projected color standards for the judges to review prior to seeing the kitty otherwise they would ask for it. I did that, but we have since modified  those proposed color standards as shown below and they are  not written in stone:

AOV BLUE CHINCHILLA SILVER : undercoat pure white. Coat on back, flanks, head, and tail sufficiently tipped with BLUE to give a sparkling appearance. Legs may be slightly shaded with tipping. Chin, ear tufts, stomach, and chest, pure white. Rims of eyes, lips, and nose outlined with BLUE. Nose leather: rose. Paw pads: blue or rose. Eye color: green or blue-green. Disqualify for incorrect eye color, incorrect eye color being copper, yellow, gold, amber, or any color other than green or blue-green.

AOV BLUE SHADED SILVER: undercoat white with a mantle of BLUE tipping shading down from sides, face, and tail from dark on the ridge to white on the chin, chest, stomach, and under the tail. Legs to be the same tone as the face.  The general effect to be much darker than a chinchilla. Rims of eyes, lips, and nose outlined with BLUE. Nose leather: ROSE. Paw pads: BLUE OR ROSE. Eye color: green or blue-green. Disqualify for incorrect eye color, incorrect eye color being copper, yellow, gold, amber, or any color other than green or blue-green.                               
AOV BLUE CHINCHILLA GOLDEN: undercoat ivory to pale honey or blush honey. Coat on back, flanks, head, and tail sufficiently tipped with BLUE to enhance a blue golden appearance. Legs and end of tail may be shaded with tipping. Chin, ear tufts, stomach, chest and under side of tail, consistent ivory to pale honey color. The general effect is lighter than a blue shaded golden due to less tipping. Rims of eyes, lips, and nose outlined with BLUE. Nose leather: Rose. Paw pads: BLUE OR ROSE. Eye color: green or blue-green. Disqualify for incorrect eye color, incorrect eye color being copper, yellow, gold, amber, or any color other than green or blue-green.

AOV BLUE SHADED GOLDEN:
undercoat ivory to pale honey or blush honey with a mantle of BLUE tipping shading down from the sides, face, head and tail. Legs to be the same tone as the face. Ear tufts, chin, chest, stomach and underside of tail, consistent ivory to pale honey color. The general effect is darker than a blue chinchilla golden due to more tipping. Rims of eyes, lips, and nose outlined with BLUE. Nose leather: Rose. Paw pads: BLUE OR ROSE. Eye color: green or blue-green. Disqualify for incorrect eye color, incorrect eye color being copper, yellow, gold, amber, or any color other than green or blue-green.

Although the judges aren’t actually evaluating an AOV, they want to know what they should be looking for. There will be a ribbon hanged, but it’s only a formality for the confirmation at CFA records.  Again, the AOV is not eligible to earn a title or officially compete.  I suppose a ribbon could be withheld if the judge deemed it necessary!   If more than one AOV is shown in the class, this is opportunity for the judge to indicate his/her favorite so I suppose they can actually compete to some degree; however, they are not eligible to obtain titles or earn points.

Whether we are singing the blues, wanting the blues or getting the blues accepted into CFA championship is to each their own and we realize this. The task won’t be accomplished easily due to the multiple requirements; however, despite obstacles, it is possible and we are working towards it.  At the moment we have a small committee comprised  of approximately 12 CFA registered breeder/exhibitors.   We have formed an online email group @ yahoo entitled SGEBlues, (Silver and Golden Exhibitor Blues) where we discuss the blues, plan our strategy and store our files.  We have met the majority of the requirements other than the number of cats shown AOV throughout every region.  We have covered the southern region well, but that’s not enough!   ALL CFA regions must have their blues registered and shown AOV and they must be colorbred blues.   We cannot use blues produced from litters of Silver and/or Goldens bred to other color Persians.   We must show evidence the kittens are not hybrids and are naturally occurring within our Silver and Golden litters. 

There is a lot to do before we can present the proposal to the breed council ballot.  If you are interested in helping us to obtain our goal, please contact any of the people listed below:

If you are concerned and hold the opinion the blues do not belong, we urge you to please reconsider your stance.   

 

 

 

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