Editor's Note about the inhibited pigment gene, I/i: The inhibitor gene modifies the action of other color genes. The dominant allele (I) produces tipped hairs that are fully colored only at the tip and have a white base. This allele interacts with other genes to produce various degrees of tipping. When it interacts with the agouti gene (A) it produces colors ranging from the extremes of a deeply tipped silver tabby (maximum tipping) to shaded silver and chinchilla silver (minimum tipping).
The inhibitor gene interacts with the non-agouti gene (I-aa) to produce the smoke (maximum tipping) and shaded (minimum tipping) colors.
I love the inhibitor gene cat colors. For years there have been discussions regarding non-agouti shaded black coloration. While black smokes are recognized and part of breeder's smoke programs, there is a controversy about the very existence of shaded blacks as a color. I thought it'd be interesting to alter a photo of my black smoke male, Sedgewick, to show what a shaded black might look like. Sedgewick didn't seem to mind.
While doing that I decided to "enhance" his existing black smoke color to see how that could look. Updating the historical masked silver color fit in well too, so that's also included in the altered photos.
The Original Photo: This is the original photo of Sedgewick straight from the camera. It's not exactly a great photo quality as it's considerably underexposed. Nonetheless, it was the best one I had on hand for the purpose as his pose works quite well in illustrating the colors you will seen here. Getting kitties to pose, especially this one, is no easy task so I decided to go with what I had.
Enhanced Original Photo: The rather murky original photograph was altered/enhanced to use as a basis for the color variant photos. The photo was brightened, sharpened and extraneous cabinet handles were digitally removed. Still not the most flattering photo of Sedgewick as his contrast, though not great, is better than this but it was a viable starting point for digital alteration to produce the inhibited kitty color photos you've seen here.
Shaded Black: This is the controversial kitty color that inspired me to create this photo essay. The base coat color is white with black tipping, giving the coat it's shaded coloration along with a smoke mask and copper eyes. When I started this I really didn't know what to expect. Seeing the color here, I think it would be quite a lovely color if selectively bred for.
Shaded Silver: For comparison, this is what a shaded silver would look like compared to the shaded black as it appears in the previous photo.
Masked Silver: I'm intrigued with the historical photos of masked silvers. All the ones I've seen have a full mask (more like a hood than the Himalayan facial mask) and dark "points" on their legs though the tails tended to be a lighter color. Obviously, I prefer full points. Unlike the more tawny seal Himmies, I envision the white body color with a true black mask and points by way of the inhibitor gene and again, copper eyes. Quite a striking color, I think.
Masked Silver In Mink: In the photos I've seen of masked silvers, the cats didn't appear to have the clear light body color portrayed in the previous photo but tended to be a bit darker, so I decided to add a "minkish" variant. The body color is a lighter hue of the darker points so the coloration is more blended and less contrasting.
Black Smoke: Ok, this is hardly a new"inhibited" color but I do think Sedgewick could use some improvement! Here's what I'd like his black smoke color to be if it were ideal. Obviously I've changed his coat colors to give him a lot more contrast for a quite dramatic effect. I also intensified his eye color. I didn't add any "extras" like longer ear furnishings etc., as I thought it would be best not to alter his physical structure to better illustrate the color difference.