The Oriental Shaded

by John S Harrison

Historically the Oriental Shaded originates from the chance mating of a Chocolate Point Siamese and a Chinchilla female. Miss Patricia Turner, famous for her SCINTILLA prefix saw the kittens and took two Silver females which she subsequently registered as SCINTASILVA SUE and SCINTA CELESTE. Celeste never bred and it was from Scintasilva Sue that the idea of 'Pastels', which of course we now call Shaded, stemmed. Pat produced the kittens that were to provide the foundation not only of the Oriental Shaded, but indeed the Oriental Cat itself. Without fear of doubt the most influential kitten from Scintasilva Sue was SCINTILLA SERENE SUNSET, a Black Tortie Silver Shaded sired by CH.PITAPAT ZENO [32a]. Scintasilva Sue subsequently passed to Mrs Alice Law and mated to SWEETHOPE CHE [29] produced NASYLA MINK MOONLIGHT, a Chocolate Silver Shaded who proved to be a most influential male. It is interesting to note that Sweethope Che was not one of the 'newly created' Havanas (from a by-product of Pat's Foreign White breeding programme) but was a descendent of the Chestnut Brown Foreigns from the early 1950's. Today of course the C.B.F. is known as the Havana.

Pat gave me SCINTILLA KAFFY OLE a female kitten bred in early 1974 from a mating of Mink Moonlight and Serene Sunset. Kaffy was a strange little creature, and the cause of considerable discussion, she was unusual not only in that she was a Silver Shaded, but also the first Caramel 'Oriental'. At the time we were unsure quite what she was, and there were definite indications that she could have been a form of 'pink eyed dilute' which would have been a considerable, though possibly worrying 'colour break' in cats. Sadly Kaffy only lived long enough to have one litter. Today ALL Shaded lines can be traced back to the Chinchilla MARISARNI RETARA via Scintasilva Sue; indeed it is highly unlikely that any Orientals today cannot be traced back to this Chinchilla queen!

So, What then is a Shaded?

HERE WE ENCOUNTER THE FIRST PROBLEM! There seems to be a generally held view that any old duff Tabby with an indistinct pattern is a Shaded -- this is most certainly NOT the case. Some duff Tabbies are unfortunately just that! Breeders, Exhibitors, and most of all Judges must learn, and learn quickly, that second rate Tabbies are NOT Shaded!

In essence a Shaded, be it Silver or Standard, is a modified Tabby where the colour is restricted to the upper portion of the hair, varying from one half to just a tiny tip. The gene responsible for this ['Wide-band' symbolised Wb] also distorts and breaks down the tabby pattern so that it becomes so indistinct as to be virtually (or at best, totally) invisible. Whatever the degree of shading/tipping it must be evenly distributed, and should be free from tabby markings, though allowances must be made in kittens, which at birth are diddy tabbies.

Several years ago the Oriental Shaded Standard was amended and Varietal Numbers 43 (Shaded) and 46 (Tipped) were amalgamated under Breed No 43 with a common Bred Standard embracing both the Shaded and Tipped. We believed that the very short coat of the Oriental would show insufficient VISIBLE difference to warrant separation of the varieties; which in any case are nothing more than variations on a theme, the Tipped being only a lighter, more refined form of Shaded. The Standard of Points is currently under revision, and the revised form, subject to GCCF approval will be effective from June 1st 1997, coincidentally the date the Shaded gains full Championship status. This revised form is probably one of the clearest of all the Oriental Breed Standards. It reads: -

Pattern: The Oriental Shaded is an agouti cat in which the dark colour is restricted to the ends of the hairs; this darker portion of hair may vary from tipping to medium-heavy shading but must not extend to more than half the hair length on the sides in adults. Heavier shading may or may not be apparent on the back. The Tabby pattern which may be Ticked, Spotted, Mackerel or Classic, may show clearly on the surface of the coat in kittens but should become less distinct with maturity. The more heavily shaded adults may still show some superficial broken tabby pattern, especially on the back and sides; this pattern may be more noticeable in standard varieties than in silver varieties. Cats with classic pattern may appear darker because the pattern area is greater. The head, legs and tail may show tabby markings of varying clarity depending on the degree of shading.

COAT COLOUR: Shaded or tipped with any colour accepted in Oriental Shorthairs. The shading should be the same colour as the pattern area of the equivalent colour of Oriental Tabby; in Silver colours the shading may be reduced in intensity. The under-colour should be free from ticking. In standard colours it should be pale warm toffee coloured in Black, Chocolate, and Cinnamon Shaded, cream in Red Shaded, cool toned beige in Blue, Lilac and Caramel Shaded, pale mushroom in Fawn Shaded, and near white in Cream and Apricot Shaded. In Silver colours the under-colour should be as pale a silver as possible. Tarnishing, i.e. discoloration of the silver is undesirable.

[My own personal gripe with the Standard is that there are three forms of the colour Caramel, blue based, lilac based and fawn based, and in the latter two the under-colour is certainly anything but 'cool toned'!]

Breed 43 then has the colour restricted to the upper portion of the hair, and because of the permissible variation in degree of tipping the Silver Shaded can be an almost off-white cat with very limited coloration; or it can have a very noticeable mantle of colour over the body; or indeed anything in between. We have considerable scope for variation and personal choice. As both a Breeder and a Judge I do not feel that this presents a problem for Breeders, Exhibitors or Judges. As a Breeder my aim is to produce very lightly tipped cats with NO tabby markings EXCEPT for a little 'flash' above the eyes; whilst as a Judge I am concerned with clarity of under-colour, with freedom from ticking; and evenness of tipping, without showing tabby pattern, regardless of the degree of tipping/shading. The standard does not dictate that the lighter cats are best! Judges must learn that the variation of tipping or shading is variable and totally acceptable PROVIDED it does not extend more than half way down the hair length.

So, back to the question "What is an Oriental Shaded?" In simplest terms I can only compare the Silver Shaded to the British Tipped - though there is allowance in the Standard for considerably more coloration than is seen in that Breed. The one thing the Shaded should not look like is a poor Tabby; in a Tabby class it should look completely out of place!


The Standard of Points gives clear guidelines regarding colours. In the Silver Shaded the base colour should be almost white with freedom from pigmentation or tarnishing (sometimes referred to as 'rufism' and 'brassiness'), whilst the Standard, or non-silver, has a very soft warm coloured base. The Chocolate Silver Shaded therefore has off-white to white hairs with rather cold chocolate tips, whereas the Chocolate Shaded has a warm rich toffee colour base with warm rich chocolate tips. In neither case should there be banding or ticking below the tip, though in the majority of heterozygotes this will be present to a greater or lesser degree.

It was originally thought that the Wide-band gene was a dominant, but from breeding evidence we now know it to be partially or incompletely dominant. The effect of the allele appears to be somewhat variable, but this may well be the result of associated polygenes, and it is perhaps selection for these 'enhancers' which will prove to be of greater import to Shaded breeders. In the creation of the British Tipped there was ample opportunity to backcross to Chinchilla; in the Oriental we have no such opportunity, with all roads leading back to Scintasilva Sue. It may well therefore prove difficult to achieve such clarity of shading/tipping.

Because Wide-band is incompletely dominant, generally the heterozygote A_Wbwb will not look like the homozygote A_WbWb. If we look at the cat of genotype A_wbwb we will see a Tabby cat, if however we look at a cat of genotype A_WbWb we will see a clear Shaded; there will be a very great difference and it will be obvious even to the most uninformed that they are separate varieties. BUT what of the heterozygote A_Wbwb ?






Shaded - showing some markings & agouti hairs



Unfortunately the heterozygote A_Wbwb is an intermediate, and will in the majority of cases look more like a POOR TABBY than a GOOD SHADED. The majority of Shaded seen at shows are of this intermediate heterozygote stage, with often noticeable vestigial markings, and to a greater or lesser degree some banding below the coloured tip of the hair. Let no one run away with the idea that what we see today at shows are the perfected animal ….. within a few years most such cats will not win awards.

Wide-band is widely distributed in the Oriental population, being present in both Selfs and Non-Selfs. From observation of Tabbies at Shows it seems there are no longer any lines which are totally free from the gene. I have reluctantly come to the view that the majority of Oriental Tabbies are of genotype A_Wbwb …… but, "Hold on" you'll probably say, "You've been holding forth that these are intermediate Shaded" …… to which my retort would be "You've hit the nail on the head". Because Tabby breeders have been selecting for pattern and contrast the result is that the heterozygotes lean more towards the Tabby than the Shaded in appearance. Breeders of the Tabbies will undoubtedly disagree with me, I'd like to be proved wrong, for IF my thoughts prove to be true it is the undoubted death knell of the Tabby varieties.

The best cats of the early Tabby lines, in the late 60'a and early 70's, DID NOT HAVE agouti invasion of the pattern, NOR did they have noticeably unsound pattern colour. Many cats DID HAVE fully ringed tails and leg markings right down to the toes. I do remember the cats, and I know it's not a figment of my imagination. The common factor is that in these early lines there was NO RECORDED ancestry of Chinchilla or Silver. Today as we have seen there are few if any Tabbies that cannot be traced back to Chinchilla via Scintasilva Sue.

The Shaded is an agouti cat, a Tabby where the pattern is so distorted that it is no longer visible, and indeed the cat bears little resemblance to a Tabby. It is important in the breeding of this variety that we fully understand the basics of the Tabby. Asked the question "What is the difference between a Self cat and a Tabby" the automatic response is the tabby pattern, which of course is totally untrue. ALL cats, without exception, have a tabby pattern, and in all Selfs it is fairly easy to see this in kittenhood, as indeed it is in the adults of most of the less intense colours - haven't we all cursed 'ghost markings'? The difference between Tabbies and Selfs is NOT tabby pattern, but the agouti gene.

The agouti gene [symbolised A] affects the areas of coat in between the pattern, by altering it from one colour to two colours, thereby producing bands of colour or ticking - in other words 'agouti' hairs. In the Tabbies we tend to refer to the agouti hairs as 'ground colour', for the solid coloured pattern appears to overlay it. In a Tabby the pattern MUST be solid coloured with no agouti invasion (agouti hairs scattered through it) and it must be sound to the roots with NO noticeably lighter colour at the roots. There are three distinct pattern forms in the Oriental Tabby, TICKED, SPOTTED and CLASSIC. Whether or not the fourth pattern form, MACKEREL, exists in the Oriental; or indeed is a distinct form at all, or merely a variation of he Spotted, or vice versa is a matter of debate.


Pattern Form







We have accepted that the Shaded is a modified Tabby, and therefore can be of any pattern. This fact therefore begs the questions "Which is the best pattern form for Shaded breeding?" and "Is the pattern form important?" These are two interesting questions which some of us have spent considerable time discussing, and have been unable to answer! The Chinchilla is generally of Classic pattern, yet look how little tipping they show, and they certainly don't show any tabby pattern! Certainly in the Oriental I have seen Shaded cats of Classic and Spotted pattern where the body shows barely any visible pattern formation. In the Ticked of course there is minimal pattern anyway. Most breeders seem o be following the Classic or Spotted route, though at least two of us are steadfastly following the Ticked path. It is comical that many of the Shaded cats of Classic and Spotted pattern, where there is almost total breakdown of pattern are confused with Ticked by many Breeders and Judges! Close examination of vestigial tail rings does however reveal the pattern form. It will be interesting to see as time goes by if the different patterns do result in any VISIBLE differences in the more refined versions of the Shaded.

Where then do we go now? How do we improve the Variety?

In the breeding of any exhibition animal the key has to be SELECTION. Selection FOR the desirable characteristics or traits; and selection AGAINST those which are undesirable. All well and good, but what does this mean in practice? Developing a self-coloured variety is fairly easy, achieving the balance between colour and type is relatively simple. In the patterned cats it becomes far more complicated; and in the Shaded this is multiplied several times. Let no one live in the belief that breeding Shaded is going to be easy!

What then must we select for?

We must select for type.
We are talking of the Oriental Shaded, and as a prerequisite it must have at least 'adequate' type, and at best correct type WITHOUT any exaggeration.

I personally feel that we may not be able to achieve perfection of type and coat qualities in the short term. In order to gain the correct coats we may find difficulty in incorporating the best type cats into our breeding programmes. From recent discussions we know that there are only a handful of breeders who are hell bent on developing the variety. Currently only four or five breeders are concentrating exclusively on the Shaded, though of course others will produce odd numbers of Shaded from time to time. The Shaded will I feel always be a 'specialist' variety.

The gene pool is not extensive and to secure perfection of type will mean that breeders must be prepared to make retrograde steps with coat quality from time to time. The time will come when we have sufficient cats of correct type and coat and are able to carry out nothing other than Shaded to Shaded matings. Do Chinchilla and British Tipped breeders mate out to Tabbies, Colour Points or Self-Colours?

Whilst of course there is the great aim to achieve perfection of coat we MUST NOT ignore type. No matter how perfect the coat if the cat is of cobby and unacceptable Oriental type it should not win at shows. HOWEVER it does not matter how good the type is, if the coat is not correct - again it should not win. WITHOUT A DOUBT A BALANCE MUST BE STRUCK BETWEEN TYPE AND COAT QUALITIES.

Judges must learn that Type is not all-important, they must be guided to look at more than just the head! If we as breeders find the variety somewhat complex, what are the Judges going to make of it? I look with dismay at many of the Tabbies that have gained titles in the last few years, most have superb head and body type, BUT clearly some Judges have in many instances totally ignored pattern, colour and markings. Numerous Shaded cats have been shown as Tabbies and have won certificates ……. This gives me little confidence and I can envisage the ridiculous situation occurring where almost identical cats win BoB awards for two or three varieties!

We must select for Coat Length and Texture.
We must ensure that our cats have the correct coat length and texture, Breeders and Judges must not be fooled by the fact that the longer coats will show the best under-colour and tipping contrast. Longer hairs do not have more pigmentation than short hairs. In the short hair the colour is more concentrated than in the long hair. If for example we look at a Blue Persian, a British Blue, and an Oriental Blue the first thing we will note is the difference in colour. The Persian being soft blue, whilst the Oriental approaches gunmetal …. With the British somewhere in between. This fact is important in the Shaded. If due regard is not given to this we could end up with rather longer coats than are desired in the Oriental.

We must select for the greatest possible expression of the Wide-band gene.
We must select for the maximum distortion and breakdown of the tabby pattern, and maximum freedom from banding below the coloured tip. In essence this means matings between Shaded and Shaded, and breeding cats of genotype A_WbWb. It is illogical to mate to cats that are not in possession of the Wide-band gene and expect to breed good Shaded kittens. The gene is probably to be found in most Tabbies, and of course in many Selfs. I firmly believe that many of the coats which show a distinct change of colour part way down the hair, but can't actually be called 'unsound', are infact showing the influence of Wide-band. These are probably the best coats to use. An interesting question on which I have often pondered is "Can a Shaded coat be unsound?", certainly not in the Silver, and I'm dubious if it can in the Standard.

Initially of course we have to breed from whatever is available to us. With type always in mind it is imperative that selection is made for the best coats, and that our breeding programmes move steadily forwards I have a fairly simple way of doing this, my females never seem to have more than a couple of litters (and often only one!] and my studs seem to be neutered by 15 months of age! I accept that this may seem a little odd to many breeders. We must remember that the best coats have even shading/tipping, show no banding below the tip, and do not show tabby markings to the body. When we achieve this we may well have to take several steps back for the sake of type - on the other hand we may not. It seems fairly clear that some lines of Shaded have, even at the heterozygote stage, far better under-colour and freedom from markings than others. It seems fairly certain that this is the influence of polygenes, and I believe that we must maximise their effect, by rigorous selection for coat qualities.

Silvers and Standard Colours
I have long believed that it is not possible to breed quality Silvers and Standards from the same mating, having bred Silver & Smoke cats since 1972 I have seen absolutely no evidence to make me re-consider. In the Silver we are looking for total inhibition of yellow pigmentation, resulting in a total lack of warmth. From observation it is clear that the majority of Standards bred from Silver are cold in colour and lack richness; equally Silvers bred from non-silver tend to have a predisposition to tarnishing. Long haired and British breeders learned many years ago that the path to perfection in Silvers is to breed Silver to Silver, Standard to Standard, and 'never the twain shall meet' This is sound advice, which we ignore at our peril -- had we heeded it in the past perhaps we might now have Oriental Tabbies which are the correct colour --- When did you last see an Oriental Brown Spotted whose colour conforms to the Standard of Points?

The Oriental Shaded has a long way to go before it is perfected, it will in a more refined form be totally unlike any of the other Orientals. It is not a popular view, but I fear the granting of Championship status may prevent the Variety being perfected. Unless Breeders and Judges are rigorous in their selection of breeding stock, and assessment of exhibits we could end up with nothing more than 'duff tabbies'.

© John S Harrison
December 1996.

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