conversations with ISA
Nov 24 '08
The following is a email string
that is posted with permission. It provides some insites to Burmilla
breeding in Australia.
My name is Isabella and I am a young Burmilla breeder from Sydney
Australia. I have been reading your genetic pages over and over again
now for several years and I would like to thank you for putting up your
findings. I am very interested in the genetics of my cats and would
love to learn more. Unfortunately many of my fellow breeders are not so
interested so I find myself struggling on this subject alone so I hope
to find someone more knowledgeable to bounce off ideas. I hope
you can spare me some time??
I noticed that you have had an email from one of our Australian
Longhair Burmilla breeders (Colleen Walters) from years ago regarding
our Australian Burmilla Program. Our program has moved on since
then and our cats are now much sleeker and have moved away from the
heavy chinchilla look.
I am wondering whether you can help me get my head around Burmilla
colours. I recently acquired a chocolate queen (b/b brown in your
classification). I mated this girl with a stud that carries
dilute and ended up with a Blue cat (cb/cb, d/d, B/b). In
Australia CFA we only have Silver and the following colours in tipped
and shaded patterns:
Black (C/-, B/-, D/-)
Brown (sepia for you cb/cb, B/-. D/-)
Blue (this can be C/- or cb/cb base + B/-, d/d) – ie this covers both
indigo and blue in your classification
Chocolate (brown for you – b/b. this can also be either C/- or cb/cb) –
ie this can cover both brown and champagne
Lilac (b/b, d/d and this also can either be C/- or cb/cb) – ie this
covers both lilac and fawn
As you can see things can be very confusing here in Aust as a C/C based
Blue, chocolate or lilac cat is very different to a cb/cb based blue,
choc or lilac cat as noted on your website and yet C/C and cb/cb based
cats have the same classification here in Aust. ie the
differences between Indigo and Blue, brown and champagne, lilac and
fawn are not noted.
We have some judges here in Aust that like to refer to cats as “bad
blues” or “bad lilacs”. I suspect this is because they do not realize
the difference between C/C and cb/cb colour differences. One judge even
went as far as outclassing all the blue exhibits and insisted they were
all caramels (ie upholding the existence of the Dm gene) because they
look slightly brownish. This is way before my time but I suspect these
were probably cb/cb d/d cats and this judge probably saw C/C d/d as
true “blue” in her mind thus dismissing all the cb/cb d/d and called
them caramel instead.
Anyway, I am going to a show this weekend and this judge will be
judging my cb/cb d/d exhibit. I am totally expecting her to outclass
him and call him a caramel. I have this cat DNA tested and I have my
theory so I am just hoping that you can tell me if my theory is correct
or at least logical. In my mind a C/C or C/- based cat is totally
different to a cb/cb based cat. I am thinking that a C/C based cat
should produce a “cooler” colour eg the indigos, which is a much darker
and blacker cat than say the “blue” cat which is “warmer” in appearance
as it is cb/cb sepia based. I keep telling myself that if this cat is
not d/d it would have been sepia hence it is logical that it has a
brown tinge to him.
So the fact that all cb/cb based cats looks “warmer” / “browner” is no
accident as these cats are sepia based!!! So my theory is that
that has nothing to do with the dilute modifier Dm gene.
The warm and cool tones are simply from the full expression and Burmese
What do you reckon about this theory? I think it should be consistent
with your findings right?
Also do you know much about the Dm gene? I have done a little research
on it and so far only one of the labs in California is asking for
sample submissions. This indicates to me that they are still in
the testing stage and hence the Dm gene is not really proven. Is
this your understanding also?
Thank God for DNA testing. All my breeding cats have now been DNA
mapped so I know exactly what colours they carry. I am sure you
have tried the Catgene tests? Arent they brilliant?
Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Isabella Wong Leung
ISABELLA WONG LEUNG PHOTOGRAPHY, ISABELLA CATOGRAPHY & AARALYN
www.isabella.id.au |www.isabellacatography.com | www.aaralyncattery.com
I think you are on the right track IF I understand you correctly.
Nice to know you folks have moved away from the Chinchilla look. It is
our feeling that the breeding back to the Burmese is most necessary and
the Chinchilla is only in the line once - -but that is just our view.
The lack of understanding of the subtle differences between a full
expression dilute <C/-, dd> and a sepia dilute <cbcb, dd>,
can be very difficult to get across to Judges who are not very familiar
with the program. This gets more difficult when the cat is b/b for
<bb, C/-, dd> versus <bb, cbcb, dd> this being ?? Or
lilac as in Burmese lilac/platinum
- -the ?? I would
understand you to call< bb, C/-, dd> fawn??
To date we in Canada have been able to make some headway by conducting
Judges seminars so we do have recognition of <B/-,C/-,dd>
"indigo" vs <B/-,cbcb-,dd> "blue' and of course the
<B/- C/- D/- > the black/bombay/ ebony vs <B/- cbcb,
All others we need to work on and have no
recognition/differentiation in the standard on the Full
expression brown <bb C/- D/-.> versus <bb cbcb, D/->
(brown vs Champagne) - as well as others.
However as you have pointed out the real problem exists in
identifying the Full expression brown <bb C/- D/-> from the
Sable <B/- cbcb, D/->.
Of course all this understanding gets much more difficult when the
colours are disrupted to the eye by red genetics, (tortie), and
the silver /golden and tipping genes.
With regard to your comments on Caramel and Fawn there seems to be some
ambiguity within the various cat fancies as to what exactly that is but
I take as my reference the comments on page 114 of Robinson's 4th
edition. (errors and all) using Caramel and Taupe and Apricot.
Please note I do not recognise the B1 gene as being in the gene pool
and the source of Cinnamon and Fawn see comments on my "genetics
1" page "genetics of B1".
We do not belief Pat Turner was correct in her assumption; and as noted
on our genetics page1 - - and feel we have ample proof.
It is our view that the true genetics at "play" here is the golden vs
silver < ii vs I/-> that although considered to be epistatic is
in fact NOT, and this <I> "silver" genetics is applying a
very subtle colour variation to the solid/self cats. One has simply to
look at an agouti tipped golden Lilac cat
<A-,bb,cbcb,dd,ii> to realise this. There are numerous other
examples I could suggest.
To be clear, if one looks at the genotypes as listed on p
141Robinsons and substitutes I/- for DM/- in each case this
works. What is interesting is that if one then takes that understanding
and looks carefully this I/- vs ii can be seen in some non dilute
<D/-> cats as well ( Robinson's suggest this can only be seen in
dilute cats and that the lighter version of blue is caramel,
lilac becomes taupe and cream becomes apricot) most particularly the
Champagne Burmese ie <aa, bb, cbcb, D/- I/- or ii >
and is in fact mistakenly called the Barrington gene. (Have i spelled
So I would suggest that the colours are the colours, the
variation is due to the temperature sensitivity in the case of the
cbcb, and the shape and clustering of the colour dots as in bb
brown and dd dilute/maltesed, and that the "warmth" or "coolness" of
colour is due to the underlying I or ii, in the solid colour (a/a) cats.
Clearly you should understand that there is no great agreement with
what I have just said from the folks in England or America.
I have the proof as I see it ;-)) - - see genetics I
page "More on what is a smoke" where I document the
breeding of a black boy to a golden tick girl and get silver kittens.
We have had previous occurrences and numerous hints but this one
we documented carefully.
End product: I agree with you in a qualified sense.
With regard to DNA testing, your comments are most interesting. You are
ahead of me on that. I wrote to the CFA lab in Texas and the Berkley
lab in California and neither answered. Certainly their tests could
prove or disprove the thesis I have proposed above. I understand
there is a good DNA locus marker for ii golden vs I/- silver.
Could you advise of your contact-- and any outcomes you get.
I hope this helps.
Thanks for emailing back. I am very interested in your results. I must
confess that here in Australia we do not have tabby or goldens (at
least in Australia CFA anyway) so my breeding is less problematic
somewhat as I am only really dealing with I/I most of the
time. However, I have noticed that goldens do exist in the
breeding program but that is due to the fact that some chinchilla
breeders used Golden stock so the goldens do exist in the pedigree is
mainly as very very far away ancestors to our current Burmilla cats.
But as you know these recessive genes can be hidden for many years so
some of our cat may be I/i you never know.
Attached linked is a DNA report from the lab
(a pdf file) that I use who
is affiliated with the US CFA I think. Their website is www.catgenes.com. They were very
slow in processing my 3 cats and then later told me that it was because
these were the first Burmillas they have tested and hence they needed
time to study the breed. Of course I provided as much info as possible
and also included your website link re DNA study. As you can see the
report is quite extensive. It gives you info re all the gene pairings
and then test results on the diseases and then colour. Note that
for this one test $39US you can get PKD and a whole heap of tests done
at the same time. I advertise on my site that all my breeding
stock is DNA tested PKD negative so this is a great tool for me. Re
colours – they only do tests on the A/-, B/- C/- (includes all the cb
points) , D/- and interestingly longhair markers but they determine
this via 3 different tests. They do not test I/- which is a shame
and they also told me that they do not have tests for Dm which we don’t
think exists anyway. I know there is another lab in texas collecting
data for Dm but they didn’t write back to me so I suppose that project
has gone to the back burner???
ed comment in red - -
- for genetics see also http://www.vgl.ucdavis.edu/services/index.php
the catgenes web site is the site
for Loraine Shelton , one of the authors of Robinsen's 4th edition
codes on the report, here is the link to decipher it . http://www.catgenes.org/test-results.html
By the way do you have more pictures of chocolate cats (b/b)? I just
acquired a new little girl who is C/C b/b. Her colour is not as
crisp as my cb/cb b/b girl but she is tipped so you can’t see much
colour on her anyway. Just interested to see your b/b cats so I
can see the visual difference between cb/cb b/b and C/- b/b. Many
thanks in advance. I am also attaching a photo of Holly the new chocolate kitten (C/C b/b
and Columbine my adult chocolate
think only not tested) b/b).
Re the other info you gave me, I will need to sit down and boil over it
some more. It is brilliant to speak to you, I feel so happy to be
talking to someone else who is interested in this sort of stuff. Most
people in Aust just think that I am a bit “too keen”.
PS please feel free to post the emails. I hope they can help someone
Isabella Wong Leung
ISABELLA WONG LEUNG PHOTOGRAPHY, ISABELLA CATOGRAPHY &
www.isabella.id.au |www.isabellacatography.com | www.aaralyncattery.com
Holly?? and Holly
Hi again Isabella
I have posted your reply on the web site along with a couple of
editorial inserts (links etc.) typed in red. In attaching the photo's
of the cats I hope I done so correctly ??
I am surprised that the AUZ folks have been able to be so exclusively
Silver < I/- > in their Burmillas - given that the genetic
understanding that Burmese are all golden (although I would
dispute that they all are). I guess there was not a lot of breeding
back to the Burmese - something we place a very high priority
As you may have noticed our foundation Chinchilla Christian , who was
imported from England, had a golden dame. The foundation Breeding using
the North American Chinchilla also produced "goldens", Oprah
was one of them. Holding onto the "silver's" has been difficult
; the reason one of our breeders had to restart, and why we
We now take great care to hold the silver.
Additionally I am most impressed with how tipped your cats are. If our
understanding is correct, that characteristic is also recessive and
very easily lost - again why we have Findus. See our discussions of
what we call Swb versus swb in Genetics of the
American Shorthair. We think a tipped cat is a
combination of Wb/- and swb/swb. We have only bred a few such
cats, and early on did not realise the precariousness of the
Re: your question about <C/C b/b> cats they are very hard to
distinguish from <cbcb B/-> cats. Soliloquay was such a cat and was 2
years old and producing kittens before we were absolutely sure she was
<bb C/->. ( link may not work ). There are two way to check other
that breed verification. - If the cat is solid colour
<a/a> and not smoked, the lack of change in colour on
the ears is good ie is not pointed. The other means of telling is by
looking at the paw pad colour. It helps a lot if you have a
Burmese to compare side by side.
Of course if the cat is tipped the only means of determination is by
the paws. In fact we have seen a cat Odysseus so tipped that we thought
he was Champagne for about 2 years and only when his adult colour come
in where we able to see the real colour along the ridge of the tail.
Your Columbine is one great looking cat. The folks in Ontario are not
partial to longhaired cats, difficult for us to sell, but they do very
well in Quebec. So far the Judges have not shown much favour towards
the tipped cats, shaded ones do a little better. I have no idea how one
would determine the colour of Holly. If you ever breed her to a Burmese
I sure would like to see the outcome. We favour the Morvanka (from AUZ)
Burmese as you may have realised. What are your plans for her?? I
dare not show her photo to Miss Ann.
Re DNA report - -would your results sheet have come with an
explanation? difficult to read without one??
Lovely to hear back from you again. I think you got it right, the
fact that we can retain the silver so well is probably because we don’t
go back to the Burmese in F4. In fact in Aust. we don’t look at the Eu
program at all. Any cat that is Chin x burmese will be foundation
Burmilla SH gen 1 (with restrictions of course ie no pointed genes
allowed, silver only etc, but any colour burmese is ok I think).
But in saying that we in the NSWCFA are no longer allowed to do
foundation matings or backcrossing to the chin or burmese anymore
unless we ask for permission.
So at this stage a lot of us in Sydney anyway are just doing LHB x LHB
matings and most of these LHBs have Australian Tiffanies (75%
chinchilla – eg burmese x chin then x chin again) in the background.
But what we do now is being really selective and only choose cats that
are sleek in the coat to further the program, ie we do no choose
the very fluffy ones and these are usually crucified to the nth degree
on the show bench anyway. I was the first to get the gen 3 in Syd
but most people have also got there now and we are starting to see the
good results from choosing the sleek coat kittens. Recently my good
friend Lyn brought back a few natually occurring LHBs (eg naturally
occuring LHBs from gen 2 chin x burmese matings no Aust Tiff in
backgound) back from Perth. Her friend unfortunately died
from cancer and so Lyn decided to take these cats on. One of the
cat she brought back is a gen 2 black shaded male and it seems
that he is producing really good type kittens for us. Holly is his daughter and I have
used him for
2 matings and I have several great show quality kittens from him. My Columbine is a naturally
from 2 SH parents. She is from Melb (Melborne) and hold some lines that
we don’t have here in Sydney. Judges don’t like her much
here in Aust as she is regarded as a little too pointy in the
face. Also her coat is very light and the judges here
prefers a slightly more filled out cat. Usually they look for a
nice domed head and nice largish ear set. They also prefer a good
distance between the ears. We are also getting extremely
good green eye colour at the moment so that is a very good thing
for us too.
By the way, have you looked into eye colour genetics. Several
years ago I did some studies and found that blue green eye
coloured cats are great to keep as breeders even though their eye
colour may not be 100% correct as these cats can produce more
green eyed colour offsprings when mated to another green eyed cat
or yellow green eyed cat. My Columbine has beautiful aqua green
eyes so I am expecting he offsprings to have great eye
colour. Her son Blu Kaleidscope is 6 months old now and is
already displaying great eye colour. Attached
is his photo he is a very nice cat
Re tipping, this is really important to us. Most of the cats that we
produce now, gen 2 and above, are very very nicely shaded/tipped.
The colour is so even you wont believe it and this is happening
across a number of catteries. I think this has something to do with the
fact that we didn’t go back to burmese and perhaps the Aust Tiff
stock did help… I didn’t personally do any foundation matings but
my friend Tina did and she said that she had so many variants and
very barred cats at the start of the program and they were very
hard to sell. I guess that is probably the reason why they went back to
the chinchilla to consolidate the I gene to get less
variants. Re the codes on the report, here is the link to
decipher it . http://www.catgenes.org/test-results.html
Re Holly, yes it was almost impossible
for us to
tell what colour she was at the beginning. We waited till week 10
and Lyn was still not sure. She only really started to
display colour at week 10 but I was quite adamant when I saw her
that she could be chocolate by her paw pads and eyeliner and that
dirty pink nose was a dead give away too. Lucikly Columbine was
at Lyn’s for a mating at the time and I could pull out Columbine and
had a good look at her paw pads etc with Holly’s side by side
which helped. But because she had so little colour on her
coat at the time I wasnt 100% sure whether she is cb/cb b/b
or C/- b/b but I had a sneaking suspicion that she is C/- as that
chocolate colour was quite deep unlike Columbine’s crisp brown.
We decided to DNA test her in the end and she came back C/C b/b
so I was right J Lyn was happy with that as she knew that I only
wanted to buy a chocolate and not a brown so the DNA test
really gave us confidence. But personally I really prefer
the colour expression of cb/cb b/b as it is just so bright and
crisp. The C/- b/b tends to be deeper and duller. Do you
find that? I saw the pictures of your cats but it is hard for me
to imagine how this could apply to my cats as mine are mainly I
Re SWB and WBs I am still trying to get my head around it. I have
been looking at the coat pattern of the kittens I have produced
with great interest. See this litter http://www.aaralyncattery.com/isabellawong.net/new%20site/burmilla-kittennews2007.html
- in the 27 and 28 feb blog entries you will see pictures of the
little babies. There are 2 kittens in that litter that
displayed very even colour and then there is another one although
lighter in colour displayed a more tabby pattern. I am
wondering whether the Swb or wb gene cause that eveness in
colour?? That very even colour kitten (Simba) is now fully
grown and this is his coat pattern http://www.aaralyncattery.com/isabellawong.net/ISA_9660edit.jpg
still not a single bar in sight :) Blu Kaleidoscope (the
cb/cb B/b) that I sent you the DNA results for is also pretty
even. Attached (linked below)
are his pictures. He is Columbine’s son. I think you will like the look
of him too.
Blu Kaleidscope 3 photos of
Hi again Isa
I do like your Columbine
If you look on our web site Mercuryis the cat
Strathkirk (his sister Meerani came to Horizons)
imported and for us all he sets the Canadian Standard.
Re eyes I have not spent a lot of time with that so anything you have
is most interesting. I suspect that with our views on breeding back to
the Burmese we may well lose some of that quality.
Re: Tipping, have you read the article I have posted on our web
site on that. Genetics of the
American Shorthair genetics 1 page ( not
sure of second link)
I am fairly sure of the conclusions but agree it is a struggle.
Re: Kittens posted. It would seem you are getting the kind of early
pattern display that is talked about in the Chinchilla and this
disappears/is muted as part of the growth of the undercoat. We tend to
not see that - -must stress most of out work is with the shorthair. In
many cases (for us) the tipped colour does not appear until 8-10 weeks
and may still fool us for up to 2 years. - - but again that may
also be due to the fact we are working with a predominance of pointed
In your photos you appear to have some spotted cats!!!?? photos between
tag Feb 18 and feb 9 0 0 Fuji kittens??
That may contribute to colour variations??
I notice also that in the kitten grouping under
1 Mar 2007 that one of the kittens does not display the "Brick"
nose leather (Dark girl??). It is our understanding that the brick nose
is a signal that the cat is agouti ,<A/-> and that a
coloured nose is a <a/a> cat. - - (A general
understanding - that is a "smoke".) This brick nose sometimes
take time to become clear and may not be complete, but we have not
encountered otherwise. Thus the kitty I am speaking of, is
different from it's siblings???.
Robinsons speaks to the sometimes uneven colouring in smokes. I can not
find the exact ref page at this time but we have observed this often as
you can see in our photos.
I can not find any technical ref to the brick nose - -just our
observations - -any thoughts on that?? regards
Thanks for your comments re my website. I am trying very very hard to
document things with photos as a picture speaks a thousand words .
Re Mercury I love his coat. That is exactly what we are all striving
for here. The true semi longhaired coat with not much undercoat.
Columbine and her son Kaleidoscope have very similar coat so I am very
happy. I am trying to replicate this coat by keeping Kaleidoscope as a
stud. Hopefully his babies will be the same.
Re eye colour here is the xls I prepared from years ago. Basically it
goes through the probabilities when you mate cats with different eye
colour. The more “E “s there are the more yellow the eye colour.
So eeeeee will be blue eye colour and EEEEEE will be very dark yellow.
Have a look and see if you could understand it. I didn’t really prepare
it to send it to people so it may be confusing. My conclusion is
basically that a Blue green eye colour cat when mated with a yellow
green eyed colour cat produces the most green tones. So basically
if you have bad eye colour in your cattery you can fix the situation by
introducing a blue green eye colour cat to fix your eye colour. I
started investigating this my when Momo’s eye colour stayed yellow
after he turned 18 months. He is not a breeding cat but I was
just wondering what I could do to fix eye colour if I had to in the
future. I don’t have an issue with eye colour at this stage but
you never know when this sort of info will come in handy.
Columbine has blue green eyes so I am expecting Kaleidoscope to have
brilliant eye colour when he is fully grown J Lucky me. PS I have
locked the data in the worksheet so if you want to post it on the
website or something people cant change the content.
Re the kitten with the black nose. I ve had this question in my mind
for years and I am so happy that there is at least one other person in
the world that is interested in finding out why this happens. I have
seen a few black nose cats the last few years but just cant explain
what is going there. I have another person suggesting to me that black
nose means a/a but that little kitten I have was definitely not smoked
and you can see that in the photos when she was born. http://www.aaralyncattery.com/isabellawong.net/P2190030.jpg
I think i can see slight barring on the tails can you??? I cant tell
which one was the black nose but she was one of the dark ones. My
understanding with smoked is that the hair shaft should be around
¾ coloured but this kitten was quite “white” looking http://www.aaralyncattery.com/isabellawong.net/2kittensthumb.jpg
see middle cat at 12 weeks. So may be there are different degrees of
“smoked “. So may be there are a/a cats that are quite sensitive to the
I inhibitor and thereby may still appear very white, eg may be the
white will go up the hair shaft a lot more thereby blocking the color
more to give it a more shaded look rather than the tradition smoked
look?? If this is true then it can be very helpful in getting rid
of the barring so to speak. I had a really quick look at your ASH page
and it seems that you have some similar findings??? But
another thing I saw in this litter was that the brother to the black
nose kitten also had and still has a really clear coat. He was
born with a very similar coat pattern to the dark nose kitten as you
can see in the pictures but he didn’t have a black nose but a normal
red nose. As I have kept him as stud I had him DNA tested and he
is A/A no question about that.
Re spotting. I must confess that I have not looked into spotting
genetics much but I would say that the kitten you saw that appeared
spotted is just a mackerel tabby with broken lines may be? see here http://www.aaralyncattery.com/isabellawong.net/week1b.jpg
What do you think? You can hardly see the broken lines now and I guess
with longhairs it is very hard to tell. She is one of my queens named
Lotus. See this picture gallery http://www.aaralyncattery.com/isabellawong.net/fujikittenMay2007/index.html
Lotus is the kitten with the pink collar. You will also see a few pics
of the black nose girl, she has the purple collar.
By the way just out of interest, what colour do you think is that pale
little kitten in the following pictures? http://www.aaralyncattery.com/isabellawong.net/col17_5_08d.jpg
PS may be I should post some of this interesting genetics chat on my
website too J
While our web site did not start that way the
and text now tend to be the cattery log/diary. It is often useful for
review when some new genetic understanding comes about and you can
go back and trace it through the lines.
We did not get the xls colour chart for eyes.
Re Black nose I would bet if you tested her she would be non
agouti <a/a>. Thus a "smoke".
It would be my (rather recent) understanding that the variation
in "smoking" is almost continuous from almost no indication of
silver to what you have - -and given the wide banding you
have as in Holly
that would seem reasonable to me. Yes (there
are different degrees of “smoked “) I
I have attached a photo scanned from Gloria Stephen's Legacy of the Cat
- page 59 first edition that was quite a surprise to
me. Sure is a lot of marking for a non agouti cat wouldn't you
There doesn't seem to be a lot of understanding in the worldwide fancy
as to what a smoke truly is, - and when I emailed with Gloria, she
admitted as much.
Re dinky paws Ann and I guess Lilac. all others???
You might find Sekhmet 's
kittens of interest we have put ourself out on the limb here.