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Why Do Cats Have Color Points?

by Victoria
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Cats come in all shapes, sizes, and colors! Some cats have some pretty extraordinary coats, with different colors on their paws, ears, face, or even tail. If you’ve ever noticed this on a kitty, then you’ve met a cat with color points.

This unique variation in fur color has many of us cat lovers wondering, why do cats have color points? There are a few answers to this question…

Let’s discover what exactly gives cats these mysterious and beautiful furry features!

why do cats have colorpoints?

What Creates Color Points in Cats?

Just like most cats (and human!) appearances, it all comes down to genes. This is what sets the framework for your kitty’s individuality and gorgeous coat.

Color points evolved through a particular gene that is temperature-sensitive. The gene itself is a form of albinism. This means the gene prevents pigment in a cat’s coat. Yet, this gene’s sensitivity to body temperature makes it pretty much inactive in areas where a kitty’s temperature is too low.

This explains why a cat can have darker-colored fur on their ears, paws, and other places. These extremities are much less warm than, let’s say, a cat’s belly. Interestingly enough, this gene can also be affected by outside temperatures as well.  Cats with the color point gene will have lighter fur in warmer climates and darker fur in cooler climates. Fascinating, right?

It doesn’t stop there – all color point kitties have blue eyes. Blue eyes are also a direct result of the color point gene and its albino nature!

why do cats have color points?

Which Cats Have Color Points?

Color points aren’t super common. This coloration exists in a handful of breeds – two are actually quite closely related to one another…

Siamese

This is the first known breed to have color points. Many adore Siamese cats for their distinct, dark-colored faces, paws, tails, and ears. The contrast in a Siamese’s fur color is a purr-fect example of the colorpoint gene.

What is truly fascinating about a Siamese’s color points is their evolution. Siamese kittens are born all white, with not a single sign of pigment. That’s because a mama cat’s womb is super warm, preventing the colorpoint gene from activating. Once the kittens are born and begin to grow, their points begin to show.

Not all Siamese cats develop the same color points. These cats have multiple color variations that are all genetically identical. There are four in particular that are recognized by the CFA (Cat Fanciers Association.) These are seal point, chocolate point, blue point, and lilac point.

Seal point Siamese cats receive their name for the seal-brown color of their color points. Their cream-colored bodies make for a beautiful contrast in their coat. Chocolate point Siamese cats have a very similar look, but with ivory bodies and, you guessed it, chocolate-colored points! The points on this kitty evolve much more gradually than a seal point Siamese’s color points.

While there aren’t any bright purple or blue kitties walking around, blue and lilac color points still make for some unique coats. Blue color points are loved for their almost silvery points. Their bluish-colored bodies only make their color points stand out even more. Lilac points have a lot lighter fur. Their combination of grayish-pink and cinnamon-pink points make for a pretty kitty to look at!

Himalayan

It comes as no surprise that a Siamese descendant has color points, too. The Himalayan has stunning eyes and a remarkable coat just like its Siamese mama. In fact, Himmies have around 20 color points of their very own!

Himalayan cats share many of the same color points as Siamese, like seal point and blue point. Many especially adore tortie point Himalayans. These rare cats do not have solid points – rather, they have an almost tortoise shell-like pattern on their points. You can find this cool color point in Siamese cats as well.

color point cats

Other Notable Breeds

Siamese isn’t the only cat breed carrying on the colorpoint gene.  There are over 10 breeds with color points. The Balinese is one of the most popular. This cat is super similar to Siamese in its colors, but with a much longer coat. There are also cats with much less obvious color points. Burmese cats, for example, have more dark coats. That’s because their color point gene is much less temperature-sensitive.  But, that doesn’t change the fact that they are color point kitties.

It’s pretty fascinating how cats can have coats of all different shades and colors. If someone you know has a cat with color points, share this article with them – they may be fascinated by what they’ll learn about their kitty’s mighty coat!

why do cats have colorpoints?

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