The genetics of the Khao Manee involves a different gene, Dominant white (W). This gene is dominant to all other genes that have been discussed thus far. That is to say W > w, C, cb, cs, B, b, D, d therefore a khao manee is hiding many different colors and patterns under the white coat. For this reason sometimes the W gene is referred to as the white masking gene.
Occasionally non-white Khao Manee cats are born from two Khao Manee parents. This is because both parents are Ww. Both parents are hiding the non-white (w) gene, therefore 25% of the kittens could be non-white. The color of these non-white kittens can be any color or pattern.
The Konja is a solid (C) Black cat (B) which is not diluted (D). The Konja is a very common cat found on the streets and temples of Thailand because the phenotype is composed of three dominant genes, C, B and D, allowing the recessive genes cs, cb, b and d to 'hide'. Related to the Konja is the Suphalak, a solid (C) brown cat (b) which is not diluted (D). Despite having 6 different genotypes the suphalak is a rare cat in thailand. In a natural breeding setting the combination of two recessive brown genes (bb) from both mother and father is a rare event.
The Korat cat does not show points, therefore expresses the solid color (C) gene. Genetically, a Korat cat is a black cat (B), but because a korat is dilute (dd) the black color is diluted to a grey, or blue color. What becomes more confusing is when a Korat cat hides the recessive genes brown (b) or the siamese (cs) / burmese (cb) genes.
In Thailand and abroad, only the solid grey cat is considered a Korat, whereas the lilac and blue point variations are called Thai Lilac and Thai Blue Point. The Thai Lilac is a rare genotype, in which the cat is genetically brown (bb), but because this color is diluted (dd) the coat color appears to be more of a lilac color.
More controversial are the grey, or Thai blue points. These cats do not have a solid coat (C), instead they show points. Where are the points coming from? Lets take for example a Korat Father (BB Ccs dd) and a Korat Mother (BB Ccs dd). Both the parents are hiding the recessive siamese gene (cs); therefore, 25% of the kittens would be a Thai Blue Point (BB cscs dd).
However the genotype (BB cscs dd) is exactly the same as a Blue Pointed Siamese cat. Is the kitten a Siamese or a Thai blue point? It is also possible for Blue Pointed Burmese, and Tonkinese cats to be born. Other cat associations classify these as different breeds. TIMBA believes Korat, Thai Burmese, Thai Tonkinese, and Wichienmaat are in fact the same breed, Maew Boran. Maew Boran is a natural breed, that comes in different colors. If you would like to read more about Maew Boran, and Natural breeds you can continue reading about Maew Boran - A Natural Breed Here.
This article is intended for a general audience, therefore some concepts have been overly simplified.
There are three important genes for color, Black (B), Brown (b) and Light Brown (b'). Light Brown is rare, and to our knowledge this gene has not been identified in cats from Thailand and therefore will not be discussed.
What are Dominant and Recessive genes?
A dominant gene, is a gene that dominates over a recessive gene. Dominant genes are strong, whereas recessive genes can hide.
Dominant Genes : B, C, D W
Recessive Genes : b, b', d, w ( Note: b is dominant to b' )
In the case of cs and cb these are said to be Co-Dominant, meaning they mix together equally.
Genotype : The genetic makeup of the cat, when we talk about B, C, cb, etc. we are talking about the genotype
Phenotype : This is what we see, the physical appearance of the cat
Today is a new day when it comes to breeding the Natural Breeds.
In the first instance, those people working to preserve the Natural Breeds, outside their natural range, have the opportunity to import them directly from their native lands. This is big news. When breeds like the Siamese and Burmese were first established, the founding cats came from Thailand by boat, a long and arduous journey that few people were willing to make. Previously getting them to the west was just too difficult. Breeders had no choice but to breed mothers to sons and fathers to daughters because they had no access to new blood. With the ease and convenience of air travel new cats can be imported when new diversity and colors are needed.
The cats native to Thailand, Maew Boran, are now imported readily and easily. In addition, science now makes breeding healthy Natural Breed of cats easier. The world renown cat researcher, Dr.Leslie Lyons, and her associates, have created genetic tests that reveal that nature of the Natural Cat Breeds.
This has two incredible results. First of all, breeders can use this genetic testing to understand the nature of the Natural Breeds. The ability to test the cats genetically allows us to understand them on a fundamental level.
Knowing information like this allows breeders of a Natural Breed the opportunity to do a better job at breeding. It allows breeders the opportunity to keep the Natural Breed healthy outside their native range while maintaining the desired colors.
Old school breeders did the best they could, using experience and a lot of guess work, to produce healthy cats. Genetic testing takes much of the guess work out of a breeding plan and makes it a lot easier to maintain the integrity of a Natural Breed.
TIMBA recommends the non-profit UC Davis Veterinary Genetics Laboratory for all genetic testing. Research over the last decade conducted by Dr. Leslie Lyons and her colleagues has lead to the discovery of many genes associated with both color and diseases in Thai cats. The majority of the ‘Profit’ at UC Davis VGL is reinvested into feline research to identify new genes and develop genetic tests.
There are several other Laboratories around the world offering color coat testing. Dr. Leslie Lyons has provided a list and guide when selecting a laboratory for your genetic testing which can be found here.
Once a breeder has genetic knowledge of their cats, what does it mean? How can this logically be used in a breeding program?
Genetics, it sounds complicated but it does not have to be. Continue reading for a comprehensive, easy to understand guide explaining the genetics of thai cats.