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  What the himalayan cat is...
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What the himalayan cat is...

Himalayan cat is an American name of longhaired Color-points, that is Persian cat with Siamese coloring. Indeed, Himalayans were bred in USA (parallel with longhaired Color-points in England) in 50ths by mating Persian cats with Siamese and subsequent selection of Persian exterior. That selection leaded to appearance of longhaired cats of Persian type with Siamese coloring gene. The scientific name for the gene is Himalayan gene, as long as for the first time it was studied in so-called Himalayan breed of rabbits that is remarkable for dark color of projecting regions of body - muzzle, ears, tail, paws - and for a light color of all the rest. By the beginning of 60ths Himalayan cats were recognized by the main associations of cat-fanciers as an original breed, independent of Persian one. In 1984 considering a total closing in types of exterior of Himalayan and Persian cats, the biggest and most popular association of USA (Cat Fancier's Association) CFA,have joined Himalayan and Persian breeds, giving Himalayans the state of a "sub breed". In Europe longhaired Color-points have never been separated as an original breed.

What the Himalayan gene is and what is the mechanism of color development that is typical for carriers of Siamese coloring? The color of hair, skin and eyes in all animals as well as cats is determined by a polymeric pigment. This is the very pigment that is synthesized in our skin while taking sunbaths and that makes skin of Africans be dark-brown and black. Himalayan gene comes from alternation of an original gene. Enzyme doesn't disappear entirely but becomes a heat-sensitive: it is active and produces pigment under low temperatures, and is inactive under high temperatures. From here comes the Siamese effect: pigment is produced on projecting regions of body where the temperature is lower and scarcely produced on the rest parts.

The coloring of hair on projecting regions of body may vary depending on mutations in other genes. The wild type with original, non-modified coloring genes is striped or tabby coloring. A cat of such a "wild" type, carrying a Himalayan gene is considered to be a "lynx-point" ("tabby-point"), that is it has striped - "lynx" pattern on projecting parts of body. The striped pattern disappears owing to alternation in aguthy gene and its' transformation into inactive non-aguthy gene. If an animal possesses a couple of non-aguthy genes, it becomes solid-colored or black. A black cat with a pair of Himalayan genes actually has a "seal-point" coloring, that is its' hair on projecting regions of body is dark-brown, or "seal"-colored. Why not black? Because enzyme in "Himalayans" in projecting parts of body works less actively then in non-Himalayans and produces fewer pigment that provide a brown tint.

In animals that carry Orange gene, instead of true pigment its' relative of orange color is produced. Hairs become red. The presence of orange gene along with Himalayan gene leads to a so-called "flame-point" coloring ("red-point"): projecting parts are fiery red. Males always have orange gene unpaired, which alone defies the red color of hair on projecting regions of body. However as for females, two different situations are possible: animals with pair of genes have red hair on projecting regions of body solely, and females with a single Orange gene demonstrate so-called tortoise color - "tortoi-point": red-colored regions of hair alternate with seal-colored regions.

"Seal-point" color prevails among Himalayans. Less widespread colors are "lynx-point" ("tabby-point"), "flame-point" ("red-point"), and tortoi-point". "Blue-point", "cream-point", "blue-cream-point" and especially "chocolate-point" appear to be among rare colorings and, hence, are more elegant and precious.

The most rare and exquisite combination, especially valuable among experts, is the "lilac-point" Himalayan with a soft blue-pink (lilac) color of hair on projecting regions of body. This requires a presence of a pair of Himalayan genes, pair of chocolate genes and a pair of blue genes, and a pair of non-aguthy genes of cause. It is very hard to keep such a combination of mutant genes in generations and, as a matter of fact, a special nursery on chocolate and lilac cats is needed.

Holders are interested in a maximum variety of colorings in litters of their cats. In terms of this one should pay attention to tortoise-colored Himalayans - "tortoi-point" and " blue-cream-point". In fact, they represent two colors in a single animal. As if there're two cats in one! That's why, for example, tortoise female cat and "seal-point" male cat may give birth to kittens of following colorings: "blue-point", "flame-point" (male kittens), "cream-point" (male kittens), "tortoi-point" (female kittens) and "blue-cream-point"

The main thing for Himalayan cats breeding is a high quality of male sire-cats and female cats. At that one should consider extrinsic, exhibiting parameters of a animal, as well as its' pedigree.

The notion "strong pedigree" means that a number of generations have demonstrated a high quality and so the required characteristics are strongly bounded in genotype. Only such animals with strongly bounded characteristics will regularly give birth to proper kittens. In this connection, the origin of animal (from which nursery) is very important. Several of the best nurseries of USA that give best quality lines of Himalayans should be mentioned: "Demiare", "Cacao", "Prince Puss", "Rainy Day", "Whisperhood", "Full Moon" etc. Some classical American nurseries being the source of high quality Himalayans are also worth mentioning: "Madam Nu", "West Point", "Tezores", "Twinshire", "T-Renn", "Cactus Way" and others. There're many small nurseries using the best grand-champion lines of Himalayans from big nurseries and farms. The first nursery "Stachys" specializing in Himalayans and using American grand-champion lines: "Demiare", "Desiderata", "Kittencat", "Tezores", "Twinshire", "West Point" - have been created in Russia. Recently some holders in Moscow have acquired wonderful specimen of Himalayans from "Prince Puss", "T-Renn" and other nurseries of USA. Thus we have got a tribal base and may hope that in the presence of proper cooperation of holders and correct approach to breeding Russia will get its' own lines of high class Himalayans.

A.Spirin, Doctor of Biology Sciences, member of the Academy.

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