Himalayan Coat Patterns

The Himalayan cat breed comes in a varitey of coat patterns and colors.

By Carolyn Osier

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Himalayan Coat Pattern

Chocolate-point Himalayan cat
Himalayan cats are considered a pattern of Persian in some cat fancier associations and a separate breed in others. It originated in the 1940s and '50s with separate crosses (carried out in different countries) between Persians and Siamese. The goal was to create a cat with the body of a Persian and the pointed (or Himalayan) color pattern. Since this pattern is recessive to full color, when the Himalayans are bred to Persians of other colors, many cats are created that carry the potential to produce pointed cats. Cats such as these are called CPCs (for color point carriers). When two cats carrying such a recessive potential are bred together, the offspring may be pointed. Two pointed cats bred together will only produce points.

Since the breed/color has been established for 50 years, there's no longer any need to repeat the outcross breeding to Siamese and none is allowed. The Himalayan pattern is heat-sensitive, so the fullest expression of color is on the cooler parts of the cat's body: face, ears, legs and tail. All such cats are born white because they're subject to the mother's internal body temperature before birth. After several weeks they begin to show “points” of color on the extremities. As the cat ages, it will darken on the body as circulation becomes less efficient. The ideal Himalayan, however, maintains a clear body color, providing great contrast with the points.

Tied to the pointed pattern is blue eye color. Unlike the blue-eyed cat that owes its color to white spotting, Himalayan patterned cats are not deaf. It has been difficult to obtain the degree of intense color in the blue eyes that other Persians have in the copper and green eyes. One of the reasons the Himalayan is so popular is that it is easier to groom. The coat is generally less fragile than that of other Persians and much less prone to matting. The undercoat is less dense and the outer coat more coarse. Unlike some of the other colors, the kitten coat does not substantially change the look of the color. The contrast between the body and point color is greatest in the kitten and young adult. Some of the point colors reach perfection earlier than others, but all should be clearly defined and even in color.

Chocolate Point: This is one of the most difficult point colors to produce. The body is clear ivory; the points are a warm milk-chocolate. The facial mask tends to be incomplete or to create goggles around the eyes. Because the cat will often sit with the front paws tucked under its warm body, they tend to be a lighter color than the other points.

Seal Point: Deep seal-brown points should provide clear contrast with the pale fawn body color. The stomach and chest may be even lighter in color than the back. “Fever ticking” will be most visible in this point color because it is the darkest. This occurs when the cat runs a higher-than-normal body temperature for any reason. Hairs in the mask especially will be damaged and grow in white, creating a speckled or ticked effect. They will eventually be replaced with normally colored hair.

Lilac Point: The body color for this cat should be glacial white with no shading. The points are a frosty gray warmed with pink tones.

Blue Point: Blue points should be in high contrast to the bluish white body which shades to white on the stomach. Flame (Red) Point: This color is very late to mature. The body is creamy white. Mature point color should be deep orange to deep red. Often, cats are several years old before the color is fully in.

Cream Point: The dilute of red, the points of this cat should be buff cream on a creamy white body. They will also be very late to develop.

Tortie Point, Blue-Cream Point, Chocolate-Tortie Point and Lilac-Cream Point: The body color of these cats should correspond to the most prominent color of the parti-color points, with only subtle shading allowed. The points must show unbrindled patches of both colors.

Seal Lynx Point, Blue Lynx Point, Flame Lynx Point, Cream Lynx Point, Tortie Lynx Point, Blue-Cream Lynx Point, Chocolate Lynx Point, Lilac Lynx Point, Chocolate-Tortie Lynx Point and Lilac-Cream Lynx Point: These are basically tabby pointed cats. Once again, the body color should correspond to the basic color in the points. The points themselves should have clearly defined markings, including the tabby “M” on the forehead and barring on the legs and tail. The overriding influence of the tabby pattern makes it particularly difficult to produce clear body color.

Carolyn Osier, Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) Allbreed judge, has bred Persians, Exotics and numerous shorthaired breeds under the Wil-o-glen cattery name for over 35 years.
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