Mutation Has Led to a New Type of Cat, Scientists Say

Mutation Has Led to a New Type of Cat, Scientists Say

But will it win best in show?

Cat of a Different Coat

Attention cat fanciers!

A research team has identified a new type of cat which has the typical adorable face and fur pattern of the black and white tuxedo cat, but with a difference: the fur on this feline’s back starts off with a solid color at its base, such as black, and gradually turns white at the tip — all caused by a unique mutation.

The researchers — made up of scientists and animal welfare advocates — revealed this new cat in a study published earlier this month in the journal Animal Genetics and gave its uncommon cat coloring the name salmiak, after a popular salty licorice in Finnish, to invoke the salt and pepper fur of this kitty.

The cat was first noticed back in 2007 in Central Finland, where people spotted local cats with these distinct coats. Besides the particular pattern on its back, the cats tended to have white or almost white tails and their eyes were generally yellow or green.

They also came in different variations with black, brown and tortoiseshell, and were thought to be possibly infertile due to the relatively low incidence of this fur type — until people discovered a salmiak cat give birth to a litter of squealing, melt-in-your-face-cute kittens.

By Tooth and Claw

For the study, the researchers took blood from five of the cats, which had been adopted, and conducted a DNA test on four of the felines, which turned up no genetic mutations associated with white fur.

They then performed a whole genome sequencing for two of the cats, and this step turned up a deletion in what’s called the KIT gene, which can encode whether white will turn up in a feline’s coat (scientists have also connected variations in the KIT gene to piebald patterns in various animals like horses and mice.)

“In summary, comparative data from other species and genotype segregation analysis support the newly discovered KIT region deletion as potentially being a cause of salmiak coat color in cats,” the researchers conclude.

Does this cool genetic research mean that this cat will win an entry in online pedigreed cat registries like The International Cat Association?

Time will tell, but it’s certainly won a place in our hearts.

More on cats: Scientists Discover That Cats Simply Do Not Give a Crap

Mutation Has Led to a New Type of Cat, Scientists Say

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