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The Chinchilla

United Chinchilla Association

The Chinchilla, as a founder member of the GCCF, is one of our oldest breeds. Like all the siver group which includes Smoke, silver Tabby, Pewter & Cameo, they are complex, difficult to breed, show and judge correctly.

Chinchillas are a combination of genes working together to produce an overall effect. The first gene is the tabby gene (or agouti) The second gene is called the "inhibitor gene" which inhibits the pigmentation from the hair shaft from the roots. The final gene or set of genes, actually is what sets the silvers and Goldens apart and makes them so unique. These are termed "wide banded poly genes". All three of these genes are dominant so they can not be carried or hidden. The poly gene can have "variable penetrance", this is what causes the range of silver colours from the Shaded Silver to the pale Chinchilla. When the cats were being evolved over a hundred years ago, they were heavily striped and very dark.Breeders have worked hard over the years to clear the coat, and it was not until the 30's that the white looking Chinchilla appeared. With the work of dedicated breeders the tipping almost disapeared. It was then that the preference for the pale coats was built and strived for in the Chinchilla breeders.

The pigmentation is an important characteristic of the Chinchilla, and should be black or seal brown. That includes the eye rims, feet pads and nose line.The standard asks for the nose leather to be brick red, but the leather is tied up with the pigmentation and often cats with pale pigmentation can also have a pale nose leather. The brick red nose leather with dark pigmentation , on a pale coated Chinchilla is a beautiful sight but can be hard to achieve through generations.

Eye colour is a hereditary factor and parents with good eye colour usually pass it on to their off spring. The eye colour can be either emerald or blue-green (aqua marine). Two tone eye colours have appeared in some kittens from recent imports and can take a long time, if ever, to clear.

Through out the history of the Chinchilla breeders have worked hard to improve type. Maintaining the bone and stamina has always been a problem of a pure bred cat. Although Chinchillas are referred to as "ethereal" and have a beauty of their own, it does not mean a Chinchilla should be tiny. They should have strong bone with the firm stocky body of the Persian cat but however, allowed to be a little finner and and a little smaller than the other Persians, particularly females.

The Shaded Silver

The Golden

United Chinchilla association
United Chinchilla Association

The Shaded Silver is similar in appearance to the much lighter Chinchilla Persian but having black shading from the back to flanks a third of the complete hair shaft, much denser and giving a much darker appearence. The face and top side of the tail must be tipped and the legs to be the same tone as the face. The hair on the foot pads to the hock may be shaded to black. The pigmentation should be the same as the Chinchilla and with the eyes emerald or blue-green in colour.

In the United States, the Shaded Silver is a highly recognised, very popular breed at Championship status and is common on the show bench. Unfortunately in the UK there have not been enough dedicated breeders willing to push the Shaded Silver through the Merit system and they have been years at preliminary status.

Eventually in 2011 the GCCF allowed the Shaded Silver to be shown in the open classes along side the Chinchilla at Championship status. Hopefully, if the numbers increase on the show bench the Chinchilla and the Shaded Silver will eventually be able to compete in seperate classes, as they do abroad.

It took some time for the Golden's to become accepted in the Fancy by orthodox Chinchilla breeders, although they had appeared in Chinchilla litters, albeit infrequently, since the 1920's. Little was heard of the sable/golden between the 1920's and the 1970's as this colour was considered to have developed from an impurity in Chinchilla breeding. No doubt breeders selected for silver over the years, minimising the possibility of golden. However these kittens would have occured occasionally as the "golden gene" is a recessive gene and can travel across the generations completly hidden, only to pop up when least expected. We talk rather loosely about the "golden gene" but in fact what makes a Golden golden, is a lack of the gene that makes a Chinchilla silver. The inhibitor gene is found in all cats with white undercoats and as its name suggests, inhibits the formation of pigment in the hair shaft from the root. It is a dominant gene characterised by the letter I, and in in its recessive form is written as i. All silver and golden cats have two inhibitor genes, one from each parent. The Chinchilla cat that inherits a dominant gene from each parent is II. It is homozygous and no matter how many times it is mated to a Golden, it will never produce Golden offspring. (ie it breeds true). However, if a Chinchilla's inhibitor genes are Ii, it will be silver because one gene is dominant, but it will be a Golden carrier (heterozygous)

By the mid 70's in America and Europe, the Golden Persian was considered a bonus when it popped up in Chinchilla litters and was treasured and actively encouraged and bred from, so that during the 70's it achieved full Championship status in these places. Championship was granted to the Golden in the UK in 1989.

The coat colour of a Golden can be of any shade of gold, but the brighter the better and it should be sound to the roots. A mantle of tipping covers the entire body, but it should not mask the golden colour underneath.As with the Chinchilla and Shaded Silver, the tipping on the Golden's coat should be as even as possible (although it may be heavier) so that the gold shows through as the coat flows with its adult length. The eye colour should be the same as for the Chichilla and Shaded Silver. So, the mature Golden Persian with its blue-green eyes, brick red nose and golden coat is a cat to be admired.

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