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Eli the Oriental kitten - Photo Marc Henrie

Everything you need to know about genetics you can learn from your cat ...

So says Dr Leslie Lyons (School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California) and a few months ago we were chatting about how you might try and show this visually. One idea we both really liked was to show a series of cats all with the gene for Blue colouring (ie. the same gene in all the cats) but with wildly different body types. So this Saturday with the expert help of Marc and Fiona Henrie (who are known to most of the 'cat world' as THE leading animal photographers) this is what we tried to do!

Many thanks to Audrey Newsome and Chris Wood for allowing us to set up and do this (in the judges room!) at the Eastern Counties Cat show - to get this many Blue cats together outside of a show would have been really tricky. I didn't know exactly which Blue cats to expect - I felt pretty sure we would get British and Russian Blues of course but on the day the range exceeded my expectations. I was very surprised to find a Blue Sphynx (hairless cat for the non feline-o-philes) who made a wonderful comparison to a pale Blue persian and the dark Orientals.

In the end we photographed the following lovely cats, I'm really grateful to all their patient owners for working with us:

Tricia Palmer lent us 'Alfie' (Tishkabar Avalon) her British Blue,
Janet Hirst lent us 'Eli' (Toghar Once in A Blue Moon) a very cute Oriental kitten,
Fran Armitage lent us her wonerful adult Oriental 'Spockie' (GR CH Chapelrose Ohmeohmy),
June Davey lent us 'Polly' (Palchinno Pineapple Poll) her pretty Persian,
Claire Bandy lent us Phoebe (CH Troika La Bayadere) the Russian Blue,
and Yvette & Steven Wilson lent us their amazing Blue Sphynx 'Kuzma' (Kuzma Katzakiora Grand Sphynx IMP)! 

Of course we photographed each cat separately - now the job is to join them all together ... the image is going to be shown in the window of the Wellcome Trust later in the year as part of an ongoing exhibition called What If curated by Tony Dunne and Fiona Raby. Fiona came along to help on Saturday - it was her first cat show so she was in at the deep end! It was also part of our on-going research for a new documentary focussing on the world of cat breeding.

 

Anthony Nichols
who bought the first La Perm into the UK

Anthony, Siouxsie & the 'La Perms'

As some of you might know (!) cats are close to the 'Somewhere' shared heart and for some months we have been trying to work on a new film looking into cat breeders and their in depth knowledge of feline genetics. We have done some shooting at different cat shows but this week it's crunch time with the deadline for the terrifyingly titled Sheffield 'Meet Market' looming.

So I will be forever grateful to Anthony Nichols (and his La Perm cats) for spending his Sunday letting me grill him on film about all the ins and outs of cat breeding and busting some commonly held cat genetics myths ...

All ginger cats are toms - not, it turns out, true
All white cats are deaf - not, it turns out, true

Only white cats can have blue eyes ... almost true.

Rather conveniently one of Anthony's cats has different coloured eyes, a good find when you're trying to show something about genetics in a visual way!