Copyright Information:  Owned by Roy Robinson and Cat World expires in the US 70 years from May 1973.  Be cautioned that there are some additional people claiming this copyright belongs to them since they have republished a book, Genetics For Cat Breeders and Veterinarians, which they believe gives them copyright ownership over everything Robinson published even though they were not involved with the research or publication and nor does their name appear on the initial work. Contacts claiming ownership over this are:  Lorraine Shelton, John McGonagle and Carolyn McGonagle.
Research Notes:  It was discussion over this article which prompted the formation for this research project.  The content of the article itself is of historical value only and is available only from an out of print magazine (and out of business magazine).  As our world becomes more and more information based, the ownership of knowledge and information becomes significantly more valuable.  The above copyright information hints at such value as we see people who have no relation to a piece of work attempt to claim ownership of it at a later point in time assuming that a derivative work of another publication entitles them to copyright ownership of all work done by the person who developed the original publication.  Genetics for Cat Breeders and Veterinarians is a derivative work of Genetics for Cat Breeders -- note Robinson wrote the article and the original book. McGonagle/McGonagle/Shelton updated and retitled the book more than 25 years later and consequently claim that they own the copyright to an article of a different title published through a different publisher and which does not bear their name.  Differences between this version and the original article are minimal -- primarily colour and spacing have been added at this point (Jan 2000). NEED LINKS TO INFO ON TJEBBES AND TODD.

Standard Gene Symbols For The Cat
Roy Robinson

Over the last few years there has been an upsurge of interest in the genetics of the cat.  One result has been the formation of a committee to review the use of symbols for genes and to recommend a uniform notation.

The task the committee set itself was threefold--to examine the various symbols which have been utilized to denote the genes and to ensure that the symbols do not conflict with those in general use in mammalian genetics.  Finally, to recommend a standard set of symbols for use henceforth.  This has been accomplished and a report has been published in the Journal of Heredity (Vol. 59, pp. 39-40, 1968).

The recommended symbols are given in the accompanying table.  Few changes have had to be made and the most important are probably the following:

  • The symbol y has been previously used for the yellow sex linked gene whereas O is recommended.  The reason is that the symbol y contravenes the rule that genes with a heterozygous expression should be given a capital letter.  A capital Y is clearly unsuitable because of confusion with the Y chromosome.  The designation O had already been employed by Komai as an alternative symbol for the gene and is now adopted as the standard.

  • The tabby alleles have been variously symbolized in the past.  The recommended symbols are now Ta, t+, and tb for the Abyssinian, striped and blotched tabby respectively.  Unfortunately the second symbol cannot easily be shown with some typewriters; in these cases it is legitimate to use a plain capital T.  Though, strictly speaking, striped should be used, mackerel could be employed for one of the tabbies designation as this description is perhaps more well-known in the fancy.  The designation of Abyssinian replaces the former "lined" since it is considered that the new description is more apt.  Most people are familiar with the Abyssinian tabby as represented not so much by the exhibition animal but the form with narrow striped on the limbs.

  • The gene for complete albinism (pink eyes and white coat) is listed as provisional because no breeding data have been published, but there is good reason to suppose that such animals have been seen in the past.

  • The gene for dominant black discovered by Tjebbes is listed as provisional because the gene has not been definitely observed since Tjebbes report of 1924.

  • A gene producing ruby, reddish or pink eyes combined with a bluish fawn coat color is known in many animals but not in the cat until very recently.  In 1962 Todd discovered a cat of this general description but the animal died before leaving viable young.  Thus this mutant color is a decided possibility and a careful watch should be kept for a recurrence.  As yet this gene has not been formally symbolized although the symbol p is held in reserve for it.

  • Since the report was sent for publication several other genes and breeding results have come to hand.  The new genes are Fd for folded ear carriage; hy for a bloated head anomaly; Wh for wirehair coat; ro for Oregon rex; and I for inhibition of hair melanin.  The existence of the gene cch for silver is now suspect and the phenotype thought to be due to cch now seems due to gene I.

  • Crosses between Cornish rex and German rex have revealed that these are due to identical mutations.  Hence the symbol rg for German rex which had been provisionally proposed by the committee should now be ignored. 

Symbol Designation
a non-agouti
(At) ataxia
b brown
(cch) silver
cb Burmese
cs Siamese
(c) albino
d blue dilution
(Db) Dominant black
dp duplicated pinnae
Fd Folded ears
hy hydrocephalus
h hairlessness
I melanin inhibitor
l longhair
M Manx
n nepetalactone insensitivity
O Orange (sex-linked)
(p) Pink eyed dilute
Pd polydactylia
r Cornish rex
re Devon rex
ro Oregon rex
S piebald white spotting
Sh Split hand
Ta Abyssinian tabby
t+ striped tabby
tb blotched tabby
W dominant white
Wh Wirehair
Note: Symbols in brackets indicate symbols which are accepted on a provisional basis