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OUTCROSS PROJECT

Increasing diversity in the Modern Balinese/Oriental Longhair

 

The Siamese is one of the oldest breeds of cat. Some of the first ones in America were direct Thai imports, and some were Established lines from the UK from Thai imports. It was said the breed was long-lived. During the 60s,70s, and 80s, the Orietnal was in development. Some of the breeds used were American Shorthair, Persian, Aby, Turkish Angora, Domestic Shorthair, and others. Heavy linebreeding on popular cats soon bottle-necked the population.


The Median Heterozygous (how diverse they are) of purebred cats is 34%. Our breed group (Siamese, Oriental, Balinese) average is 24-28% and is one of the least diverse groups of cats. 

This causes problems because a breeder cannot look to their own breed to find truly fresh blood. Lower Diversity can lead to a poor immune system, inflammation issues, and more problems. 


Many breeders are trying to work on expanding their gene pools but it is not easy. politics, geography and other reasons can prevent a breeder from accessing the lines they might need.

Is this allowed in TICA?

Yes, this is allowed in TICA. The F1 outcross must be bred back to the parent breed for at least 3 more generations (total=4) to be registed as SBV. It is not allowed in CFA. Some Registries in Europe allows for Outcrossing, however, the rules are much stricter. 

So what are we doing for our project and why?

I wanted something that was a diverse breed, that had a low likelihood of being already in the genepool. I needed something that had a history of a good reliable personality, robust, and had the longhair gene. When I had the opportunity to add Chernobog, the outcross project was born.


Chernobog’s paternal line comes from the Ukrainian Altai cats. The Altai gene was found in several parts of Russia and the Ukraine as local street cats. His maternal line consists of non-Siamese breed group cats and American Domestics. While he is considered a Domestic Shorthair (mixed) he is from a carefully tended, diverse, and DNA-tested program. He has a wonderful, friendly temperament, and has been an easy keeper with no inflammation issues. 


Why Dominate Blue eyes (DBE)? Why not a regular Domestic Shorthair?


A lot of breeds are using these cats for outcrossing. Some lines, such as the shaded British Shorthair, have claimed the gene exists in their genepool and is not the same lines as the Altai. 

While some breeders are only interested in color,  this was not the only factor in the choice to use Chernobog. 


TICA accepts outcrossing and the cat must be 4 generations away from the mating to be registered in the studbook. This means there will be many kittens born who cannot be registered or shown outside of the HHP class. This puts them at a disadvantage as they will be harder to place in homes. The candid facts are that people value mixed breed cats much less unless they are somehow unique and extremely personable. We want to improve our breed, but not at the expense of the kittens. If 10 years of rescuing cats taught me anything, it was that Domestic Shorthairs have a difficult time finding homes, and the “plain” ones may never find homes.  


The problem with Domestics sourced from the community is they can have genetic disorders, be genetically shy in temperament, have illness/parasites, and unknown family history. It can be difficult to find intact cats who were raised indoors due to the high push to spay/neuter pet cats. Yes, they can be diverse (not all are, though) however, that comes at the expense of not knowing what you're putting into your lines when it comes to temperament and genetic disorders. 


For those unfamiliar with the Siamese breed group, they might think the only thing that makes them special is their looks, and this is not the only thing. Siamese breed group cats are special because of their personality/temperament. They make excellent mothers, gentle studs who often do not spray, and just get along with other cats much better than most breeds. They bond to their caregivers, play fetch, sing to them, and are just plain smart. I believe these traits need to be preserved, as they are essential to the future of the indoor cat. Cats who cannot get along indoors with others and who are not as personable are at risk for behavioral problems that land them in a shelter or worse, on the street.


Why not another breed outside the Siamese breed group? Why not use Old Style Siamese, Thai, Havana Brown etc? 


 We still plan to use other breeds, but only those who are unlikely to be present in the genepool. Since the invention of the Oriental, many other purebreds were used to create the breed from the Siamese. We also want to avoid any of the breeds currently being used by other Siamese Breed group breeders such as Maine Coon, Siberian, Turkish Angora, Japanese Bobtail, Russian Blue,  American Shorthair, Havana Brown, Thai, and Old Style Siamese/Balinese. These are all wonderful and viable choices and I hope to use some of these lines in the future. One outcross will not be enough to save our breed. 


Isn't there risk working with an unknown color gene? What about the Ojos Azules? What about that Blue eye silver Oriental line that died out? What about the Topaz breed that has produced deaf cats/cats with face deformities? 


Of course there is a risk. We currently don't have much testing on the DBE gene YET. Many breeders in Russia and the Ukraine have been working with this gene long before it was well known in the USA. A full history can be found on Sarahs website MessyBeast (thank you Sarah, we appreciate you work)


It is generally accepted that one should not breed DBE X DBE, as this not only produces a lot of white, it can produce deafness, much like Blue-eye’d White cats we know of today. Structural deformities have been seen in the Homozygous Topaz breed, but it is unknown if this is solely due to the DBE gene, or the other breeds that were used to develop the rounded head of the Topaz. I have reached out to the breeder of the Topaz to inquire which breeds were used other than the DBE cats, but have not gotten an answer. 


Ojos Azules  was a blue eye breed that originated in New Mexico from a stray tortie called Cornflower. The breed has since gone extinct, and is believed to be a separate gene from the Altai gene. 


Yes, I have seen Synergy catteries Blue eye Silvers from many years ago. Synergy is a geneticist, friend and mentor whom I have discussed this at length with. While she does not agree with my choice to use this gene, we have discussed what precautions i should take and what things i should look out for. I value her input, the input of those who disagree with me, and the input of other breeders who have successfully used this gene in their breeds. I plan on DNA testing these cats and saving DNA swabs in case new tests become available.  More info on the Blue eye Synergy cats be found here


Using the KLM database maintained by Kris Wilson (thank you Kris, your database is an invaluable tool to our breed) I have studied the Blue eye Silver Synergy line and have traced most of them back to Catteries such a Scintilla, Petmark and Felitan. These catteries obtained silver/Dom White with a few matings, but the most common was from a Dom White masking Silver-bicolor American Shorthair X Siamese mating. A few came from an Australian import that was a Shaded Persian X Siamese mating, and a few from other Silver American and British Shorthairs from the UK. Unfortunately, I also discovered that many of the catteries listed above very much linebred their silvers/whites before they got sprinkled to other places such as Synergy. It is my belief that this line breeding is what was the root cause of the Blue eye Silver line not being very robust, and not necessarily because of the color itself. I also find it unlikely that this is the same gene, as we have seen it come up in Silver Shaded lines in the British Shorthair without any input from Altai.  


What will the kittens be like? Are they hypoallergenic?


 It is unknown what the kittens will be like, but if they are anything like their parents, they will be friendly and good with other cats. Some will have blue eyes, and some will not. It is unknown if they will be less triggering to allergies, and we do not sell any cat as “hypoallergenic” All pet kittens will be spayed/neutered and come with the standard contracts. The only difference is they will NOT come with TICA/CFA registration papers and they cannot be shown as purebreds. They can, however, be shown in the “HHP” class. The current F1 litter is all reserved but we have plans for more in the future.