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Siamese Color Points Explained

Siamese coat color is responsive to temperature.

A cat's coat coloring has to do with genetics, just like a person's hair color. The same is true about the darker color points of a Siamese cat, but the genetics involved there are a bit more interesting.

Siamese Cats Have Fur That Changes Color in Relation to Heat

Siamese cats' coat color is super interesting. It is light unless the cat's temperature drops; then it darkens.

All Siamese cats have a gene that makes them partially albino. They are white cats, and that's how they're born. However, this gene has a mutation which affects enzymes that control the color of the fur, and those enzymes don't work in warm temperatures.

Areas of a Siamese cat's body that are cooler allow the enzymes to function and they become more greatly pigmented, or darker. This is what creates a Siamese's points, or the darker areas on their feet, legs, tail, and face. Which color the points are is controlled by other modifiers to the cat's primary color gene.

Areas of the cat's trunk, especially the back, are often a medium shade between white and the cat's points. This is because those areas of the body are cooler than the core body temperature but not as cool as the extremities.

Siamese kittens are born lighter and their points darken.

Why Are Siamese Kittens Lighter Than Adults?

The temperature inside the mother cat's womb is warm and stable; too warm for the enzymes that darken the fur pigment to be triggered. That's why Siamese kittens are born white. An experienced breeder can often guess what color the kitten's points will end up being based on the color of the paw pads and nose, but that color doesn't usually start to develop until about a week after birth and isn't complete until around a year of age.

You can learn more about Siamese cats here: "Siamese Cats: An Interview with Fancy Cat."

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