Monday, April 16, 2012

More Lao Cats--But No Siamese!

I'm in Luang Prabang, visiting my son. Here are more pictures of Lao cats. The cats appeared in every color and variety seen here in the United States, except that a large percentage of them had the lanky Siamese look. But as more foreigners move in, Western cats and dogs are coming with them. For example, I saw a Shitzu in downtown Luang Prabang.

This cat had the blue eyes of a Siamese. The shop owner was giving her
 away because she didn't have a friendly personality.

The Siamese is not the mother of
these kittens.



This calico expectant mom lived in a remote village, looking
 very Siamese despite her coloring.

Here is See Cao again, the Siamese daddy of my son's cats. I'm posting his picture again because he is still the most Siamese cat I personally saw in Laos. The tan on his legs, tail and ears tell me his white does not come from the Dominant White gene, but from temperature-sensitive albinism which causes the fur to darken at the extremities.

Albinism is recessive to full color. Without careful breeding, temperature-sensitive albinism loses to full color. 

So what happened to all the Siamese cats in Siam? I suspect they were mostly in the palaces and temples of the aristocrats. The king in Laos is gone. His palace is a museum. And there are no cats.

Many of the cats in Laos had crooked tails. Some were little stumps, like Scooter's; about half the length of a normal tail, like Minie's; or full-length but twisted like a paper clip, as in the case of See Cao. But See Cao and Minie produced a daughter, Sarah, with a normal tail. Her coloring was so much like Scooter I had to look at the tail to tell them apart.

Where did the normal tail come from, since both parents had kinks? Ironically, from recessives. A straight tail is recessive to a kinked tail. Mom and Dad must be heterozygotes; i.e., they both carry a recessive gene for a straight tail.

It seems strange that kinks would be dominant over straight tails. Polydactylism, having more than the normal number of fingers or toes, is also dominant.  That is the case for humans as well as cats. But you rarely see people with extra fingers. One can understand why; many people would find it objectionable in a mate. 

Here is what happens:  People with the dominant trait can carry a recessive for the "normal" trait; they're called heterozygotyes. Heterzygotes have a 25 percent chance of producing offspring with the recessive trait, so with a little selective breeding, the offensive dominant trait has all but disappeared in humans. Cats are not as selective.


My daughter-in-law, who has traveled many times to Thailand, says she has seen quite a few Siamese csts in Thailand. But I cannot verify if any of these cats are directly descended from the original Siamese that lived in the palace.   

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