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Blue in cats is one of the most extraordinary colours of any, for the
reason that it is the mixture of black which is no colour, and white
which is no colour, and this is the more curious because black mated
with white generally produces either one colour or the other, or breaks
black and white, or white and black. The blue being, as it were, a
weakened black, or a withdrawal by white of some, if not all, of the
brown or red, varying in tint according to the colour of the black from
which it was bred, dark-gray, or from weakness in the stamina of the
litter. In the human species an alliance of the Negro, or African race,
and the European, produces the mulatto, and some other shades of
coloured skin, though the hair generally retains the black hue; but
seldom or ever are the colours broken up as in animal life, the only
instance that has come to my knowledge, and I believe on record, being
that of the spotted Negro boy, exhibited at fairs in England by
Richardson, the famous showman; but in this case both the parents were
black, and natives of South Africa. The boy arrived in England in
September, 1809, and died February, 1813. His skin and hair were
everywhere parti-coloured, transparent brown and white; on the crown of
his head several triangles, one within the other, were formed by
alternations of the colour of the hair.

In other domestic animals blue colour is not uncommon. Blue-tinted dogs,
rabbits, horses of a blue-gray, or spotted with blue on a pink flesh
colour, as in the naked horse shown at the Crystal Palace some years
ago, also pigs; and all these have likewise broken colours of blue, or
black, and white. I do not remember having seen any blue cattle, nor any
blue guinea-pigs, but no doubt these latter will soon exist. When once
the colour or break from the black is acquired, it is then easy to go on
multiplying the different shades and varieties of tint and tone, from
the dark blue-black to the very light, almost white-gray. In some places
in Russia, I am told, blue cats are exceedingly common; I have seen
several shown under the names of Archangel, and others as Chartreuse and
Maltese cats. Persians are imported sometimes of this colour, both dark
and light. Next kin to it is the very light-gray tabby, with almost the
same hue, if not quite so light-gray markings. Two such mated have been
known to produce very light self grays, and of a lovely hue, a sort of
"morning gray"; these matched with black should breed blues. Old male
black, and young female white cats, have been known to produce kittens
this colour. There is a colony of farm cats at Rodmell, Sussex, from
which very fine blues are bred. Light silver tabby males, and white
females, are also apt to have one or so in a litter of kittens; but
these generally are not such good blues, the colour being a gray-white,
or nearly so, should the hair or coat be parted or divided, the skin
being light. The very dark, if from brown-black, are not so blue, but
come under the denomination of "smokies," or blue "smokies," with
scarcely a tint of blue in them; some "smokies" are white, or nearly so,
with dark tips to the hair; these more often occur among Persian than
English cats, though I once had a smoky tabby bred from a black and a
silver tabby. Importations of some of the former are often extremely
light, scarcely showing any markings. These, and such as these, are very
valuable where a self blue is desired. If these light colours are
females, a smoke-coloured male is an excellent cross, as it already
shows a weakened colour. For a very light, tender, delicate, light-gray
long-haired self, I should try a white male, and either a rich blue, or
a soft gray, extremely lightly-marked tabby.

As a rule, all broken whites, such as black and white, should be
avoided; because, as I explained at the commencement of these notes on
blues, the blue is black and white amalgamated, or the brown withdrawn
from the colouring, or, if not, with the colours breaking, or becoming
black and white. If whole coloured blues are in request, then
parti-colours, such as white and black, or black and white, are best
excluded. Blue and white are easily attainable by mating a blue male
with a white and black female.

The best and deepest coloured of the blue short-haired cats are from
Archangel. Those I have seen were very fine in colour, the pelage being
the same colour to the skin, which was also dark and of a uniform
lilac-tinted blue. Some come by chance. I knew of a blue English cat,
winner of several prizes, whose parents were a black and white male
mated with a "light-gray tabby" and white; but this was an exception to
the rule, for strongly-marked tabbies are not a good cross.

Next: Brown Tabby

Previous: Black

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