Burmese Russet Coat Color

Quick Summary

Burmese russet coat color is a coat color that develops with age and is characterized by progressive amounts of red pigment on the head and dorsal surfaces.

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Phenotype: The coat color called "russet" in Burmese cats develops with age and is characterized by progressive amounts of red pigment on the head and dorsal surfaces.

Mode of Inheritance: Autosomal recessive

Alleles: N = Normal or non-russet, R = Russet

Breeds appropriate for testing: Burmese

Explanation of Results:

  • Cats with N/N genotype will not have the russet coat color and cannot transmit this Burmese russet variant to their offspring.
  • Cats with N/R genotype will not have the russet coat color, but are carriers. They will transmit this Burmese russet variant to 50% of their offspring. Matings between two carriers are predicted to produce 25% russet-coated kittens.
  • Cats with R/R genotype will show the russet color when mature, and they will transmit this Burmese russet variant to all of their offspring.

Turnaround Time
At least 15 business days; may be delayed beyond 15 business days if sample requires additional testing, or a new sample is requested.

$44 one test per animal

Sample Collection:

Cat DNA tests are carried out using cells collected from your cat's cheeks and gums using household cotton swabs.

The cat DNA submission form with instructions, pricing, and a place to tape the cotton swabs can be printed from your home computer after signing up for a MyVGL account and placing an order. Test kits are not mailed.

Step-By-Step Instructions:


Person looking at different brands of cotton swabs in a storePurchase regular household cotton swabs for cat DNA collection (the cotton swabs can be purchased at a pharmacy or drug store)



Label indicating both ends of the two cotton swabsUse both ends of the two cotton swabs for a total of four swabs.



Demonstration of swabbing the inner cheek of a cat with a cotton swabCollect the DNA sample by swabbing the cheek and gums of the cat.



Cotton swabs taped to bar-coded submission form for VGLAfter swabbing the cheek and gums, tape the cotton swabs to the bar-coded submission form printed from your MyVGL account.

Additional Details

A new coat color termed “Russet” has been identified in Burmese cats with Australian and New Zealand lineages. The russet phenotype develops with age. Young russet kittens have color and markings largely identical to tabby kittens of the same age and base color, regardless of whether the kitten is agouti (A-) or non-agouti (aa) in genotype. However, the tail-tip, genital area, and fur around the paw pads are pale in russets rather than marked with dense eumelanin (brown/black pigment) as in tabbies. The nose leather is entirely pink rather than outlined in eumelanin, and the paw pads are pale, later losing all melanin to become bright pink. As the kitten grows, the solid eumelanin areas are progressively overlain with presumably phaeomelanin (red pigment), starting at the head, which usually turns entirely red. On the dorsal surfaces, broad tipping of the fur with phaeomelanin develops gradually. There is also some reduction in density of melanin in the bottom half of the hair nearest the skin. The mature cat is superficially reddish all over, but with the eumelanin pigment in the dorsal undercoat visible to an extent that varies between individuals.

Russet is an autosomal recessive trait which means that two copies of the russet allele are needed to produce the phenotype. The mutation causing the russet coat color is in the gene MC1R and is a deletion (c.439_441del) resulting in an altered form of the gene. The russet mutation is fairly uncommon as it only occurs in certain Burmese cat lines.

Testing for this Burmese russet coat color variant can assist breeders in identifying Burmese russet colored cats and carriers of this variant. Cats of questionable coloration, including those thought to be dilute, should test for russet prior to considering the dilute modifier.