Amber Coloration in Norwegian Forest Cats

Quick Summary

In Norwegian Forest Cats, a recessive mutation in the melanocortin 1 receptor gene leads to the gradual replacement of black pigment in the coat with yellow pigment, producing the amber coloration.

Norwegian Forest Cat with amber coat color
Norwegian Forest Cat with amber coat color

Phenotype: Black pigment in the coat is gradually replaced with yellow pigment, leading to a golden coat coloration in adult cats.

(Note: Display of the full amber coloration depends on the presence/absence of another gene called dominant Orange. In the absence of Orange, males and females with genotype e/e will have the full amber coloration. Amber males that have one copy of Orange will be red. Amber females that have one copy of Orange will be amber/red tortoiseshell. Amber females with two copies of Orange will be red.)

Mode of Inheritance: Autosomal recessive

Alleles: E = Normal (non-Amber), e = Amber

Breeds appropriate for testing: Norwegian Forest Cat

Explanation of Results:

  • Cats with E/E genotype will not have amber coloration and cannot transmit this amber coloration variant to their offspring.
  • Cats with E/e genotype will not have amber coloration, but are carriers. Matings between two carriers are predicted to produce 25% amber-colored kittens (in the absence of the Orange gene).
  • Cats with e/e genotype will have amber coloration in the absence of the Orange gene, and will transmit this amber coloration variant to all of their offspring. If the Orange gene is also present, e/e males with one copy of Orange will display red coats; e/e females with one copy of Orange will display amber/red tortoiseshell coats; and e/e females with two copies of Orange will display red coats.
Price

$40 one test per animal

Panels Available
Additional Details

In cats, shades of red color are determined by the dominant Orange gene located on the X chromosome. However, in some Norwegian Forest Cats, there is a recessive mutation in the melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1R) gene (c.250G>A) that results in kittens that are born with a black/brown (eumalanin) tabby pattern (or blue/apricot in dilute cats). As the kittens mature, the black (or blue) pigment is replaced by yellow (phaeomelanin), resulting in the golden coat coloration seen in adult cats. As the eumelanin is replaced, the tabby pattern may disappear. The Amber mutation traces back to a single female ancestor from Norway born in 1981, and the color, originally named X Colour, is now called Amber.

Amber coloration depends on the presence/absence of the dominant Orange gene. In the absence of Orange, males and females with genotype e/e will have the amber coloration. Amber males that have the Orange gene will be red. Amber females that have one copy of the Orange gene will be amber/red tortoiseshell. Amber females with two copies of the Orange gene will be red.

Turnaround Time
2-6 business days
Type of Sample

Species

Cat

Type of Test

Results Reported As
Test Results Amber
E/E No copies of the mutation for Amber.
E/e 1 copy of the Amber mutation. If bred to another carrier, 25% of the kittens will be Amber (in the absence of Orange).
e/e 2 copies of the Amber mutation. Cat will be Amber colored (in the absence of Orange).
References

Peterschmitt, M., Grain, F., Arnaud, B., Deleage, G., & Lambert, V. (2009). Mutation in the melanocortin 1 receptor is associated with amber colour in the Norwegian Forest Cat. Animal Genetics, 40(4), 547-552. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2052.2009/01864.