Calico and Bi-Color Persians

by Carissa Altschul
From Cat Fanciers' Yearbook, 2011

Anna’s prediction in 1991 proved to be true, as the blue and odd-eyed bi-colors have slowly but surely developed a near cult-like following since their acceptance in 1999. Perhaps the person who can speak best to the dramatic rise of these variations would be Laura Thomas of Purrinlot. Laura is responsible for breeding both the first odd-eye bi-color grand champion and the first and, currently only, blue eyed bi-color grand champion. The following is the story in her pursuit for the elusive blue eyes in bi-colors.

by Laura Thomas of Purrinlot

GC Purrinlot Anna’s Gift, brown patched tabby and white female.
CFA's first blue-eyed bi-color Grand.
Br/Ow: Laura Thomas.

In 1996 I had a vision of breeding blue-eyed tabby bi-color Persians. I’d never seen one, and I didn’t even know if there was such a thing. In fact, I was told that none existed and that even if it did, it could never be registered. So I went on a quest to find a way not only to make one, but also to register and show it. That was the beginning of Purrinlot’s bi-color Persian program.

In May 1999, CFA approved blue-eyed and odd-eyed bi-colors for championship status. As a member of the Calico and Bi-Color Division of the Persian Breed Council, I voted for this ruling and looked forward to the day when I could show a blue-eyed or odd-eyed bi-color I had bred.

I began by doing pedigree research on two Persians I had purchased – a patched tabby female and a blue-white genetic van male. I really didn’t know what I was looking for when I looked at various pedigrees, so I purchased the yearbooks of the previous ten years and began looking up cats, especially those within my two pedigrees: CH, PR Marhei Magic Marquer of Purrinlot (aka Marquer) and CH Catillak Judgement Day of Purrinlot (aka Judge). To my surprise, I actually saw many of the cats from my pedigrees in the CFA Yearbook grand parades.

I made notes on the cats behind the cats and looked for good and bad qualities. Once I finished, I called Anna Sadler and picked her brain. My foundation male, Judge, had about 85 percent Brannaway behind him, so I figured Anna could help me to know what was in his pedigree.

GC Ceylon’s Ready Or Not Here Eye Come,
cream and white male.
Br/Ow: Chasity L. Rader McCarty.

Anna listed all the advantages and disadvantages of every cat behind Judge. She told me how each ancestor had died and at what age. She explained which lines blended well and which did not. She said that Marhei was a great line to blend with hers, and since I happened to have already purchased a Marhei female, I felt I had taken two steps forward. Anna shared her heart with me that day, but she never once mentioned that she was trying to create a blue-eyed Persian bi-color.

I studied everything Anna told me and began looking for a few more females to bring into my program to help me on my quest for a blue-eyed. My goal was to have a show cat with eyes that were of a nice shade of blue. This was of the utmost importance to me. I wanted to make certain that when I finally produced a blue-eyed bi-color Persian, the cat wasn’t pet quality, didn’t have a long nose, or, worse yet, have eyes so weak in color that they were washed-out looking. So as I researched the pedigrees Anna told me about, I knew to look for certain lines for health and type and to avoid others. But how would I figure out when and where to bring in the blue eyes?

Purrinlot Eye Believe, red tabby and white male.
Br/Ow: Laura Thomas.

My first thought was to bring in a white Persian, but I wasn’t sure if I was ready for the challenge of grooming and showing in the solid class. I joined a few fanciers’ lists and began asking questions related to eye color. I then purchased several books on genetics. I began by studying genetics of the human eye, then of monkeys, dogs, and even turtles. As I read and researched, I started getting a feel for eye genetics.

I know that genetic experts claim that there is no such thing as a eye color “gene”. However, I found it easier to understand how the eye-color is produced if I simply called it a gene instead of getting technical and using terms that could be confusing. So as I thought about what produced a blue-eyed bi-color, I called it a gene and treated it like a gene. To this day, I honestly can’t discuss genetics using the correct terminology, yet I seem to have an inner understanding of how it works.

I decided that the best way to make a blue-eye bi-color would be to increase my percentages. When I spoke to people about my dream and they asked how I planned to accomplish it, I told said, “By upping my percentages.” Almost nobody who knew what I was planning thought it would ever happen. Nevertheless, I kept reading pedigrees and acting on what I call a gut feeling.

I looked at making the blue-eyed bi-color as I would a quilt. I believed that the odd-eyed “gene” of the bi-colors was like the backing, the first big piece of the quilt. Then I needed to find more pieces that would blend in.

Whispurwnds No Complaints, van blue and white male.
Br: Chris and Leicy Bartlett.
Ow: C. and L. Bartlett and Bob Groppi.

I needed a very tight yet outcrossed pedigree. I call each side of the pedigree a leg. Each cat has a pedigree made up of two legs. The father’s side of a cat’s pedigree is one leg and the mother’s side is the other leg. Each of the cats within that pedigree also has two legs. What I was looking for was a very tight side on the pedigree with a slight blend on the second side yet with cats from the first leg still blended into the second leg. This is how my percentages started growing.

Patience and faith became my main supports as I continued my quest to add a blue-eyed bi-color to my program. For years I waited for a blue-eye Persian as I put the pedigree percentages to the test. It took me about three years before I finally decided to add solid whites to my program and blend them into the bi-color. And it took me another few years to discover that the whites wouldn’t help my blue-eyed quest at all! The white was dominant, which meant that every white masked the bi-color yet none had blue eyes unless they were indeed white. So I stopped blending the whites and began building two things in particular–tabby alleles and piebald genes.

I doubled up on Anna Sadler’s 85-percent pedigree. First, I bred my 50 percent Marhei girl, Marquer, to Judge. No whites were in these pedigrees, but both the piebald and tabby were there. The result was GC Purrinlot’s Seven-of-Nine, DM (aka Seven). Then I bred Seven back to Judge. To my surprise, the percentage game worked incredibly well. Seven birthed not one, but two, odd-eyed bi-color Persians, one of which became CFA’s first odd-eyed Bi-Color Grand Champion Persian–GC Purrinlot Jacob Said- My Eyes Is Me (aka Jacob).

GC Purrinlot Jacob Said- My Eyes Is Me,
van brown tabby and white male.
Br/Ow: Laura Thomas.

When Jacob was born, I learned from Anna Sadler that she had the same vision I did. This was the first time I had heard about her dream. She told me how she had been trying for years to make a blue-eyed bi-color. I suppose that’s why Anna’s pedigree was strong enough in the percentage game to make Jacob and his sister Promise.

I was also blessed with a Kramkattens female whose genes would be part of the next set blended into the Purrinlot foundation. CH Kramkattens GodGif2me of Purrinlot was an odd- eyed red tabby and white bi-color Persian. For this female, I needed an outcross male that fit the pedigree percentage I had been working toward. That’s when GC Brannaway Here’s Mud In Your Eye (aka Mud), a copper-eyed brown tabby and white van male, became available.

I felt it was such an honor to be able to own this wonderful boy, and I knew from the bottom of my heart that he would be the father of my blue-eyed bi-color program. It was something I just knew. I had that gut feeling I get when I know it’s right. Oddly enough, this boy’s father, GC, BW, NW Wishstar Triumph, DM started popping out odd-eye bi-colors right about the time I was to get Mud.

I considered myself privileged to have been able to build my bi-color program from Anna’s Brannaway lines. To be honored with a second male from her lines was a gift indeed! Based on this blessing, I was able to build not only my first Purrinlot tier, but my second as well, and I promised that I would name a special baby after Anna.

When Mud arrived, he wasn’t interested in breeding. I figured he missed Anna, who had just gone to heaven, and that he would breed when he was ready. So I waited for a little more than a year. During the same period, my odd-eye female didn’t go into heat. Then one afternoon, Mud sauntered past me, grabbed the neck of GodGif2me, and had his way with her. I hadn’t even noticed that she was in heat, but Mud sure knew! At that moment, I just knew they had just made a blue-eyed bi-color. And they had!

In April of 2005, GC Purrinlot Anna’s Gift became CFA’s first blue-eyed bi-color Persian to grand, and she did it in only two shows and one ring. Anna’s Gift cycled very heavily and I had to pull her after showing her for a few months. I was more concerned about her being able to have offspring than going for a higher title than Grand Champion. However, in my opinion, she had already brought me the highest honors I could have achieved as a tabby bi-color breeder. In 2007 she was awarded Best of Breed Persian, Calico and Bi-color Division Southern Region; Best Tabby and White, Southern Region; and Best Tabby and White Nationally. These smaller color class titles proved that my breeding program was a success.

There are still a few lines I would love to bring into my program, such as some of the older lines of Harwood and Artemis that came from the original Marhei line. I’m also interested in adding a touch of Pansypatch. So far none of my pedigrees have these lines, although all of them have a dab of the percentages I’m looking for in an old-line pedigree.

As of today, I’ve bred and shown many bi-colors with both blue and odd eyes, have had four different males help create blue and odd-eyed offspring, and am in my fifth and sixth generation of blue and odd-eyed bi-color Persians. Without a doubt, I’m a breeder first and foremost. I do hope that someday the bi-color class is packed full of Anna’s dream of blue-eyed bi-color Persians!

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