Guide to Cat Breeds (See Full List)

Colorpoint Shorthair

Colorpoint Shorthair

Ancestry: Siamese, Abyssinians, American Shorthairs and red domestic shorthairs
Place of Origin: Britain and North America
Date of Origin: 1940s
Accepted by: All North American cat associations (championship), although this breed is known as a color and pattern variation of the Siamese in all associations except CFA, CCA, and UFO.

 
Description

The Colorpoint is a beautiful breed with a color scheme to match any mood—from the delicate and ethereal cream point to the handsome striped lynx point to the unique and multi-colored tortie point where, like snowflakes, no two are alike. The Colorpoint is a svelte cat with long, tapering lines, very lithe but still strong and muscular. The tubular body is fine-boned, trim and elongated. Balance and refinement are the essence of the breed, according to CFA’s breed standard; all parts should come together into a harmonious whole, with neither too much nor too little consideration given any one feature. The ideal Colorpoint has a conformation identical to the Siamese, but with its own unique colors and patterns. Adult males usually weigh 7 to 9 pounds; adult females usually weigh 5 to 7 pounds.

The neck is slender; the legs are long and thin; the tail is long, not kinked, and tapers to a fine point. The head is a medium-size tapering wedge with a flat forehead and a fine wedge-shaped muzzle. The wedge starts at the nose and flares out in straight lines to the tips of the ears, forming a triangle with no break at the whiskers. In profile, a straight line can be drawn from the top of the head to the tip of the nose. The ears are very large, pointed, wide at the base and set wide on the head, continuing the lines of the wedge. The eyes are almond-shaped with a slight slant toward the nose, medium-size, not crossed, and are set not less than one eye width apart. They are vivid blue; no other shades or colors are permitted. Colorpoint Shorthairs are allowed to outcross with Siamese.

The Colorpoint’s coat is short, fine-textured, glossy and lies close to the body. The colors define the breed. Accepted colors are solid point colors in red point and cream point; lynx point colors in seal lynx point, chocolate lynx point, blue lynx point, lilac lynx point, red lynx point, cream lynx point, seal-tortie lynx point, chocolate-tortie lynx point, blue-cream lynx point and lilac-cream lynx point; and parti-color point colors in seal-tortie point, chocolate-tortie point, blue-cream point and lilac-cream point. Body color ranges from clear, glacial and bluish whites to assorted shades of ivory, cream and fawn. On the body, subtle shading is permissible, but clear color is preferable.

The colorpoint or pointed pattern, also called the Himalayan pattern, means the "points" of the body—ears, face mask, feet and tail—are darker than the rest of the body. The color of the mask, ears, feet, legs, and tail is dense and clearly defined, and all the same shade. White hairs or a clearly defined white undercoat are not allowed in the points. A temperature-sensitive enzyme controlled by the recessive colorpoint gene creates greater depth of color at the parts of the body farthest away from the heart. The skin temperature of the body’s extremities is a few degrees cooler than the rest of the body, and therefore attracts more pigmentation. The cooler the environment, the darker the color becomes. Pointed kittens, cradled in the warmth of their mother’s womb, are born white and develop their point colors after being pushed out into the cold world.

As of 2012 in CFA, pointed Oriental Shorthairs that meet Colorpoint Shorthair color descriptions are eligible to compete in Colorpoint Shorthair color classes; such cats are also called Any Other Variety (AOV) Orientals. These AOV cats are shown in a special division created for scoring purposes only. Points accumulated by pointed Oriental Shorthairs shown in Colorpoint Shorthair classes will count toward pointed Oriental Shorthair breed wins, not Colorpoint Shorthair wins.

Although at most cat shows you will see only the variety of Colorpoint Shorthair just described—the Extreme—two varieties exist, each with its own group of proponents who are just as vocal about their chosen variety as are the cats themselves. The Old Style Colorpoint Siamese is a medium to large cat with a rounder, more moderate body and head type. The body is long, substantial, and solid, neither cobby nor svelte in type, nor in any way extreme. The cat is well-balanced with all elements in proportion. The overall impression is of a cat that is robust and muscular, but also lithe and graceful. The head can be described as rounded and broad compared to the Extreme. The ears are alert, not overly large, medium in length, almost as wide at the base as they are high and rounded at the tip. They are set as much to the side as to the top of the head. According to Old Style fanciers, the Old Style Colorpoint Siamese is generally healthier than the Extreme Colorpoint Shorthair and has fewer health concerns. This variety is accepted by the United Feline Organization (UFO), which also accepts the Old Style Balinese and Old Style Siamese.

History

Colorpoint Shorthairs have much in common with the Siamese. These silky beauties with the hypnotizing baby-blues originated in Siam (now Thailand), where they were the companions of kings and were thought to inherit the souls of royalty on their way to the afterlife. The Colorpoint shares the body style, head type, eye color, coat length, pointed pattern and the sparkling personality of the Siamese, but comes in the nontraditional colors of red point, cream point, lynx (tabby) point, and tortie point (a mixture of black and red or their dilute colors, blue and cream). In short, the Colorpoint is a Siamese of a different color-svelte, graceful, active, vocal and smart.

The effort to produce a Siamese-style pointed cat in colors other than the traditional four ( seal point, chocolate point, blue point and lilac point) began in Britain and North America in the 1940s. Early in the program, these innovative breeders focused on only red point and cream point (a dilute of red). The breeders crossed Siamese with red domestic shorthairs to obtain the desired colors. Later, Abyssinians and American Shorthairs were used by North American breeders.

It was slow going in the beginning; to get the desired colors and patterns, the breeders often had to sacrifice body type, so for a time their cats didn’t look much like Siamese.

However, these breeders were determined to perfect their cat creations, and with dogged persistence they finally achieved the red and cream colors in the correct areas. The bloodlines were then crossed back to the Siamese to reestablish the Siamese’s body shape, head style, coat texture, fur length and beloved personality.

As the new breed gained acclaim, breeders introduced another pattern, lynx (tabby) point, which added another 10 colors and patterns to the list of accepted varieties. The third and last color class, parti-color (tortie) point, added four more varieties; the pointed areas are decorated with one of the four traditional Siamese colors—seal, chocolate, blue or lilac—randomly mottled with red and/or cream. The pattern is particularly striking when, instead of mottled, the face has a blaze, with one side of the face red or cream and the other side one of the four Siamese colors. Because the color red is carried on the sex-linked X chromosome, which the female has two to the male’s one, parti-color cats are almost always female.

The new colors grew in popularity, and the next step was to gain recognition from the registering associations. However, many Siamese breeders hissed, afraid the new colors would pollute their purebred lines. In order to appease the Siamese breeders, the North American breeders suggested the name Colorpoint Shorthair to distinguish it from the Siamese. CFA saw the appeal of the colorful cats, and agreed the new breed was a hybrid, not a natural breed like the Siamese. In 1964, the CFA board of directors accepted the Colorpoint Shorthair for registration as a separate breed, and in 1974 the breed was accepted for CFA championship. CFA recognizes the Siamese in only the four traditional colors, but most other associations have accepted the Colorpoint and its new range of pointed colors as part of the Siamese breed. Today, only CFA, CCA, and UFO consider the Colorpoint Shorthair a separate breed.

Notes

Because the additional colors resulted from crossbreeding, Colorpoint Shorthairs are considered hybrids by some associations. However, most fanciers say the only real difference is the color—you simply have a wider selection from which to choose. According to breeders, today’s Colorpoint has as little as 0.1 percent non-Siamese genetic material, since Colorpoints have been bred back to Siamese since the mid-20th century. (All the same, a small genetic difference can go a long way. In 2003 a study found that 99.4 percent of all important DNA sites are the same in chimps and humans. Obviously, genetics isn’t something to monkey around with.)

Colorpoint Shorthairs are generally healthy and long-lived if kept inside. However, since they are closely related to, and still crossbred with, the Siamese, the breed shares some of the same inheritable conditions and diseases. In particular, hereditary liver amyloidosis has been found in some Colorpoint bloodlines. The disease causes an insoluble protein called amyloid to be deposited in the liver, causing lesions, dysfunction, and eventual liver failure. In addition, incidences of dilated cardiomyopathy, an enlargement of the heart muscle that decreases heart function, have been found in some lines of Siamese and closely related breeds like the Colorpoint Shorthair, but on the plus side they seem to be at a lower risk than some other breeds for the serious and often fatal feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), according to Dr. Susan Little of the Winn Feline Foundation. It’s wise to buy from a breeder who provides a written health guarantee.

Like Siamese, Colorpoints are prone to plaque buildup, tartar formation, and gingivitis. Gingivitis can lead to the dental disease periodontitis (an inflammatory disease affecting the tissues surrounding and supporting the teeth), which can cause tissue, bone and tooth loss. Untreated, dental disease can undermine a cat’s overall health. Colorpoints need annual veterinary checkups, periodic teeth cleaning by your veterinarian and, if your cat will tolerate it, regular teeth cleaning using cat toothpaste and a cat toothbrush (you can also use a soft child’s size toothbrush, or gauze wrapped around your finger, since it can be easier to control than a toothbrush).

Did you know?

The name "Colorpoint Shorthair" is used only in North America; in Europe the Colorpoint is what North Americans call the Himalayan (or in CFA, the Pointed Pattern Persian).

Personality

Put away the breakables. Prepare to be cat-scanned. Get ready for a loooong conversation. Here comes a Colorpoint Shorthair! This breed is not for everyone, but for those who love people-oriented, incurable lap lovers, mischievous habitual bookshelf climbers, perpetual motion machines who simply won’t tolerate being ignored, this is the perfect choice. Colorpoints make great companions for people with good senses of humor. Born acrobats, Colorpoints will keep you entertained with their vaudevillian stunts. Bring out any toy and watch for the colorful streak of furry lightening as they race by to pounce on it. But their favorite games are interactive—they want you to share the fun.

Curious and intelligent, the Colorpoint will find ways into securely closed rooms and tightly closed cupboards. No place is too high or secure for the agile, clever Colorpoint. When they’re awake, they’re busy—climbing their cat trees, bringing their ball for a long game of fetch, getting into things that you’d rather they didn’t. And of course, talking. While not quite as vocal as Siamese, they are nevertheless very chatty. Their distinctive claws-on-a-blackboard yowl leaves no doubt about their Siamese heritage.

Temperament is what attracts most fanciers. Very interactive, Colorpoints are constant companions who give 200 percent of their unwavering loyalty and love. They want to be with you every waking hour, and curled up on the bed with you when you’re asleep. Expect an above-average time commitment, since they expect the same 200 percent in return. They are completely devoted to their preferred persons and are very sensitive to your moods. Cry and your Colorpoint caterwauls with you. Laugh and it’s likely due to your cat’s antics. Yelling and harsh language wounds their loving spirits; a coaching tone works better for training—if you’re intrepid enough to train the spirited Colorpoint.

Breed Characteristics

Size:Small to medium.
Coat Length(s):Short hair.
Body Type:Svelte.
Grooming Requirement:Little grooming needed.
Talkativeness:Very vocal.
Activity Level:Very high.
Affection:Very affectionate.
Usually Good With:Adults, seniors, and children (6+).
Time Alone:0 to 4 hours per day.
Attention:Needs lots of ttention.
Handling:Can be a handful.