Saturday, April 10, 2010

Spoonerisms: More Siamese Tails

Tiger, patriarch of several generations of my family's cats
Earlier I wrote about the genetics of Siamese cats. While I certainly should have known if I'd spent more time thinking about it, I'd always seen the Siamese breed as, well, existing because of one gene. Which is absurd thinking, even if I was a biology major for only 5 minutes, give or take a year. I'd grown up with Siamese cats, and I think it's probably one of those ideas from childhood, beliefs that you acquire while young and never really give much thought to later, even though you subconsciously know it's false. They have a set of traits, but of course those traits are spread across multiple genes, and, particularly if there's even one non-Siamese cat in their recent ancestry, they may lack that trait.

My mother's Siamese is a standard apple-headed seal-point Siamese in almost all respects, except he has the wimpiest voice. Siamese tend to have a lower, throatier voice. Now, maybe his voice was, at least as much as cats are conscious of their behavior, a conscious decision made because that's the voice that gets him the most attention. Who knows?

On the other hand, while Dipity with her tabby stripes is far from being a pure Siamese, she has most of the standard traits, including the voice. Spoon is about 50% larger than she is and he has this completely wimpy, high voice. However, as I noted, while her head is vaguely apple-shaped, it's just not quite there. She does have the lanky oriental body type, though, with the very long, thin tail.

Anyway, I keep thinking back to the bit about a standard seal-point Siamese is really just a green-eyed, solid black cat. A single gene just keeps the color from developing normally. And Dipity, well, (to the old Transformers cartoon theme):
Dip'ty kitty
Tabby in disguise...

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