Dilute or Dense?

author Christine Jeffer          Mirror Mirror RagaMuffins

Do you love RagaMuffins with bright, bold colors of the Blacks, Browns, and Reds?

Or do your eyes always seem to wander to the softer, cozier pastel tones of the Blues, Creams, and Lilacs?


Our Muffins are soft, squishy Teddy Bears that we all love to hug and cuddle. So it comes as no surprise that many of us adore these snuggly personalities combined with the snuggly lighter tones that come in the dilute series of cat coat colors.


But did you know that dilute colored cats are in fact genetically black, brown, or red?

The only difference between a black cat and a blue (gray) cat is how the color pigment in each shaft of hair is programmed to be mapped out on the hair.  This is controlled by the pigmentation Gne.


For scientific minds: The main Alleles for the Pigmentation Gene are Dense (D; Dominant) and Dilute (d; Recessive).  Two (2) copies of the Dilute Allele are needed for the Dilute colors to be seen while only one (1) copy of the Dense Allele needs to be present to take effect.


Cats that have Dense Pigmentation (D/-) programmed in their genes will have the color granules deposited evenly along the entire shaft of hair.  When light hits the coat, all the pigment granules absorb the light so less light reflects back to our eyes.  This results in us seeing a darker color like Black.

Cats that have Dilute Pigmentation (d/d) programmed in their genes have their color granules deposited in clusters along the hair shaft, leaving tiny sections throughout the length of the hair shaft without any pigmentation; In effect diluting or watering down the amount of pigment granules on each shaft.  This clumping of colors on the hair shaft is also referred to as maltesing.  When light hits the coat, the colored clusters of pigment granules absorb light exactly the same as it would in a Dense Pigmented cat.  However, the tiny areas where no granules have been deposited, there are no granules to absorb light and as a result, most of the light is reflected back to our eyes. This mixing (diluting) of reflected and absorbed light results in us seeing the lighter colors.


So which dark colors correspond to which light colors when a cat has two (2) copies of Dilute?

The chart below is a quick and handy reference.


Black -> Blue (Gray)
Chocolate -> Lilac
Cinnamon -> Fawn
Red (Orange) -> Cream



The photos below  demonstrate the differences between the same genetic colors, but under Dense versus Dilute Pigmentation effects.  Enjoy!