What genes make a Somali a Somali - what we know so far

For this section to make sense you need a basic understanding of genetics. If you haven't got this then I suggest you read  my page Genetics made Simple and hopefully this then this page will make sense. If it doesn't then please Email me so I can help

The Somali is a long haired version of the Abyssinian. The breed was developed in the USA from long haired kittens produced in Aby litters. So what applies to the Somali applies to the Aby & vice versa - with the exception of the long haired gene of course

The Somali is a ticked tabby, which is a mutation of the typical tabby pattern
. As Somali breeders we want the tabby pattern on the head but not on the legs, body, tail or neck (these are known as bars and necklaces and are undesirable and penalised in the show cat). The ticked Tabby is represented as TaTa and AA. The long haired gene is recessive so a long haired Somali is ll and an Aby is LL. A short haired Somali (or Somali variant), like Manot Kooky Kat,  looks & is short haired as the short hair allele is dominant and so a short haired Somali is genetically Ll.
So all long haired Somalis are llAATaTa & all short haired Somalis are  LlAATaTa.

Somali Colours
The colours are controlled by additional genes.

The usual (or ruddy) is our equivalent of the black cat & is the most dominant colour, in genetic terms, so if the cat has this gene then it will be usual - like Gr Ch Stacym Quiddity.

The table below shows the genotypes of Somali colours (remember to add llAATaTa). So a usual Somali like Gr Ch Stacym Quiddity is llAAB_D_TaTa.
Ch Manot Nestles is chocolate carrying Sorrel, he's never had dilute kittens so his genotype is probably llAAbb1DD
TaTa. Its very hard to prove a negative. Genetic analysis has come on in leaps & bounds in recent years and cats can now be tested for whether they carry dilute







Tortie aka Usual tortie




Blue tortie



bb or bb1

Chocolate tortie  

bbOo or bb1Oo


bbdd or bb1dd

Lilac tortie  

bbddOo or bb1ddOo

Sorrel (aka cinnamon)


Sorrel tortie




Fawn tortie


Silver aka Usual silver


Silver tortie


Blue Silver


Blue tortie silver


Chocolate silver

bbI_ or bb1I_

Chocolate silver tortie

bbI_Oo or bb1I_Oo

Lilac silver

bbddI_ or bb1ddI_

Lilac silver tortie

bbddI_Oo or bb1ddI_Oo

Sorrel silver


Sorrel silver tortie


Fawn silver


Fawn silver tortie




Red silver




Cream silver  

ddI_ O(O)

Gr Ch Stacym Quiddity & Ch Manot Nestles' genotypes do not have silver or the orange gene.

Gr Ch Stacym Quiddity has had sorrel kittens so this means she carries sorrel so I can therefore characterise her genotype even further as  llAABb1D_TaTa. I do not know if she carries the dilute gene so cannot state whether she is DD or Dd.

Ch Stacym Capriciosso is a blue tortie silver female. She has had a chocolate silver kitten so she carries chocolate or sorrel. I don't know which because the father was a chocolate. She has also had non silver kittens and so is heterozygous for silver. Her genotype is llAAB_ddIiOoTaTa. Translating this:

l = long hair, l = long hair, A = agouti, A = agouti, B = brown, _ = could be b (chocolate) or b1 (sorrel), d = dilute, d = dilute, I = silver, i = not silver, O = orange, o = not orange (Oo shows as tortie), Ta = ticked tabby, Ta = ticked tabby.

If we look at Kooky Kat, she's a chocolate tortie female and has had a fawn kitten so she carries sorrel and dilute - her genotype is LlAAbb1DdiiOoTaTa. Translating this:

L = short hair, l = long hair, A = agouti, A = agouti, b = chocolate, b1= sorrel, D = not dilute, d = dilute, i = not silver, i = not silver, O = orange, o = not orange (Oo shows as tortie), Ta = ticked tabby, Ta = ticked tabby.

Want to know more?
A useful text here is 'Genetics for Cat Breeders & Veterinarians' by Carolyn M. Vella Lorraine M. Shelton John J. McGonagle Terry W. Stanglen ISBN 0 7506 4069 3

Again, please Email me if I can help