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Copyright 1999-2018 by crazyforKITTIES (SM) Privacy

Short vs. Long Hair:

Cats have 3 types of hair (not counting whiskers). These are the short, downy insulating hairs, the middle awn hairs, and the longest, the guard hairs.

The length of the hairs is controlled by a gene called L. In shorthaired cats the gene is the dominant form (the L). L has a mutation, indicated by a little l. This mutation gives a cat long hair. But long hair is not the dominate gene.

A cat inherits one set of genes from its mother and one set from its father. So a cat will have 2 genes for hair length. It might get an L from its mother and a little l from its father. There are 4 possible combinations, as shown in this table.

    From the Mother
From the
  L l
L L L L l
l l L l l
The Kitten's
Resulting Genes

Combinations of Genes for Hair Length

Because the shorthaired gene form L is dominate, any combination with L will result in a shorthaired cat: LL, Ll, and lL. But the ll combination will result in a longhaired cat.

When a cat has long hair, it means that all of its 3 kinds of hair (excluding whiskers) are longer. Exactly how long, how full, and how soft is controlled by other genes that modify the affect of the longhaired gene. These other genes also affect the length, quality and fullness of the hair on shorthaired cats. But the affects of these other genes are more readily seen with long hair.

Long hair is not affected by color genes. So all colors of cat may appear in either short- or long-haired cats.

Source: A Standard Guide to Cat Breeds, Richard H. Gebhardt, Grace Pond, and Dr. Ivor Raleigh, Eds., McGraw-Hill Book Company, New York, 1979, pp. 23-24.