We get so many questions about color points in cats. What are the points and why do some breeds have them? Color point refers to the pattern of coloring where the body of the cat is significantly lighter than the face, ears, tail and paws. Siamese and Himalayan cats are the most popular breeds to sport points. The most recognizable is the seal point with its deep brown points and tawny body.
The pointed pattern is a genetic trait related to albinos and is caused by a mutation that affects melanin production. The mutated enzyme fails to work at normal body temperature, but is active in the cooler parts of the body. So, the warmest part of the body does not receive the color and the cooler parts become much darker.
The kittens are born almost pure white or cream and develop their points within a few months. Within four weeks old, you should be able to recognize what color the points will be and they will continue to darken throughout the cat’s life. Because heat is a factor, cats who live warm climates have lighter coats than those in cool climates.
Seal points are very dark brown, almost black. Chocolate points are more of a milk chocolate color and their bodies are very light, almost white, as opposed to the tawny seal point coloring. Lilac points are a pale warm grey. You might also see red , cream, lynx (tabby), and tortie (tortoiseshell) point.
Cross-eyed cats are caused by the same albino mutation, but selective breeding has made this effect much less common.