In recognition of the evidence that judging of the Oriental Non-Self Varieties can be a steep learning curve for Probationer Judges, especially for those who have not bred all of these varieties, The Oriental Breed Advisory Committee wish to provide this brief Guide. It covers the principle areas where, from experience over the years of having reviewed reports from Probationer Judges, OJBAC members have observed that there is a lack of complete understanding of many of the non-self coat types. This Guide should be read in conjunction with the prevailing GCCF Standard of Points.

The Guide does not deal with the Oriental Longhair cats or with the Bicolours.

The following advice therefore is a summary of the main pitfalls when judging these cats:

Spotted & Classic Tabbies

The prevailing Standard of Points is clear as to what is required in the expression of pattern for these cats. It has though become difficult for breeders to achieve the 'perfect' pattern since in the UK many 'wide-band' cats have been used in the past in breeding lines. Whilst these tabbies can look to have clear and distinct patterns as young cats, the patterns can 'disappear' over time and become simply an agouti mess. This does not turn them into a ticked tabby, nor into a shaded! A ticked tabby at birth can look almost exactly like a self kitten, except for some belly spots and perhaps barring on its face. Its coat will then later show the bands of ticking that are correct for a ticked tabby.

However, many of our Spotted and Classic Tabbies have very agouti invaded coats (I.e. the patterned areas are suffused by hairs of a different colour) as they mature and many also have unsound coats and even grey roots to the hair shafts. These cats should not be awarded certificates. The expression of the pattern in these tabbies therefore should be well defined, with clear contrast between the ground colour and the pattern, and the colour of the pattern itself should penetrate to the skin (except in the silver version - see below). This penetration of colour to the roots is usually described as "sound".

Some judges make the mistake of thinking that a cat with indistinct tabby markings, caused by agouti invasion, must be a standard shaded. This is NOT SO. A true description of a standard shaded cat is dealt with below.

In the spotted tabby Oriental the spine line should be "broken"; which means that it should not be a solid line, but should show a variety of spots, which may vary in size, but evenly distributed down the cat's back. In kittens the spine line might be more solid and unbroken and this should not be penalised. The spine markings in the classic, ticked and mackerel patterned cats are clearly described in the Standards of Points for each variety.

(NB. It should also be noted that in the dilute colours it is more difficult to see a clear pattern as the colour of the pattern tends to merge into the ground colour. However, with proper scrutiny, it is possible to determine if the pale pattern is sound and conforms, and whether or not it is invaded with agouti hairs. For some reason it seems that blue patterned cats often seem to have rather solid spine lines, as opposed to the 'broken' spine lines required by the Standard of Points. If the cat has an otherwise good pattern, some leniency may be given to a somewhat less broken spine line).

The Red Tabby can also pose judges some problems in that many which have been registered as tabby cats, because of having one tabby parent, but which might in fact be Red Selfs. A 'good' Red Spotted Tabby should have a broken spine line in the same way as its non-red equivalent. Frequently the only way to tell if a red might be a self instead of a red tabby is that it can often have a solid, wide band of unbroken colour down its back. The presence of a great deal of pale colour around the muzzle and chin of the cat can also help to decide that the cat is likely to be a tabby, not a self red. Many judges commenting upon red selfs often refer to the presence of pattern on the cat, but do not explain whether they think this is 'good or bad'. Unless it is a ticked-based red self, it is inevitable that the cat will show a pattern, and this should not be penalised.

Ticked Tabbies

The Standard of Points is clear about how the coat of these tabbies should be manifested. It is important to understand that in the dilute colours and in the red series cats, it is more difficult to see how many bands of ticking are apparent. By teasing out one or two individual hairs from the coat and placing these against a dark background, it is possible to see how many bands of ticking are apparent. It is not considered sufficient for a judge to write a report which simply states "a good ticked coat". A more detailed description as to why he/she considers it to be good is required. The number of bands of ticking should also be noted.

Silver Tabbies

These are simply tabby cats whose undercoat is silver. In these cats the pattern does not generally penetrate right to the root of the hair shaft, but the pattern should be clear, well defined and should conform to the Standard of Points. There should be minimal agouti invasion of the pattern, but the colour of the pattern is likely to be 'colder' than it would be on a non-silver coat. Some silver cats can show a large amount of "tarnishing" (i.e. rustiness) through the coat, sometimes to the point where the cat does not look like a silver. This is very undesirable and should be penalised.


The Standard of Points is clear as to what is expected for these cats to conform. However, as already referred to above there may be some vestigial barring seen in the red or cream areas, just as these will be visible in the red self cat and, this should not penalise an otherwise good cat. However, the cat's hair should be sound in the non-red/cream areas. This is often overlooked in reports.

Standard Shadeds

A Standard Shaded Cat is one where the 'wide-band' gene behaves in the same way as in the silver shaded (see below), but the undercoat, or ground colour, will be the same colour as it would be for a non-shaded tabby cat. In exactly the same way as described for the silver shaded version (see below), a 'good' standard shaded leaves the pattern sitting at the top of the hair shaft and has the same effect of making the pattern vestigial. The best shaded almost look 'tipped', with almost no patter being seen, except as a 'patina' of colour at the end of the hair shaft. The undercoat should occupy at least one half of the hair shaft from the skin upwards, and be a clear, sound colour. A 'poor' standard shaded is one where the ground colour has little or no depth and the pattern is broken up and is usually invaded with many agouti hairs, which are sometimes misconstrued as being 'ticked'. Cats and kittens with these coats should not be awarded certificates.

Silver Shadeds

A Shaded Oriental is one where the presence of the 'wide-band' gene results in the cat's coat pattern being expressed only at the tip of the hair shaft. The 'undercoat - i.e. the ground colour' in this variety is silver. The silver gene (or inhibitor gene) is dominant and therefore one parent must be silver to produce a silver kitten. The silver gene acts as an inhibitor, in that it changes the way the primary colour of the cat's coat expresses itself; thus for example, it can considerably make the chocolate colour look very cold and dark. It also seems to be a gene that can manifest itself slightly differently in various individuals. In a 'good' silver shaded the silver undercoat is clear silver (white) and penetrates from the base of the hair shaft until it forms, from the skin up, two-thirds or more of the hair shaft, so that the pattern sits almost at the tip of the hair shaft and thus appears to be diffused, or almost appearing not to form a distinct pattern of any kind. A 'poor' silver shaded is one where the silver undercoat penetrates less far up the hair shaft, is not of a pure white quality, and the coat pattern that occupies the remainder of the hair shaft and is indistinct and possibly also considerably invaded with agouti hairs. A coat which has these characteristics may also be a 'poor' silver tabby cat. In either case these cats and kittens should not be awarded certificates. It is possible that, over time, these coats can improve - some can later become better shadeds; but often they continue to neither conform to either the shaded or the tabby SOP.

It is not satisfactory for judges to simply describe a cat as being "a good shaded"; a more detailed description as to why he/she thinks the coat is a good specimen of the pattern must be written.


An Oriental Smoke is a self-cat which has the silver gene. As already mentioned, above, the silver gene manifests itself differently individual by individual. In some individuals the silver can be very evident in that the cat looks 'smoky' - i.e. the silver showing through the coat, usually from an early age. In other individuals, the cat can look like an 'ordinary' self until he coat is turned back to show the silver at the base of the hair shaft. The current Standard of Points favours the latter expression of silver. What is unacceptable in the Smoke is for the cat to look almost like a tabby cat, where the coat shows clear tabby pattern all over the cat's body.

However, because the hair on the cat's face is very short and sparser than on the body, one frequently sees a faint expression of tabby on the face, allowing the silver to be more visible. These are often described as "clown markings" and should not be penalised. With the exception of the face markings just described, the expression of the 'smoking' on the cat's body should be consistent through the coat.

The only time such expression of pattern being permissible on the body of a Smoke would be if it is a red series cat, where visible pattern should not be penalised. It can sometimes be difficult, especially in young cats to tell the difference between unsound selfs and 'poor' smokes. The only difference would be if the 'unsoundness' causes a very pale (almost white) colour at the base of the hair shaft, indicating that the individual could well be a smoke if the parentage allows this. Such expression of the smoke coat can improve over time (particularly in cats of paler colours), but the cat may never be a 'good' smoke. If in doubt it would be wise not to award certificates to such cats, especially if these are more mature individuals, when the expression of the silver gene would be expected to have become more pronounced.

Tortie Smokes

The same rules apply to the Tortie Smokes, except that it is likely that, in the red or cream areas of the cat's coat some vestige of a pattern might be seen, just as the expression of a pattern in any red series cat (whether self or tabby) is bound to be visible.