from the purr-plexing-puzzle dept.
As any cat owner can tell you, cats don't give up their secrets easily. But a new study, published Tuesday in the science journal Nature Communications, delves into a long-held kitty mystery: How exactly does a tabby cat's genes make those striking stripe patterns in its fur?
"Tabby" isn't a breed; it's a distinct fur pattern common among cats. Tabby cats often have what looks like a letter "M" on their foreheads, plus bold stripes of varying design in their fur. The tabbys have made their mark on pop culture, too. Morris the 9Lives cat food mascot is an orange tabby, as are cartoon cats Garfield and Heathcliff.
In the new study, conducted by scientists affiliated with Alabama's HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology and the Stanford University School of Medicine, 200 litters of nonviable embryos were examined, delving into the mystery of how patterns emerge in a developing cat.
[...] It all may seem like more than you wanted to know about your favorite feline, but the study notes that "understanding the basis of the animal color pattern is a question of longstanding interest for developmental and evolutionary biology."
Kaelin, Christopher B., McGowan, Kelly A., Barsh, Gregory S.. Developmental genetics of color pattern establishment in cats [open], Nature Communications (DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-25348-2)