Flamecloud examines the genetics in Warriors! How do they relate to real-world genetics?
Hi folks, today I decided to write an article. You have decided to read it, or at least open it.
I like genetics, and one of my favorite past times is actually going through and correcting the genetics of books in which genetics don’t really matter (what a great use of my life). Warriors is one of those books.
Most of this info is from The Book of the Cat, which I have spent a while studying (because I’m a genetics nerd and have nothing better to do with my life). I get my family trees and cat colors from https://warriors.fandom.com/wiki/Warriors_Wiki.
So, back to the reason you opened this article: your interested in cat genetics. I am aware that warriors doesn’t use real genetics. I am merely exploring what our favorite kitties would look like if the book did. After I explain the basics, I will discuss Firestar. I know I’m not the first to talk about him, but he seems like a good place to start (being the original main character and all.
For anyone who doesn’t know much about genetics (which is okay!), I’ll go over the basics. Genes cause living things to look, and, to some extent, act the way they do. You many, many pairs of genes influencing the way you look.
-Homozygous: when you have two copies of the same gene (BB, or AA, or CC, ect ect)
-Heterozygous: when you have a copy of two different genes (Bb, Aa, Cc, ect ect)
So, you may have noticed that the genes are coming in pairs. One of the genes in the pair came from your mom, and one came from your dad.
There are many ways genes are inherited. Some are pretty easy, while the others are a little confusing.
Dominant: you only need one copy of this gene for it to show. These are usually represented with capital letters. If you are heterozygous for brown eyes (yeah, yeah, that human genetics, I know, how boring), meaning you carry another gene (blue), you would still have brown eyes since brown is dominant.
Some examples where dominant genes would show: “BB” (homozygous) and “Bb” (heterozygous)
Recessive: consider this the weaklings of genes. They are usually shown with lowercase letters. If there is another gene present, this gene will be hidden by the “bully gene”. (Like the blue eyes discussed above). However, if you have two copies of a recessive gene, it shows. To have blue eyes, you need to be “bb”, homozygous for the recessive genes.
Most genes are either dominant or recessive. However, there are also some other ways genes are inherited.
Incomplete dominance: Say we were considering genetics like a playground. Dominant genes get to play their games, and recessive genes only get to play the game they want to play when there playmate wants to play the same game. Incomplete dominance would be if two genes were to come up with an idea in between the two games they want to play. Say you had a red (RR) flower and a white flower (WW). Their kid would be a pink flower (WR) if those genes are incomplete dominance.
Codominance: This is kind of similar to Incomplete dominance, where neither gene is more dominant. However, these genes can’t compromise on games. They have to divide the playground up and play by themselves. If a blue flower (BB) had a kid with a yellow flower (YY), and those genes had a codominant relationship, the baby flower (BY) would have blue and yellow patches.
Sex linked: This means that the gene being described is found on one of the sex chromosomes, so either X or Y. Most are found on X. We will talk about this later when we get to ginger/Firestar
Allright, onto cat genetics! Note, that when I right “B-”, I am indicating that the cat has a dominant gene and the recessive it might carry isn’t really important at the moment. Also, I’m going out of order, sorry. I’m also skipping certain series where the genes are very rare and don’t show up in warriors.
The B series: Black & Brown
-B: (Black) The dominant gene in this relationship. Cats that are “Bb” or “BB” will have black as there base.
-b1 (chocolate/brown) & b2 (cinnamon/light brown): These genes are pretty much the same, one just causes slightly lighter coloring. They are both a simple recessive, and can be hard to tell apart. I just call them “b” and don’t usually bother with the difference. Only cats that are “bb” will be brown instead of black.
The D series: Dilute
-D (normal): Dominant, causes non-dilute pigmenting.
-d (dilute): Recessive, lightens coat color. It turns ginger (we’ll get to that later) to cream, black to grey, and brown to lilac (a greyish brown color). Cats that are “B-, dd” will be grey, and cats that are “bb, dd” will be lilac.
The C series: Siamese, albinos, and other fun
-C (normal): Dominant, causes normal pigment
-cs (siamese): Recessive to “C”, but dominant to “ca” and “c” and incomplete dominant with “cb”. It causes the typical pattern found in Siamese cats, white with darker points (which can be any base color) and blue eyes. Cats that are “cs ca” or “cs c” will be siamese as well as cats that are “cs cs”. A cat with lilac points, for example, would be “bb, dd, cscs”
-cb (bermese): Recessive to “C”, but dominant to “ca” and “c” and incomplete dominant with “cs”. “cb cb” lightens the coat slightly, leaving the points the same color. With “cs”, it causes a nice, in between color with slightly more defined points. This color is called Tonkenese.
-ca (blue eyes albino): Recessive to all but “c”. It causes a snowy white coat and always has blue eyes. Not all blue eyed whites are blue eyed albinos, (in fact, the blue eyed albino is very rare). It covers up all other genes, so you can’t tell what other things it carries.
-c (albino): an extremely rare, recessive gene. It covers up all other genes.
The L series: coat length
-L (normal, short fur): Dominant
-l (long fur) Recessive
The S series: white spotting
-S (causes white spotting): This gene is codominant with the other gene in it’s series, “s”. A cat that is “SS” will be mostly white with some patches of whatever other colors it carries. A cat that is “Ss” will be in the middle, with 50% or less white on them.
-s (solid): Causes normal, non-white spotted coats
The W series: dominant white
-W (white): causes a nice, snowy white coat. This covers up all other characteristics, unless the cat is “W-, cscs”, in which case it will have the siamese blue eyes. These are different from the blue eyes that sometimes cause blindness. Almost all white cats are an example of dominant white.
Tabby is complicated. It is caused by two different series.
The A series: agouti
-A (agouti): This causes the banding in the cats fur. A cat can not be tabby without the agouti gene. A cat with the agouti gene but not tabby genes will be an agouti, or ticked tabby. They don’t really have stripes, just an odd ticked pattern. These non tabby agoutis are rare.
-a (non agouti): this gene is recessive
The T series: Tabby part two
-T (mackerel) this gene takes any base color (lilac, brown, black, blue), and adds normal tabby stripes. I usually just call this tabby. It is dominant, but without the agouti gene it does not show. Many cats are “aa, TT”, and those may have faint “ghost” strips but usually don’t show and tabby characteristics. A grey tabby is “A-, T-, B-, dd”
-tb (classic): This gene is recessive to “T” but dominant to “t”. It causes a fun swirly tabby pattern. The stuff with agouti applies the same way.
-t (non tabby): recessive, does not add stripes when “A” is present
Note: normal “brown” tabbies are genetically black with the addition of the tabby and agouti genes. “A-, T-, B-”
Ginger: A very complicated headache of a gene
So, I’m going to try to explain ginger. If I fail, please go look it up if you are interested in it.
Basics: We each have two sex chromosomes. If you have two x chomosomes, “XX”, you are a girl. If you have a x and a y chromosome, “XY” you are a guy. Like all genes, you get one from your mom and one from your dad. If you get your dad’s “X” you are a girl (since your mom always gives you an x), if you get your dad’s “Y” you are a boy.
Ginger is a sex linked gene found only on the X chromosome. Girl cats, XX, can have no copies of it, Xn Xn, one copy of it, Xo Xn, or two copies of it, Xo Xo. Boys can be XnY or XoY, meaning they cannot have one of each.
Another fun thing about ginger is that it is also codominant. This only affects the girls, since they can have an “n” and an “o” at the same time. (Unless your a special mutation that is XXY, which is sterile and how Redtail exists.)
So, cats that are XnXn are non ginger, cats that are Xo Xo are ginger, and cats that are XoXn are tortishell.
For the boys, they are either XnY, non ginger, or XoY, ginger.
Ginger covers up brown, so you can not tell if a ginger cat is “B-” or “bb”. It is also impossible to tell if gingers are “A-, T-” because all gingers will have at least faint stripes even if they aren’t genetically a tabby. The dilute form of ginger of cream. Cats that are “XoXn, B-, dd” will be blue creams, cats that are “XoXn, bb, D-” will be a chocolate tortie, and cats that are “XoXn, bb, dd” will be a lilac torti.
Allright, let’s get to Firestar already!
So, when I check the credibility of the warriors genetics, I like to go back to the oldest known ancestor and work from there. Fire* is pretty easy, since he doesn’t have a ton of known relatives.
Crystal: Crystal is a ginger and white she cat, Jake’s mom, and Fire*’s grandma. We don’t know the father of her kits. I like to assume that since she is not described as a tabby that she is not genetically tabby. So, what we know about her is that she is “XoXo, aa, D-, C-, Ss”.
Jake: Jake is Firestar’s dad. We don’t know his dad, but we do know that Jake had to get his X chromosome from his mom, meaning he has to be a ginger product. His coloring from the book is possible! (Unlike so many cats…..) Jake is “XoY, aa, D-, C-, ss”
Now, we look on Fire*’s mom’s side.
Nutmeg: Fire*’s mom. We don’t know her parentage, but she is described as a brown tabby and whiteshe cat. I’m not sure if this refers to brown as in chocolate (bb) or just a normal brown tabby (B-). I headcanon that it means chocolate, and most of the fanart seems to agree with me. Nutmeg is “Aa, T-, bb, D-, C-, Ss”
Now that we’ve confirmed that all of Fire*’s ancestors can actually be their book colors, let’s look at Nutmeg x Jake. Firestar isn’t a tabby, and doesn’t have his mom’s white spotting, meaning the only thing we’re really looking at is his ginger.
Like I’ve covered before, you get one sex chromosome from each parent, just like all the other genes. So, the genes we have are “XoY” and “XnXn”. The female kittens would get Jake’s X, and an X from Nutmeg. This means that they are all “XoXn”, and tortishells of some sort. (Meaning that Princess has to be “XoXn, Aa, T-, bb, D-, C-, Ss” and is also genetically incorrect, fun fact) The boys of this litter get Jake’s Y and one of Nutmeg’s Xs, making them XnY, NON-GINGER CATS!
So, the most likely color for Fire* to be is black (he could also potentially be solid brown but that is less likely).
Hope you enjoyed the article! Also, let me know if you like this sort of thing. (Because I have spent way too much time looking at warrior’s family trees and have plenty of genetics knowledge to share if you’re interested.)