Sweet Cat Ultraviolet; with Cameo by Shelley

Ultraviolet making herself comfortable

Our new cat Ultraviolet has been with us since around the end of August 2017. Rescued from the streets, she took some time to settle in. Now she is one of the sweetest kitties we’ve ever had! She sits with us, adds necessary purrs, and helps with all our activities.

In a previous post I noted that she makes a meow movement with her mouth but we don’t hear anything. We’ve found she actually can meow! But only a series of deeper, calling meows, from the distance of another room, when she wants company or food. Of course we answer, “Kitty,” when we hear this, and give her whatever she wants. When she’s within visual range, looks up at us and opens her mouth in a greeting meow, there’s no sound.

Bright, inquisitive Ultraviolet

I think she has some Persian ancestry. Looking at the shape of her face and her noggin with it’s smoothly rounded dome like you see on the roof of the Smithsonian, a little googling, and some study of pictures of Persian cats convinced me. Her facial structure, wide-set ears, deep-set eyes, short muzzle, high cresting cranium, and the appearance of her profile is unlike the morphology of any other cats we’ve had and so much more like that of the Persians. She’s nowhere near purebred, but I suspect some part of her heritage came from Persian cats.

The vet thinks she has food allergies. I didn’t believe she’d like hydrolyzed food, but she devours it. So much that we may have to control her portions. That’s not going to sit well with her. Although she has a pretty good grasp of electromagnetic radiation, she just can’t compute “empty food bowl”.

Ultraviolet stretching and reaching with flexed paw

She’s really hard to photograph; if she’s awake, she’s moving. Because she’s a black and red cat, she’s also hard to photo edit. If I saturate to make the black deep enough, the red looks too red. If I adjust towards blue to counter that, the black goes too blue. It’s fun to experiment though, while I slowly learn(?) photo editing from the ground up.

She does look blacker than she did in the summer, maybe because she now has her winter pelage, or maybe the ruddy color was partly caused by sun exposure and has faded under indoor light. But look close and you can still see red tones in her fur. I don’t think she’s a variety of tortoiseshell; her reds are darker, like clay earth and dried pine needles, unlike the sunny orangey-red I see in tortoiseshells. Here’s a picture of Shelley, my friend’s tortie, for comparison. “Phhsssst!” says UV, “A strange cat in my post, that is so not cool!”

Shelley the tortie

I’ve learned from this article by Franny Syufy that some long-haired black cats may be genetically predisposed to sun “rusting”.


The genetic mechanism described in the article appears to differ from the one that causes tortoiseshell coloration, which involves the pairing of a red X chromosome and a black X chromosome. In my opinion UV is not a tortie.

I’m also seeing more and more photos of long-furred black cats who appear to have red “frosted” areas like Ultraviolet, on the internet. There was even one found wandering downtown on the streets. Kind people placed him in a home. So reddish floof over black is in the local gene pool?!

Ultraviolet has a sweet way about her

Domestic long-haired cats are only about a tenth of the random-bred cat population in the US, so maybe it’s not so strange that I didn’t know this color configuration existed. I had never seen a basically black cat with so much ruddy fur. However there’s also this: I haven’t seen enough cats! I so need to get out more!

Elegant Ultraviolet

Ultraviolet’s take on cat scholarship is that I need see no other cats, only her. She’s the one cat I need to study. I’m trying to convince her that although her wise, mature presence has taught me more than a universe of other cats and kittens ever could, I can still glean useful cat facts from observing other felids. If I know my cats, it may work to her benefit, I tell her. “Puuurrrrrrr.” She’s content with that answer, for now.

Here is the link to the quick announcement when Ultraviolet arrived.


About Leah

I'm Leah T. Alford, a writer fascinated by the natural world and animals, especially cats.
This entry was posted in black cats, Cat Topics, Cats and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

66 Responses to Sweet Cat Ultraviolet; with Cameo by Shelley

  1. She’s a beauty!

  2. Valentine says:

    That is wonderful that you have given the stunning Ultraviolet a home! I’m sure she will be furr-ever grateful! I thing she does have some Perisan in her! Maybe she and I are related somewhere down the line?! Mom says my furrs get a little on the reddish black side on my ruff at my neck. She contributes it to sun fading when I sun puddle. She says she often finds it difficult to get the color of my furrs true when she photographs me. Purrs!

    • Catwoods says:

      Valentine, thank you so much for your kind words! Perhaps you and Ultraviolet are related. She thinks you are a handsome cat indeed and would be very pleased if that were true! Oh yes, it’s quite a challenge to capture the fur color in the photos but we have fun with it along the way. Purrs going right back atcha!

  3. chattykerry says:

    Is it just artistic coincidence that Pantone’s color of the year is Ultra Violet? If so, you are very on trend with your kitty name, Leah…😻

    • Catwoods says:

      LOL, it’s a coincidence, a nice one, and that’s good to know, Kerry. I was thinking of something that’s always there but frequently overlooked, like stray and feral cats. And also of one of my favorite colors, purple.

  4. da-AL says:

    such a beauty!

  5. cat9984 says:

    We think that Ultraviolet is beautiful the way she is and doesn’t need to be photoshopped (whatever that is). Purrs, Snoops and Kommando Kitty

    • Catwoods says:

      For sure UV’s a beauty the way she is, and loves to hear you say that, Snoops and Commando, puuuurrrrrrrs. I’m just not the best at making good use of our indoor light, which isn’t that great. In a really dark picture, to bring out her facial features I have to lighten and brighten and also keep her from looking too washed out. I’m working on doing better with camera settings but have a lot going on.

  6. RMW says:

    I must be related as in the summer my dark brown hair gets rusticated! At my age I should have grey or white hair but it just won’t go there! Must be those feline genes…

  7. - says:

    Hi, Leah & UV! I’ve been meaning to stop by here for so long, but I find these days ticking away in a “new normal”—my husband retired at the end of December, so there’s that, but then I went and agreed to teach a class at the college which really added to my “new” new! LOL Anyway, another excellent and visually stimulating and satisfying post … and starring none other than Miss UV herself! You know, my beloved black cat Tomas (the only black cat we’ve ever had) would often open his mouth and no meow would come out! It was kind of funny. I wonder if that’s a Persian thing, because I do believe he had some Persian in him. He was one of the smartest, if not THE smartest cat, we’ve ever had, and he was so loving and kind as well. I really do miss him. I’m so happy for you and your husband for taking in UV and giving her a good, loving home — she’s a very lucky kitty! And please keep sharing photos of her! Love to see her. And oh yes, Tomas rusted a bit too, which only added to his exquisite handsomeness. 😉 LOL

    • Catwoods says:

      Hello – ! I’m always glad to see you but there’s never any rush. I have to pace everything out myself and I understand being busy. So nice to be teaching; I hope the students appreciate your expertise! Your Tomas sounds like a lovely kitty and I understand how you miss him, I still miss all our kitties too. Congratulations on your husband’s retirement. It’s a great chance to do stuff you’ve always wanted to do, or need to do, LOL. We find that even though retired, we never catch up on our ‘to-do’ lists. Best wishes, always, Leah

  8. She’s adorable and we just love her name ❤ Heart shaped Pawkisses for a Happy Valentine to all of you ❤ ❤ ❤

  9. My Honey does that silent auction meow too. But she’s only really been doing it the last 5 years or so, in her senior age.
    Of my black cats, the only one I see with any hint of red is my solid black Clover. With his black nose, black whiskers, black jellybeans, and black lips-he is solid black. But when the Sun hits them just right, I definitely see a reddish brown undertone.

    • Catwoods says:

      Interesting that your Honey also has a quiet meow. Our kitty is also a little older, estimated by the vets to be about 10. Your experience with varying black cats matches mine. We’ve had a number of black cats over many years and the fur varied. Some were darker with no trace of reddish highlights. Others had the hint of red in the sun, the way you describe your Clover. UV has more red than I’ve ever seen but she’s a solid black cat. There must be some subtle genetic variations at work here. Every aspect of cats provides endless fascination!

  10. chattykerry says:

    I thought UV might get a little darker but I hope she keeps her auburn highlights! She is a beautiful girl and glad she is confident to speak to you now. It took me ages to realize that feral cats rarely talk (unless in heat or battle) and a few of ours did silent miaows. Toffee did one the other day but it was only because she had dehydrated her vocal cords from sitting too close to the fire, When we laughed she did it again, just to amuse us. Aren’t cats delightful, Leah? Katniss really shouted at me this week because I gave her leftovers…

    • Catwoods says:

      I think UV will keep her redness but may be a little redder when summer comes. That’s been my experience too, ferals only meow to you once they decide you can help them out with something! Cats are an endless joy, Kerry, you described it perfectly with “delightful”! Cheers, Leah

  11. She is adorable. I used to have a semi-long haired black cat with rusty tones which were more pronounced in summer. She was also part persian.

    • Catwoods says:

      Ultraviolet is very happy to hear you think she is cute! Interesting about your long-haired black kitty with some reddish tints. I’m learning that many more are out there than I thought! My past two kitties with black mid-length fur just didn’t have the red glow so I was unfamiliar with this.

  12. Kay Rickman says:

    What a beautiful kitty Ultraviolet is! The name lone conjures Warhol and days gone by. She is truly unique!

    • Catwoods says:

      Thank you Kay, she loves to hear she’s beautiful and unique! I’m glad you thought of Warhol since I hadn’t actually recalled that, but it fits beautifully! ❤

  13. Lavinia Ross says:

    Ultraviolet is a very beautiful kitty, Catwoods! And Shelley, too!

  14. claire says:

    She sure is the most “catlike” cat I’ve seen in a long time! Great subject for photos.

  15. She’s a beautiful girl. I would love to pet her lovely fur!

    • Catwoods says:

      Thank you Suzanne, UV likes your kind comment very much. You know, her fur is really silky to pet. I don’t think I’ve ever petted a kitty with such soft fur.

  16. Mollie Hunt says:

    An artistic approach to the color of black cats.

    • Catwoods says:

      Thank you Mollie, for your kind words, I try. I was a painter (mainly) and can’t do that now so I’m trying with photos. And I find the color of black cats endlessly fascinating!

  17. Lauren says:

    This is very lovely, loving, and informative, Leah. I’m a Tabby person, and I am inspired now to research Effie’s probable origin. Probably the streets, but long before that there must have been Scotland. . . .😽🐾❤

    • Catwoods says:

      Thank you for your kind words, Lauren! I love tabbies too, and we had a couple in the past. You will find tabbies go back very far, in fact tabby was the original pattern of wild cats who eventually became housecats. A very long history there.

      • Lauren says:

        Yes, I found lots of articles and pictures, and read that wildcats were indeed in the tabby ancestral line. No doubt there–Effie plays like a wildcat! And our humorless Halvor, a ginger tabby, remains the Mighty Hunter, no matter what we feed him.

        It’s so interesting to read up on our cats, and who they are, and why! Thank you for the inspiration, Leah!

        • Catwoods says:

          My pleasure! I’ve loved reading about cat history, and it keeps changing all the time with more discoveries and more thinkers weighing in! And then of course I forget some of what I’ve read!

          • Lauren says:

            Simpatica! I forget nearly everything I read, hear, see on a map, etc. I love the song “Memories” from the musical “Cats,” but I can never recall the lyrics anymore!

      • Lauren says:

        Paladin looks like he has a lot of European Wildcat traits, as well as Scottish Fold. There is a Fold variant with “Pointy” ears. His tail is exactly like the Wildcat’s–same bulk and same color and stripe pattern, and his large eyes and broad face are decidedly Scottish Fold Pointy. Tabby lineage could become a consuming interest! (I think it already has. . .)

        • Catwoods says:

          That’s interesting Lauren, Paladin sounds like a majestic cat! The study of cat lineage had me very involved for awhile (still working on that book, yikes). Opinions change and I think the African Wildcat is said to be the main direct ancestor of the house cat now, with little contribution from the European Wildcat. However, the thinking is always subject to change, and somewhere back many eons ago, the lineages all join. The green-eyed mackerel tabby was said to be the phenotype (most commonly expressed genetic variant) of the domestic cat species, in something I read. We had one years ago, a beauty called “Pretty Girl.”

          • Lauren says:

            The European Wildcat’s tail form and striping are nearly identical to Paladin’s; the African Wildcat has a very differently marked tail and much longer legs. A phenotype is the presentation resulting from genetic coding and environment. I am pursuaded that a Scottish species is statistically more likely to have European genetic input than African. I’m sticking with Paladin’s phenotype as being derived from a European genotype.

            • Catwoods says:

              Paladin (an absolutely beautiful cat) does indeed look like European wildcats, Lauren, and there is a Scottish Wildcat that is thought by some to be a subspecies of the European Wildcat; and by others, to be a separate species of wildcat. The African Wildcat is also called the Near Eastern Wildcat or Middle Eastern Wildcat, and had a much wider range than only Africa; I’m just saying that out of general interest, though, as I said the thinking and knowledge about cat history grows and changes. That’s why when relaying the natural history in the book I state that such-and-such is so-and-so’s statement, because someone else may come along any minute and have a different idea! Anyhoo I so miss our tabbies, they were sweet, sweet cats!

  18. Cathy Humphries says:

    I really enjoy your writing Leah. You made me smile for the first time today! I especially loved the Elegant Ultraviolet photo. Give your sweet fur baby a head bump for me. ❤

  19. nananoyz says:

    Ultraviolet is lovely. We also have a silent meower. When an infrequent sound emerges it’s either a click or a peep. Cutest thing ever.

  20. weggieboy says:

    She’s a beautiful v=black kitty for sure! I have a similar problem photo editing my Persian kitty boys. They are basically black cats, but there is a reddish tint to deal with. Also, thought they are pedigree kitties, their Birman father gave them Birman markings, if very subtle except in just so light!

    • Catwoods says:

      I didn’t realize your kitty boys had some Birman heritage! Interesting that they too have a little reddish coloring. Your boys are such handsome cats. Ultraviolet is very pleased with your kind words!

      • weggieboy says:

        Yes, that apparently is typical for Persian kitties to have Birman bloodlines to improve their genetics. It’s a mystery to me how they define purebred and pedigree but both Andy and Dougy could be registered as pedigree kitties if there were any point to it. I was given them free on two conditions: I didn’t show them in cat shows (no desire to get involved in that business anyway!) and is didn’t breed them (I wouldn’t have intact male cats as inside house cats under any circumstances, brothers or not! They were neutered at the point their veterinarian said they could be.) As for Ultraviolet, she’s such a pretty kitty, it is was to say nice things about her!

        • Catwoods says:

          Now that you mention the genetic factor I remember reading that purebreds are sometimes outcrossed with domestic cats to widen the gene pool, so other purebreds introduced into the lines would no doubt have the same effect. Andy and Dougy certainly look entirely Persian. They are stunning cats! I wouldn’t have wanted to be involved in the cat showing circuit either; even though many have divisions for random breds now, it’s just too hectic for me.

          • weggieboy says:

            I saw a documentary on public television that showed how that cat show circuit works. I agree: too hectic… and expensive! Andy would resist the process and Dougy would always mess up his fluff at the critical moment the judges came around. (He hates being held for long, and I bet he’d lose on deportment issues!) Thanks! I think they are pretty stunning, too. I feel very lucky to have them and recognize you don’t get pedigree kitties for free under most circumstances. (“Free” after $1400 worth of veterinarian bills to bring them to health after an infection with a parasite they got eating an inflected grasshopper or two…! They had a rough kittenhood at the start.)

            • Catwoods says:

              Yikes, vet bills, yep, we know about those! All cats are marvelous so I never related to the idea that they could be rated and judged somehow. Glad your boys came through the parasite thing OK, they have certainly become radiant!

              • weggieboy says:

                It was touch and go in the early stages because they were so tiny, but they did come through it fine! They spent a fair amount of their first three months in the veterinarian clinic. I’m like you on the cat show business. Ordinary moggies can be and often are just as magnificent as pedigree kitties. I had a ginger tabby, Louie, that was easily the prettiest kitty I’ve even known, yet he was “just” a “mutt”! If you want to see what he looked like, type Louie in the search box at the upper right.

                • Catwoods says:

                  I did go take a look at Louie, what a grand cat fellow! The orange kitties are striking. With one exception all of our kitties have walked up been or rescued from the sides of roads. Random breds all.

                  • weggieboy says:

                    He was exceptionally pretty, I thought. His only flaw was a couple or so rings on his tail were faded out-looking, but I think his head markings were striking and especially handsome. He had a sweet personality and had a habit of hopping on my lap when I didn’t expect an almost 24 pound (muscular!) cat to land there. LOL!

                    • Catwoods says:

                      Louie was gorgeous! Such a bright red/orange and cool markings. The cat we lost last year, Bud, was 20+ lbs too, big build, and it felt like a ton of bricks when he landed on you. I miss that cat guy so much!

                    • weggieboy says:

                      My mother met Louie once and from that point on asked how my cheetah was when I went to visit her. I finally realized she thought he was a cheetah, he was so large! LOL! He was dog-like in terms of his social nature.

  21. niasunset says:

    She is so lovely dear Leah, blessing her. I can almost understand you about taking her pictures, black cat not easy for photography, and also the cats that we have not easy too! I have experienced this so many times. My cats are not being a nice model as I take the other cats in the street or in the garden… Actually I mean the cats who don’t know me, they really give a nice pose to me… But when they know you, they start to move, to touch, to come near, and sometimes as my Princess, escapes from the camera… If you notice my today’s post, there is a black cat and not a good photograph, and as you meant couldn’t play more on photoshop. It’s been really difficult. On the other hand I am not a professional photographer and also not using any other equipment for the photography. I try to take nature moments with Mr. Sixty, you know. About your photography is nice and good, especially in the first one, UV standing so niceley and you captured well, I can say artistic touches in your shots.

    Good Morning to you both, it is always so nice to see you lovely UV, be a nice girl 🙂 Ours kitty man seems will be a real monster but I am sure, he would love you if we were here or there….

    Have a nice day dear Leah, Thank you, Love and Hugs, nia

    • Catwoods says:

      Oh thank you Nia, UV is happy with your kind words! I thought the black cat looked beautiful in your picture today! I know what you mean about the cats that know you, who have identified you as a cat person, coming up to be friendly and just moving around, not staying still enough at all! Your photos are really excellent, and thank you for the nice words about mine. I’m really a beginner, not really a photographer, but I can’t do paintings and mixed media art any more so I a try to use photos for nature, and to help tell cat stories. I’m sure I’d love your kitten, but they have so much energy, so much more than me these days, I don’t think I could raise one myself. But they are truly so much fun! Have a great day full of kitten adventures, Nia!

  22. toutparmoi says:

    She’s a gorgeous girl! Now I think about it, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen that reddish in the fur of longer-coated cats rather than in black shorthairs. I’ll have to start looking at black cats more carefully.

  23. Bernadette says:

    Ultraviolet looks about as ruddy as any of my ebony felines. When mine are next to each other it’s easy to see that each is a different shade of black and Mimi and Bean, most alike in furs, look positively brown next to Mewsette. Long hairs have a longer undercoat which is nearly always lighter than the top coat, and on warm black cats is brown, seal, mahogany or chocolate, like Hamlet.

    • Catwoods says:

      That’s very interesting Bernadette! What you say about the length of long fur meaning more variations in tone and color totally makes sense. We’ve had 14 kitties over the years and I have had a similar experience viewing the 8 who were black and blk/wte tuxie cats (mostly smoothies, 2 slightly long-furred and now extra-floofy UV.) I noticed varied coats, some appearing much blacker than others. I think the camera tends to capture it, UV may look very dark under certain light to the eyes and then when I look through the lens, the redness is there.

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