Silver tabby is also caused by the dominant Inhibitor gene, but this time in combination with the dominant Agouti gene. Silver tabbies have a silvery background colour with a tabby pattern overlaid on it. Silver tabbies in the random breeding population are prone to tarnishing - the appearance of a yellowish or rusty hue. The Inhibitor gene seems eliminate the yellow pigment in the agouti (ticked) hairs of the background colour, but does not affect the non-agouti areas (the markings). In longhairs, the silver pattern is diffused by the hair length although residual striping may be seen on the legs and face.
The growing popularity of the Chinchilla Persian was at the expense of the silver tabbies which almost vanished (although World War 2 also caused many breeds to go into serious decline). In 1951, Soderberg wrote "Silvers - this breed has almost disappeared, and at the present time there are only very few breeders who are attempting to bring it back to the popularity which it possessed at the beginning of the century. Admittedly it is a difficult breed, and the only specimens which one now sees are lacking in type. A really good specimen could expect to win premier honours at a show, and it is well worth attempting to produce such a "flyer". Although the Silver Tabby is definitely one of the neglected breeds, it would be a thousand pities if it were allowed to sink into oblivion."
The best known silver tabbies are the shorthaired black versions (widely used in advertising), simply called Silver tabbies. These have black markings on a silver undercoat (as shown in the photo; this cat has some tarnishing). Other silver tabbies are prefixed by the name of the marking colour e.g. Blue Silver Tabby, Chocolate Silver Tabby, Lilac Silver Tabby, Cinnamon Silver tabby and Fawn Silver Tabby. Pewter Tabbies are now more correctly known as Blue Silver Tabbies.
There are also Red Silver Tabbies (Cameo Tabbies) and Cream Silver Tabbies (Cream Cameo Tabbies) which have red markings and cream markings respectively on a silvery background.
The Inhibitor gene has also been introduced into Abyssinians and Somalis to create silver-undercoated varieties of ticked tabby. These are popular in Britain, but less well known in the USA. The Alaskan Snow Cat has the silver ticked tabby pattern, but has a more rounded shape.
The Silver Tabby has an identical genetic make-up to the Shaded Silver and Chinchilla. The amount of pigmentation depends on minor sets of genes (polygenes).