Cat Colors

Cat colors are many. It would seem as though they come in all the colors of the rainbow: red, blue, brown, cream… They also come in basic white and black, of course.

Cats also come in an ample variety of coat patterns and variations. In addition to a basic color, cats can have stripes, whirls, whorls, points and other markings.

Interestingly, the color of your cat is not determined by her breed.

There are, however, colors and/or patterns that may occur more often on certain breeds than in others.

So what color is your cat? If you want to learn more about the different cat colors and cat coat patterns, please read on.

Your basic cat color

Despite the variety of colors and patterns, cats come in three basic colors: red, black, and white. Everything else is a variation of red and black. Now, red encompasses what many people call orange, ginger, yellow and marmalade.

Another important point is that solid colors can also be diluted. For example, thanks to the dilution gene in cats, red turns into cream.

Now here’s a brief guide to the different cat colors and patterns:

Solids – Cats with solid colors have no markings (like stripes, for instance). Solids come in three basic colors plus their corresponding diluted versions. Solid colors include black, white, and blue. Red and cream cats have the tabby pattern so you won't see solid-orange or solid-cream cats.

"Smokes" - Cats that appear to have a solid color (i.e. blue or black) all over but whose roots are white are called Smokes.

Multiple colors – Some cats come in multicolor patterns:

  • Calico cats are considered true tricolor cats, sporting a coat of three distinct patches of black, red and white. Others consider tortoiseshell cats to be tricolor cats as well; however, their coat patterns do not display the three colors as distinctly as calicos do.

  • Bicolor cats show two distinct colors, one of them being white. Tuxedo cats, with their beautiful black and white coats are examples of bicolor cats.

Cat patterns and cat markings
Cats also come in different patterns, including:

  • Tabby. This is the best-known cat pattern. Tabbies are the world-famous, tiger-looking, striped cats. The tabby pattern comes in four variations: mackerel, ticked, classic, and spotted. And of course, these striped kitties come in different colors, too. You’ll find gray tabbies, brown tabbies, etc.

    Interestingly, if you look at the light hairs of a tabby, you will notice that each hair has light and dark stripes. This type of marking (or banding) is known as "agouti".

  • Torties. Also known as tortoiseshell tabbies, these cats come in a pattern of two solid colors: red and black. Some also show a little bit of white fur, but most have no white fur.

  • Torbie. Add stripes to a tortie and you get a torbie cat.

  • Pointed cats - These cats display "points," or deeper shades of a particular color. These points usually occur in the muzzle, ears, tail, and paws. The Siamese cat is the original pointed breed, but now other breeds also produce pointed cats including the Colorpoint Shorthair, the Himalayan, and the Persian.

Same color, different name

Many cat fanciers refer to the same color by a different name:

  • Red is also referred to as orange, yellow, ginger, and rust.

  • Blue is also called gray (or grey) and maltese.

  • Seal and chocolate are referred to as brown.

  • Silver is also known as gray.

Gift ideas

You’ll find cat pictures of cats in all the colors and patterns discussed here. Cat posters, cat prints, cat photographs, and cat paintings showcasing cats in solid colors or in any of the patterns make great gifts for cat lovers.

If cat coloring intrigues you, here are some fun books:

--Cats by Ruth Heller, Ruth Heller (Illustrator)

--All Color Book of Cats (101 Illustrations in color) by Elizabeth Towe and Christine Metcalf

--The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Cat Breeds (Illustrated Encyclopedias) by Angela Rixon

Related topics

Beautiful white cats

The mysterious black cats

Orange tabby cats

The elegant Siamese cat

Learn about Colopoint cats

Cat breeds

Gray cat names

Black cat names

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