Like humans, each cat has a unique appearance. We can, however, use their markings and colours to divide them into six main groups. These are not different breeds of cat, but rather different patterns that domestic short- or longhair cats usually show. Which group does your cat belong to?
1) Solid colour
As implied by the name, a cat with solid colour is one colour all over its coat, with no patches of any other colour.
A bi-coloured cat is white with patches of another colour (e.g. black) on its body. The patterns of the patches are classified further into the broad categories of “magpie” (random spots), “harlequin” (random spots and a coloured tail), “cap-and-saddle” (a coloured head and coloured patch on the back), or “van” (coloured tail and splashes of colour between the ears).
This is the world’s most common coat pattern. If your cat has stripes, it’s a tabby. They have a distinctive “M” shape marking on their foreheads and often have stripes on the sides of their heads. There are four different tabby patterns.
The coats of tortoiseshell cats have a mixture of black and ginger (referred to as ‘red’ in expert circles). Most of these cats are females. Tortoiseshell patterns can be ‘diluted’, or lighter, where their colours are grey and cream. Cats which have tortoiseshell patterns with tabby stripes are called “torbies”.
These cats have ginger, black and white colouration on their coats. Calico cats can also be ‘diluted’, with cream and grey instead of ginger and black patches amongst the white.
Colourpoint coats are noticeable because the colours are darker on the cooler parts of the cat’s body, i.e. the face, paws, and tail. The distinct darker markings are not visible when the cat is born, but they develop as the cat grows.