The 6 main coat patterns of cats

Coat patterns of cats
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Filed under Cats, Elderly Cats, Kittens.

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.

Black solid coloured cat

2) Bi-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).

3) Tabby

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.

Tabby kitten

4) Tortoiseshell

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”.

5) Tri-colour/Calico

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.

Tri-colour / calico cat

6) Colourpoint

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.

Colourpoint cat

About the author
About the author
Seldom without a red pen, Jade is a professional writer and ruthless copy editor. She specialises in business and academic writing, and has a soft spot for anything feline.
View all posts by Jade Smith

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