Guide to Cat Coat Colors and Patterns

by Sarah Hartwell
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  • Blue
  • Chocolate (Chestnut)
  • Cream: true (sex-linked) cream
  • Fawn (Beige): non sex-linked cream (dilute sorrel)
  • Ivory: warm beige ticking on ivory (Singapura)
  • Lavender (Lilac): dilute chocolate
  • Red: true (sex-linked) red
  • Ruddy (Usual, Brown, Tawny)
  • Silver (Silver Usual/Silver Ruddy): silvery undercoat/base color
  • Golden (Golden Usual/Golden Ruddy): golden undercoat/base color
  • Sorrel (Cinnamon): non sex-linked red

Because agouti is a type of tabby, those colors can combine with the tortoiseshell markings to give Blue Tortoiseshell, Chocolate Tortoiseshell etc.

Ticked colors can occur on a silver undercoat e.g. Sorrel Silver, Blue Silver, Chocolate Silver etc. Silver Abyssinians and Silver Somalis are popular in Britain but rare in the US. The Alaskan Snow Cat has the Silver Abyssinian coat pattern. Ticked tortie can occur on a silver background to give Blue Silver Tortoiseshell, Chocolate Silver Tortoiseshell etc. The Silver Tortoiseshell Abyssinian/Somali is also called Ruddy Silver Tortie.

White: (Suqutranese only) pure white, translucent silver-white bands on hair visible in good light. White Somalis are bred, but not recognized. The effect is that of a sparkling white coat. The ticked colors and ticked tortie colors can be patched with white to give ticked bicolor, but this is presently only seen in non-pedigree cats.

Broken Colors: Tortoiseshells, Bicolors & Tricolors

Tortoiseshell is the mixing of two or more distinct colors; one of the colors is red or cream. The black/orange tortie will be familiar to most readers. In pedigree cats, well defined patches of each color are preferred. Cats with tabby markings on a tortie background are known as tabby-torties/patched tabbies/torties. Where the hairs are mixed together, the cat is referred to as brindled. Almost all tortie/tortie-and-white cats are female; males do occur sometimes but they are either infertile or they have a genetic condition called "mosaicism" and do not bred true.

  • Tortoiseshell: Black/Orange (tabby markings visible on the orange patches)
  • Dilute Tortoiseshell: Blue-Cream (tabby visible on cream patches)
  • Brown Tortoiseshell: (Burmese version of black/orange Tortoiseshell)
  • Chocolate (Chestnut) Tortoiseshell:Warm milk chocolate, red, and cream
  • Cinnamon Tortoiseshell: Milk-chocolate brown and cream (Burmese)
  • Lilac (Lavender) Tortoiseshell: Frosty lilac-gray and cream

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