14 different cat coat colours and patterns defined

What are the cat coat colours and patterns? I have 14 variants here, on this page.

Abyssinian cat
Abyssinian. Photo copyright Helmi Flick.
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Tabby Hair Strand
Tabby Hair Strand
  1. The agouti coat colour and pattern is actually not a pattern at all but an even coat with a salt-and-pepper appearance produced by bands of colour in each hair shaft – very dark brown and a yellowish colour (see picture above). The agouti gene produces this coat and the pale areas in the hair shaft are the same pale areas that you see in tabby cats. The classic agouti coat is seen on the Abyssinian purebred cat.
  2. The tabby cat is the original domestic cat. The first domestic cat in existence on the planet had a tabby coat colour and pattern. It was a rather weak form of the modern tabby coat. It means dark markings either in the shape of spots (spotted), swirls and blotches (classic) or stripes (mackerel pattern) on a paler background. The striped sections of the tabby cat coat is a solid colour going to the root (or the black – melanin – is near and at the surface in my opinion) while the background colour is agouti which means that the lighter bands of colour in the hair shaft are on the surface (see above).
  3. When there is an even colour without a pattern all over the cat with no agouti banding in the hair shafts, these cat coats are called solid or self.
  4. You will see diluted coats in which the colours and patterns have a faded or diluted appearance. The colours are paler so for example black becomes grey (also called blue), red becomes cream and these coats are sometimes called “maltesed” or “caramelised”.
  5. The pointed coat is classically seen on the Siamese cat. It means a coat which is pale on the body with dark legs, face and tail. You can have sepia or Burmese pointing in which there is less contrast between the body and the extremeties. There is also Tonkinese pointing which is between Burmese pointing and the pointing of Siamese cats. The Siamese family of cats is large and includes the Javanese as seen in the photograph below.
  6. When a coat has two colours one of which is white they are called bi-colour cats. The amount of white and the amount of solid colour can vary tremendously and can be in any proportion from the mitted cat to the Van coat.
  7. The tortoiseshell coat is a mixing of a eumelanistic a phaeomelanistic colour: black and red, or blue and cream. You probably know that all tortoiseshell and tortoiseshell-and-white cats are nearly always female. This is because the genes dictating the coat’s colour and pattern are sex linked.
  8. When the coat is a tortoiseshell coat intermingled with other colours it is called a brindle coat or is called “brindled“.
  9. The calico is an American term referring to the tortoiseshell-and-white cat coat.
  10. Mitted is a term used to describe a cat whose coat has white “boots” on each foot. See the Snowshoe cat breed in photo below.
  11. The Van pattern is very noticeable and originates in Turkey. Specifically the Turkish Van region i.e. Lake Van. These cats are almost entirely white and they are bi-colour cats with coloured fur on the tail and an inverted V pattern between the ears and on the forehead (see picture below).
  12. The chinchilla colour and pattern is silver hair with coloured tips. It is also called “tipped”.
  13. The shaded coat is silver hair shafts with tip colour extending further down the hair shafts.
  14. The smoke coat is silver hair with tip colour almost to the roots – see Quin below.

You can see all these coat colours and patterns on numerous cats on this website. Please copy the coat type into the custom search to see more.

Postscript – genetically speaking all domestic cats are tabby cats. If you do not see the tabby pattern it is because it is masked by the other non-tabby colours.

Javanese is a colourpoint cat
Javanese is a colourpoint cat. Photo copyright Helmi Flick. This cat may be a lynx point as well as flame pointed.
Snowshoe cat showing mitted feet
Snowshoe cat showing mitted feet. Photo: Helmi Flick.
Syrian Van patterned street cat
Syrian Van patterned street cat
Black smoke Maine Coon cat
Quin: Black smoke Maine Coon cat. Photo copyright Helmi Flick.

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