Cat hair pigmentation types (fully illustrated)

A fully illustrated page on the self, tipped, shaded, smoke and ticked (tabby) cat coat hair strands and the positioning of pigmentation which is called melanin (eumelanin). Melanin is created in pigment producing cells called melanocytes in the skin. Their operation is dictated to by the genotype of the cat. Here are the various hair strands.

Self cat coat hair strand

Self cat coat hair strand

Tipped cat hair strand

Tipped cat hair strand

Shaded cat hair strand

Shaded cat hair strand

Smoke cat hair strand

Smoke cat hair strand

Ticked cat hair strand

Ticked cat hair strand

RELATED: Cat Hair Pigmentation Types

Some Examples

A few words to add to the drawings above. Firstly, there is a page on the type of hair strands referred to in the images on this page.

We all recognise the self-coloring. It is better described as a solid coat. So, for example, a black cat would have such a coat. Of the cat breeds the Havana Brown has a solid chocolate colored coat as one example of many. All self-colored cats possess the non-agouti aa genotype.

The best-known ticked cat breed is the Abyssinian and the long-haired version, the Somali – a ticked tabby. You see what is called a ‘salt and pepper’ appearance in the coat. Finely fragmented. Here is a Helmi photo of a random breed ticked tabby cat:

moggie cat

Moggie Show Cat. Photo copyright Helmi Flick

There is little overall coat pattern but you still see the tabby M mark on the forehead. Classic, spotted and striped tabby cats have the same individual hair strands but there is also an overall pattern formed which is due to the top of a group hair strands forming a shape and having dark pigmentation. The dark pigmentation is eumelanin and the lighter pigmentation is phaeomelanin. This is the work of the agouti gene.

Here is an example of a classic tabby, which happens to be a splendid Maine Coon:

Reginald Rumford Rosenberg Maine Coon

Reginald Rumford Rosenberg Maine Coon. Red classic tabby – Photo copyright Helmi Flick.

An excellent example of the smoke coat can be seen a picture I used before of Quin, a Maine Coon living with Helmi Flick.

Black Smoke Maine Coon QUIN

Black Smoke Maine Coon QUIN

And below is Richie, an astonishing Maine Coon. He is a massive celebrity on the internet as you might imagine. I talk about him in another page – please click this link to read about him.

Richie an amazing Maine Coon

Richie an amazing Maine Coon. Photo: Instagram.

Orlando below is a red shaded traditional Persian living in the Netherlands:

Orlando a red shaded traditional Persian cat

Photo by Dani

The Burmilla is called the ‘Asian Shaded’:

Asian shaded - Burmilla

Chinchilla Persians have tipped hair strands:

Chinchilla Persian

Chinchilla Persian

Below are some more articles on cat fur.

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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