How many cat colors are there?

People ask, “how many cat colors are there?” And the precise answer is probably that there is an infinite number because of subtle differences in the density, shading and tint of the main colors. I am of course talking about the coat colors of cat breeds.

How many cat colors are there?
Diagrams and drawings by Sarah Hartwell of messy beast.com. Downloaded with her express permission.
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Sarah Hartwell

Sarah Hartwell describes 383 coat colors on her webpage which includes big cat colour morphs. However, I have not been accurate as some of these overlap as she describes colours and coat types. It does make a point: it is probably not a good idea to try and work out how many coat colors there are. I know of no list which specifies them other than Sarah on her website.

Gloria Stephens

Gloria Stephens in her book ‘legacy of the cat‘ (the book title is in lower case) refers to 144 cat breed coat types and colors. That doesn’t mean that she covers every one of them but I would have thought that her list is quite comprehensive.

However, there will be subtle variations in color which is why I have stated that the range is infinite. As for the wild cat species, they too will have subtle variations in color among each species.

Canada lynx

For example, the Canada Lynx is said to “show little color variation, although in Newfoundland they are a brown or buff-gray color in summer and a uniform grayish color in winter… In other areas, prime winter pelts are more grizzled grayish brown mixed with buff or pale brown… There are a few records of blue lynx“.

You can see, therefore, that although there is little variation there is a wide range of subtle variations even among one species of wild cat.

How precise?

The answer depends how precise you want to be as to how many cat colors there are in the cat world. For example, you could say that tigers are orange with dark stripes. But more accurately the background color of the tiger’s fur is reddish orange to ocherous. On the insides of the limbs and belly, chest, throat and muzzle the fur is white or light cream-colored. Once again I am referring to subtle differences in color tints.

As for the snow leopard, the background color of the fur is smoky grey varying to grayish buff while the under parts of the body are white.

Siamese

You could say that Siamese cats are cream-colored in the middle of the body and dark brown at the extremities if the cat is a seal point. However, the lighter areas of the coat where the body temperature is highest various between cream and light chocolate brown depending upon the age of the cat and/or the region where the cat lives. Older Siamese have brown bodies due to poorer blood circulation. Once again you have subtle variations in color.

Therefore, if you are being accurate on the number of colors among the cat breeds I think the best answer is that it is infinite if you want to be precise and perhaps a little pedantic.

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