What is fawn colour in cats?

Introduction

I have to make an initial point about colour reproduction. When it comes to fine and precise colour reproduction photography can be unreliable. There are numerous reasons for this including the lighting, the reproduction in books and on the Internet and so on. Therefore you can’t really expect an exact reproduction of the colour fawn on a cat although you can expect a reasonable facsimile of the colour in terms of a colour swatch. That’s what is at the top of the picture below.

Fawn Abyssinian cat
Fawn Abyssinian cat. Montage: PoC. There is a little bit of tungsten light illuminating the cat’s chest turning it a little warm.
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Fawn colour in cats

There’s bound to be some variation of this particular colour in cats but I will describe it taking my lead from Gloria Stephens in her excellent book Legacy of the Cat.

She describes the colour fawn in relation to Somali cats (longhaired Abyssinian) as, “A warm, pinkish buff with powdered affect. In the agouti areas, it is ticked with two or three alternating bands of pale oatmeal, and a deeper shade of pinkish buff. Base hair, undersides of the body, chest, and inside of the legs are a pale oatmeal colour. The tail is tipped with a deep shade of pinkish buff”.

I will describe the photograph in her book which accompanies that description as of a beautiful Somali cat with a very dilute pale beige colour. That’s my description which is much less subtle than hers.

Alternative descriptions

One website describes fawn as the result of both blue and sorrel meeting. I can’t confirm that this as accurate.

Genetics-Sarah Hartwell

Fawn genes
Fawn genes per Sarah Hartwell. I have taken the liberty of using a screenshot of a small part of her webpage.

Sarah Hartwell is the doyen of cat genetics. She describes fawn as a diluted eumelanin colour (as is lilac and blue). It is a diluted cinnamon. They are caused by a gene with the symbol D which “changes the concentration of pigment particles in the hair to give a paler colour”.

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