Why are gray cats called blue?

Gray cats are called ‘blue’ because the grey coat has a faint blue tint. This is because the grey coated cat is genetically a dilute black coat; the effect of the presence of the dilution gene. This partly explains why cat breeders and the cat associations i.e., the cat fancy refers to grey cats as blue cats. It is misleading to people outside the cat fancy because these are truly speaking grey cats as a dilute black is going to be grey if we ignore the very slight blue tint. Dr. Desmond Morris in his book Cat World describes this description as “a harmless conspiracy of mutual deception”. He goes on to write that “all cat breeders refer to their conspicuously pure grey cats as blue”. He says that it is a convention (which it is) and it is one that is rarely broken.

He carried out a mini survey checking through the index of books that described the various cat breeds and in all “blue” was mentioned 86 times whereas “grey” was mentioned zero times!

Clearly, the cat fancy has totally ostracised the idea that their cats can be grey, and I think it is because grey to many people signifies dullness and averageness and they want their cats to be outstanding and sparkling.

Note: I have used both the American spelling of ‘grey’ and the English version ‘gray’.

The Russian Blue cat breed is gray but the breeder who created the breed decided to use the word ‘blue’ rather than ‘gray’ because cat breeders prefer blue to gray. Why? Because it sounds more interesting and technical. They could have called the breed ‘the Russian Gray’.

Useful links
Anxiety - reduce it
FULL Maine Coon guide - lots of pages
Children and cats - important

You’ll see some blue (gray) British Shorthairs from Russia looking almost blue! Weird (see below). How do they achieve that? Judicious use of vegetable die 😉

Russian Blue Brit SH

Russian Blue Brit SH. Excessively blue. Is this photo editing or a paint job!

A red (ginger) cat with dilution makes cream and you’ll see dilute calico cats (a faint tortie-and-white coat) – see below.

Dilute Calico cat

Dilute Calico cat (Tortie-and-white). Photo: public domain now.

In conclusion blue is gray and cat breeders prefer to use the term ‘blue’ over ‘gray’ as it makes the cat more marketable. That’s my opinion.

See a page on the cat coats affected by the dilution gene: click here.

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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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