Cat colors

Modifying genes means endless possibilities for the colors and patterns of cats. From tabby cats to pointed patterns, tricolor like calicos, let’s learn more!


The colors, patterns and length of the cat’s hair are a cat’s calling card. We include these characteristics when referring to specific types of felines. For example, we would call the fictional cat Garfield a red tabby Exotic Shorthair.

Note the color, pattern, breed, and length of the coat in the name. Fantasy cats, feline or community enthusiasts, judges cat shows, records breeds , breeders and others who study and worship felines, we got these designations to make it easier to identify cats.

This may seem hard to believe, but cat colors basically include black, red, white, or some combination, dilution, or mixture of these. It hardly seems fair when the birds get 15 vivid colors like pink, green, blue, yellow and purple.

“Birds get their bright coloration due to the chemical structure of their feathers and amino acid modifiers, which is different from cat coat textures, where pigmentation is based on melanin types.”

Cat colors: what coat colors can cats have?

Basically, when it comes to cat colors, cats are black unless they have inherited the sex-linked orange masking gene , in which case they are red, explains Miller. By red, we mean what is commonly called orange.

“The hundreds of colors and patterns that are displayed on domestic cat coats are produced due to modifying factors including both genes and polygenes , which change these two basic colors,” he says, giving an example of the diluted gene, which changes the colors of the black cat. to blue (commonly called gray) and red to cream.

Polygenes, genes that require many others of their kind for their effects to be observable, then determine whether the shade of the coat color will be a dark blue, blue or light blue or a pale blue, she explains. These hereditary polygenes are controlled by selective breeding in pedigree breeds . If you’ve studied cats for a long time, you probably know that calico and tortoiseshell cats, the ones with black and red fur, are female. This is because the orange gene is passed on on the sex-linked X chromosome. Because males are XY with only one X chromosome, they can only be black or red (or the variations of each due to modifying factors).

Since the females are XX, they can be black and red. “This is how we get the striking tortoiseshell females, who have black coats with hints of red. If the diluted factor is inherited, the cat will be a blue cream. “If a cat also inherits the white spotting factor, then this female can be a mix and a white bicolor, or a calico tricolor with large black and red areas on a white coat,” says Miller.

Colorful pattern in the tabby cat

When it comes to cat colors and fur patterns, here’s a mind-blowing fact: all cats are attentive. ” Whether or not they show their tabby pattern depends on whether the cat has inherited the dominant agouti gene or the non-recessive recessive solid color gene,” he explains. ‘However, even solid-colored red cats will show a tabby pattern because the sex-linked chromosome is not affected by the non-agouti gene. “Solid colored kittens will sometimes show their underlying tabby pattern when young before their kitten coat and adult coat are deployed. Also, when an adult catwith a solid coat found in sunlight, its underlying tabby pattern can often be faintly seen. ‘ The brindle pattern includes the characteristic ‘M’ marking on their foreheads and four basic types:

  • Classic tabbies,also called spotted tabbies, have a combination of stripes, swirls, spots, and what looks like a bull’s-eye on the sides of their bodies.
  • The marked brindlehave bands on each hair shaft with a lighter color at the base, creating an iridescent speckled look but no streaking to the body. Abyssinians and Somalis are these types of tabbies.
  • Mackerel tabbieshave continuous vertical stripes on both sides of their bodies and a dark column line that runs from the shoulders to the tail.
  • Spotted brindleare just that. The size of the spots and the space between them vary. Ocicats have large fingerprint spots, Egyptian maus have high-contrast and high-contrast spots of varied shapes and sizes, and Bengalis have rosette spots, according to Miller, “but randomly bred cats often have a broken mackerel or classic stripes that give a speckled appearance. “
  • There is also a pattern called patchy brindle. Miller explains that they are cats with any of the four tabby patterns, but that they also show additional red patches of color due to their inherited sex-linked orange gene.

Cat Colors: Pointed Pattern


Here’s another interesting point about cat colors: the restricted dot pattern gene gives Siamese and related breeds their spiky pattern, or a light-colored body with darker colors on the limbs. The gene must be carried in both the male and female for either kitten to be flagged.

“The gene is sensitive to temperature, which causes the color to be limited to the colder extremities of the body: the face, ears, legs, tail and testicles,” explains Miller. “It is part of the albino series and modifies the color tone so that it appears black with a dark brown stamp on a light beige body. The genetic mutation, the chocolate color, and its diluted version, purple, were also observed in the first Siamese cats ”. Tonkinese cats, which are a mix of Siamese and Burmese, have a more subtle contrast of points called mink coloration.

Siamese cats were named after the ancient kingdom of Siam, where they originated. “These cats were a sensation when they were first imported to England in the mid-19th century,” says Miller. “When Siamese first came to the United States in the early 1900s, they quickly became popular as pets, leading to the spread of the recessive pattern of restricted spots across the country. “It is still hidden in the genotype of many randomly bred cats and surfaces in litters when both the father and the mother are carriers of the gene.”

Shaded cat color

Another thing to keep in mind when we talk about cat colors? Shading, characterized by color at the ends of the hair with a pure white base coat. Three types of shady cats include: chinchilla, shade, and smoke, each distinguished by the extent of shading on individual hairs.

In chinchillas, only the tip of the guardian’s hair or the outer coat is colored. With the shaded pattern, a quarter of the guard hair farthest from the cat’s body exhibits the color. In the smoke pattern, the half of the guard hair furthest from the cat’s body shows color. When a smoke-patterned cat is still, the coat pattern may appear solid, but when the cat is moving or petting, you can see the white undercoat.

Two-color and three-color pattern


With the colors of cats, people love to talk about bicolor cats, which are white and any other color. The cat may have a small spot, even a single patch of white, or it may be mostly white with a little of the other color. The colored area in bicolor cats can also present any of the brindle patterns.

“The two-color and three-color patterns are created by the dominant incomplete white spotting gene,” says Miller. ‘Polygenes helps determine the amount of white in the cat’s coat. Black bi-color cats with only a small amount of white, such as a “bib,” white paws, and perhaps a white facial “glow” are “tuxedo” cats. The other extreme is an almost entirely white body with color only on the tail and perhaps one or two spots on the head or body. This is known as the ‘Van’ pattern which refers to cats found in the Lake Van area of ​​Turkey centuries ago. ‘

Calics are white females with large solid areas of black and red spots, as well as other colors such as blues and creams. They can have a little white, a lot of white, or whatever.

Cat colors and personalities

Surveys were conducted where respondents were asked to choose the color category that best represented their cat and to answer questions about the colors of the cat and the behavior of their cats. The results seemed to confirm the reputation that calicos are feisty and unpredictable.

In another survey, researchers from the University of California, Berkeley and California State University, East Bay, asked 189 cat owners to assign the terms: active, distant, fearless, calm, friendly, intolerant, shy, stubborn, tolerant and trainable. to five different colors of cat: red, tricolor, white, black and bicolor. The results showed that respondents were more likely to attribute sympathy to orange cats, intolerance to three-color cats, and distant attitude to white cats.

Note that these were surveys of human perceptions, not scientific studies that controlled for other possible influencers of personality, such as sex and coat length. Calicos and cakes are feminine, which might play a bigger role in personality than coat color. In general, long-haired cats are believed to be docile, while short-haired cats pretend to be energetic.

I have two long haired red tabby house cats that come from the same litter. Some of my friends can’t tell them apart, and one cat might double as the other. But when it comes to personalities, the two couldn’t be more opposite. One greets everyone who comes to our house; the other has enough love just for me and my husband.

More studies are needed before it can be concluded that the colors of cats influence personality.

Eye color patterns

Another interesting point to consider when it comes to cat colors is the eye colors in cats . All kittens are born with blue eyes. At about 6 to 8 weeks of age, “your potential final eye color begins to show,” says Miller. “Full shine is not achieved until a cat reaches maturity.” Full maturity can take between one and two years, depending on the breed of cat. “There are only three basic eye colors,” says Miller. “However, the color of the eyes of domestic cats is surprising and very varied. Interestingly, the bright coppery color of a Persian, the deep golden eyes of an Abyssinian or Bombay, and the emerald green eyes of a Russian blue are derived from the same gene.It is through years of selective breeding that this extreme eye color spectrum has been perfected in breeds. Randomly bred cats usually have a greenish-green or hazel eye color however a colony of cats that roam freely as a result of breeding natural lines will often develop golden or lemon yellow eye color.

Some cat eye colors are tied to coat colors or patterns. For example, white cats may have blue, yellow, gold, or strange eyes. “Any cat that has inherited the paw spot factor can have a strange eye color: a blue eye and a gold, yellow or greenish eye,” says Miller. Cats with the restricted dot color pattern, such as Siamese twins, have blue eyes due to a gene that is linked to albinism. Tonkinese often have aqua eyes. “Tonkinese showing the deepest colors of Burmese (sable, blue, champagne or platinum) will have a gold or green color,” says Miller.




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