CAT BREED AND COLOUR CODES DECIPHERED
2020, S Hartwell

The Easy Mind System (EMS, GEMS in the UK) of codes for colour, pattern and other traits. The codes can be confusing to people who are not immersed in cat breeding. This is NOT an authoritative guide, it is a simple guide to help anyone decode the letters that appear in modern pedigrees and other articles. Older pedigrees use codes devised by regional cat registries and though these may be updated on databases, you will still find the older codes on printed pedigrees.

EMS codes are designed to be recognised and harmonised worldwide for widely recognised breeds. They allow breeders to trade cats with a good understanding of the cat’s breed and colour, but not the underlying genetics of a cat. They are based on a cat’s ancestry, not on its genetic make-up. Some smaller registries have added their own codes for breeds that are not widely recognised.

On modern pedigrees, each recognised breed has a 3 letter code and a set of colour codes. Breed codes can be found on most cat registry websites and are mostly intuitive. For example BRI - British. In the past this was always understood to be British Shorthair, but more recently the codes BSH (British Shorthair) and BLH (British Longhair) are used because these are both recognised breeds; longhairs born to British Shorthairs can be transferred to the “sister” breed. In breeds that do not have sister breeds, variant (non-standard) cats may have a numeric code to denote how the cat differs from the standard e.g the code 81 (longhair) might be used to signal a longhair variant born in a hairless or shorthaired breed. Other registries simply use the term “Var” (variant) or the letter “v”.

For various reasons, not all registries recognise the same set of breeds. Those that don’t recognised BLH (British Longhair) still use BRI to mean British Shorthair. In these cases, breeders who want to trade cats between different registries need to know both codes.

CURRENT BREED CODES (FEB 2020)

The list of breed codes is based on breeds recognised (including preliminary/experimental breeds) by major international registries such as FIFe and WCF. Some breeds have different names in different organisations. Although REFR is not an internationally recognised body I have also included its codes as it accommodates a wide variety of minority breeds, early development breeds and breeds that do not meet the criteria of major registries.

ABL - American Bobtail Longhair
ABS - American Bobtail Shorthair
ABY - Abyssinian
ACL - American Curl Longhair
ACS - American Curl Shorthair
AKE – American Keuda (REFR only)
ALC – Asian Leopard Cat (REFR only)
ALH - Asian Longhair
ALP – Alpine Lynx (REFR only)
ALX – American Lynx (REFR only)
AMB –American Burmese (used in countries where European type is default)
AMC – American Miniature Cat (REFR only)
AMS - American Shorthair
APD – American Polydactyl (REFR only)
APL - Aphrodite Longhair
APL - Aphrodite Shorthair
ARM – Arabian Mau
ASN – Asian (where LH and SH are not differentiated)
ASH - Asian Shorthair
AUM - Australian Mist
AWH - American Wirehair (AMW sometimes used)
AZT - Aztek
BAL – Balinese
BBC – Bambino Curl (REFR only)
BBO – Bambino (REFR only)
BCT – Bobcat (REFR only)
BEN – Bengal (BGL in REFR)
BLH – British Longhair
BMB – BamBob (REFR only)
BML – Burmilla (Burmilla Longhair)
BOL - Bombay Longhair (where recognised, it is “ALH n” elsewhere )
BOM – Bombay Shorthair (where longhaired version is not recognised)
BOS - Bombay Shorthair (where both LH and SH are recognised)
BRA – Bramble (REFR only)
BRI - British Shorthair
BRL - British Longhair
BRX - Bohemian Rex
BSH – British Shorthair (WCF use BSH for Brazilian Shorthair)
BUA – American Burmese (where both types are recognised, and where BUR = European type)
BUR – Burmese (the “default” type for the region = European type in Europe, American type in USA)
BZS – Brazilian Shorthair (REFR only)
CAM – Cashmere (Bengal Longhair)
CEY - Ceylon
CHA – Chartreux (CHS in WCF)
CHQ – Chinese Harlequin (REFR only)
CHX – Chartreux (REFR only, CHA used for Chausie)
COP – Copper (REFR only)
COS – Colourpoint Shorthair
CRL – Caracal (REFR only)
CRX - Cornish Rex
CSH – Colorpoint Shorthair (REFR only)
CSP – California Spangled (REFR only)
CTL – Curly Tail Cat (REFR only)
CTO – California Toyger (REFR only, TOG elsewhere)
CTC – Chinese Tank Cat (REFR only)
CYM – Cymric
DLH – Deutsche (German) Longhair
DLX – Desert Lynx (REFR only)
DOM - Domestic cat, no breed
DOS – Dossow (REFR only)
DRX - Devon Rex
DSP - Don Sphynx
DWF – Dwelf (REFR only)
ELF – Elf (REFR only)
EUR - European Shorthair
EXO - Exotic Shorthair
FCT – fishing Cat (REFR only)
FEX – Foldex (REFR only)
GEN – Genetta (REFR only)
GLH – German Longhair (REFR only, DLH elsewhere)
GRX - German Rex
GTM – Gao Taem (REFR only)
HAV – Havana Brown (US); Suffolk (UK)
HCL – Hemingway Curl (REFR only, )
HCL - Domestic (Household) cat, longhaired
HCS - Domestic (Household) cat, shorthaired
HFD – Highland Fold (REFR only)
HLX – Highland Lynx (REFR only)
HPS/HPL – Household Pet Shorthair/Longhair (WCF)
JBB – JungleBob (REFR only)
JBL - Japanese Bobtail Longhair
JBT - Japanese Bobtail Shorthair
JAG – Jaguarundi Curl (REFR only)
JAV – Javanese (REFR only)
JCL – Jungle Curl (REFR only)
JCT – Jungle Cat (REFR only)
JGR – Jaguarette (REFR only)
JLA – Jungala (REFR only)
JLX – Jungle Lynx (REFR only)
KAN – Kanaani
KAS – Karelian Bobtail
KBL - Kurilean Bobtail Longhair
KBS - Kurilean Bobtail Shorthair
KKH – Celtic / European Shorthair
KKL – Kinkalow (REFR only)
KMA - Khao Manee (KMN in REFR, KAM in WCF)
KOR – Korat
LMK – Lambkin (REFR only)
LAP – LaPerm (REFR only)
LPL - La Perm Longhair
LPS - La Perm Shorthair
LYK - Lykoi
MAN – Manx (MNX in REFR)
MAU - Egyptian Mau
MBT – Mekong Bobtail
MCO - Maine Coon
MDY – Mandalay
MHB – Mohave Bob (REFR only)
MIL – Minuet Longhair
MIS – Minuet Shorthair
MJC – Mokave Jag Cat (REFR only)
MJS – Mojave Spotted (REFR only)
MKT – Meerkats (REFR only – a cat breed, not the wild species)
MNL - Munchkin, longhaired variety
MNS - Munchkin, shorthaired variety
MUN – Munchkin (REFR only)
MSK – Minksin (REFR only)
MTN – Mountain Bobs (REFR only)
NAP – Napoleon (REFR only – Minuet elsewhere)
NEB - Nebelung
NBS - Nebelung, shorthaired variant (if not recognised as RUS)
NEM - Neva Masquerade (- colourpoint SIB)
NFO - Norwegian Forest Cat
OCI – Ocicat
OJA – Ojos Azules (REFR only, extinct)
OLH - Oriental Longhair
OSH - Oriental Shorthair
OWY – Owyhee Bob (REFR only)
PAN – Pantherette (REFR only)
PBL - Pixie-Bob Longhair (sometimes PXL)
PBS - Pixie-Bob Shorthair (sometimes PXS)
PEB – Peterbald (PET in REFR)
PER – Persian
POL – Maine Coon Polydactyl
PPK – Puppykat (REFR only)
RAG - Ragdoll
RGM – Ragamuffin
RUF – Ruffle (REFR only)
RUS - Russian Shorthair (RBL is Russian Blue in REFR)
SAF – Safari (REFR only)
SAR – Sashkin Rex (REFR only)
SAV - Savannah
SBI - Birman LH (Sacred Birman, BIR in REFR)
SBS - Birman SH (Temple Cat)
SCS – Scottish Shorthair (straight eared, SSH in REFR)
SCL – Scottish Longhair (straight eared, SLH in REFR)
SER – Serval (REFR only)
SFL - Scottish Fold Longhair (Highland Fold)
SFS - Scottish Fold Shorthair
SGT – Serengeti (REFR only)
SIA - Siamese
SIB – Siberian
SIB33 – Neva Masquerade
SIN – Singapura (SGP in REFR)
SKO – Skookum (REFR only)
SNB – Snowbob (REFR only)
SNO – Snowshoe (SNS in REFR)
SOK - Sokoke
SOM - Somali
SPH – Sphynx (SPX in REFR)
SRL - Selkirk Rex Longhair
SRS - Selkirk Rex Shorthair
SRX - Selkirk Rex, not known if longhair or shorthair
SYL - Seychellois Longhair
SYS - Seychellois Shorthair
--- - Temple Cat - see Birman SH
THA - Thai
TIF – Tiffany (not Tiffany/Chantilly – extinct, or Tiffanie (ALH))
TNB – Tennessee Bobtail (REFR only)
TIG – Tigri (REFR only)
TOB – Toybob
TOL - Tonkinese Longhair (Tibetan)
TOS - Tonkinese Shorthair
TOY – Toyger (TOG also used)
TSI – Trad Siamese (REFR only)
TUN – Tundra (REFR only)
TRX - Tennessee Rex
TUA - Turkish Angora (TKA in REFR)
TUV - Turkish Van (TVN in REFR)
UKL - Ukrainian Levkoy
URL - Ural Rex Longhair
URX - Ural Rex Shorthair
VIV – Viverral (REFR only)
VNW – Vienna Woods (REFR only)
XHL – non-recognised hairless
XSH - Shorthaired hybrid / non-recognised shorthair
XLH - Longhaired hybrid / non-recognised longhair
YKC – York Chocolate

Individual registries also assign codes to the breeds they recognise. REFR (a paper registry) assigned numerous codes to cats that mixed multiple mutations and codes to the wildcat species used in developing hybrid breeds. GCCF used breed numbers until relatively recently and TICA used 2 letter codes. These are being phased out in favour of the EMS codes. A cross-reference of some of the older codes is at Cat Registries and Cat Clubs - A Broad Definition (last updated 2007).

There are some subtleties when breeds expand their colour range. On older pedigrees, RUS = Russian Blue because that was the only colour recognised. Other colour Russian Shorthairs use RUS + colour code. In some registries, white Oriental Shorthairs are shown as “SIA w” rather than “OSH w”.

COLOUR AND PATTERN CODES

Colour and pattern codes are the same regardless of breed. The codes are based on appearance, not on underlying genetics. Colour codes are not intuitive and are sometimes complicated by some breeders adding their own numbers for identifying and tracking experimental or officially unrecognised colours (which are "x" in the EMS system).

First position - Base colour.

n - black ("noir"), seal (colourpoints), brown/sable (Burmese), ruddy (Abyssinian/Somali), tawny (Ocicat)
a - blue
b - chocolate
c - lilac
d - red
e - cream
f - black tortie
g - blue tortie
h - chocolate tortie
j - lilac tortie
n - black (see above)
o - cinnamon (sorrel in ABY and SOM)
p - fawn
q - cinnamon tortie
r - fawn tortie
w - solid white
x - unknown/unrecognised colour
x is used for new colour mutations until a code is allocated.

Second position - inhibitor or extension mutation. This is added after the base colour code e.g. "ns" - black silver, "by" - blue golden etc

l - light golden (copper)
m - dilute modifier
u - sunshine (SIB)
s - silver
t - amber
y - golden
z - russet (BUR)
No allocated codes for roan or karpati. Currently roan is only recognised in Lykoi breed so no colour code is required.

Amber colours in NFO are a combination of the base colour + "t"
nt - amber (applicable only to NFO)
at - light amber (applicable only to NFO)
dt - red based on amber (applicable only to NFO)
et - cream based on amber (applicable only to NFO)
ft - amber tortie (applicable only to NFO)
gt - light amber tortie (applicable only to NFO)

Caramel colours are shown by a combination of the base colour + "m". If the colour code already has 2 letters (e.g. ns, ay) there is a space between the base code and the “m”.
am - blue-based caramel
cm - lilac-based caramel
em - apricot, based on cream
ea *m - apricot (blue based)
ec *m - apricot (lilac based)
ep *m – apricot (fawn based)
gm - caramel tortie (blue based)
jm - caramel tortie (lilac based)
rm - caramel tortie (fawn based)
pm - fawn-based caramel
*m - caramel, where the base colour is unknown
m* - caramel where the base colour is suspected e.g. am*

The first numeric code denotes the amount of white spotting is represented by a number after the colour code (or colour code + dilute modifier), separated by a space (e.g. n 01, as 09, as m 03). If there is no white spotting, this code is omitted.

01 - van
02 - harlequin
03 - bicolour
04 - mitted (only applicable to RAG)
05 - snowshoe (only applicable to SNO)
09 - any other amount of white where permitted e.g. locket, mitts, blaze
(06 - 08 reserved for later use)

The second numeric code is for tabby pattern (it is omitted if the cat has no pattern). Any tabby pattern or tipping is represented by a number after the colour code, separated by a space. The combination of colour codes and pattern codes tells you if it is smoke (non-agouti silver) or shaded/shell (agouti silver), so there does not need to be a separate code for smoke. 11 and 12 are used where the tabby pattern is not evident e.g. ns 11 is a black shaded silver, and ns 21 is a silver tabby.

11 - shaded (or for shell/tipped in BRI)
12 - shell/tipped/chinchilla (not for BRI)
(13 - copper/extreme widebanding with bleached underparts (BRI) - not recognised in EMS, used by some breeders to distinguish them from normal 12)
21 - unspecified tabby
22 - blotched (classic) tabby
23 - mackerel tabby
24 - spotted tabby
25 - ticked tabby
26 - grizzled ticked (Chausie only)
The is currently no allocated code for charcoal tabby (Bengal and Savannah) or for other modified tabby patterns. Some colours and patterns are implied by breed name e.g. marble is the Bengal version of blotched/classic, while Singapuras only occur in ticked ivory.

The third numeric code – if required - is for the type of colourpointing. Pointed pattern is represented by a number after the colour code, separated by a space

31 - Burmese pointed (sepia)
32 - Tonkinese pointed (mink)
33 - Siamese pointed (colourpoint)
34 - recessive white with blue eyes (albino)
No allocated code for mocha (found in Thai cats)

The fourth code – if required – is for the tail type of Manx and some bobtailed breeds (where there is variation) is represented by a number after the colour and pattern codes, separated by a space.

51 - rumpy
52 - rumpy riser
53 - stumpy
54 - longie
55 - Bob (between 3 cm and half to hock)
56 - Hock (between half to hock and hock length)
57 - Three quarter (a naturally short tail but longer than hock)

Next, eye colour is represented by a number after the other codes.

61 - deep blue
62 - copper or deep orange
63 - odd eyed: one deep blue eye, the other one according to the standard for the breed
64 - green
65 - golden yellow - Burmese eye colour
66 - aquamarine (bluish-green) - Tonkinese eye colour
67 - intense deep blue - Siamese eye colour
No allocated code for dominant blue eyes (Altai, Topaz etc)

Next, ear type is represented by a number, after the other codes in breeds that have variant ear shapes, but where the variants are not transferred into a sister breed e.g. straight-eared Scottish Fold are classed as Scottish Straight (SFS).

71 - straight (only applicable to ACL American Curl Shorthair) and ACS (American Curl Longhair))
72 - curled (only applicable to ACL and ACS)
73 - fold

Next, coat structure is represented by a number (after the other codes) in breeds that have variant coats, but where the variants are not transferred into a sister breed (e.g. longhaired Siamese are considered Balinese, longhaired British Shorthair BRI are recognised as British Longhair BRL).

80 - Naked
81 - longhair (only applicable to DSP (Donskoy) and PEB (Peterbald), BML, JBT)
82 - shorthair (only applicable to DSP and PEB)
83 - brush (only applicable to DSP and PEB)
84 - straight (applicable to LPL/LPS (LaPerm Long/Short) and SRL/SRS (Selkirk Rex long/Short))
No need for codes to denote curled hair because this is implied by the breed name (Rex, LaPerm etc)

Finally, paw and leg types are represented by a number (after the other codes) in breeds that have variant leg lengths (Munchkin-derived breeds) or toe numbers (Pixiebob), but where the variants are not transferred into a sister breed.

90 - Non-polydactyl, normal paws
91 - Polydactyl front (one or both paws)
92 - Polydactyl back (one or both paws)
93 - Polydactyl, both front and back
94 - Polydactyl, unspecified
97 - Legs of normal length, not munchkin
98 - Short legs, munchkin

MESSYBEAST : BREEDING ETHICS AND PURPORTED BREED ORIGINS