CAT COLOURS AND PATTERNS - PLAIN ENGLISH VERSION

Some breeds are based a particular colour or pattern while others exclude certain colours. Some colours occur through careful selective breeding, others appear spontaneously due to a mutation or recessive (hidden) genes coming together. There are hundreds of possible colour/pattern permutations; some are not allowed in pedigree cats, but are seen in random-bred (moggy) cats while others are rarely seen in the moggy population as must be selectively bred for.

These are plain English descriptions, not an authoritative list (serious breeders are advised to get breed/country specific information from their registries). It is not affiliated to any breed society or registry. Not all colours are recognised by all registries, some have different names in different breeds, registries or countries. Sometimes the same name means different things in different breeds, registries or countries. Some are experimental, some look so similar that they can only be worked out if you know the cat's pedigree or genetics. Some colour/pattern combinations appear in several places in this article because they are related to other combinations. It is not possible to include every single colour and pattern, so in some places the "naming convention" and examples are given.

The inclusion of a description of a colour or pattern is no comment on its desirability, just the fact that it exists. Omissions are due to lack of information. I include synonyms and refer to breeds where necessary to clarify name clashes or describe breed-specific patterns. Some terms are old-fashioned or are restricted to certain breeds only. At the end of this file is a list of potential future colour/pattern mutation.

GLOSSARY

These are some basic terms, though a few things will become clear later when colours and patterns are described in more detail.

Solid/Self

The cat is a single colour; the individual hairs are one colour with no agouti banding on the hairs.

Agouti

Refers to the several bands of colour (ticking) on a single hair e.g. on Abyssinian cats, ticked tabbies or in the pale areas of a tabby cat.

Maltesing

Colour dilution e.g. the dilute of black is blue, of red is cream (grey)

Caramelising

Form of dilution which affects maltesed colours e.g. caramelised blue is caramel, caramelised cream is apricot

Sepia (1)

Apparently self-coloured cat bearing gene for colourpoint e.g. Burmese series; sometimes you can see that the legs, head and tail are darker than the body.

Sepia (2)

The 'old ivory' colour of Singapura cat

Mink

Intermediate between sepia and pointed; the points (face, legs, tail) are a darker version of main body colour.

Pointed

Siamese pattern (also called Himalayan pattern) with a pale body and darker legs, tail and ears.

Bi-Colour (Magpie)

Any colour & white; for show cats the colour should be evenly distributed.

Tri-Colour

Calico/Tortoiseshell (tortie) & White Colour Range

Parti-Colour

Usually defined as calico, with colour patches on up to one-third of the body

Calico

Tortoiseshell (tortie) & white

Calimanco, Calamanco

Archaic North American term for tortoiseshell shorthair cats

Torbico

Torbie (tabby-tortie) & white

Van/Van Bicolour

White with colour on the tail between the ears.

Harlequin

Van markings (any colour) + small patches (as few as possible) of the same colour on the body and legs.

Pied

Unevenly splashed with colour.

Mitted

White bootees on all four feet, the back bootees usually go up to the hocks, the front bootees are on the toes or paws only

Brindled

Tortie with intermingled colours

SELF/SOLID OLOURS

Colours have different names in different countries and in different breeds. Different breeds/countries may use the same name for different colours! This section describes the basic colours in as non-specific a way as possible.

Albino

White due to lack of pigmentation i.e. white with blue eyes; the most extreme form of albino is a cat with pink eyes.

Amber

Bright apricot to cinnamon, with brown nose leather, paw pads and eye rims. Kittens are born dark/black and brighten as they mature.

Apricot

Pink-brown or hot cream, with a metallic sheen,

Beige

Fawn

Black

Jet-black, called Ebony in Foreigns

Blue

Blue-grey; the dilute of black

Brown

Chocolate. Burmese "Brown" (called Sable/Seal) is equivalent to black.

Caramel

Caramelised blue, cafe-au-lait colour (biscuit colour), cool toned bluish fawn, metallic sheen

Champagne

Burmese/Tonkinese equivalent to chocolate

Chestnut

Medium-dark brown, Oriental equivalent to chocolate

Chocolate

Medium-dark brown

Cinnamon

Milk-chocolate (reddish) colour (Light Brown)

Cream

Buff, dilute of red

Ebony

Foreign equivalent to black

Fawn

Hot cream, equivalent to Light Lilac; historically a biscuity colour.

Frost

Alternate name for Lilac/lavender

Gold

Equivalent to cinnamon

Honey

Equivalent to chocolate/chestnut (or to Cinnamon)

Indigo

Dark blue or deep grey

Lavender

Warm blue-brown, pinkish frosty grey (dove grey), dilute of Chocolate

Lilac

Lavender

Light Amber

Pink-beige to fawn, with blue-grey nose leather, paw pads and eye rims. Kittens are born blue and brighten as they mature.

Light Brown

Equivalent to cinnamon

Light chocolate

Burmilla Milk chocolate

Light Lilac

Equivalent to fawn

Natural

Tonkinese equivalent to sable/seal

Peach

Australian Mist pink-brown, equivalent to light lilac/fawn. Peach is also seen as a dilute of Russian Blues and may be caramel.

Platinum

Burmese/Tonkinese equivalent to lilac/lavender

Red

Rich ginger red (poor reds are yellowish due to other genes).

Sable

Burmese dark brown (genetically black)

Seal

Siamese dark brown (genetically black)

Taupe

Caramel dilution of lilac/lavender

White

Non-albino white, this is the absence of colour.

Yellow

An old term for a poor quality red.

 

Red, Fawn and Cream are not true self colours as there will always be faint tabby markings. Breeders work to dissipate the tabby markings and give impression of an unpatterned, self-coloured cat.

 

TABBY PATTERNS

The usual tabby patterns are Classic (Blotched) Tabby, Mackeral (Striped) Tabby, Spotted Tabby, Ticked Tabby (with some striping) and Ticked/Agouti (with no striping). In addition there are several modified versions of these patterns which are seen in certain breeds.

Braided (Candle Flame) Tabby

Tiger-like vertical stripes with hollow centres, may break up into individual "candle-flame" patterns.

Classic Tabby

Familiar "blotched" tabby pattern with dark stripes down length of back and dark swirls (bullseye) on sides of the body.

Clouded Leopard

(Highland Lynx) derived from interaction of wild genes and domestic classic tabby pattern; marble pattern, horizontally aligned with as little bull's eye pattern as possible. Equivalent to Bengal "marble" pattern.

Leopard

Modified version of Spotted Tabby. Round spots, coloured to root of hair, ideally the spots are randomly placed, not vertically aligned. Found in hybrid cats (e.g. Bengal, Highland Lynx) where the spotted pattern differs from the spotted tabby.

Mackerel Tabby

Vertical unbroken thin lines instead of swirls. Narrow spine lines and "necklaces". The stripes should not break up into spots.

Marble

Modified classic tabby with swirled, clouding effect as the vertical orientation of the tabby pattern is affected by the horizontal oriented clouded pattern of the wild ancestor. Described as Ocelot-like. Found in Bengal breed (hybrid) and naturally occurring in the Marbled Australian Mist.

Oceloid

Described 1960s, vertically elongated rosettes (candle-flames)

Oyster Tabby

Classic tabby i.e. refers to the distinctive bulls-eye on the side.

Patched Tabbies/Tortie-tabby/Torbie

Tabby pattern overlaid on a tortie background e.g. deep red markings on red patched areas and black markings on brown patched areas.

Rosette

Clusters of spots; the centre of each cluster should be deeper version of background colour. Found in hybrid breeds such as Bengal and Safari where it is confusingly called tricolour (not the same as calico!).

Sokoke Tabby

Modified Classic tabby pattern with agouti (background colour) hairs appearing in the solid areas of the coat giving a slightly clouded/marbled effect. Specific to the naturally occurring Sokoke breed from Kenya.

Spotted

The pattern of round spots, preferably not vertically aligned, in hybrid breeds.

Spotted Tabby

Vertical bars of colour are broken up into spots on the body. Stripes on leg, tail and face. Spots should be as round as possible, rather than elongated. It is often possible to see the vertical alignment of spots. Spine lines should be broken into spots. Possibly a gene for spotted pattern (rather than broken-up stripes) exists.

Ticked Tabby

Agouti pattern with ticked body, tabby barring on face, legs and tail, at least one necklace, darker dorsal region, pale lower parts. The pattern of the Wild Abyssinian and of poorly marked agouti patterned cats; intermediate between Agouti and Tabby.

Ticked/Agouti

Agouti pattern all over, barring to be absent, as far as possible, from any part of the body. The ticked colour range parallels the tabby colour range.

 

 

TICKED/AGOUTI COLOURS

Genetically, ticking is a tabby pattern, but visually it looks very different. Each individual hair has several bands of colour which affects the apparent colour of the cat. Some colours are linked to the cat's sex (important to breeders/exhibitors).

Black

(Experimental colour) The black fur has a distinct "shimmer" due to barely visible ticking, similar effect in Chausie breed has silver-tipped fur.

Blue

Blue-grey; the dilute of black

Brown

Equivalent to black (more commonly called Usual or Tawny)

Chestnut/Chocolate

Medium-dark brown.

Cream

True (sex-linked) cream, dilute of sex-linked red

Ebony

Foreign equivalent to black

Fawn (Beige)

non sex-linked cream (dilute sorrel)

Golden

Any colour ticking on a golden undercoat

Ivory

warm beige ticking on ivory (Singapura)

Lavender (Lilac)

Warm blue-brown, pinkish frosty grey (dove grey), dilute of Chocolate

Manilla

black/dark ticking on sandy-golden (Celonese/Ceylon Cat)

Red

Rich ginger red (sex-linked red)

Ruddy

Equivalent to black/brown, also called Usual, Brown, Tawny

Sable

Burmese dark brown (genetically black)

Seal

Siamese dark brown (genetically black)

Silver

Any colour ticking on a silver undercoat

Sorrel

Equivalent to cinnamon, non sex-linked red.

Taupe

Caramel dilution of lilac/lavender

Tawny

Abyssinian/Somali: Equivalent to black/brown, also called Usual, Brown, Ruddy; it is also the ticked sandy/golden colour found in a some wild/domestic hybrid breeds

Usual

Equivalent to black/brown, also called Ruddy, Brown, Tawny

White

Suqutranese (white Somali-type): pure white, translucent silver-white bands on hair visible in good light as sparkling effect

 

TICKED TORTOISESHELLS

Because agouti is a type of tabby, those colours can combine with the tortoiseshell markings to give ticked tortoiseshells. Some of these can be difficult to distinguish because ticking obscures the colours. The ticked colours and ticked tortie colours can be patched with white to give ticked bicolours, but this is presently only seen in non-pedigree cats. Examples:

Ticked Tortoiseshell

Areas of usual (black) and Red (sex-linked) ticking.

Blue Ticked Tortoiseshell

Ticked blue-cream

Chocolate Ticked Tortoiseshell

 

SILVER AND GOLDEN TICKED TABBIES

Ticking can occur on a silver or gold undercoat in permutations equivalent to silver tabbies and golden tabbies. Silver Abyssinians and Silver Somalis are popular in Britain but rare in the US. The Alaskan Snow Cat has the Silver Abyssinian coat pattern. For example:

Silver (Silver Usual/ Silver Ruddy),

Usual (black) ticking on silver background.

Golden (Golden Usual/Golden Ruddy)

Usual (black) ticking on a golden background.

Sorrel Silver

Sorrel ticking on silver background

Blue Silver

Blue ticking on silver background.

Chocolate Silver

Chocolate ticking on silver background.

Ruddy Silver Ticked Tortie

Ruddy Ticked Tortoiseshell on a silver background,

Blue Silver Ticked Tortoiseshell

Blue Ticked Tortoiseshell (Blue-Cream Ticked) on silver backgrounds

Chocolate Silver Ticked Tortoiseshell

Chocolate tortoiseshell on silver background.

 

 

TABBY COLOURS

Tabby means dark markings (stripes, swirls, spots) on a paler background. The stripe colour is solid (goes right to the hair root), but the background colour is agouti (each hair is banded with colour). Different breeds may use different names for the same colour.

Amber Tabby

Black markings on apricot background at birth. The black markings brighten to reddish-brown or cinnamon at maturity. The nose is pink and the paw pads and eye rims are brown.

Blue Tabby

cream/ivory-blue base, slate blue markings

Brown (Black, Ebony) Tabby

coppery-brown base, black markings

Chocolate (Chestnut) Tabby

cream base, milk-chocolate brown markings

Cameo Tabby

cream base, pale red markings (aka Red-Silver Tabby)

Caramel Tabby

cream base, biscuit-colour markings

Chestnut Tabby

ivory base, medium-dark brown markings

Chocolate Tabby

ivory base, medium-dark brown markings (= Chestnut Tabby)

Cinnamon Tabby

pale brown base, cinnamon markings

Cream Tabby

pale cream base, fawn/buff markings

Fawn Tabby

pale pink-beige base, lilac markings

Golden Tabby

tabby on golden undercoat (see chinchilla/shaded section) e.g. Chocolate Golden Tabby etc

Lavender (Lilac) Tabby

milky cream base, frosty grey markings

Light Amber Tabby

Blue markings on apricot background at birth. The blue markings brighten to pink-beige to fawn at maturity. The nose is pink and the paw pads and eye rims are blue-grey.

Red Tabby

pale red base, deep red markings

Silver Tabby

silver base, black markings, aka Black Silver Tabby. Silver Tabbies with coloured markings on a silvery background are called Blue Silver, Red Silver (aka Cameo Tabby) etc.

BREED-SPECIFIC TABBY/SPOTTED TERMS

As well as the various permutations of tabby/silver tabby/golden tabby, spotted/silver spotted/golden spotted there are some terms specific to the modified tabby markings and specific colourways of certain breeds. These are really just more descriptive alternatives to the more common terms above.

Bronze Spotted

(Egyptian Mau) = Chocolate Spotted Tabby

Bronze

(California Spangled)

Charcoal

(California Spangled)

Cinnamon-Golden (Bronze) Spotted

(Ocicat) dark Cinnamon on Gold/Honey/Ivory

Ebony Leopard

(American Lynx)

Gold

(Australian Mist)

Gold

(California Spangled)

Golden Leopard

(American Lynx)

Golden Spotted

(Ocicat) bright Cinnamon on Ivory

King Spangled

(California Spangled) pattern like King Cheetah

Leopard

(Bengal) black spots/rosettes on orange/tawny background (a form of Brown Tabby)

Mink

(Bengal) black spots/rosettes on mahogany

Peach

(Australian Mist) a misty pink base with darker markings

Pewter Spotted

(Egyptian Mau)

Sienna Spotted

(Ocicat) Beige/Ecru on Ivory background

Smoke Spotted

(Egyptian Mau)

Snow Leopard

(American Lynx)

Snow Leopard

(California Spangled), the 'dilution phase'.

Snow

(Bengal) beige spots, black leg/tail stripes on pale Ivory (effect of Siamese/Burmese ancestry); results in Snow Leopard, Snow Marble.

Sorrel

(Bengal) chestnut-brown on orange/tawny

Tawny Spotted

(Ocicat) Black/Seal on Buff/Ruddy

Tawny

(American Lynx)

 

 

BROKEN COLOURS - TORTOISESHELLS, BICOLOURS & TRICOLOURS

Tortoiseshell is the mixing of two or more distinct colours; one of the colours is red or cream. The black/orange tortie will be familiar to most readers. In pedigree cats, well defined patches of each colour are preferred. Cats with tabby markings on a tortie background are known as tabby-torties/patched tabbies/torbies. Where the hairs are mixed together, the cat is referred to as brindled. Almost all tortie/tortie-and-white cats are female; males do occur sometimes but they are either infertile or they have a genetic aberration and do not bred true.

Tortoiseshell

Black/Orange (tabby markings visible on the orange patches)

Dilute Tortoiseshell

Blue-Cream (tabby visible on cream patches)

Amber Tortoiseshell

The black areas are replaced by amber. Kittens are born with black markings that brighten to amber as they mature.

Brown Tortoiseshell

(Burmese version of black/orange Tortoiseshell)

Chocolate (Chestnut) Tortoiseshell

Warm milk chocolate, red, and cream

Cinnamon Tortoiseshell

Milk-chocolate brown and cream (Burmese)

Lilac (Lavender) Tortoiseshell

Frosty lilac-grey and cream

Light Amber Tortoiseshell

The blue areas are replaced by amber; kittens are born with blue but this brightens to light amber as they mature.

Patched Tortoiseshell

The above tortoiseshell patters can also occur in combination with the tabby pattern e.g. Blue Tabby Tortie, Lilac Tabby Tortie, Silver Tabby Tortie etc

Bicolour

Solid colours can occur patched with white e.g. Black and White, Cream and White (faint tabby markings), Chocolate and White.

Tabby-and-White

Tabby patterns can occur patched with white e.g. Blue Tabby and White, Red Tabby and White, Silver Tabby and White. Ticked colours can occur patched with white.

Tortie-and-White

Tortie patterns occur with white e.g. Tortoiseshell & White (Calico), Dilute Tortoiseshell & White (Dilute Calico/Blue-Cream and White), Chocolate (Chestnut) Tortie and White (Choc-Cream & White/Chestnut Calico), Lilac (Lavender) Tortie & White (Lilac-Cream & White/Lavender Calico) etc.

Silver Tortoiseshell / Silver Tortoiseshell Tabby

Tortoiseshell and Tortie-Tabby patterns can occur on silver backgrounds e.g. Blue Silver Tortoiseshell/Tortie Tabby/Tabby, Fawn Silver Tortoiseshell/Tortie Tabby/Tabby, Red Silver Tortoiseshell/Tortie Tabby/Tabby etc and on golden backgrounds.

Tipped and Smoke Tortoiseshell

These are described in the section on chinchilla, tipped, shaded and smoke colours and have silver or golden undercoats.

 

 

CHINCHILLA (SHELL), TIPPED (SHORTHAIR TIPPED), SHADED, AND SMOKE COLOUR GROUP

Chinchilla (shell) is the lightest tipping; hair tip is coloured and hair shaft is silver, giving a sparkling appearance. Shaded is next degree; colour extends further along the hair shaft, darkest on the back to create a mantle of shading. Smoke is heaviest tipping; undercoat colour is reduced to a small band near the hair root, the cat appears to be solid with pale ruff/frill until the coat is parted or the cat is in motion. In the golden series, the undercoat is gold rather than white. The terms "chinchilla" and "shell" are mostly used for longhairs (Persians), in shorthairs this is called tipped.

Silver series

White undercoat with colour tips.

Golden series

Gold undercoat with colour tips

Shell

Chinchilla tipping

Cameo

Red (a term sometimes used in longhairs with red on a silver undercoat)

Cream Cameo

Cream (dilute of Red/Cameo)

Silver Tabby

Coloured markings on silvered/ivory ground colour e.g. Red-Silver (Cameo) Tabby which is red on ivory.

Tortie Chinchilla/Shell Tortie/Silver Tortie

Pale undercoat tipped in tortie combination of colours.

Shaded Tortie/ Tortoiseshell Shaded Silver

Pale undercoat tipped/shaded with tortie combination of colours (e.g. black red and cream). Tipping ranges from shell (chinchilla) to shaded.

Smoke Tortoiseshell/ Tortie Smoke

Pale undercoat smoked with tortie combination of colours. Undercoat only visible when cat is in motion.

Silver Patched Tabby

Coloured markings on silvered ground colour interspersed with patches or red and/or cream (or other tortie combinations).

Golden Patched Tabby

Coloured markings on golden ground colour interspersed with patches or red and/or cream (or other tortie combinations).

The first chinchillas/shaded silvers/smokes were longhairs which had black tipping or shading. Black on silver gives:

Chinchilla

aka Silver/Silver Chinchilla/Tipped (called Burmilla in Asian group of cats)

Shaded Silver

blue/green eyes, darker than Chinchilla

Masked Silver

shaded silver with dark face/paws

Pewter/Pewter Tipped

orange-eyed Shaded Silver/Chinchilla (this was the original eye colour of the breed, but fell out of favour in the 1890s)

Silver Tabby

black tabby markings on silver background

Black Smoke

looks solid black until you part the fur which is pale near the roots

Other tipped/shaded/smoke colours used the above naming convention, but named the particular colour e.g. Blue on Silver gives:

Blue Chinchilla
Blue Shaded Silver
Blue Pewter
Blue Silver Tabby
Blue Smoke

Blue Silver Tortoiseshell/Tortie Tabby

Other colours on silver follow the same formula e.g. Chocolate (Chestnut) Chinchilla, Lavender (Lilac) Shaded Silver etc. Red or cream on silver are also earlier developed colours and these have some historically-based synonyms as well as names following the usual formula:

Red Chinchilla = Shell Cameo
Red Shaded (Silver) = Shaded Cameo
Red Silver Tabby = Cameo Tabby
Red Smoke = Smoke Cameo
Red Silver Tortoiseshell/Tortie Tabby

Cream Chinchilla = Shell Cream Cameo
Cream Shaded (Silver) = Shaded Cream Cameo
Cream Silver Tabby = Cream Cameo Tabby
Cream Smoke = Smoke Cream Cameo
Cream Silver Tortoiseshell/Tortie Tabby

Blue Cream Chinchilla = Shell Dilute Tortoiseshell
Blue Cream Shaded = Shaded Dilute Tortoiseshell
Blue Cream Smoke = Smoke Dilute Tortoiseshell

 

GOLDEN COLOUR GROUP

The golden series is less common. Like the silvers, the colour is on a paler undercoat, but in this case golden. Golden series is named using a similar formula to the silver series e.g.:

Golden Chinchilla
Shaded Golden
Blue Shaded Golden
(etc)
Golden Tabby
Golden Tabby-Tortie

Golden Ticked Tabby
Chocolate Golden Ticked Tabby
(etc)
Tortoiseshell Golden Chinchilla
Tortoiseshell Shaded Golden
Tortoiseshell Golden Smoke

BREED SPECIFIC TIPPED

There is a breed specific tipped colour found in the Chausie which is distinct from the tipped colours above.

Silver Tipped

Black hairs tipped with silver, appears to be a form of black agouti rather than smoke or silver.

COLOURPOINTS

Often called the Siamese pattern or Himalayan pattern (after Himalayan rabbits). As well as the colourpointed coat, they have blue eyes. Pointed cats are slow to develop their full body and point colour and kittens/young cats have paler points or markings Older cats have darker body colour. Temperature affects the point colour - the coldest areas (the 'points' i.e. ears, legs, tail) are darker than the body and things like environment temperature, a fever or even bandaging a leg because of injury will affect the colour. The types of point pattern are:

Solid Point

points are of solid colour e.g. seal (dark brown), blue (grey)

Lynx/Tabby Point

points have tabby markings

Tortie Point

points have tortoiseshell (multicolour) markings

Abyssinian Point

points are ticked (i.e. agouti)

Pastel Point

chinchilla/shaded silver tipped points (pale colour on silvery background) (Tipped Siamese)

Shadow/Smoke Points

shaded points, shadowy tabby markings (darker version of chinchilla)

Snow Tiger

alternate term for Lynx/Tabby Points

Bicolour Point

Colour point with white markings on the coloured areas (present, but less apparent, on the body) e.g. white paws.

Apricot Point

Pinkish brown points

Blue Point

bluish white body, slate blue points

Caramel Point

cafe-au-lait colour points

Chocolate Point

ivory body, milk chocolate points

Cinnamon Point

milk-chocolate colour points

Cream (Ivory) Point

creamy white body, buff-cream points.

Fawn (Light Lilac) Point

Hot cream points

Lavender Point

pinkish lilac points

Lilac (Frost) Point

glacial white body, frosty pinkish grey points

Red (Flame) Point

creamy white body, deep orange to red points

Seal Point

cream/pale fawn body, deep seal brown points

As well as solid colours on the points, there are tabby (lynx) and tortoiseshell points. These can be hard to tell apart without knowing the colours of the cats ancestors:

Seal Tabby Point/Seal Lynx Point

cream/fawn body, points brown with seal brown bars.

Blue Tabby Point/Blue Lynx Point

bluish white body, points deep blue on pale blue.

Caramel Tabby Point/Caramel Lynx Point

 

Chocolate Tabby Point/Chocolate Lynx Point

ivory body, points warm milk chocolate on paler background

Cinnamon Tabby Point/Cinnamon Lynx Point

 

Lilac (Frost) Tabby Point/Lilac (Frost) Lynx Point

glacial white body, points frosty grey with pinkish points

Red (Flame) Tabby Point/Red Lynx Point

white body, points deep red bars red.

Cream Tabby Point/Cream Lynx Point

white body, points buff bars on pale cream.

Seal Tortoiseshell Point

body creamy white, points seal brown patched with red and/or cream

Blue Tortoiseshell Point/Blue Cream Point

body bluish white/creamy white, points slate blue patched with cream.

Chocolate Tortoiseshell Point/Chocolate Cream Point

ivory body, points milk chocolate patched with red and/or cream

Lilac (Frost) Tortoiseshell Point/Lilac Cream Point

glacial white body, frosty pinkish grey points patched with cream.

Seal Tabby Tortoiseshell Point/Seal Tortie Lynx Point

body cream/pale fawn, points brown with seal brown markings and red and/or cream markings.

Blue Tabby Tortoiseshell Point/Blue Tortie Lynx Point

bluish white body, points pale blue with slate blue markings with patches of cream.

Caramel Tabby Tortoiseshell Point/Caramel Tortie Lynx Point

 

Chocolate Tabby Tortoiseshell Point/Chocolate Tortie Lynx Point

body ivory, points pale chocolate barred with warm milk chocolate with red and/or cream patches.

Cinnamon Tabby Tortoiseshell Point/Cinnamon Torrtie Lynx Point

 

Lilac (Frost) Tabby Tortoiseshell Point/Lilac (Frost) Tortie Lynx Point

 

A relatively recent experimental development is the silver tabby point. Silver Tabby Tortoiseshells are possible and would use the above formula for their names.

Blue Silver Tabby Point

points silvery with slate blue barring

Seal Silver Tabby Point

points silvery with seal barring

Red Silver Tabby Point

points silvery with red markings

Cream Silver Tabby Point

points silvery with cream markings

MINK COLOURS (TONKINESE)

Minks are pointed cats with much darker bodies and less (although still apparent) contrast between body colour and point colour. Mink is a halfway-house between solid colour (Burmese) and colourpoint (Siamese). In theory, Tonkinese occur in versions of all Burmese (solid) colours - the list below gives the Burmese equivalent name for some of the mink colours. Mink-colour cats have blue, aqua or blue green eyes. In Australia, Tonkinese are found in spotted, tabby, ticked, tortie and tortie-tabby varieties and in the silver series. Many registries use the Oriental or Burmese colour name, not the "mink" term.

Blue Mink

Ash blue (with warm fawn tones) body, medium/slate blue points.

Champagne Mink

(Chocolate) buff cream/light tan body, points golden tan to milk chocolate

Honey Mink

(Cinnamon)

Natural Mink

(Black/Seal) Medium brown body, deep seal brown points.

Platinum Mink

(Lavender/Lilac) Pale silver/pearly grey body (with light fawn tones), points pale dove grey to light taupe grey

Red Mink

Pale red body, darker red points with ghost tabby markings

Cinnamon Mink

 

Fawn Mink

A "hotter version" of cream.

Cream Mink

 

 

 

VAN, VAN BI-COLOUR, HARLEQUIN, SEYCHELLES GROUP

Van Pattern is also called Grade 8 - Grade 9 Piebald. It is the most extreme of the 'Seychelles' patterns, comprising patches on head at base of each ear; tail same colour as patches, often with darker rings because red and cream are not true solid colours. Van Bi-Colours & Harlequins have additional markings on legs, one or two small patches on body. Beware: in Turkey, the term Turkish Van does not refer to a patterned cat!! The Seychellois is a Van-pattern cat of oriental type.

The 3 Seychellois patterns are:

Seychellois Neuvieme

white, coloured tail & head splashes

Seychellois Huitieme

has additional leg splashes

Seychellois Septieme

has leg & with body splashes

Other colours are being developed in Van pattern cats. In theory any solid, tabby or tortie colour can occur in the Van pattern. The current colours of Van-pattern cats (Turkish Van and Van Bi-Colour) are:

Auburn and White

original Turkish Van breed colour - red-tabby markings

Black and White

black markings

Blue and White

ash grey markings

Cream and White

dilute of auburn - cream-tabby markings

Tortoiseshell and White

tortie/blue-cream markings

Tabby and White

any colour tabby markings

MITTED & RAGDOLL COLOUR PATTERNS

The following are colourpointed cat appearing to have white mitts. The 'Mitted Pattern' is found in the Snowshoe, Birman and Ragdoll. The mitted pattern can occur with any of the colourpoint colours and patterns. There are six Ragdoll patterns, only three of which have competition status:- Colourpoint, Bi-colour and Mitted. The other three patterns are High Mitted (mitts extend up legs), Mid-High White (Bi-colour with additional white in "saddle" area) and High White (Bi-colour with even greater degree of white, "saddle" may be absent). The Piawaian Kucing Malaysia has a Ragdoll-type Seal Point Mitted pattern. Other colours are being developed in Ragdolls.

Seal Point Bi-Colour

Seal brown ears, tail, mask, "saddle"

Seal Point Colourpoint

Siamese pattern

Seal Point Mitted

Birman pattern, dark body, white face blaze, belly, boots & mitts

Blue Point Bi-Colour/ Colourpoint/Mitted

as above but with blue (grey)

Chocolate Point Bi-Colour/Colourpoint/Mitted

as above but with chocolate

Lilac Point Bi-Colour/ Colourpoint/Mitted

as above but with lilac

Lynx Point Bi-Colour/ Colourpoint/Mitted

tabby-patterned points (various colours)

Red (Flame) Point Bi-Colour/Colourpoint/Mitted

red (red tabby, flame) points

 

 

EQUIVALENT NAMES TABLE

Full Expression

Sepia (Burmese)

Mink (Tonkinese)

Pointed (Siamese)

Abyssinian/Somali

Australian Mist

Black/Brown (in tabbies)/Ebony

Brown/Sable/Seal Sepia

Sable/Natural Mink

Sable/Seal

Usual/Tawny/Ruddy/Brown

 Brown

Blue

Blue/Blue Sepia

Blue

Blue

 Blue

 Blue

Chocolate/ Chestnut/Brown

Chocolate/ Champagne Sepia

Chocolate/ Champagne Mink

Chocolate

 Chocolate

 Chocolate

Lilac/Lavender/ Frost

Lilac/Platinum Sepia

Lilac/Platinum Mink

Lilac/Platinum

 Lavender

 Lilac

Cinnamon

Cinnamon/Cinnamon Sepia

Cinnamon/Honey Mink

Cinnamon

Red/Sorrel

Gold

Fawn/Light Lilac

Fawn/Fawn Sepia

Fawn

Fawn

Fawn/Beige/Dilute Sorrel (non sex-linked)

Peach

Red

Red/Red Sepia

Red

Red

Sex-linked red

 Red

Cream

Cream/Cream Sepia

Cream

Cream

Sex-linked cream

 Cream

 

That is the end of the colours and patterns you are likely to see. The next section concerns variations which either haven't been seen yet or which have been seen once or twice, but have not been bred.

 

 

FUTURE COLOUR POSSIBILITIES

The following colours are found in other species, some have been observed in cats, but have not been standardized or developed further. Some may be introduced by outcrossing to wild cats, as was rosetting/marbling in the Bengal.

Yellow

True yellow (as seen in palomino horse), the ‘Palomino’ breed was said to be the colour of a brown grocery bag. Historically, "yellow" meant sandy-coloured reds.

Banded (Belted)

Solid colour with a solid band of white around middle of body (seen in Dutch Rabbits) - some Spanish street cats already exhibit this pattern but it has not been developed.

Sheeted

Solid colour with a wide band of colour (shoulder to haunches) (seen in some breeds of cattle)

Quadricolours

Patches in 4 distinct colours. I've seen only one example - a blue/cream/white tortie with a black/grey/white face; this may have been a form of mosaicism. The overall distribution of colour was akin to a Bicolor Ragdoll (saddle, mask, white blaze). Eyes were blue. These may possibly be chimaeras (resulting from two fused embryos).

Other Tricolours

These look like torties, i.e. red with small black spots or patches but are genetically red/red tabby cats with localised skin mutations or are chimaeras (resulting from 2 fused embryos). This is more and more being seen in cats and has resulted to grey-black-and-white cats, red-blue-and-white cats and cream-black-and-white cats. A mutant exhibiting Black-Yellow-White has occurred, the cat resembled a Jack Russell terrier, having a pointed face, long ears & bowed back legs. These cats breed as bicolours depending on which embryo cells form the ovaries or testes. Others are sterile due to XXY makeup. These quirks account for tortie tomcats.

New colourpoints

Dark points on a solid coloured body (as seen in dun horses) or white/pale points on a dark body (seen in some pig breeds).

New Tabbies

Horizontal stripes, reversed tabby patterns with light markings on a darker base, true spotting, clouding & marbling. Some of these effects are seen in wild cat species.

Black and Tan

Black upper body and outside leg, tan lower body and inside leg as seen in Doberman dogs (where it is a mutation of agouti). There is a sharp dividing line between the black and tan parts (a "waterline").

Blue and Tan

Dilute of black & tan, dove-grey upper (agouti mutation). Other colours and tan might then be possible.

Zebra, Dalmatian, Appaloosa

These would be striped and spotted as per the dogs and horses of those names.

Pink/Red Eyed Dilutes

Seen in rodents, may already have occurred. A pink-eyed dilute has been reported, cat was tan with pink eyes. Kittens born to her were premature & stillborn. A pink-eyed white kitten was born in a cat shelter in the UK but died as a kitten.

Satin

Not actually a colour, but a fur type which would have an effect on how the colour appeared. It would add a sheen to the coat by reflect light in a different way (seen in mice). A form of "glitter" is seen in some Bengal cats

Green

Green is not found in any mammal at present. The famous Danish green kitten was a temporary colour due to copper contamination.

ON TO CAT BREEDS & TYPES

 

About this List of Colours
This file was originally started for my own interest back in the 1980s. Information on recognised colours and patterns is readily available in books, from registries/governing bodies (GCCF, FIFe, ACFA etc), breed societies or on the Internet. This "layperson's list" contains general descriptions only and is not (nor will it ever be) specific to any single registry, breed society or cat-breeding country. It comprises information and trivia from diverse sources including historical texts and also personal correspondence over many years.

MESSYBEAST : COLOURS, CONFORMATION & FUR TYPES