Cat Coat Colors and Patterns

The colors and coat patterns for a cat are two of its most common identifiers. Technically, all the cats come with a color variation of one of the primary colors, which include white, black, or red. Other solid colors seen in cats are brown, blue, lilac/lavender, cinnamon, and cream. The variations in coloration and pattern of a cat’s coat are determined by its coat genetics.

Cat Color Chart

1. White: Always solid, does not have underlying tabby markings, occurs as true-white, or in bicolor and tricolor patterns, seen in Turkish Van, Persian, British Shorthair, Turkish Angora, etc.

2. Black: Can sometimes contain underlying tabby markings, occurs as all-black and rusty tinge, or in colorpoint pattern, can be seen in Japanese Bobtail, Scottish Fold, Bombay, etc.

3. Red: Commonly known as ginger, orange, or marmalade, occurs in tabby and colorpoint patterns

4. Brown: Solid brown coat is associated with the Havana Brown cat, its variation is called chocolate

5. Lilac: Also called lavender by some breed clubs and associations, has a light grayish-brown coloration with pink overtones

6. Blue: Dilute version of deep gray or black, can be seen in many breeds, such as Chartreux, Russian Blue, and Korat

7. Cinnamon: A light brown variety, with red overtones

8. Fawn: Caused by dilution of the cinnamon gene, seen in Oriental Shorthair and Abyssinian cats

9. Cream: A dilute variety of the red (orange) coat, shows up in full-cream colored tabby and colorpoint patterns

Careful breeding programs that involve the introduction of different breeds from around the globe have brought about new colors and patterns in modern-day cats. Some cats exhibit distinctive hair patterns, which is created by variation of light and dark colors along each hair shaft. These new colors come in three different versions, including the tipped, smoked, and shaded.

Cat Coat Pattern Chart

1. Tortoiseshell

2. Tabby

Variations: Mackerel, classic, spotted, and ticked/agouti tabby

3. Calico

Variations: Standard, dilute, and calibby

4. Torbie

Variations: Brown classic, silver classic, and brown mackerel

5. Tabico

6. Bicolor (Piebald)

Variations: Van, cap-and-saddle, standard, mask-and-mantle, locket, harlequin, and tuxedo

7. Tuxedo

8. Maltese

9. Harlequin

10. Colorpoint

Variations: Point, sepia, and mink

Interesting Facts

  • The most common pattern in cats is the tabby, while the most popular solid colors are gray, black, white, and red.
  • There are two more self-colors called Russet (occurs in Burmese) and amber (found in Norwegian Forest Cat). In these breeds, two color-changing genes cause the black pigments to become lighter and turn reddish.