What Color Is My Cat?

By Beth Hicks, TICA Allbreed Judge

Cats come in an amazing variety of colors and patterns. It is not unusual to see many different colors in the same litter of kittens.

There are two primary colors in cats - black and red. All other colors are variations of black and red with the exception of solid white. White is a masking gene. It hides - masks - all other color. So a solid white cat is either black or red but the color is hidden by the white.

All colors are also seen with different markings - called patterns. The three most common patterns in cats are solid, tabby and pointed. All colors and patterns can have some white. Referred to as white spotting, this is also a masking gene. However, white spotting only hides some of a cat's color instead of all of it.

It is not color and pattern that determine a cat’s breed. That is established by the physical characteristics described in each breed’s standard. Just as all pointed cats are not Siamese and all longhaired cats are not Persians and all tailless cats are not Manx, all blue cats are not Russian Blues. The same color and pattern can be seen in many different breeds. For example, there are brown classic tabby Maine Coons, American Shorthairs, Oriental Shorthairs, Devon Rex, Persians, Norwegian Forest Cats, Siberians, and Scottish Folds. There are seal point Siamese, Himalayans, Birmans, Snowshoes, Ragdolls, Balinese, and Tonkinese. Domestic cats have all the same colors and patterns that are seen in purebred cats.

The color and pattern names used on this site are the official names used by The International Cat Association (TICA). This is a list of other names commonly used to describe the same color:

Official Color
Commonly Called
Red Orange, rust, marmalade, yellow, ginger
Blue Gray, grey
Chocolate Brown
Seal Brown
Silver Grey or gray
Black Tortie & White Calico
Cream Buff

The addition of different modifying genes changes the two basic colors. Red can change to cream. Black can change to blue, chocolate, cinnamon, lilac, or fawn. Chocolate, cinnamon, lilac, and fawn are seldom seen in the general cat population. This site will concentrate on the most common patterns and the four most commonly seen colors - black, blue, red, and cream. We hope you enjoy the challenge of determining your cat's color and pattern.

Solid - Cats that are one color and do not have any stripes.
Tabbies - Cats with stripes - called tabby markings. The tabby markings have four different patterns.
Torties/Torbies - Usually females, these cats are a mixture of both black and red. They can be solids or tabbies.
Pointed - Color is only seen on the face, feet, and tail. Those points can be solid or tabby.
With Whites - Any of the above with white added. The term particolor means any cat with white.

If you are interested in learning more about colors and breeds or even showing your pet, please check the TICA Show Schedule:


Visitors are always welcome at TICA shows!!!!!!

We gratefully acknowledge Helmi Flick Cat Photography for providing the photos used in these sections!!


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