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The color, pattern, length, and texture of feline hair are all determined by heredity. Cat coat variations are physical characteristics that should not be confused with cat breeds.
A cat might have the coat of a certain breed without being that breed. This post is the ultimate guide to cat identification based on the type of coat, color, or fur patterns.
Types of Cat Coats, Colors & Fur Patterns
#1. Solid Color Coats
A solid color coat is the easiest type of fur to spot because there’s no variation in colors.
If a cat has any additional splotches of color on her body, she is not regarded to be a solid coat type, but rather some kind that falls outside this physical classification category. This is possibly the reason why solid cats are rare.
For shaded or smoke cats, the determination is made based on the color of the tips of the hairs. Therefore this means that even if the hairs have white roots and all the tips are uniformly black, that would be considered a solid black cat.
The most common solid color coats in cats are:
These cats usually have their whole body covered in black fur. The shades (depth) of black color may vary across the breeds.
These cats have a light red color even though the shading may vary from one breed to another. The variations in shades may sometimes earn them different color-based names such as pink or orange.
These are cats with a creamy color. Some people refer to them as yellow cats, but many cat enthusiasts agree that cream is the most representative classification of this type of coat.
These cats have brown fur that is anywhere between rosy brown and beaver shades. As the name suggests they are mainly as brown as chocolate.
These cats have fur with soft and pale violet shading. Since Lilac is a warm color, these cats are generally considered innocent and friendly. However, that is not always the case because outside coloring does not necessarily inform the breed.
Fawn cat color is caused by a mutation in the dense pigmentation gene. The color may range from gold to antique white, and it’s only found in purebred cats who have been bred expressly for this mutation, making it extremely rare.
These cats have fur whose color resembles that of cinnamon. The cinnamon shade is not as varied as other solid color shades.
There are many shades of blue in the cat world.
Exclusively white-colored cats are rare but they do exist
Smoke (Black or Blue with white roots)
Smoke cats are those with hair tips of a different color compared to the hair roots color. In mots cases the tips have a solid blue or black color, and it is this color that determines how the cat is classified.
#2. Tabby Coats
Any cat with a distinctive ‘M’ shaped marking on its forehead, stripes around its eyes and across its cheeks, along its back, and around its legs and tail, and distinctive striped, lined, swirled, dotted, banded, or flecked patterns on the body – neck, sides, shoulders, chest, flanks, as well as abdomen – is referred to as a tabby cat.
The various tabbies include:
Mackerel tabbies are the most common in which the body has thin vertical, softly curved stripes. Bars and small segments/spots are common on the flank and stomach.
Three or five vertical lines in an ‘M’ shape emerge on the forehead, along with black lines from the corners of the eyes, one or more crossing each cheek, and of course many stripes and lines at various angles on the neck and shoulder area, flanks, legs, and tail.
Classic (Blotched or Marbled) Tabby
Instead of narrow stripes or spots, the classic tabby’s body markings are wide curving bands in a whirling or swirled pattern, with a unique mark on either side of the body like a bullseye.
They have brighter fields of red than their mackerel counterparts, and have darker browns, olives, and ochres that show out more against the blacks.
On the shoulders, classic tabbies have a light-colored “butterfly” design and three thin stripes (the central stripe is the darkest). Legs, tails, and cheeks bear broad stripes, bands, or bars. It’s a recessive characteristic.
Classic tabbies are the most prevalent in the UK and the Middle East.
The ticked tabby pattern is caused by even fields of agouti hairs with unique color bands that break up the tabby pattern thereby making it appear as a salt-and-pepper mixture, hence making them look sand-like.
The typical ‘M’ and a long black line going along the spine are commonly observed in ticking tabbies with a mackerel or classic tabby genotype. These cats come in many shapes and hues.
A modifier gene breaks up the tabby pattern and causes the spotted tabby’s stripes to look as spots. The spotted tabby gene can also break the conventional tabby pattern into big spots.
There are big spots and tiny spots in the Australian Mist, Serengeti, Bengal, as well as Savannah breeds, in addition to various hybrids.
The most common spotted tabby has the typical mackerel tabby markings on the limbs, tail, and head, including the ‘M’ on the forehead.
The orange tabby has phaeomelanin instead of eumelanin, making it a tabby variation. It is orange and white, with a white underbelly and paws, and an orange back.
The orange regions can have deeper orange dots or stripes, but the white sections are generally solid.
The ratio of orange to white varies widely, from a few orange patches on a white cat’s back to a narrow white stripe down the stomach, or no white at all.
They usually have a white patch on their face that covers their mouth, sides, and forehead, or their faces are orange with white starting at the bottom of their head or neck.
Male orange tabby cats predominate. 1 in every 5 orange tabbies are female. About 20% of orange tabbies are female.
#3. Tortoiseshell Coats
Tortoiseshell is a coat pattern observed on certain cats. The pattern is defined by swirling bands or whorls of two different hues — most frequently black and orange — that give the animal’s fur a marbled look.
A tortie cat’s ears, chin, paws, and tail may all have light-colored fur. Other cats may have similar coloring as a result of hybridization.
Tortoiseshell cats (Torties) were eagerly accepted as pets because they were believed to bring good luck (in some places) until it became evident that all cats’ behavior was determined by genetics rather than luck or witchcraft.
The varieties here include:
Calico (Tri-colored) coats
A calico is a kind of tabby cat with noticeable patches of black, orange, and brown. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not this anomaly that gives a cat the name.
Most biologists agree that when an expecting mother passes antibodies on to her kittens in their womb from fighting off an infection or illness of some kind (i.e. toxoplasmosis), that will color their coat different colors (orange/brown).
The term “calico” brown derives from the Dutch word ‘katerskop’, which means tortoiseshell-patterned fur after animal fur was imported into Europe in the 17th century by Dutch traders from Indonesia.
There are many variations of this pattern, but the basics are black on a white background. A harlequin cat is any domestic cat that has one or more colorless or nearly colorless patches in its fur.
This type of coat pattern is the result of a quirk of genetics. They have a long history, and were originally called spangled cats because they had black spangles over their bodies, usually with some degree of tabby striping as well.
Today though, it could mean anything from a small patch to an all-over coverage and every variation between; there are documented cases where a cat displays only the markings most fitting to its present environment.
#4. Torby Coats
The fur is a mixture of Tabby and Tortoiseshell cat hair with distinctive patterns. So one can simply say that torbies are Tortose shell cats with tabby patterns.
They are Torties because of random color variation, but tabbies due to the patterns in coloration. Torby Cats are sometimes known as the patched tabbies.
Torbies can come in as many varieties as possible due to the many possibilities of color and pattern combinations. Some of these include:
Also called the brown-spotted torby, this is characterized by patches of brown tabby and red tabby.
Brown Torby & White
Also called the brown-spotted torby and white, this is characterised by patches of brown and red tabby and an exclusively white section on the lower neck and abdomen.
Also called the blue classic torbie, this is characterized by patches of blue tabby and cream tabby
Dilute Torby & White
Also called the Blue Mackeral torby and white, this is characterized by patches of blue and cream tabby an exclusively white section on the lower neck, abdomen, and feet.
#5. Color & Pattern Point Coats
This is a unique fur coat to look at. It is a single hue, but the face, paws, tail, and ears are a darker tone than the rest of the body. The darker shads may be a continuous solid color or a pattern.
The varieties here include:
- Seal point
- Lilac point
- Cream point
- Red (Flame) point
- Tortie point – Tortoiseshell pattern on points
- Torbie point – Both striped and tortoiseshell patterns on points
- Lilac tabby (Lynx) point – striped pattern on the points
- Red tabby point
- Seal tabby point
#6. Bi-Color (Piebald) Coats
A bicolor cat, often known as a piebald cat, is a cat with white fur and another color of hair, such as black or tabby. There are several bicolor cat designs.
These are available in a variety of patterns, from Turkish Van to plain color with a neck locket. In the United States, a tuxedo cat is a black cat with low-to-medium grade white spotting on the face, paws, neck, and chest.
Bicolor outcomes of the highest quality in Van-pattern cats. There are several variations of this theme, including “cap-and-saddle,” “magpie” and “mask-and-mantle”.
Bi-color coats are present in a wide variety of cat breeds and are particularly prevalent in domestic longhair and domestic shorthair cats.
Bicolor cats with mostly solid colors develop as a result of the presence of a white spotting gene and a recessive allele of the agouti gene, which balances out the coat’s natural striped pattern.
The snowshoe pattern is characterized by white from feet to the ankles, white hind legs to the hocks, a white inverted “V” on the face, with white chin, chest, and underbelly.
The Turkish Van cats are mostly white, but with different coloration on the head and tail.
Locket cats have a white spot on the chest, and the rest of the body be blue, black, or brown.
These are characterized by being color-pointed with white slippers in front and white boots behind. In some cases, they may have white patches on the belly, chin and chest.
Coloration with white paws, belly, chest, and face. A tuxedo cat is typically a white cat with large, distinctive black markings on its head and along the length of its body.
Cats are said to be “tuxedo cats” when they have this coloration pattern.
#7. Long-haired Coats
Long-haired cats demand more attention than their short-haired counterparts, but the reward is well worth the effort.
Long fur can develop up to 5 inches in length, and these felines require frequent brushing to avoid matting.
Additionally, they will shed more frequently as a result of their longer coat length, which makes them perfect for allergy patients as they create less dander than other coat types.
#8. Curly (Crimped) Fur Coats
Curly hair is extremely unusual, although it does exist. It began as a result of an oddity in a few breeds, and because humans desired more curly-haired cats, they were selectively developed in this manner.
Because crimped cat fur is considered long fur, it sheds just as much as conventional long-haired felines, so you’ll need to groom them frequently or brush their coat every day to keep them looking their best.
#9. Short-haired Coats
Short-haired cats are the most common cat in North America.
They have a natural hair length of 1.5 inches and require little maintenance, making them perfect for those who don’t want to spend time grooming their kitty every day!
Plus, there are more breeds with short-haired felines than long-haired ones which means that you can find one that matches your lifestyle perfectly.
#10. Hairless Coats
A hairless cat has no visible fur but is not quite hairless. They have short hair that resembles a man’s buzz cut. This cat’s fur has a velvety feel and is extremely silky.
On the other side, they require frequent bathing due to the absence of fur to absorb the natural oils from their skin. Additionally, they require sweaters in the winter and shirts in the summer, as there is no fur to provide insulation.