1. Home

Discuss in my forum

More Cat Color Patterns

Calicos, Tortoiseshell, Tuxedo Cats

By

More Cat Color Patterns

Jaspurr is a Red Tabby DSH Cat

Image Credit: © Franny Syufy

Color Patterns Continued

  • Tri-color Cats
    Tri-color cats include:
    • Calico
      Separate solid blocks of color, which must include red (orange), black, and white. They also may have blocks of tabby pattern, which produces an extremely colorful and beautiful cat. Dilute calicos, have the same separate blocks of color, only the colors are "diluted," i.e. "faded" shades of the original, which gives them an ethereal appearance. A dilute calico will have pale orange or buff for the red, and gray (or "blue") for the black.

      A beautiful example of a calico girl is Sweet Pea, an About Cats forum cat.

    • Tortoiseshell AKA "Tortie"
      Torties are not true tri-color cats, because they do not all contain white. Instead of solid blocks, torties' coats weave the black and red throughout, creating a tapestry of color. A forum member described torties beautifully, "they are cloaked in the lovely colors of Fall." Tortoiseshell cats may also be dilute, with softer versions of the colors. Like the tabby, some torties may also have white accent markings, creating a "tortie with white." They also sometimes have an interesting mix of tortoiseshell, with a bonus of tabby patterning mixed throughout. These cats are referred to as torbies. It should be noted that white plays a very small role in the tortoiseshell pattern - most of the color weaving is done with the red and black components.

    Because of the associated genetic factors that creates their color patterns, tri-color cats almost always are females, although occasional males crop up (about one in 3,000, according to this excellent article by Barbara French) Those rare males are almost always sterile, also for reasons of genetics, so don't expect to gain a fortune by selling your male calico cat.

  • Tuxedo
    Tuxedo cats were so named for their glossy black coats, enhanced with white bibs and "spats," (less flamboyantly described as white feet).
  • Bi-Color
    Bi-colored cats may include tuxedos, as well as other configurations on one color plus white. A black and white cat might be better described as bi-color if the colors are present in large blocks on the cat's body rather than the "bib and boots" pattern. Other bi-colors might include gray and white, brown and white, or red and white.
  • Points or Pointed Markings
    "Points," or darker shades of the body color, generally include the ears, muzzle, tail, and feet of the cat. The original pointed cat was the Siamese, and many years later, the Himalayan was developed by crossing Siamese with Persian cats. Many other breeds of pointed cats are now accepted by cat registries, including Ragdoll, Ragamuffin, Birman, Exotic, Balinese, and Javanese. Breed registries disallow pointed patterns in most other breeds. Many mixed breed cats display these distinctive points, which may be found in various colors.
Let's wrap this discussion up with some personal examples of color pattern semantics. I have four non-pedigreed cats:
  1. Jenny is a calico DSH.
  2. Jaspurr is a red mackerel tabby DSH.
  3. Joey is a gray with white mackerel tabby DSH
  4. Billy is a silver with white mackerel tabby DMH.
  5. Because of his strong resemblance to a Maine Coon, I could also call him a "silver mackerel Main Coon mix," or what is popularly referred to as a "coonlet."

I hope this information has been helpful in identifying your own cat's color pattern and background. It has been my experience and that of the vast majority of readers and About Cats forum members that our "moggies" are no less loved or cared for than the most expensive and exotic of the pedigreed cats.

And that's as it should be.

Test your Knowledge:
Take the related Picture Quiz .

  1. About.com
  2. Home
  3. Cats
  4. Cat Breeds
  5. Feline Genetics
  6. Cat Color Patterns: Tri-Color, Calico, Tortie, Tuxedo

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.