Guide to Cat Coat Colours, Patterns, and Markings

blue cat
Blue Cat

What does it mean when a cat is described as agouti, dilute, brindled, parti-coloured, or piebald? This glossary of descriptive cat terms provides the answers to these questions.

Cat Colours

The following are cat colours recognized by major cat associations:

    • Blue: Soft medium-gray
    • Champagne: Warm honey beige
    • Chocolate: Rich medium-brown
    • Cinnamon: Reddish-brown
    • Cream: Dilute version of red that appears as a beige, sand, buff, or shell
    • Dilute: Lighter or softer version of a dominant colour such as cream (a dilute of red) or blue (a dilute of black)
    • Fawn: Warm buff or vaguely pinkish shade
    • Lavender/Lilac: Pale pinkish-gray
    • Platinum: Pale, silvery gray with undertones of fawn
    • Red: Orange (also known as ginger or marmalade), a dominant colour found in tabbies, tortoiseshells, and calicos, as well as purebreds such as Persians and Turkish Vans
    • Seal: Deep brown
    • Sepia: Soft brown that resembles the colour of old photographs
    • Silver: A colour effect created by white hairs with steel-coloured tipping, found in Persians and the background coat of silver tabbies

      Red Tabby Kitten
      Red Tabby Kitten

See the Cat Colour Gallery for more photos.

Cat Patterns

The patterns that make up the coats of various purebreds and other domestic cats are as follows:

    • Agouti/Ticked: Individual hairs have alternating light and dark coloured bands with dark tips, found in breeds such as the Abyssinian and the Singapura
    • Bicolour: Solid patches of white and one other colour
    • Brindled: Randomly scattered hairs of various colours rather than solid patches of colour, found in some tortoiseshell cats
    • Calico: Solid patches of white, red, and black fur
    • Cameo: Orange fur with white roots
    • Chinchilla: White hairs lightly tipped with blue, red, or black
    • Colourpoint/Pointed: Darker fur on the extremities (face, ears, feet, and tail) with a lighter body colour; found on cats such as the Siamese, the Himalayan, and the Ragdoll
    • Dilute Calico: Solid patches of white, cream, and blue rather than white, red, and black
    • Ghost Markings/Ghost Patterns: Faint tabby stripes visible in the coats of some solid-coloured cats, most commonly found on kittens (the majority of kittens lose their ghost markings as they grow older)
    • Harlequin: Primarily white with a few patches of solid colour
    • Lynx Point: Tabby-patterned point markings
    • Mackerel Tabby: Tabby pattern with narrow parallel vertical stripes along the sides
    • Marbled: Classic blotched tabby pattern
    • Mink: Pointed pattern on a rich, unmarked, even background
    • Parti-Colour: Two or more colours
    • Parti-Colour Point: Multi-coloured points (i.e., points of cream, seal, and red)
    • Patched/Torbie/Tortoiseshell Tabby: Tortoiseshell pattern with dark tabby markings
    • Piebald: Uneven solid white patches in an otherwise coloured coat that may cover the bulk of the coat or only a small portion
    • Ruddy: Orange-brown or burnt-sienna undercoat overlaid with black or dark brown ticking; seen in breeds such as the Abyssinian and the Somali
    • Shaded: White fur with coloured tips, ranging from very faint (chinchilla) to more intense colour that covers more than half of each hair (smoke)
    • Solid: A single colour of fur over the entire body, with all hairs the same colour from roots to tips
    • Spotted: Tabby pattern with swirls and lines that are broken to form spots
    • Tabby: A term encompassing four patterns: classic, mackerel, spotted, and ticked; all four types have darker lines on their faces and around their eyes, as well as a forehead marking resembling the letter M
    • Ticked Tabby: A tabby with no actual spots or lines on all or most of the body (there may be spots or stripes on the points, neck, and chest only) and alternating light and dark colour bands on each hair
    • Tipped: A coat made up of hairs that have tips of a different colour
    • Tortie/Tortoiseshell: A pattern comprising either red and black or cream and blue (if there is white present, the cat is a calico)
    • Tortie-Lynx: Parti-coloured points in tortie shades with tabby patterns
    • Tuxedo: Primarily black with white patches on the chest, belly, and paws (some tuxedo cats have white on the chin, whisker pads, and/or nose as well)
    • Van Pattern: A white coat with patches of colour on the tail and head
Kitten with Point Markings
Kitten with Point Markings

Cat Markings

Kitten
Tabby Kitten with Forehead Blaze

The following terms are used to describe individual markings that may be present in addition to the overall colour and pattern of a cat’s coat:

    • Blaze: A forehead marking positioned between the eyes and possibly along the nose as well
    • Buttons/Vest Buttons: Spots on the stomach and/or chest, often dark on a light background
    • Laces: White fur running up from the paws to the backs of the legs, seen on breeds such as the Birman
    • Locket: A solid spot of white fur
    • Mascara Lines: Dark lines on the cheeks and encircling the eyes, found on cats such as the Egyptian Mau, the Ocicat, and the Pixie-Bob
    • Mask: An area of dark fur that covers the face, including the eyes, nose, whisker pads, and chin, found on breeds such as the Siamese
    • Mittens/Gloves: White fur on the feet, found on breeds such as the Snowshoe
    • Necklace: Darker fur that circles the throat
    • Points: Darker markings on the face, ears, feet, and tail
    • Rosettes: Tabby pattern variation comprising floral or doughnut shapes rather than spots; found on breeds such as the Bengal

For more cat breed articles, visit the main Cat Breeds page. For a full list of cat articles, see the main Cats page.

One thought on “Guide to Cat Coat Colours, Patterns, and Markings”

  1. Ticked: Individual hairs have alternating light and dark coloured bands with dark tips, found in breeds such as the Abyssinian and the Singapura.
    Randomly scattered hairs of various colours rather than solid patches of colour, found in some tortoiseshell cats
    Two or more colours
    Uneven solid white patches in an otherwise coloured coat that may cover the bulk of the coat or only a small portion

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