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The Rainbow of Cats – A Guide to Cat Types by Color

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Cats are living masterpieces with unique colors and patterns. But have you ever wondered why some cats are white while others are black and everything in between? Let’s look at different cat types by color and what they mean.

The Science Behind Different Types of Cat Colors


Like how humans get certain traits from their parents, cats also inherit genes from their moms and dads. Genes play a crucial role in producing melanin, which gives color to their eyes, skin, and coat.

Melanin comes in two types: eumelanin, which produces black and brown colors, and pheomelanin, which produces yellow and red shades. Each type comes in pairs and affects the color of a cat’s fur.

Different Cat Coloring Types

There are many types of cat coloring, from solid colors to intricate patterns of swirls, stripes, and spots. Let’s look at different cat types by color.

White Cats


White cats are like little walking snowballs. Some popular cat breeds are Turkish Angoras and Persians. They’re extra fluffy and super soft!

However, their beautiful coat color comes with a price. White cats, have piebald spotting that affects their hearing. According to research, around 65% to 85% of this cat color with blue eyes will be deaf in one or both ears, while those with non-blue eyes have lower risks.

Besides their hearing, white cats have more sensitive skin than other cat color types. The lack of pigment in their fur makes them more susceptible to sunburn. Thus, it is crucial to keep them indoors during peak sun hours or provide them with shaded areas outdoors.

Black Cats


Black cats are as stunning as the midnight sky. Popular breeds, like the Bombay cat, are always black. Their sleek coats and bright eyes make them one-of-a-kind.

Unfortunately, many superstitious beliefs surround their existence. Some people think they bring bad luck, but these are just silly notions. Black cats are as long and playful as other cat types by color.

Orange Cats


Otherwise known as ginger or marmalade cats, orange cats are walking rays of sunshine. Lots of cat breeds have orange fur, including Maine Coons and Abyssinians.

But did you know that most orange felines are boys? It’s because of their genetic formation. The “O” gene that makes a cat’s fur orange is present in X chromosomes. Cats have two X chromosomes if they’re female and one X and one Y chromosome if they’re male. Female felines need two copies of this gene, while male cats only need one to produce orange fur.

Grey Cats


Grey cats look sleek and sophisticated. Russian Blues and British Shorthairs are some breeds that have this coat color. Not all grey cats have a grey color. Some are a little bluish than grey because the color of their fur is diluted, which means their color is a little lighter.

Remember, though, that grey cats in darker shades may be more prone to health issues like hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a common cardiac disease in cats that diffuses the thick walls of their ventricles. Be sure to talk to your vet about potential concerns.

Cream Cats


Cream cats are a sight to behold, with their warm and gentle looks. Their fur is similar to a creamy latte, seeming to glow with a soft, inviting warmth. This stunning shade comes from a diluted version of the “O” gene. The bright orange pigment is still present, but it’s spread and lightened, creating a beautiful cream tone.

This beautiful coat isn’t as common as other cat color types, but you often see it in breeds like Maine Coon and the British Shorthair. Cream cats also come in various shades. Some kitties with this fur color possess a pale, almost ivory tone, while others have a richer, apricot hue. This variation makes them even more interesting, unique, and beautiful.

Calico and Tortoiseshells


Calicos and tortoiseshells are extra special because their fur has three types of cat colors. Calicos have a mix of white, black, and orange, while tortoiseshells blend black, red, and, sometimes, white. Their fur color and pattern seem like someone splashed them with colorful paints. Breeds with Calico and Tortoiseshells are Japanese Bobtails and Cornish Rex.

If orange cats are mostly boys, the girls rock these cat coloring types more often. The reason is that X chromosomes dominate their genetics, which also gives them these colors and patterns.

Tabby Cats


Among all cat types by color, tabby is the most popular. Tabby cats are champions of patterns. Their stripes come in four types of cat coloring. First is mackerel, which resembles tiger stripes. Meanwhile, the classic pattern has swirls and marbles all over their bodies. The spotted type looks like leopard prints, while the ticked pattern has stripes on each hair, giving them a salt-and-pepper look.

Bengals and Siamese may have this fur pattern. Its striking appearance makes them seem like they are wearing patterned sweaters.

Colorpoint Cats


Colorpoint cats have a unique color pattern–their fur has two color shades! Their faces, ears, paws, and tails are darker than the rest of their bodies. You’ll see this color type on breeds like the Siamese, with its dark brown points and creamy fur, and Himalayan, with its rich chocolate points and luxurious white coat.

So, how does this distinctive coat pattern appear? It all comes down to its temperature-sensitive gene. It’s less active in the warmer parts of the body, resulting in a lighter color. However, it kicks into gear in slightly cooler areas, such as the face, ears, paws, and tail, making those areas darker.

Shaded/Smoke Cats


Some felines have a stunning contrast between their undercoat and outer coat, creating a smoke or shaded appearance. This eye-catching effect comes from genes that control where color is deposited on each furstrand. The dark pigment is found at the tips of their hair for the outer coat, while the undercoat remains lighter, creating an illusion of depth and shimmering quality as the cat moves.

A silver-shaded Persian, with its dark-tipped white coat, is a classic example of this effect. Its fur is almost pearlescent, with light shadows and highlights. In black smoke felines, like the Maine Coon, their undercoat is nearly completely white, creating a dramatic contrast with its dark outer coat. 

Depending on the breed and color, this pattern can be subtle or strikingly defined. It adds beauty and allure to these already stunning felines.

Places to Start When Finding Your Perfect Companion


Now that you know different cat types by color, you might be interested in adopting one of these cat color types. Here are the places you can go to find your perfect match.

Reputable Breeders

Cat breeders are everywhere, but not all of them are reputable. Look for breeders who have participated in many cat shows and followed strict breeding practices to ensure their health and behavior. Once you’ve found one, ask the breeder about their breeds and whether they’ve undergone screening for genetic health issues.

Animal Shelters

Why buy a cat when you just adopt one? Animal shelters have hundreds of cat types by color, size, and shape. That said, you’ll likely find a breed or color you want. Talk to the shelter staff and ask them about their behavior and upbringing.

Rescue Groups

Rescue groups are another great option. Unlike animal shelters, which receive government funding, rescue groups rely on donations and fundraising to care for cats. They also get cats from various sources, including shelters, owner surrenders, and stray cats.

Many animal rescue organizations cater to specific cat breeds. If you want to adopt a specific breed, search the Internet for breed-specific groups in your area. These groups often understand the breed’s temperament and needs more deeply. They can also help you find a cat based on your personality and lifestyle.

Family and Friends

Sometimes, life throws unexpected curveballs. Due to changes in circumstances, friends and family members might need to rehome their beloved cats. Maybe they’re relocating to a new place where pets are prohibited, welcoming a new baby, or facing health issues.

If you know someone in any of these situations, tell them you are interested in adopting a cat. You’d give their fur babies a loving home, and your friend would have peace of mind knowing their fur kids would have a good place to stay.

Of course, being honest about your lifestyle and living situation is important to ensure it’s a good fit for the cat. Ask your friend about their cat’s personality, needs, and medical history. If it’s a good match, you can give their cat a loving home and help your friend through a difficult time.

Cats Are the Best—No Matter the Color

Whether bold, patterned, or a mix of everything, every cat is special in their own right. Instead of basing your choice on cat types by color, consider their personality, too—are they playful, cuddly, or timid? Also, do your research and adopt responsibly. Remember, every cat deserves a loving home, regardless of the color and pattern of their fur!


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