• Mon. Apr 22nd, 2024

4 Most Popular Cat Colors & Pattern Variations: A Quick Guide (With Pictures)


Apr 13, 2023
Group of cats_Eric Isselee_Shutterstock


Group of cats_Eric Isselee_Shutterstock

Cats come in various colors and patterns, some more common than others. The difference in colors and patterns is one of the reasons we can tell cat breeds apart and also makes each cat unique. Selective breeding and mutations can lead to some of the cats’ most unique and spectacular color patterns.

Most people consider these two factors when choosing a cat, mainly due to some of the myths surrounding them but also due to appearance preferences. In this article, we will discuss common cat colors and patterns and highlight some of the rare ones.


The 4 Common Cat Colors

Cats are renowned for their color and the symbolism attached to them. However, more studies are needed before concluding that cat color influences personality. Some common cat colors include:

1. Black

black cat walking on autumn leaves
Image Credit: Daykiney, Shutterstock

One of the reasons people love having a black cat around. If your black cat lounges in the sun often, the UV rays can break down the black pigment in its fur and turn it to a rusty color. It’s important to note that black cats are not a breed on their own; many cat breeds include solid black as a coat color, apart from the Bombay, which has been bred to only have solid fur over time.

Black cats also have a lot of mystery and myths surrounding them. In many cultures, they often get a bad reputation for bringing bad luck—which is obviously not true. They also symbolize good luck in many cultures.

2. White/cream

whie maine coon cat lying crossed paw on a brown blanket
Image Credit: Kreminska, Shutterstock

White cats don’t come from a specific breed, and many breeds have cats with pure white coats. One of the reasons these cats are so rare is because getting the right mix of genetics to produce a white cat is difficult. Only around 5% of cats have a pure white coat. Unfortunately, the genetic mutation that leads to a white coat in cats can sometimes lead to full or partial deafness. They are also more prone to sunburn and should be kept out of direct sunlight—this also means they have a higher chance of developing skin cancer.

3. Orange/ginger/red/brown

Abyssinian cat
Image Credit: Osetrik, Shutterstock

Orange cats are popular primarily due to the Garfield cartoon and are mostly known for being mischievous. If you want to adopt or foster an orange cat, you will likely end up with a male. Male ginger cats outnumber female cats by a whopping 80%. The gene responsible for your cat’s coat color is the X chromosome. Because females have two X chromosomes, they need the gene for the orange color to appear twice, while males only need one.

4. Grey/blue

Russian Blue sitting on the rocks
Image Credit: Review News, Shutterstock

Grey cats are not that rare and come in a wide variety. Sometimes the grey coats are simply a diluted version of black and appear to be a light shade of blue.


Cat Coat Patterns

Some of the many popular coat patterns include:

1. Bi-color

black and white cat walking on grass outdoor
Image Credit: pasja1000, Pixabay

A bi-color color pattern is when a cat has a white coat with patches of another color, such as black or brown, caused by the white spotting gene. There are as many variations as there are coat colors. Cats with only a small amount of white spotting at the paws and around the neck are called tuxedo cats. An extreme in this pattern variation is an entirely white body with a different color tail or a spot on another body part, such as the head.

2. Calico/ tri-color

calico maine coon cat lying on the grass
Image Credit: Aleksei Verhovski, Shutterstock

Calicos are typically females with large solid areas of black and red patches and other colors. They usually have either a little bit or a lot of white. Calico can be diluted and have three or more colors on the body.

3. Solid/ self-color

Portrait of a brown British Shorthair Cat
Image Credit: Heidi Bollich, Shutterstock

Solid cats are the easiest to spot because they only have one color. If a cat has even a spot of another color, it is bi-colored and not self-colored. Cats with solid patterns are pretty rare, especially lilac and chocolate cats.

4. Tortoiseshell

Tortoiseshell Norwegian Forest Cat
Image Credit: Nui Rattapon, Shutterstock

Like calicos, cats with a tortoiseshell pattern are usually female. They typically have a black coat with random red patches. The blue and red coat can sometimes be a diluted version or even a pale blue and cream or ginger. Torties can also be bridled where two colors mix well or have distinct patches.

5. Colorpoint

Adult Lilac point Siamese
Image Credit: Ivonne wierink, Shutterstock

Cats with a colorpoint pattern are often Siamese cats. This pattern is where cats have a darker coat on the face, paws, and tail and a lighter belly. It is caused by the presence of a gene that causes the cool parts of a cat’s body to be darker than the warm parts. The distinct color markings appear as they grow, and most colorpoint cats don’t develop the darker markings if they grow up in a warm region.

6. Tabby

tabby cat licking its paw
Image Credit: WiP-Studio, Shutterstock

Tabby cats are the most common around the world. There are four variations; a striped tabby, a classic tabby, a spotted tabby, and a ticked tabby.

  • Striped tabby: Also known as a mackerel tabby, this coat pattern occurs when a cat has vertical stripes running from the spine to the belly.
  • Ticked tabby: A ticked tabby has a striped tail and legs, with the rest of the body solid.
  • Classic tabby: Also known as a blotched tabby, these cats have a swirl pattern from head to toe that mimics a marble effect.
  • Spotted tabby: These are cats with spots all over the body, mainly on the back and head.


Rare Cat Colors & Patterns

Cats come in different colors and patterns, and some of them are rarer than others. A few specific genes determine the coat color and patterns, and some genes are rare in the gene pool.

Some of the rare cat colors include:

  • Chocolate
  • Black smoke
  • Lilac
  • Fawn

Pure chocolate and black smoke cats are fascinating to see in motion. Black smoke cats are centralized to a few cats only; the Maine Coon, Persian, Turkish, Mau, Siberian, and Egyptian. Due to how beautiful and rare these cats are, they can fetch a price of up to $3,500.



Cat colors are complex to rank because cats come in different colors and patterns, and in many cross-breeds. Getting a solid-colored cat, especially with rare colors, is only possible if you go through a certified breeder. It’s also important to note that some diseases and defects are linked to specific coat colors and patterns.

Featured Image Credit: Eric Isselee, Shutterstock

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *