15 Different Types of Cat Furs: Colors & Patterns
Different breeds of cats have very different types of coats with different patterns and colors. Some have long hair, short and some are even hairless.
A cat’s fur is a vital part of the integumentary system which regulates the body temperature, protects internal structures, and helps conceal him from predators and prey.
To help you recognize the differences in cat furs, colors and patterns, and to give you a better understanding of each, we have outlined each type in this article.
Cat Fur Coat Types
Long-haired cats have fur longer than 1.5 inches but can grow up to 5 inches, depending on the cats breed. Cats with long hair need lots of brushing, and they tend to shed a lot Common cat breeds that have long-hair are Maine Coons, Ragdolls and Persians.
Short Haired Cats
Short haired cats have hair that is no longer than 1.5 inches. They are pretty low maintenance, and require little or no brushing. Examples of this are British Shorthair, Burmese, Manx, Bengal and Savannah cats.
There aren’t very many cat breeds that have a curly fur coat. Curly hair in cats is the result of a genetic mutation. A rare curly-haired cat was once spotted by chance at a shelter and was adopted then cross-bred, thereby creating a new curly cat breed named the Selkirk rex.
Hairless cats are not really hairless. They are actually a very short-haired breed that has the equivalent of peach fuzz type hair. The hair has a velvet feel, and it is very soft and come in a variety of cat colors and patterns. They can be black, white, blue, calico, bi-colors, tabby or even color pointed. The overall pink skin tone is mixed into the cat’s “coat” color, creating a very unique look. This is why a white sphynx cat may look pink.
Fur Color and Pattern
Its easy to see a coat with one color that is evenly distributed all over the cats body. When some solid color cats are very young kittens, they may display a few hairs of a secondary color. As the cat matures, the odd hairs disappear and the cat becomes entirely solid colored. If the cat retains any spot of another color on his coat, he is not considered a solid coat.
Tabbies are the most common and popular cat coats. These cats can be easily identified because they often have striped markings or spots on the chest. Striped Tabbies are also known as ‘tiger’ cats. They often have ‘white accessories’ to go with their coats like the bib (chest), feet or tail. You can also identify a Tabby because they have an M design on their forehead and pencil lines on their face. The most common colors are brown, grey and orange but there are also variations of Tabby cat including spotted, mackerel, classical, patched and ticked.
This coat pattern of a calico cat consists of black, red (ginger) and white. They can also come in diluted shades of cream and blue. Due to genetic factors, this type is much more common in females cats.
Bi-Color & Tri-Color Coats
Bi-colored and Tri-colored cats are white and any other colors on the coat. Depending on what the second or third color is, and the position of it on the cat’s fur, the term bi-color or tri-color can have many different names. The cat can have a little spotting, even only one patch of white, or can be mostly white with a little bit of the other color. The colored area in the colored parts of these cats can also feature any of the tabby patterns.
The tortoiseshell coat has a mix of orange and black (or their diluted versions of cream and blue) that creates this unique coat pattern. Being a mix of black and orange, this coat pattern (like the tri-color) can be seen almost exclusively in females. Tortoiseshell males are rare and most always sterile. Torties can also display an underlying tabby pattern and this is sometimes referred to as “torbie.”
With this pattern, the face, paws and tail are of a darker color than the rest of the body. This pattern is actually temperature-related and the cooler parts of the body develop a darker color. The contrast between the points and the main body color can vary, but this is usually one of the most easily recognized coat patterns. These points can be in various colors and shades, including dark brown (seal), red (flame), blue, and lilac. In some breeds, the points can be in a tri-color pattern or in a tabby pattern in any of these colors
The first and main color in a cat color chart is, of course, white. The cats with white colored coats and without any markings are related to the type of a solid coat pattern. These kitties usually have pink noses and toe beans. The cat’s eye colors can be golden, blue, copper, green and even different eyes.
Black Based Colors
Black based colors include black, blue, chocolate. lilac, cinnamon and fawn cats coat colors. Blue, lilac and fawn are considered diluted shades of black color that add uniqueness and special attractiveness to some of these black based cat breeds.
Solid black cats are extremely popular just like the solid white ones. Sometimes in the summer or due to the sun rays, solid black cats may seem slightly brownish.
Red (also known as orange and ginger) and cream are the two red-based colors of a cat’s coat. Cats with red-based coats are genetically males. This color is often mixed with a tabby pattern. It is really unusual to find a cat with solid red coat color.
This is a diluted gene of red. When cream cat colors are combined with blue, there can be a gorgeous dilute of calicos and tortoiseshell patterns. Cream colors are typical of Persian and British breeds.
Although a lot of cat fans call this color grey and it looks like grey in most cases, in the cat color chart this color is known as blue. It can vary from light blue-grey to deep bluish-grey. Blue is typical for several breeds and mixed-breed cats as well.
The chocolate coat color, is one of the most popular variations of brown. It is a warm deep brown color. The cats with chocolate coats often have brown-pink or milk-chocolate paw pads and chocolate nose leather.
Lilac is a hue of a light grey-brown mixed with a pink shade. The paw pads and nose of the cats with lilac coats may be a lavender pink color.
One more shade of brown is cinnamon. It is a warm light brown color with distinct red hues. The paw pads of cats with cinnamon coats can be cinnamon brown as well as the nose leather.
A diluted variation of cinnamon is called a fawn. It is a bit lighter than a lilac color. Pinkish fawn shades are common for the paw pads and nose leather of felines with such a particular coat color.
Cat Fur Layers
Down hair consists of shorter and much softer hair than say guard hair. Down hair is thick and plush especially with breeds coming from colder regions. It insulates a cat’s body from inclement weather and heat loss. Some cat breeds do not have a layer of down hair though.
Guard hair forms its outer coat and is the longest of the hairs. It has a coarser feel than the layers of fur underneath. The color of the guard hairs determines the color of the coat. It helps in keeping the wind away, protects the cats against cold and ensures water runs off the fur of cats without immediately soaking in.
This secondary hair is coarser than down and has darkened tips. Awn hair helps insulate the cat and protect its down hairs. Most of a cat’s visible coat is made up of awn hairs. In some breeds, the awn hairs are much longer than the cat’s outer guard hairs.
Whiskers are thick hairs that are specialized for tactile sensing. They also grow from above a cat’s eyes, on his cheeks and on the outer sides of his legs. Whiskers help a cat gauge the size of an opening and even provide orientation for a cat traveling in the dark.
Although cats’ hair, patterns and colors has little to do with their personality, cats are frequently preferred by how they look. The different fur types play different roles depending on the breed of cat and the type you are dealing with.