One or two times a month I bring an orphaned rescue cat to appear on the Monday morning KUSI Adopt a Pet segment.
Invariably, the anchor asks, “I know that’s a cat, but what kind of cat is that?”
As anyone in animal rescue knows, the majority of cats available for adoption are domestic short hair, domestic medium hair or domestic long hair cats. That’s not to say that we don’t see Siamese, Tonkinese, Persian and other breed specific cats. It’s just that most of them are – well, just cats.
Or are they? In addition to some rescue cats being a blend of a specific breed and a domestic cat, domestic cats can be categorized based on color combinations and patterns.
Tabby cats come in a variety of colors and have darker stripes sometimes intermingled with spots on a lighter main color.
Tabby cats include the brown tabby, the orange tabby, the grey or silver tabby and the black tabby.
Orange tabby cats can have darker fur and stripes that lead them to be called red tabbies or lighter fur and stripes that give them the designation of buff tabby.
Calicos, Torbies and Torties
The primary color of Calico cats is white. Against this white background are splashes of red or orange, black and brown.
A Torbie cat also has white as its primary color, but instead of patches of color has patches of a tabby pattern. Torbies are also known as a patched tabby or Tabby Tortie.
When the cat has the red or orange, black and brown colors, but no white it is called a Tortoiseshell or Tortie cat.
There is a sub-class of Calicos and Torties that have paler colors. These are called Diluted or Pastel Calicos and Torties.
Cats of a specific color
Sometimes, cats have no particular pattern to their coat.
A gray cat is a gray cat. Although they may be a blend of a Russian Blue and a domestic cat or a Chartreux, Blue British Shorthair or the more exotic Korat and a domestic cat.
A black cat is a cat with black fur of no particular breed. If you add white to the mix though, it is called a Tuxedo cat.
Other cat colors include white, buff, orange, red, brown and yellow.
Cats of specific colors can also have subtle patterns resulting from variations in the individual hairs of their fur. Tickled or Agouti cats have fur with each individual hair dotted with different colors. In identifying these patterns, the primary color of the cat is included. Thus we have Ruddy Agoutis with a reddish brown coat with the look of rust and Blue Agoutis with a gray coat that has a blue look to it.
Shaded cats have fur comprised of hairs that are dark at the root and lighter at the tip. These too are based on the primary color giving us the shaded silver cat or the shaded brown cat.
The opposite of the shaded cat is the tipped cat where the hair is lighter at the root and darker at the tip. The color most seen in domestic cats is the silver tipped.
The colorful world of the domestic cat
The designation on Petfinder or Adopt-a-Pet may be DSH (domestic short hair), DMH (domestic medium hair) or DLH (domestic long hair), but as you can see there is much more to the domestic cat that that!
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