Sunday, November 9, 2014

Breeds, Colors, Patterns... So Confusing!

An Overview of Breeds, Colors and Patterns

Most of us know that we have a Lab that is black or a Poodle that is white.  Nevertheless, when it comes to cats…. many owners give me a blank stare.

Let us start to learn more about basic cat facts!

​Cat Breeds

​Like it or not, our basic dog knowledge comes from the American Kennel Club (AKC).  While most dog owners do not have pure breeds, the AKC gives us the words we need to describe our dogs.  We can say we have a Lab, or Labradoodle, or a Lab mix.  All those words describe the breed of dog.

​Cats have a similar organization. It is called the Cat Fanciers Association, Inc. (CFA).  Currently, the CFA recognizes 40 breeds of cats.  Some of the more common breeds Kitty’s Purrfect Spa has groomed in this area are the Persian, Exotic, Maine Coon, Ragdoll, Siamese, Bengal and Turkish Van.  Other breeds we have groomed in Santa Clarita include the Scottish Fold, Abyssinian, LaPerm, Russian Blue, Norwegian Forest Cat and Manx.

While some owners have purebred cats, and other cats highly resemble the purebred version, many of us “just have a cat”.  We call “just a cat” by the length of fur they have.  The “mutts” (forgive my language) of the cat world are called Domestic Short hair (DSH) or Domestic Long hair (DLH).

For the list of 40 recognized breeds, please visit the following:

​So, now that we know the breed of cat you have, life gets a little more complicated with the color of cat you own.

The cat world likes to throw colors and patterns together.  Here we go!

Cat Colors

Let us start with colors.  Out of 40 recognized breeds by the CFA, there are only eight color choices, plus White!  The colors of all cats are Black, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Red, Blue, Lilac, Fawn and/or Cream.

​If your cat has white on the fur, we would say the color “and white”.

I am sorry to say, that the “Orange Tabby” Garfield looking cat next door, is a Red Domestic Short Hair.  In the cat world, orange is called red and gray is called blue.

Cat Patterns

This is where most people get confused.  Tabby is a pattern in the coat, not a breed.

There are four Tabby Patterns; all these cats have an “M” shape marking on their forehead and narrow stripes on their faces.

1.    Mackerel Tabbies, have narrow stripes that run almost parallel down Kitty’s Side
2.    Classic Tabbies, appear to have a “bulls eye” on the sides and a “butterfly” between the shoulder blades
3.    Spotted Tabbies, have large or small spots all over
4.    Ticked Tabbies, have no spots or stripes but have the tabby markings on the face

​Cats can also come in solid colors.  Some cats that look solid on first glance, but actually have tabby markings if you look carefully!  Solid or partially white cats are always identified as “with white”, and are officially categorized on a gradient scale. A “Tuxedo Cat”, would be considered black with white bicolor (usually) grade 4.

Smoked Colors are when the cat’s under coat is white, with a different color on top.  There are also Silver Shaded and Golden Shaded, which refers to the color of the undercoat.

Then we have “mixed up colors”….

​Tortie (Tortoiseshell) is a mixture of black, red and cream

Diluted Tortie is blue and creamCalico is black, red and white

​Diluted Calico is blue, cream and white

​Many of you have Pointed Color Cats.  These breeds usually are the Persians, Himalayans, Siamese, type cats.  The points; ears, feet, mask and tail are a different color from the body.  These cats come in the following colors: Seal Points, Blue Points, Chocolate Points, Flame Points (red), Lilac Points, Cream Points, Tortie Points (black and red), Blue Cream Points, and Lynx Points (tabby markings on points).

​If your head is spinning, mine is too!

Please remember, this is a simplified overview of Breed, Colors and Patterns.

Put it all together…

​So, what kind of cat do you have? You may have a Flame Point Persian, a Seal Point Siamese, a Russian Blue (they only come in blue), a Domestic Long Hair Mackerel Tabby, a Red Tabby Persian, etc.

​I know it is very confusing!  The key to correctly describing your cat, is for you to pick a breed, color and pattern that your cat most resembles.

Published August 2014 Kitty's Purrfect Spa Newsletter

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