Cats Wiki

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Cats Wiki
Himalayan sealpoint-colourpoint

Himalayan Colorpoint

Here are the most common patterns a cat will have:

  • Tabby (Stripes, M shape on forehead)
  • Calico/Tricolor (Spotted, usually white with black and orange spots)
  • Bicolor AKA tuxedo cat (Black and white pattern)
  • Colorpoint (Like a rag doll or Himalayan, many shades of color)
  • Tortoiseshell (like tabby spots and stripes)

Colors: The tabby can be identified in any color, likely orange & white, brown & dark brown, black & gray, ext. Calico’s have spots and can be mixed with a tabby. The colors are white, orange and/or brown, sometimes black as well. The bicolor has two colors, black & white. There are many different ways these two colors can be arranged.

Other links to check out: Cat Anatomy | Cat Behavior | Cat breeds | Cat Age | Cat Mating | Cats and Kittens

Tuxedo cat

Tuxedo cat (Bicolor)


Tabby cat

Long-haired tortoiseshell DSCF0193




Cat Patterns

Cats come in all different shapes, sizes, colors and fur. The main cat patterns that a cat will have are called Tabby, Colorpoint Shorthair , Tortoiseshell , Calico , & Bicolor Cat . These can still have many different patterns with there shape size and coloring. For example, a calico cat may have a orange spot on its left ear, while another may have a black spot and another orange spot on its right ear! Below, you can read all about a cats patterning and how it works.

How to Tell Cat Patterns Apart[]

While there are many good apps where you can simply take your cats picture and your device will tell you what pattern & breed it has, it is good to learn the basics of telling them apart mentally by looking at there fur & shape. Looking at the photos on the side, you can say that the Colorpoint Himalayan has mostly white and brown- however, if you look closely, you can find that there are at least 5 different visible shades. There’s the dark, chocolate brown in between the eyes, the light brown on the legs into a brown more like the color of the tabby, AND the really light brown on the cheeks by it’s whiskers.

If you know enough about the Colorpoint pattern, you might notice that Colorpoint Himalayan cats, or just Colorpoint cats in general always repeat the same color put in up to about 20 nameable shades! They may also, like our cat in that top picture, have another main color, except has only 1-4 shades of it. Some might not even be noticeable! If you only had 5 seconds to identify how many shades of white the cat in the picture had on its fur, you’d probably only see 1 shade of white. There are actually 2, very similar shades of white. One is more of a light lime-ish white color, if you get a good 20 seconds to look.

Moving on, some cat patterns are ‘easier’ to tell apart from others. If you ask someone who knows just the basics of cats, “How can you tell a tabby apart from other cats like tortoiseshell or colorpoints?” They would likely include that “M” shape on there forehead.

What breeds have what patterns?[]

Some cat patterns can very on the breed if the cat. For example, an American shorthair has many Colorpoint tabby and tortoiseshell verities, but the American Wirehair is always a bicolor cat, because it is always black & white. Below there is a chart of if each breed can have the pattern shown, including tricolor, bicolor, tortoiseshell, tabby and colorpoint.

Open Cat patterns

Before breaking down each individual pattern, there is a common relationship between patterns and breeds. I would like to make clear that cat patterns ARE NOT the same as breeds. When every cat lover was young, they probably thought there European shorthair cat or whatever they had was a tabby breed. They wouldn’t be wrong calling it a tabby, but the term you would usually use is the breed. Before determining a breed, make sure you either get an expert to look closely or use one of those breed-identifier apps for cats (disclaimer: not all of them are accurate, check reviews 1st!)


Calico patterned cats have 3 explicit colors: black, white and orange, as cat fans know. They can mix with tortoiseshell patterns and sometimes tabby patterns. They can go on almost all cats, such as American shorthair or British shorthair, but never on the American wire hair and Siamese. Calico is one of the rarest patterns according to Wikipedia. The black orange and white splotches of the calico cover 25%-75% percent of the body. A fun fact about this pattern is that about 99% of calico cats are female, so a male cat will very rarely have this pattern, another reason why calicos are a rarer pattern.

Calico Cat Face

Calico cats face


According to Wikipedia, the calico cat has another color that it may have. This color is cream (or light gray). This is called the muted calico pattern. However, calicos will usually just be white. Calicos can look a bit like a tortoiseshell, but a way to tell this apart is the black undercoat only the tortoiseshell has usually. Be careful: because there is a calico-tortoiseshell mix (see picture below). Calico tortoiseshell mixes usually have more splotches of orange and black, sometimes over 75% of the body. They will have few to no white splotches on their fur.


Outside of North American, the calico is called the tortoiseshell and white (likely due to there similarities.) The more scientific name for calico is the tricolor. The root word tri (pronounced like try) means three, or triple. This makes three colors, white (or muted colors) orange and black. The Japanese name mikeneko means triple fur cat, which also means tricolor except triple color fur. The Korean name for calico is samsaek goyangi and means three colored cat.

Mixed patterns[]
Calico Persian cat

Calico tabby mix (Persian)


A tortoiseshell cat

Cats with this triple colored pattern are often mixed with the common tabby pattern. If you’ve read different types of calico, you’d know that calico can also be mixed with the similar tortoiseshell. Called a caliby, the tabby calico mix is pretty hard to stop. If you look closely at the Persian to the right that says “Calico tabby mix (Persian)” you can sort of see that M shape the tabby cat has. It may also have some stripe-like splotches.

The calico colorpoint isn’t very common but can be seen in Siberians and a few other breeds. Check out Cat breeds!


Tortoiseshell is a fur pattern named for its similarity to tortoiseshell material. Much like the calico, tortoiseshell is almost exclusively female and has a similar color pattern. Tortoiseshell cats, or torties, combine two colors other than white into one fur pattern. Although people describe these colors as red and black, the red can likely be orange, cream, or yellow and the black can be more of a chocolate color.


When first hearing this fur pattern name, you might as yourself why it is even called the tortoiseshell. It isn’t a tortoise, and it definitely doesn’t have a shell! This is because of the similarity to the tortoiseshell material in the pattern, as tortoises shells usually consist of two main colors, brown and green most likely, similar to the tortoiseshells red and black theme.

Mixed patterns[]

Torbie (tortoiseshell tabby) point

Tortoiseshell can be mixed with both tabby and calico. Tabby mixes in tortoiseshells often occur in point patterns, specific breeds being Ragdoll (like the picture) American shorthair and Persian (there are even more). These points are better known as the Torbie. The calico mix doesn’t add much difference, except for the new small white splotches it can get due to the calico having white on over 45% of its body.


Next update is coming soon. Read about the tabby tomorrow!