Is Your Cat a Pure Breed?

Grey and white cat being held by a little girl
Some cats are a particular breed while others are domestic cats. Anders Andersson/Getty Images
  • 01 of 08

    Cat Colors and Patterns

    High Angle View Portrait Of an Orange Cat Sitting On Street
    Orange tabbies are popular domestic cats. Joseph Guthrie / EyeEm / Getty Images

    Most cat breed standards allow for several different eye and fur colors or coat patterns within the physical appearance descriptions. This can make it difficult if you are trying to determine what kind of cat you have by reading what colors and patterns each breed of cat can come in. Just because you have a black cat with golden eyes does not mean you have a Bombay, nor does your large longhair tabby automatically become a Maine Coon since you read Maine coons can come in that pattern. Domestic...MORE house cats can also come in almost every color and pattern with varying lengths of fur and are referred to simply as mixed breed cats.

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  • 02 of 08

    Domestic and Purebred Cat Differences

    Portrait Of Siamese Cat
    Siamese cats can come in many colors including chocolate point. Axel Bueckert / EyeEm / Getty Images

    Most house cats are simply considered to be domestic short haired, domestic medium-haired, or domestic long haired cats and are in fact are not pure breeds. But that doesn’t mean you’ll never come across a pure bred cat or that your cat can’t be a pure breed.

    A purebred is defined by The Cat Fanciers Glossary as "a cat whose ancestors are all of the same breed, or whose ancestry includes crossbreeding that is allowed in the breed standard. For example, a purebred Bombay may also have Burmese...MORE cats in its background." Generally, a cat's pedigree must be certified by the cat breed registry before it can rightfully be called a purebred.

    The American short hair cat breed was originally called the domestic short hair breed but the name was changed to avoid confusion among cats with an unknown history, among other reasons. Lacking the necessary pedigree, a domestic short hair cat cannot simply be referred to as an American short hair cat, despite looking like one, unless the breeding history is known.

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  • 03 of 08

    Domestic Cats

    Longhair tuxedo cat in a flower garden
    Long hair tuxedo cats are beautiful domestic cats. Photo Credit: © Kim Cokley

    Domestic cats are rich in history and there is no one-size-fits-all description of them. Domestic cats can be large, small, fat, or thin depending on their genetics, diet and the care they receive. Their colors and coat patterns are numerous and include black, white, gray, orange and all the shades in between. Coat patterns include tabby, calico, tortoiseshell, and tuxedo, just to name a few.

    Far from being just ordinary house cats, domestic cats are the most commonly found type of cats in the...MORE world and they may have an unknown pedigree filled with various breeds of differing colors and patterns. While not technically different breeds, cats of different coat patterns and colors tend to have characteristics that make them unique and are often referred to by these colors and patterns.

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  • 04 of 08

    Calico Cats

    Calico cat on a window sill
    Calico cats are beautiful domestic cats. Laura Stolfi / Stocksy United

     

    Calico cats, also known as tortoiseshell-and-white cats, comprise a garden of cat colors, either vibrant orange (technically known as "red"), white and black, or more subdued flaxen, blue-gray, and white. In feline genetics, the latter is known as "dilute calico." The various patterns of the calico patches are almost as variable as snowflakes since you'll never see two exactly alike. Calicos are almost always females and the rare male is typically sterile.

    Pure breed cats...MORE that can come in a calico pattern include the Persian, Manx, Maine Coon, and Scottish Fold, among others.

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  • 05 of 08

    Tabby Cats

    Tabby cat sitting near a piano
    Domestic cats can come in many different colors. LindaRaymondPhotography / Getty Images

    If domestic cats are the most favored of all, tabby cats are the most popular of the cat color patterns. Tabbies come in stripes, whorls, swirls, dots and dashes, and are also allowed in the breed standards of over two dozen recognized cat breeds. Their colors range from red to cream, to black, blue, silver, brown, and tan. One of the most consistent markings of tabby cats is the magnificent "M" centered on their foreheads just above their eyes. 

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  • 06 of 08

    Tortoiseshell Cats

    Tortoiseshell cat sitting on a fence
    Tortoiseshell cats are beautiful cats. Rebecca Spencer / Stocksy United

     

    Tortoiseshell cats, also known as torties, are basically two colors, red and black, along with dilutions of those colors. These dilutions are lighter shades of red (creams), and lighter shades of black (blues, pale grays), and browns. Tortoiseshells also come in two types of color patterns, brindled or woven and patched. To make it even more complex, tortoiseshells may also have patches that are tabby patterned. If you aren’t sure if you have a tortoiseshell or a calico cat, remember that if...MORE your cat has white on them then they are considered a calico.

    Pure breed cats that can be tortoiseshells include the Cornish Rex and Japanese Bobtail breeds.

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  • 07 of 08

    Tuxedo Cats

    Tuxedo cat sitting on tile floor
    Tuxedo cats have beautiful contrasting colors. Photo Credit: © Wilda L. Duncan

     

    This coloration of cats is exactly like it sounds, black and white. Tuxedo cats are primarily black with white markings on their chest, feet, legs, and face. Tuxedo cats can be domestic or pure breeds such as the Devon Rex, Maine Coon, Persian, Cornish Rex, Manx and others.

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  • 08 of 08

    Unique Cat Breeds

    Woman kissing orange cat
    Several breeds of cats can be orange. Rafael Elias / Getty Images

    Some pure breeds of cats have very unique features that help differentiate them from other breeds and domestic cats. The lack of fur, wavy fur texture, smashed-in faces, folded ears, and other attributes are found naturally in some cat breeds. Domestic cats typically all look the same, if you can look past their fur lengths, colors, and patterns. They have similar body builds, head shapes and ears. In contrast, many pure breed cats, if lined up side by side, look very different from one another.

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    Edited by Adrienne Kruzer, RVT