Cats of Many Colours

Look at any collection of cats and you will see a wide range of colours and markings.

Black is the best known of the self-coloured cats and the colour appears in both long and short
coats, and all body types from the cobby Persian to the sleek Oriental Shorthair.

In most cultures black cats are considered to be lucky, whilst in a few they are considered to be
most unlucky being thought to have an association with the Devil. Having a black cat on a ship
was considered very unlucky and sailors would not put to sea while the cat was on board.

In Sumatra throwing a black cat into the river and forcing it to swim is thought to darken the sky
with black clouds and bring rain.

The completely white cat is often thought to always be deaf but this is not true. The gene for
deafness usually occurs with blue-eyed white cats but not all blue-eyed white cats are deaf.
White cats often have odd coloured eyes, one being blue and one orange.
White cats with coloured patches are in fact not white cats, but coloured cats with extensive
white markings.

In some counties of England the white cat was thought to be unlucky, however Hindus consider
white cats to be lucky as they associate them with the moon which is the cleanser of the night,
while they consider the black cat to represent the dark night and danger.

Buddhist superstition favours certain coloured cats believing that light coloured cats will ensure
that there will always be silver in the household of the owner and that a dark coloured cat
ensures the owner will always have gold.

The British Blue and the Russian Blue are probably the best known of the blue coloured cats
but some of the foreign breeds come in appealing lilac shades.

Solid brown is one of the rarer cat coat colours and the most common is the dark warm, sepia-
brown coloured Burmese. Burmese breeders have developed a great range of coat colours
from cream to blue.

Tortoiseshell cats are a patchwork of black and orange in a random pattern. Tortoiseshell cats
are considered lucky in Scotland and Ireland. Nearly all tortoiseshell cats are female.

The most common coat colour is the tabby. Tabby cats are named after the black and white
watermarked silks which originated in El Tabbiana in Baghdad and are probably one of the
most common coat colour patterns. The tabby pattern comes in "mackerel" stripes, also known
as the 'tiger-striped', but more common is the 'blotched' or 'classic' pattern. The spotted cat
breeds are genetically tabbies.

Cats with "points" - that is colour on the extremities such as the Siamese and the Colourpoint -
are born cream or white and the coloured points appear about 4 or 5 days after birth The
amount of pigment produced in the coat depends on the body temperature. In the 'pointed'
breeds the skin temperature is a few degrees lower on the extremities than on the rest of the
body and this allows the classical markings to occur. The coat colour does tend to darken with

Research in Australia has shown that the coat patterns of cats in the northern areas are similar
to coat patterns of cats in Asia, while the cats in the Eastern and Southern areas have coat
colour patterns in common with British and European cats which indicates that Australia's cats
probably did not all arrive after Captain Cook but some may have arrived earlier with Asian
visitors to the northern coasts.

Article Courtesy of Petcare Information and Advisory Service Australia