In return for my support of the Humane Society of the United States, I get this great magazine called AllAnimals. The November/December 2012 issue I recently received has a lot of noteworthy articles, but one I found fun and interesting was the one about cat coat colors. What defines a tortoiseshell or classic tabby? Or a seal point or tuxedo? If you work at an animal shelter, you may find that you describe most cats as tabbies or calicos. But there is a lot more to it than that. Knowing the specific terms for their coat colorings can help the cats at your shelter be more distinctive and, therefore, special.
For example, did you know that there are five basic tabby patterns? Mackerel, which is the typical striped pattern; classic, which has stripes but a swirl pattern on the cat’s sides; patched, which is a tabby with patches of red; ticked, where each hair has bands of color which give the cat coat color a flecked look; and spotted, where the stripes are more like spots. How much more interesting would an adoptable cat be if it was named a classic marmalade tabby or spotted chocolate tabby instead of just orange or brown tabby?
Also consider calicos. Oftentimes, a shelter will call all cats with two colors plus white as just plain calico. But there is more to it. A calico with distinct solid black and red spots on white is a calico. But sometimes the colors are diluted so that they are gray and cream instead. And sometimes the tabby pattern of those patches shows through. When the tabby pattern shows through, you can call them torbies instead. Some examples of how you can get creative with describing a calico include silver classic torbie or brown mackerel torbie. If a brown/black and orange or blue and cream mottled cat has little or no white, they are called tortoiseshell or tortie. You can have a blue-cream tortoiseshell or a black and orange tortoiseshell.
Cats with a solid color plus white can be called tuxedo, van, or harlequin. With color variations you can have blue tuxedo, ginger van, or silver tabby harlequin. Don’t forget the point colors which come from a temperature-sensitive albino gene. These colors are often (but not always) seen in Siamese cats. The points of color on the face, ears, feet, and tail come in a variety of colors, not just black or brown. You can have a flame point, seal point, cream point, blue point, or even a seal lynx point.
Fun, right? There is a lot more than that. This magazine only covers a tip of the iceberg. If you rescue cats or work at an animal shelter, take the time to learn the different ways you can describe a cat’s coat color. Put it this way, if you were looking to adopt a cat, would you be more interested in the cat described as a brown tabby or the cat described as a chocolate mackerel tabby? Show people how extraordinary your cats are by giving them exceptional descriptions.
While many criticize the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) for not actively rescuing and adopting out animals, they provide a great benefit for the welfare of animals. For anyone who has had to face our legal system in order to fight against unfair animal legislation (such as BSL) or fight for justice against animal cruelty, you know how much of an uphill battle that seems to be. While I support local animal shelters and rescue groups, I also support the HSUS so they can fight the legal battles. Check out their website HERE and subscribe to this great AllAnimals magazine.