Medium hair cats have longer fur around the mane, tail, and/or rear. Coat Length. As you go through this guide, remember that certain patterns and markings.
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2 © 2018 Alley Cat Allies. All rights reserved. A VISUAL GUIDE TO IDENTIFYING CATS 3 LonghairLonghair cats have long, ˜uffy fur. Hairless Hairless cats have no fur. ShorthairShorthair cats have short fur across the entire body. Medium hair Medium hair cats have longer fur around the mane, tail, and/or rear. Coat LengthAs you go through this guide, remember that certain patterns and markings originated with speci˚c breeds. However, these traits now appear in many cats because of random mating. This guide covers the following features: Coat Length ..3Coat Color 4Coat Patterns .6Markings 8Feature Colors 10Unique Identi˜ers .12Determining Sex ..13Additional Resources .15When cats have similar colors and patterns, like two gray tabbies, it can seem impossible to tell them apart! That is, until you take note of even the smallest details in their appearance. Knowledge is power, whether you™re an animal control of˚cer or animal shelter employee who needs to identify cats regularly, or you want to identify your own cat. This guide covers cats™ traits from their overall looks, like coat pattern, to their tiniest features, like whisker color. Let™s use our of˚ce cats as examples: Ł Oliver (left): neutered male, shorthair, solid black, pale green eyes, black whiskers, a black nose, and black paw pads.Ł Charles (right): neutered male, shorthair, brown mackerel tabby with spots toward his rear, yellow-green eyes, white whiskers with some black at the roots, a pink-brown nose, and black paw pads.
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4 © 2018 Alley Cat Allies. All rights reserved. A VISUAL GUIDE TO IDENTIFYING CATS 5 Coat ColorsOrangeTortoiseshell Brown CalicoBuff BlackBlack is one of the most common colors. Many black cats have golden eyes.Orange, also known as red, is another very common color. About 80 percent of orange cats are male. Buff, or tan, is a diluted orange, often accompanied by dark orange tabby stripes.GrayGray is a diluted black. It is often seen under tabby stripes. Tortoiseshell (tortie) is a mixed blend of orange and black, or a diluted version with gray and buff. Torties are almost always female. WhitePure white cats exist, but the most common way to see white on a cat is in a bicolor patternŠpatches of white with another color. Solid brown cats are very rare and usually only seen in speci˚c breeds. Brown is more commonly seen along with tabby stripes.Calico is distinct patches of solid orange, black, and white, or a diluted version with buff, gray, and white. They are almost always female. Below you™ll ˚nd the most common base coat colors. Coats may be solid color or a combination of colors. Tortoiseshell and calico, while technically coat patterns, are only seen in the speci˚c colors.
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7 6 © 2018 Alley Cat Allies. All rights reserved. Four types of tabby patterns Coat Patterns Patterns can appear in many colors, and cats can have multiple patterns. For example, a cat can be orange and white bicolor with tabby stripes (as seen below left).PointedŁ Light-colored body Ł Darker color on ears, face, tail, and legsShadedŁ Fur is white at base and gets darker toward tips Ł Typically seen in longhair catsBicolorŁ Also called piebald Ł Always white and another color Ł Can have a lot of white or very littleTabby Ł M-shape pattern on forehead Ł Typically striped, but there are four types Ł Can appear in any color or pattern ClassicWide stripes in a marbled, circular pattern Mackerel Thin vertical stripes down from the back, with a dark stripe the length of the back TickedNo body stripes (individual hairs have bands of color) and thin stripes on face, legs, and tail SpottedRound spots instead of stripes
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8 © 2018 Alley Cat Allies. All rights reserved. A VISUAL GUIDE TO IDENTIFYING CATS 9 Markings are an important factor in identifying cats. They can present themselves in different colors and patterns, and non-white markings can also have patterns. Cats can have several markings at once. These are just a few common markings. Did You Know? Kittens can be born with tabby markings that disappear over time, or be born a solid color and develop markings. MarkingsTail Tip Different color, usually white, on the tip of the tailBlazeWhite stripe between the eyesTuxedo Typically black and white, with a blaze up the nose and a ﬁjacketﬂ on the backVan All-white body with colored markings on the head and tail onlyEye patchColored spot across one eye, on a mostly white face SnowshoePointed pattern with blue eyes and white markings on the face and bodyLocket Triangular white patch on the chestSocksDifferent color, usually white, on paw or leg
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10 © 2018 Alley Cat Allies. All rights reserved. A VISUAL GUIDE TO IDENTIFYING CATS 11 Did You Know? The wild ancestor of the domestic cat species had tabby stripes. Through breeding, a variety of different patterns and markings developed over time.Feature Colors Eye ColorTypically cats have green, yellow, or blue eyes in a variety of shades.All kittens are born with blue eyes, but their true color develops between 6 and 8 weeks old. A dichroic eye (not pictured) has patches of different colors. Odd-eye cats have different colored eyes. WhiskersWhiskers are typically black, white, or a combination. Even individual whiskers can have both colors.NosesNoses are typically black, pink, gray, bro wn, tan, or a spotted combination of these colors.Paw padsPaw pads are typically black, pink, m auve, or a spotted combination of these colors. Each paw pad can be a different color. The color of cats™ eyes, paw pads, whiskers, and
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14 © 2018 Alley Cat Allies. All rights reserved. A VISUAL GUIDE TO IDENTIFYING CATS 15 Additional Resources: Learn more about identifying cats to increase their chances of returning to their owners at alleycat.org/IDGuide.Record your own cat™s colors, markings, and more with our helpful worksheet. That way, you™ll be able to accurately describe your cat™s appearance if needed. Download for free at alleycat.org/IDGuide.Get an at-a-glance version of this guide with our ﬁCat Coat Colors, Patterns, and Lengthsﬂ poster. Hang it up in your shelter or veterinary clinic for quick reference, and to make identifying cats easier. You can ˚nd it in our shop at alleycat.org/Shop.Microchips play a critical role in reuniting cats with their families. Owners should ensure their cats are microchipped, and animal shelter staff and veterinarians should plan to scan every cat who comes into their facility for a microchip. Not only does it get cats back home, it also saves lives. Learn more about the importance of microchipping and our Plan to Scan campaign at alleycat.org/PlanToScan .All cats are unique and can have a variety of colors, patterns, and markings. This guide covers the basics of cat identi˚cation, but no guide can capture all the distinct characteristics, variations, and combinations of features. It™s helpful to consider other distinct features: Ł Does she have any unique markings, like an orange tail tip or a spot shaped like a heart? Ł Does she have old injuries that stand out, like a missing eye or a patch of missing hair? Ł Does she have all her teeth? Ł Is she declawed? If so, on which paws? Note: Alley Cat Allies is against the cruel and unnecessary practice of declawing cats. However, if a cat has been declawed, it can help identify her. But my cat doesn™t look like any of these cats!
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