We perceive colours visually in the most part. We discern patterns the same way. However, each colour and cat pattern carries a genetic label. The labels don’t always correspond with what we see.
Maine Coons come in a variety of colors and patterns. Frequently we see many different colors in the same litter of kittens.
There are two primary colors in all cats, which are black and red. All the colors variations we see are of these two colours, black and red. There is one exception and this is solid white. White is a masking gene. White literally masks all other colours. This means that a solid white cat is either black or red but the color is hidden by the white.
Maine Coon Patterns
You will have noticed that Maine Coons not only have different colours but also different markings. These markings are called patterns. The main patterns in Maine Coons are solid, tabby and torties.
Solid cats have one colour. Black and red are the traditional colours.
If a cat inherits the “dilute” genes, black becomes blue and red becomes cream. Due to a difference in shades of colour, solid colours can take on a different look.
It is not unusual for a solid coloured cats to have a faint suggestion of tabby markings. These are called “ghost markings”. These ghost markings are frequently seen on red and cream cloured felines.
Tabby cats come in the same colours as solid cats. The notable difference is that tabby cats have stripes. These stripes are called tabby markings.
Please note that the silver tabby is the only tabby that does not have a solid counterpart. Silver is a variation of black that is only seen in tabbies.
Even within each of these colors, there is a wide range of differences such as shades of colour. Some reds have a deep, rust color while others are very light. Blues can have a very light, powdery blue shade or be almost a navy blue.
A very common feature of all the tabby patterns is a white chin. Tabbies also have white around their eyes.
Classic Tabby Pattern
The classic tabby has a spiral pattern. This pattern looks very similar to marble patterning as the stripes are normally very broad. The circular pattern is repeated on both sides with broad stripes running down the middle of their back.
Mackerel Tabby Pattern
A mackerel is a distinctly patterned fish. This pattern is recognised by parallel stripes on the side of the cats.
Spotted Tabby Pattern
Spotted tabbies have small individual spots. In the picture is a tortie with a spotted tabby pattern as I don’t have a good photo of a brown spotted cat.
Ticked Tabby Pattern
Instead of a tabby pattern on the body, every individual hair is ticked. Each hair has bands of color on it. It is normal for ticked cats to have stripes on their legs and face.
Torties (Tortoiseshell and Tortoiseshell Tabby)
Tortie is short for tortoiseshell. This terminology refers to the tortoiseshell turtle. Torties are a combination of two solid colors, red and black.
A majority of Tories are female. This is because the red and black colors are on the X chromosome. Since females are XX and males are XY, it is usually only females that have both red and black.
The primary color on most Torties is black. The amount of red can vary.
Torbie is short for tortoiseshell-tabby. When you add tabby stripes a Tortie becomes a Torbie. They are also called patched tabbies since they are a tabby with patches of red or cream. Adding stripes also tends to make the red harder to see. Most Torbies will have some red on their feet, even if you don’t see it anywhere else.
Many people find the difference between Torties and Torbies rather confusing. Even on a solid color cat, you can often see stripes on reds and creams. The only way to be sure if you have a Tortie or Torbie is to ignore any stripes showing in the red or cream areas and just look to see if the black color is solid or has stripes!
Every Tortie has its own unique color pattern so if you like things that are unique then a Tortie is for you.
All colors and patterns can also come with white. The white in the fur is caused by the white spotting gene. The location and amount of white can vary tremendously.
The white may only be located on paws, belly, chest and chin.
White is permitted much further up the back legs and on the facial area.
White is predominant throughout the cat fur with colored patches. The patches of color are usually located on the face and tail.