Hints for Determining A Cat’s Color

Eye Color – Although the eye color of the cat is helpful in picking the correct coat color of a cat, it should not be used at the only determining factor. A cat can have an eye color other than that which is specified and still be the coat color defined in the Show Rules or on the color description sheet. Kittens are born with blue eyes. It may take some time for the adult eye color to develop. Eye color is not recorded on CFA registration records except in the case of white cats. If you are not sure of a white cat’s eye color, hold off on individual registration until you are sure of the color. A litter can be registered even though the adult eye color is not known.

Non-Championship Color Classes – There are colors which are genetically possible which are not included in either the Show Rules or on the color description sheet for a particular breed. These include such colors as cream smoke, blue-cream lynx point, tortie lynx point in some but not all breeds, etc. These colors may have to be considered as possible coat colors even though they are not accepted for registration and/or showing in other than the AOV class.


WHITE – Some kittens are born with a smudge of black or blue hairs on top of the head. The spot disappears as the adult coat start to grow in around 9 months.

BLACK – Kittens are born black, but often develop rusty or coppery coats, white or silver hairs, or a lighter ruff and/or undercoat until full adult coat appears at 12-18 months.

BLUE – May have tabby markings when a kitten, but usually those disappear as the adult coat develops.

RED – Kittens are usually born with tabby markings which may or may not disappear with the adult coat. There is actually no such thing as a pure red cat. All red cats are red tabby with tabby markings either very obvious (tabby) or very faint (red).

CREAM – Kittens are often born with faint tabby markings which usually disappear with the adult coat at about 9 months.

SOLID COLOR OR SMOKE? – A young non-smoke cat has a kitten coat that is often a lot lighter than the base color of the cat. The cat can look like a smoke, but because neither parent cat has a white undercoat, the kitten cannot be a smoke. The kitten coat will darken as the cat gets older.


Shaded Cameo/Shell Cameo – Kittens born white with tipping gradually appearing.

Shaded Silver/Chinchilla Silver – Kittens born with dark markings and/or tabby markings – particularly on the tail, which disappear by 4-6 weeks. A chinchilla silver may be so light that it looks like a white cat, but because neither parent is white, the kitten cannot be a white. Green eye color on a white cat with silver parentage is a good sign that the cat is a chinchilla silver, not a white.

Shaded Tortie/Shell Tortie – The cat may look like a shaded silver or a chinchilla silver, but will have just a small patch, or even just a few hairs, of cream and/or red, or will have mottled black and cream paw pads. Those small differences will make the cat a shaded tortie or shell tortie, not a shaded silver or chinchilla silver.

Smoke – Often difficult to tell from solid color kittens except that smokes sometimes have white around the eyes and a paler stomach. May take some months to tell which kittens will be smoke because the full coat color is sometimes not seen until the adult coat comes in at 2 years. Undercoat begins to show at 3 weeks, and by 6-8 weeks have a mottled look.


  • 1/8 of hair length colored at tip – chinchilla and shell
  • 1/4 of hair length colored at tip – all shaded
  • 1/2 of hair length colored at tip – all smoke


Tabby – Markings will show even at birth. Often the darker the stripes at birth, the clearer the adult pattern will be.

Tabby or Patched Tabby? – If a cat has patches of red and/or cream or has two different colors on its nose leather and/or paw pads, the cat is probably a patched tabby (silver, blue or brown).


Blue-Cream or Blue? – Kittens with the palest coat often develop into the best blue-cream adults. Often the kitten will look much like a pale blue in the first few weeks. Even a small patch of cream, or just a few hairs of cream, or if the paw pads are mottled blue and cream, will make the cat a blue-cream, not a blue.

Tortoiseshell or Black? – Even just a small patch of red and/or cream on the cat, or if the cat has mottled black and cream paw pads, will make the cat a tortoiseshsell, not a black.


Kittens are born creamy white with pink paw pads, noses and ears. Point color gradually develops over the first few weeks. In seal point and blue point, a blob of color first appears on the nose after 10 days, but it may be 3 months before chocolate and lilac points become apparent. Colors may not be fully developed until 1 year.

Blue Point or Lilac Point? – Check the nose leather and paw pads. A blue point has slate gray, a lilac point has lavender pink.

Seal Point or Chocolate Point? – Check the nose leather and paw pads. A chocolate point has cinnamon pink, the seal point has seal brown.

Seal Point or Tortie Point? – Check the nose leather and paw pads. If they are mottled seal brown and flesh/pink, the cat is a tortie point, not a seal point.

Blue Point or Blue-cream Point? – Check the paw pads and nose leather. If the color is a mottled blue and pink, the cat is a blue-cream point, not a blue point.

Flame Point or Cream Point? – These colors can be very close. There are hot creams and light reds. If both parent cats are definitely dilutes (blue, cream or blue-cream), the offspring cannot be a flame point.