I am trying to figure out what type of cat I have. My cat is a male, tuxedo, cat and I think he's a tabby, but how can I figure it out?


3 Answers 3


This answer addresses both how to determine color and breed of a cat obtained from a shelter/rescue.

Coat Colors

Some names are used to describe coat colors, but are not actual cat breeds. If your cat looks like the description, then you can use the name to describe your cat.

Tabby - Tabbies have striped or spotted patterns and a distinctive "M" on their foreheads.

Tabby cat

Image from Wikipedia

Tuxedo - Tuxedo cats have a white chest and paws, with a different color on the rest of their body. They often have white on their face.

Tuxedo cat

Image from Wikipedia

Calico - Calico cats are tri-colored (have three colors) in large patches all over their bodies.

Calico cat

Image from Wikipedia

Tortoishells - Tortoishells are almost entirely female. They have 2 non-white colors either mixed or in patches.

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Image from Wikipedia

Cat Breeds

If you obtained your cat from a shelter or rescue, then your cat is likely of mixed breed. It is very rare (with certain exceptions that I'll discuss below) for a purebreed cat to be found in a shelter because most reputable breeders only place culls (non-breeding pet quality cats) with a contract that stipulates that the cat must be returned to the breeder if it is no longer wanted.

Often shelters will assign a breed name (such as Russian Blue to a grey cat) to increase its appeal to the public. These cats are almost never actually that particular breed, but if you want a cat with a certain coat color it can sometimes be a useful way to search.

That said, there are several TYPES that can be identified by their features. The most basic are Domestic Short Hair (DSH) and Domestic Long Hair (DLH) (at least in the US, the names may differ in other countries). DSH are known for their short fur, while DLH are known for their long fur. For most rescued cats, when filling out paperwork that asks for breed (such as at the vet), one of these designations will work just fine.

The exceptions that I noted above are that some cat breeds have become very popular with the public and so were not always bred by reputable breeders. Two that are fairly easily identifiable in the US are the Persian and Siamese.

Cats with Persian ancestry (again, I'm assuming a rescue so we can't say that it's purebred) will typically have the squished face and long hair.

Image of a Persian

Image from Wikipedia

Cats with Siamese ancestry typically have colorpoints (darker face, ears, legs, and tail) and blue eyes. They also tend to be very vocal. Modern Siamese are very thin and have wedge shaped heads, but cats with Siamese heritage can come from older stock (the breed gained a lot of popularity in the 1970s in the US) and can have a more traditional DSH body.

IMage of a Siamese

Image from Wikipedia

Putting Color and Breed Together

You can use both color and breed to describe your cat. For example, if you have a striped cat of unknown/mixed ancestry with short fur, you can say you have a Tabby DSH.

  • I always thought "calico" was "what Americans called tortoiseshell cats". Dec 8, 2014 at 14:52
  • I had not seen ‘tuxedo’ used with colors other than black. Oct 16, 2019 at 6:53

One thing that all pedigreed pets have in common is that there is a standard that is used to judge and identify quality pure bred animals. A pure bred animal should be sold with a pedigree that includes at least 4 generations of lineage, that is the cat itself as the first generation, its parents, grandparents, and great grandparents. These should list the breed, weight, date of birth, and any registration information. Often times it will include information on show winnings as well if they apply.

If you have a mixed breed you can review all of the standards looking for the features that are exhibited in your cat. Many features and markings are common to many breeds so if you can find some features that are unique to certian breed and in your cat, you can safely assume that your cat has some of that breed in its genetics. But your best bet is going to be to try to find a breed or tho where you cat has a large number of traits that the breed is required to have and deduce what your cat most likely is.

One thing that all the breeds have in common is the coat color genetics. So as a previous answer states you could just call your cat an XXX Domestic Short Hair/Domestic Long Hair where XXX is replaced with the color of your cat.

You can consult this chart to help identify the color pattern of your cat, and this chart to help identify the breed.



"Tabby" is a pattern, not a color. All cats are Tabbies, as there is a Tabby gene. Other genes can mask this to produce a solid-color cat. All orange cats will show the tabby pattern.

"Tuxedo" is the common name for a degree of the White Spotting gene. The degrees can span from no white to 100 percent white.

Cat Colors are Black or Orange. Females can have both colors, called TortoiseShell, and if they have White spotting too are called Calicos. There are several rare variants of Black, called Chocolate and Cinnamon. All these colors can be Diluted with another gene to produce lighter shades of all of the above. Diluted black is called Blue.

  • 3
    I am pretty sure not ALL cats could be considered tabby cats, as they don't all have that marking pattern.
    – user53
    Jan 24, 2014 at 3:29
  • Where does brown come from? (It's not dilute black, which is gray, and I assume that tan is dilute brown.) Jan 24, 2014 at 15:18
  • @monicaCellio - There is 2 places you could get a brown. The chocolate gene... this makes the black express as a brown and blue express as lilac. There is also a sable gene which is incompletely dominant on the C gene. This expresses with a brown appearance. Though other factors may alter the final appearance into a grayish brown. This is called the Buramese gene burmese-cats-alliance.com/genetics.htm
    – user9
    Jan 24, 2014 at 15:50
  • @Ashley. All cats have a tabby gene. As I said, a second gene "Agouti" can block the expression of the pattern on black but not orange cats. Also White Spotting and Dominant White genes can cover up the tabby pattern, but it is there in the genes nonetheless and can and is passed on to children - just like a cat with Dominant White can be orange or black underneath the white, and pass it on to kittens.
    – Oldcat
    Jan 24, 2014 at 17:53
  • @Chad - I didn't want to get into all of the various boutique genes, some of which are still debated about even existing
    – Oldcat
    Jan 24, 2014 at 17:54

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