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Can A Cat’s Fur Pattern Change With Time?

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Can A Cat's Fur Pattern Change With TimeIt is interesting to see all the different patterns in cats. There are stripes, spots, and mixtures of color. If you have a cat from the time it is a kitten, you are sure to notice some color changes to the coat as they get older. The pattern, itself, however, does not change.

Can a Cat’s Fur Pattern Change with Time? The patterns on different cats can vary greatly, depending on the breed. There are even specific names for many of the patterns. The color of a cat’s fur may get lighter or darker over time; however, the pattern remains the same.

If you choose a cat because of its pattern, you can be confident about the cat keeping it. You should, however, allow for changes in the shade of the colors. If you prefer a particular color or pattern, get a cat from someone who has the parents. This way, you can see what your cat may look like as an adult.

Can a Cat’s Fur Pattern Change with Time?

The pattern on a cat has to do with combinations of individual genes. Some colors and patterns also clearly mark the cat as male or female. Mixed genes through breeding have caused many variations over thousands of years.

Patterns are all a variation of two primary colors that cats shared early on. They are black and orange/ red. This seems unbelievable given the many colors cats show today. White cats and Siamese cats, for example, are far from black or orange.

Cat colors are complicated, as these animals originated in Egypt many centuries ago. They made their way across Asia and Europe before landing in Canada in the late 900’s and in South America in the 1400s.

The Basics of Cat Fur Colors and Patterns

Basic cat colors are orange/ red and black. Every color that you see today is a genetic mix of these two colors. As with most domestic animals, humans started breeding specifically to bring out specific aesthetics.

Genetics determines how much of a certain color shows on the cat’s coat. Genes and Polygenes are responsible for the variation of color. It takes a lot of mixing over a long period of time to dilute the genes of cats and notice significant changes.

You can refer to a solid color cat as un-patterned. Since patterns are determined by genetics, they are set from birth and do not change.

Age Of The Cat

The fur on a cat does not change much as they grow. Like many animals, they are softer when they are babies. They do shed their kitten coats at about five months old. If you get a kitten with a pronounced pattern, you can expect it to stay the same.

On some cats that grow up to be a solid color, you can see a faint pattern when they are kittens. You can tell, however, if a pattern is barely noticeable. This gives you a hint that the cat should be solid as an adult. Some solid color cats also show a light pattern when the sun is shining on them.

Kittens are generally lighter in color than adults, whether they have a pattern or not. Once they lose their baby fur, expect them to darken as they get older. Elderly cats may show silver or white throughout their coat.

All About Tabby Patterns

Patterns on cats are often a variation of Tabby. It is common to call a cat a “tabby cat” if they have curved lines all over them. A typical color combination is gray with black lines. These may swirl in many directions. Experts call this a classic tabby, however.

Tabby cats have an “M” on their forehead the same color as the stripes. Even solid-colored cats can be tabbies. The pattern shows up if the agouti gene is dominant. Solid colors are a result of the non-agouti recessive gene taking precedence. You can better understand the different tabby patterns by learning about the different types.

  • Spotted- different sizes and shapes of spots, Bengals, and Ocicats
  • Patched- only female cats, any tabby pattern with red/orange patches added in
  • Ticked- each individual piece of fur is light at the root and darker on the surface, cats look like they have freckles
  • Classic- stripes in a myriad of directions, splotchy, a target pattern in one area
  • Mackerel- stripes along the sides of the cat and in the middle of the back


You can find a variety of cat colors in the modern world. Since they all originate from the basic black and red/orange genes, however, it is fascinating to see the diversity. There about ten basic colors or variations that you can expect to see on a solid color cat.

  • Tan, cream, yellow
  • Chocolate
  • Fawn
  • Cinnamon
  • White
  • Lavender
  • Lilac
  • Blue (gray)
  • Red/orange

These colors show up in different combinations on patterned cats. You may hear some other names that refer to the same colors, such as sable, brown, or ebony. Some colors are also variations or dilutions of others.


Shading is not just a color combination. It is a pattern. This pattern is exactly what it sounds like. The fur is a different color at the ends on some parts of the body. This pattern is a trait of cats with a white base coat.

There are three different types of shaded fur patterns. They are smoke, chinchilla, and shaded. The difference between them is the depth of the color on the individual strands of white fur. This depth is uniform over all the shaded strands.

Smoke patterned cats sometimes look solid until you disturb their fur. Then you can see the white coat underneath. The color goes from the tip of the hair about halfway to the cat’s skin. Chinchillas only have the color on the tips of the fur, making it much easy to see the white base coat.

White Cats

Even though most people consider white to be a color choice for cats, it is really a lack of color. Recessive genes from both parents result in loss of pigmentation. A fluffy white cat may be your idea of a dream pet, but they can have a lot of health issues. They tend to be sensitive to the sun, develop skin allergies, and even acquire more cancers.

These health issues only apply to purely white cats. Even a touch of color on fur anywhere on the body can indicate a healthier genetic makeup. A little shading or a spot of color means there is some pigmentation. White cats with blue eyes are the ones most at risk.

White cats are often deaf. There are plenty that aren’t; however, there is a very high chance a white kitten is going to end up deaf. The lack of pigmentation extends to the receptors in the inner ear, causing deafness.

Siamese Cats

Siamese cats have a unique pattern called the point-restricted pattern. Albino genes play a part in the presentation of a Siamese pattern. The face and the end of the legs have darker fur on them. The tail is also darker.

The darker fur is only on parts of the body that stay at a colder temperature. The warmer core of the body is a light fawn or cream collar. Technically, the darker color is a mutation of the original lilac. The gene for the darker color is sensitive to heat.

There are some Siamese mixes that have less distinctive color differences between their core and outer parts. They are a blend of Siamese and cats from Burma. Burma is near Thailand, where Siamese cats originated. The country of Thailand was once called Siam, which gave the Siamese cat its name.


The orientation of a cat can also affect the pattern. Specific patterns with the addition of red/ orange are always female. They can have other colors that form patches, as well. Tortoiseshells and Calicos can be bicolor or tricolor cats. The primary color is usually white or black, with additional colors in various places.

The females are a combination of colors with red/ orange, while the males are only one or the other. This has to do with the chromosome that carries the gene. You need an XX to combine the black and red.

The patterns of these color combinations can also be one of the many tabby patterns. It is easy to tell if there are females in litters right away when they show certain color combinations.

Too Many Cats

It is easy to find stray cats in many countries because they are not native to many areas. They are an invasive species because they have no natural predators in many areas. The cat population gets out of control, leaving many cats out on the streets.

This allows them to reproduce uncontrollably. This also increases the dilution of many colors and patterns. For example, a regular cat can have the gene for a Siamese color and pattern, but the offspring don’t show it. Both parents must have this gene for a cat to look Siamese.

Unique breeds and colors are often in higher demand, leaving strays to continue living a compromised lifestyle. Many patterns have become more prevalent because of the sizeable stray population and the recent popularity of animal rescue.

Where To Find A Cat With The Pattern You Want

If you are interested in a specific pattern or color, you can find the cat you want in a variety of places. There are not as many cat breeders as there are dog breeders, yet there are a few luxury breeds that some people prefer to purchase from a breeder.

You can find almost any type of cat in a shelter. Before you commit to purchase from a breeder, walk through your local shelter. You may find exactly what you are looking for. If you are planning on breeding, however, you must get a cat with a pure bloodline from a breeder.
Breeders can charge up to $5,000 dollars for a purebred, designer cat. There are many cat rescue organizations that focus on specific breeds. You can easily find the breed you want at one of these, and they are much more affordable.


The genetics that determines patterns on cats can be quite complicated. There are many patterns that happen a lot when cats reproduce naturally. Breeders often try to get rid of particular traits or encourage others. Proper genetic testing of the parents is necessary to achieve this. You can find a cat with a pattern you love through a breeder, at a shelter, or in a rescue organization.