Monday 18 February 2008

Cat Coats Tortie Torbie and White

Brown Mackerel Torbie with White Cat
Brown mackerel torbie with white - photograph copyright Helmi Flick

Brown Classic Torbie and White Cat
Brown classic torbie and white on an Exotic Shorthair cat photograph copyright Helmi Flick.

Cat coats tortie torbie and white is one of a series of posts on the cat coat colors. You can see them all if you click on this link.

The term "torbie" refers to a coat that is a mixture of tabby and tortoiseshell. There are posts on the tortie (tortoiseshell - this is about the black tortoiseshell) coats and the torbie (tabby and tortoiseshell mixed). You can read those first if you wish.

I have also discussed the action of the Piebald gene or White Spotting gene to produce white when I posted an article on the Tuxedo Cat, so this post is a simple extension or representation of those earlier postings.

Obviously in the case of cat coats that are tortie or torbie and white the areas where there is color is either the tabby pattern or the torbie pattern. The extent of this pattern is dictated by the white spotting gene during the growth of the embryo. For tortoiseshell cats without white there is a mosaic of orange (signified by the letter O) and black colored hairs (o). The presence of white fur causes the orange and black to make up patches.

An added area of potential confusion or complication, is to "overlay" (my term, not a technical term) a tortie and white coat with a dilute effect and I have discussed dilution in another article. This effect is seen in the Exotic Shorthair cat below.

It may help if I look at an example:

Black Tortie and White cat
Black tortie and white. Photograph copyright Helmi Flick. You can see how the black tortoiseshell coat has been restricted in its spread over the body by the white spotting gene. The areas farthest from spine are affected, the paws, the chest and belly.

Blue tortie and white. In this picture of an Exotic Shorthair cat, you have multiple genetic actions and effects on the coat. The coat would have been a tortoiseshell but for the actions of the white spotting gene causing the white areas (no color pigment areas) and also the actions of the modifier genes which dilute the color.

Blue Tortie with White cat
Blue tortie with white. Photograph copyright Helmi Flick. Blue is dilute black.

cat torbie tortie
Brown spotted torbie with white. The tabby pattern is the form of spots hence the term "spotted" and the tabby pattern is mixed with tortoiseshell and white. Photograph copyright Helmi Flick.

cat torbie tortie
Silver Classic torbie and white. Photograph copyright Helmi Flick. The term "classic" refers to the classic tabby pattern, which is the pattern that is blotched and not spotted.

cat torbie tortie
Silver classic torbie and white. Photograph copyright Helmi Flick.

Thanks to Beth Hicks - the cat coat descriptions are hers. And to Helmi once again for her fine photographs. These photographs are protected by copyright.

From Cat Coats Tortie Torbie and White to Cat Facts


  1. I have a tortie and its so funny to me to see "reletives" of hers in these pictures because some of them look just like her. She has somewhat of the general tortie split nose but its only at the top and not too defined like the cats above. She is the cutest kitten ever and the older she gets, the more her colors come out. If someone would direct me on where to submit her photo, I would. The only thing is, she isnt professionally photographed, its just by me!

  2. Cara, Thanks for your 2 comments. It is always nice to receive comments especially when they are polite and pleasant as yours are.


Your comments are always welcome.

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