Cat Fur Types

Cat Fur Types

Different breeds of cats have vastly different types of coats. Some have long hair, some have short and some are hairless. A cat’s fur is a vital part of her integumentary system which regulates body temperature, protects internal structures, and helps conceal the animal from predators and prey.

Although their pattern and color has little to do with their personality, cats are frequently judged by how they look. Do you know what fur type your cat has? Read on below to know more about your cat’s fur.

Types of Cat Fur Texture

1. Hairless Cats

There is no cat that is truly bald but several breeds have a suede-like layer of very fine hair. These cats usually love to snuggle since they have no natural way to prevent the loss of body heat. They are best suited to a warm climates since they have a very thin coat. They also need regular baths to remove body oil. Examples of hairless cats are Sphynx and Peterbald.

2. Short-haired Cats

These types of cats have hair that are no longer than 1.5 inches. They are low maintenance, requiring little or no brushing. British Shorthair, Burmese, Manx, Bengal and Savannah are examples of short-haired cats.

3. Long-haired Cats

Depending on the breed, long-haired cats have fur longer than 1.5 inches but can grow up to 5 inches. Cats with these fur need lots of brushing, and they shed all the time. Common cat breeds that are long-haired are Maine Coon, Ragdoll and Persian.

4. Curly-haired Cats

Very few cat breeds have a curly fur coat. Curly hair in cats is the result of a genetic mutation. An unusual curly-haired cat was spotted by chance at a shelter and was quickly adopted then cross-bred, thereby creating a new cat breed named the Selkirk rex.

Kinds of Cat Fur

Cat fur consists of several types of hairs. They are the following:

Guard Hair

The longest hairs on a cat, these form its outer coat. It has a coarser feel than the layers of fur underneath. The color of the guard hairs determines the color of its coat. It helps in keeping the wind out, protects the cats against cold and ensures water runs off the fur of cats without immediately drenching them.

Down Hair

Compared to guard hair, down hair consists of shorter and much softer hair. Some would prefer this as the undercoat of a cat. Down hair is thick and plush especially with breeds coming from colder regions. It insulates a cat’s body from inclement weather and heat loss. Some cats do not have a layer of down hair.

Awn Hair

This secondary hair is coarser than down and has darkened tips. Awn hair helps insulate the cat and protect its down hairs. Most of a cat’s visible coat is composed of awn hairs. In some breeds, the awn hairs are actually longer than the cat’s outer guard hairs.

Vibrissae or Whiskers

Whiskers are thick hairs that are specialised for tactile sensing. Besides the whiskers on a cat’s muzzle, they also grow from above a cat’s eyes, on his cheeks and on the outer sides of his legs. Whiskers help a cat gauge the size of an opening and even provide orientation for a cat traveling in darkness.

Cat Fur Patterns

Furs of felines come in different colors and patterns that make each of them unique. Below are different patterns of cat coats:

1. Solid Color

A common and easiest to identify, cats with this coat have only one color. If a cat’s coat has any other splodge of color, no matter how small, it is not a solid color type. 

2. Tabby

Tabbies are the most common and popular cat coats. Tabby cats have striped markings or spots on the chest. Sometimes, they are also known as ‘tiger’ cats because of their fur pattern. There are four tabby variations:

  • Striped or mackerel – vertical stripes running from spine to belly
  • Classic or Blotched – no distinct stripes, but a marbled effect
  • Spotted – instead of stripes, the pattern is spots
  • Ticked – each hair is more than one color, often with striped legs and tail

3. Tortoise shell

Cats with tortoise shell patterns have two distinct colors – a mixture of black and orange and often have brown or gold specks. Generally, cats with this type of coat are female. Male cats with this pattern are rare and usually sterile. 

4. Bicolour

These cats have solid patches of color alongside other color patches. Usually bicolour cats come in white and one other color. Although, there can be many variations of this pattern. This pattern is most common among mixed breed cats.

5. Tricolor

This pattern is a mixture of gingery red, black and white, in endless variations. Like tortoise shell types, the colors are often diluted, fading down to grey, cream and white.

Image: Istockphoto.com / Angela Kotsell

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