10 identifiable grades of bicolor in cats

There are 10 identifiable grades of bicolor in cats, plus several patterns with their own names. The cat labeled “bicolor” is the preferred pattern in show-quality bicolor purebred cats.

Chart of bicolor patterns in cats

A low-grade spotting black-and-white bicolor cat is often known as a “tuxedo cat” or a “Billicat”. To be considered a tuxedo cat, its black coloring should be solid throughout, with white limited to the paws, belly, chest, throat, face, and possibly the chin: it should appear as if the cat were wearing a tuxedo.

Another type of black-and-white bicolor cat is nicknamed “cow cat” or “moo cat” (for a perceived resemblance to Holstein cattle) and includes the magpie, cap-and-saddle and mask-and-mantle patterns.

A cow cat does not have the solid black “jacket” of the tuxedo cat. Instead, it has big black patches over a mostly white body, often with a black mask over the head. Some owners attribute characteristics such as a love of water, big personalities and a playful nature to cow cats.

“Black Mask Cats” are so called because they look like they are wearing a black mask over their head. Likewise, “Kitlers” get their name from a black moustache-like marking over their faces, as shown in the cow-patterned cat to the right.

The Turkish Van (white and red) is one good example of a bicolor cat breed. The Van pattern is known to animal geneticists as the Seychelles (Seychellois) Pattern and is classified into 3 variants:

  • Seychellois Neuvieme – white with colored tail and head splashes (classic Van Pattern)
  • Seychellois Huitieme – white with colored tail and head splashes plus additional splashes of color on the legs
  • Seychellois Septieme – white with splashes of color on the legs and body in addition to those on the head and the colored tail.

This is high grade white spotting of types 9, 8 and 7 on the bicolor chart above.