As a community of cat lovers, I'm willing to bet we all have a favorite cat coat color or pattern. Of course, we love all our feline friends, but we can't help but get a little extra excited when we see a certain kind of cat. I've always had a soft spot for calico cats and all black cats. And lucky for me, I know it's not hard to find these common coat colors. There are, however, rare cat coat colors and patterns that aren't as easy to find. Cat coat color is always determined by genetics. I'm not going to get into the science of it all, but there are some combinations of genes that don't happen as often as others. These uncommon colors are usually the result of selective breeding and only occur in certain breeds. Have you ever seen these rare cat coat colors in person?
Brown doesn't seem like it'd be a rare color for cats, but the chocolate coat color is actually extremely hard to find. It's not like the brownish stripes or patches you can find on some tabbies or even Bengals. The chocolate color appears only with a rare mutation of the black color gene. It's a beautifully rich color that is anything but drab. The Havana Brown is the only cat breed that is a "true chocolate." With fewer than 1,000 Havana Browns in the world, finding a true chocolate cat is certainly a special occasion.
Similar to chocolate, the rare cinnamon cat coat color is another mutation of the black color gene. It's expressed slightly differently than the chocolate mutation to create a gorgeous reddish-brown variation. The Oriental Shorthair and Burmese cat breeds both come in solid cinnamon colors. The Abyssinian is another rare cat breed that is cinnamon ticked with chocolate.
The next step down the dilution ladder is the fawn coat color. Fawn is a dilution of cinnamon and is even more rare. You can identify these light-colored cats by their smooth caramel tones. You'll only find this rare cat coat color in purebred cats that have been specifically bred to produce the color.
Sometimes called lavender, this rare cat coat color is a dilution of the chocolate gene. A lilac cat isn't actually purple, but it's close. It's more of a pastel variation of light brown and gray. As one of the rarest cat coat colors out there, this combination of recessive genes is only found in certain purebred cat breeds like Persians or Siamese.
A smoked cat possess a color inhibiting gene in addition to the gene of a solid coat color. Most of the time, this genetic combination presents itself as a dark-colored cat (usually black). But each individual hair is dark at the tips and lighter close to the skin. This creates a mesmerizing smoky affect. If you part a smoked cat's fur, you'll be able to see a nice gradient of color going up the hairs. This cool cat color can be found in both long and short haired cats. British Shorthairs and Persians can both be bred for smoked coat color.
Similar to the smoked color variation, a chinchilla cat has a color inhibiting gene that gives their otherwise solid-colored hairs a faded look. For this rare cat coat color, the base of each hair is white, and the tips are colored. Chinchilla cats can be either silver or gold, and the unique coat color can make it look like they sparkle when they move. You'll most often find the chinchilla coloring in Persian cats. Sources: University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, Cat Fanciers Association