A “domestic shorthair” is a descriptive term for a cat with a short, sleek coat and a mixed ancestry – the equivalent of a mutt in the dog world. Purebreeds like Persians, Turkish Vans and Siamese must conform to certain standards. Domestic shorthair, or DSH, cats -- because of their mixed and often unknown heritage -- come in an amazing array of sizes, body types, colors and markings, including calico and tabby.
Tabby cats come in four patterns -- spotted, mackerel, ticked and classic – and several colors -- brown, blue, red, cream and silver. The individual hairs that make up the light part of a tabby's fur contain alternating bands of light and dark colors. These agouti hairs result from a gene turning the pigmentation off and on as the hair grows. All tabbies have agouti hairs as well as thin stripes around the face and a distinctive “M”-shaped marking on the head.
Calico cats are non-pedigreed cats with black, orange – or red -- and white patches. In most cases, a calico’s coat has separate blocks of color surrounded by larger amounts of white fur. The red and black patches stand out against the white. On a calico, the black patches are solid and the red patches are red tabby – orange stripes on a cream background. More than 90 percent of calico cats are female.
Similar to a calico in white coverage and markings, a dilute calico has cream and blue patches of fur instead of the black and red patches of a standard calico. A dilute calico's blue patches are solid, grayish fur, but its cream patches are cream tabby – cream stripes on a cream background.
Cats with random patches of different colors are either a tortoiseshell or tortie, a patched tabby, or a calico. Cats with patches of brown tabby and patches of red tabby are considered brown-patched tabbies or torbies, since they are tabby/tortie combinations.
Patched Tabby and White or Torbie and White
The terms “patched tabby and white” or “torbie and white” describe tabby or tortoiseshell cats that have some amount of white fur. A patched tabby with a large amount of white fur and distinctive patches of color is called a caliby – for calico and tabby – a patterned calico, or a calico tabby.