Tuxedo Cat: All You Need to Know

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  • At a glance

    • What is a tuxedo cat? Also known as bicolour or piebald, a tuxedo cat is a common coat colour and pattern which consists of black and white.
    • What breed is a tuxedo cat? Tuxedo is a pattern which is commonly found in both purebred and mixed-breed.
    • Are tuxedo cats male or female? Tuxedo occurs in male and female cats.
    • Tuxedo cat name: The name comes from the similar appearance to a tuxedo.

    What is a tuxedo cat?

    A tuxedo cat is a black and white cat. The tuxedo pattern is a form of bi-colour or piebald (a cat with two colours). Tuxedo cats are predominately black with white patches on the chest, throat, legs and face. Bi-colour can occur in other colours such as blue and white, brown and white, tabby and white. The tuxedo pattern is found in mixed breeds as well as some breeds of pedigree cat and refers only to the coat colour and pattern, tuxedo is not a breed of cat.

    The name tuxedo comes from the tuxedo appearance of the cat.

    Bi-colour markings

    Tuxedo cat

    The official Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) definition of a tuxedo cat is one who has white on the paws, belly, chest, throat and sometimes face. The white colour is due to the white spotting gene (S), which causes patches on the black background. Genetically the cat is black; however, the white spotting gene masks the colouration on certain parts of the body. While tuxedo is one example of the effects of the white spotting gene on the coat colour, it comes in many grades from 1-10, the lower the number, the less white.

    • Grades 1-4 (low grade)- Less than 40% white. Cats with low-grade white spotting can range from almost entirely solid coloured to tuxedo. Names are commonly used to describe the location such as mitted (paws), locked (chest)
      and tuxedo cat.
    • Grade 5 (medium grade) – 40-60% white.
    • Grade 6-10 (high grade) – Over 60% white, but some cats can be almost entirely white with just a small smudge of colour. Some descriptions include van (colouration on and between the ears and tail), magpie or cow (random spotting on the body) and Harlequin (random spotting on the body and a coloured tail).

    Did you know?

    Tuxedo cats are sometimes known as Jellicle or billicart cats. The name Jellicle comes from TS Eliot’s book “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats”.

    Are grey and white cats tuxedo?

    Grey and white cat

    The tuxedo is a black and white bi-colour (which describes the coat pattern), it is possible to have a grey and white bi-colour; however, they are not a tuxedo.

    Tuxedo cat lifespan

    The tuxedo pattern, as we know, occurs in mixed breeds as well as some breeds of cat. The average lifespan of an indoor cat (purebred or mixed) is between 10 – 15 years.

    Famous tuxedo cats

    • Socks – Former White House cat owned by US president Bill Clinton and his family.
    • Sylvester the Cat – Also known as Sylvester James Pussycat, Sr., Sylvester was a fictional character from the Looney Tunes cartoon series. Sylvester was named after the scientific name of the European wildcat Felis silvestris, the ancestors of domestic cats (Felis catus).
    • Felix the Cat – A children’s comedy character created by Pat Sullivan and Otto Messmer in 1919.
    • Jess – Owned by Postman Pat.
    • Kitty Softpaws – Puss’s love interest in the Shrek spin-off, Puss in Boots.
    • Mr Mistoffelees –  A character from TS Eliot’s book Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats and its musical, Cats.
    • Dr Seuss’s Cat in the Hat.
    • Julius the Cat – A mischievous cartoon character created in 1922 by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks.

    What breeds of cat come in tuxedo?

    Tuxedo Cat Names

    • Oreo
    • Sylvester
    • Felix
    • Panda
    • Socks
    • Spot
    • Boots
    • Figaro
    • Skunk
    • Patches
    • Domino
    • Harlequin
    • Charlie Chaplain (or CC for short)
    • Penguin
    • Phantom
    • Chess
    • Eightball

    Frequently asked questions

    Are tuxedo cats always male? The tuxedo pattern occurs in both male and female cats.

    Tuxedo cat eye colour Tuxedo cats can have yellow, green or brown eyes.

    Are tuxedo cats hypoallergenic? No cat is truly hypoallergenic, some breeds such as the Sphynx and Devon Rex have less fur, which means there is less dander in the environment. There is no evidence to suggest that tuxedo cats are hypoallergenic.

    What is the personality of tuxedo cats? Coat colour does not appear to have an impact on a cat’s personality. The adult personality of a kitten is mostly determined in the first sixteen weeks of a kitten’s life, which highlights the importance of proper socialisation of kittens in those early weeks.

    The first cat I adopted as an adult was a tuxedo female who was a beautiful cat; she was very friendly towards others and adored me. We are currently fostering a tuxedo cat, and he is extremely friendly and loving, but again, that comes down to those early few weeks.

    What breed is a tuxedo cat? Tuxedo is not a breed; it is a coat pattern that consists of black and white. If your cat came from a shelter, pet shop, or a random litter, the chances are you have a domestic shorthair or longhair. The lack of pedigree or papers doesn’t make these cats any less special.

    Although most tuxedo cats are what we term domestic shorthairs or longhairs, some registered breeds of cat do come in the tuxedo pattern, which you will find listed at the end of the article.

    Are tuxedo cats rare? The tuxedo pattern is common, which doesn’t make tuxedo cats any less special.


    • Julia Wilson, 'Cat World' Founder

      Julia Wilson is the founder of Cat-World, and has researched and written over 1,000 articles about cats. She is a cat expert with over 20 years of experience writing about a wide range of cat topics, with a special interest in cat health, welfare and preventative care. Julia lives in Sydney with her family, four cats and two dogs. Full author bio