What is a Torbie Cat?

What is a torbie cat?

Also known as a patched tabby, a torbie is a coat pattern made up of patches of red and brown tabby markings. The name is a combination of the terms tortoiseshell and tabby.

This unusual coat pattern is found almost exclusively in female cats which makes it sex-linked. Every kitten inherits one copy of each gene from both parents. The dominant orange gene is located on the X chromosome, females (XX) have two X chromosomes and males (XY) only have one.

Below is a very simplistic explanation of possible outcomes between orange and non-orange tabby cats, there are other possible outcomes for example if each parent carries a copy of the melanin inhibitor gene, or non-agouti (non-tabby). But for simplicity sake, let’s assume both parents are tabby.

Male inheritance:

  • O/o: Orange tabby
  • o/o: Non-orange tabby

Female inheritance:

  • O/o: Patched tabby, displaying both orange and brown tabby patterns
  • O/O: Orange tabby
  • o/o: Brown tabby

What breed is a torbie cat?

Torbie cat

Image, Jennifer Lamb, Flickr

Torbie is a coat pattern and not a breed and is found in both random-bred cat populations as well as some breeds of purebred. The torbie pattern is permitted in the following breeds:

  • British Shorthair
  • British Longhair
  • Cornish Rex
  • Devon Rex
  • Exotic Shorthair
  • German Rex
  • LaPerm
  • Maine Coon
  • Munchkin
  • Norwegian Forest cat
  • Persian
  • Scottish Fold
  • Scottish Straight

Are torbie cats rare?

The torbie pattern is the least common of the tabby patterns, and not widespread in the cat community. On a personal note, I have seen almost all cat colours and patterns, but have never seen a torbie cat.

What is the difference between a torbie and a caliby?

Both cats have brown and orange tabby patches, the caliby also carries the white spotting gene, resulting in areas of white, most commonly on the underside and legs. If she inherits two copies of the white spotting gene, she will have more white than the cat who has only one copy.

Difference between a tortoiseshell, calico, caliby and patched tabby



  • 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

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