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Brindle Cats

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What is a brindle cat?

A brindle cat is a cat with a mixture of coat color patterns, mostly consistent throughout the skin or in patches.

Brindled cats, mostly tabbies, also known as tiger cats, are characterized by the ‘M’ mark shape on the forehead.

They have consistent stripes around the eyes, cheeks, along the back, and down to their body, legs, and tail.

Beautiful tabby cat with green eyes and red nose roaming outdoors

Brindled cats are not necessarily tabbies. Some are characterized by other color patterns such as striped, dotted, lined, flecked, banded, or even swirled around the shoulders, neck, flanks, sides, abdomen, legs, and even the tail.

Brindle is not a cat breed but rather a characteristic that is common among many cat breeds, regardless of the location or the status of the cat.

What causes brindling?

For every animal, including cats, the Y chromosome does not carry any color codes. The female X chromosome is responsible for color codes and body pigmentation.

When in the embryo stage, a kitten’s X chromosome randomly expresses different alleles responsible for color codes.

Over time, as the kitten grows, the skin cells undergo numerous divisions, spreading the alleles all over the body, resulting in the different skin color codes, known as brindle.

Types of brindled cats

There are basically two types of brindle in cats: the mosaic and the chimera.

Mosaic – this is the most common type, and features a cat coat with the color codes mixed at random and spread all over the body.

Chimera – for this type, a cat has one color code on one side and another color on the other side. This can occur on the face as well as the other parts of the body.

Difference between a brindle cat, a tortie, a torbie, and a calico

Brindle cat – this is a domesticated cat with distinctive stripes, dots, swirling patterns, or lines around the body. Some kittens are born without the stripes but develop them a few weeks after birth.

Torties – they are called torties because of their coat coloring, which is similar to that of a tortoiseshell. Their coats have a combination of two or more colors, other than white, that are closely mixed or in larger patches around the coat.

Their distinctive and dominant colors are described as black and red, whereby the black can instead be chocolate, gray or blue, and the red on the other hand can be orange, yellow, or cream.

A torbie – also referred to as patched tabbies, they exhibit interesting color codes, as they can have the coloration of a tortie and at the same time have tabby patterns.

They are basically tortoise-shell cats with tabby patterns.

Cute serious face of a calico cat looking at the camera while resting at home

A calico – a calico cat is similar to a tortie, but has white markings on the coat.

They are mostly tri-color coats, with the coloring 25% – 75% white, with large patches of orange and black, or at times grey and cream.

Calicos are almost exclusively female, except under very rare genetic mutations. In the rare case of a male calico, it will most likely be sterile.

Some calico cats do have tabby patterns on their coats. There are known as callibies.

How long do brindle cats live?

Most cats, including brindle cats, have a life span of 14 – 20 years, some even living longer than that.

This depends on a number of factors like diet, exercise, exposure to threats, among others for the cat’s physical and mental health.

A cat that takes nutrition deficient food and exercises less is more prone to have health issues like arthritis, heart disease, and diabetes, all of which pose a threat to the cat’s life span.

It is good to consult with a qualified veterinary for guides on how to feed and exercise a cat at all the growing stages to ensure maximum health and fitness for the cat, and in the process give it the longest lifespan its genes have to offer.

The location and environment matter too on the life span of the cats.

For outdoor cats, compared to indoor cats, they only live for 2 or 3 years, contrary to the 7 or more times longer the indoor cats live.

This is due to a number of valid reasons, among them predation, exposure to traps, dog attacks, pet theft, traffic, and communicable cat diseases.

You should therefore consider giving your brindle cat a loving and caring home environment for them to thrive.

Additionally, there are non-tangible factors that promote longevity in a cat.

It is true, that all pets thrive in an environment of love, calmness, and care.

You should, therefore, give your brindle cat attention and companionship, and often play interactive games with them for their physical and mental health boost.

Gentle talk and patting also reduces emotional stress and helps boost the cat’s health.

Small gray striped cat with brown eyes lies on a beige bed background

Brindle cats’ personality

Brindled cats are generally known to be happy-go-lucky cats, friendly, sassy, intelligent, wonderful companions, and very affectionate.

For the red tabbies, otherwise known as ginger, orange, and marmalade tabbies, as well as the brindled torties, they can at times be a bit feisty, independent, and bossy.

This trait is commonly known as ‘tortitude’, and is linked to their coat color.

These cats are also known to be strong-willed, have a hot temper, and be possessive of their human.

Some have even been crowned ‘divas of the cat world’ because their will and independence are so prevalent.

These cats are also known to be talkative, as they make their presence and express their needs by a simple meow, a hiss, or a strong purr.

They also show high energy, for they are not the kind to sit around in the house all day.

They in fact love to play outdoors, maybe climb a tree, hunt rodents, dig holes for fun, and simply live the jovial life they live.

They can really be enchanting and addictive.

Can brindle cats be male?

Tabby cat resting on a yellow sofa

In very rare instances, you may find a male brindle cat.

Statistically, you may find 1 male brindle cat out of 3000 brindle cats.

It is all about genetics. For all cats, the X chromosome is responsible for coat coloring, hence the brindling.

A female carries 2 X chromosomes, both carrying alleles for either orange or black colors, while a male has only 1 X chromosome, carrying alleles for either black or orange colors,  but not both.

This means that a male will only have one color and not be brindled.

Therefore, in instances that a male cat is brindled, their genes will have the XXY combination of chromosomes, meaning that they will be sterile.

Breeds of cats that can be brindle

As mentioned before, brindle is not a breed but rather a color trait that can be found in many cat breeds around the globe.

Let’s take a quick look at a few breeds that can be brindled below.

1. The Abyssinian

This breed is not always brindled but when they are, their patterns are like the Agouti.

In fact, this breed was bred to have a versatile look, which makes them look more exotic and wild.

Agouti, commonly known as ticked hair, means that a single strand of fur has several colors. This gives the brindle cat a stunning and shimmery look.

2. American Bobtail

Young American bobtail cat staring up on a wooden floor

This breed is commonly distinguished from others for its bobbed tail.

They come in a range of colors and their sizes vary. The gene for a short or bobbed tail is, however, not dominant, so it can skip a generation or two before re-emerging.

They can be a blend of solid or brindled, and the brindle varies too, but usually visible as a classic swirled color code.

3. Domestic short hair

They can be the perfect house-pet.

They are also a highly intermixed breed, and can therefore generally have very limited genetic health issues.

Their personality also varies greatly from cat to cat, as some love kids and other pets, while some absolutely don’t.

Some are skittish and shy but others are vocal and outgoing. They exist in a wide range of color codes, and their brindle can show in all types of brindle.

4. American Curl

They often display some brindle coloration on some part of their body, although they exist in a wide range of colorations.

5. American Shorthair.

They are famous for their classic brindle patterning.

They are also one of the lowest maintenance cats.

6. Maine coon cat

Maine coon cat lies on a wooden floor

They are the most popular pedigree cats in North America, as most of this kind always have a solid color, but the Maine coon can be of mixed coloring.

7. Ocicat

This breed was selectively bred with the sole aim of making it look fancy and attractive, just like they are.

They appear wild but in fact, are purely domestic. They are spotted, and these spots resemble an exotic ocelot.

The cats mentioned above are just a few of the breeds that can be brindle. Other breeds include the Egyptian Mau, the Toyger, Bengal cat, Savannah cat, the Dragon li, and many others.

Where to get brindle cats.

It can be hard to get a brindle cat for adoption.

For a start, a cat rescue center is the most ideal place to get an adult cat or a kitten for adoption.

But before the adoption is done, some precautions have to be taken to ensure that the new cat will be well introduced to your home and feel free, such as setting aside a room and play items for it.

Ensuring the cat stays is another task too, such as ensuring your windows are closed to discourage the fully grown cat from jumping off and running away on the first day.

In a case of a lost cat, brindle cats are very proud animals and love having their spaces to themselves.

This should not worry you, because they are likely to come back. It may be having its personal time on top of a tree or maybe hunting, but they always come back to the owner.


A brindle cat can be very friendly and enchanting to the owner.

Around the world, people have various beliefs about brindle cats, some believing that they bring good luck and fortune.

Some people really adore the brindle cat’s status, as in Maryland: a Maine Coon with tortoiseshell and patches of white markings was made a symbol for the state.

Lastly, a brindle cat can have huge patches over the body, or have a woven-like appearance.

You would have to be very observant to distinguish the difference between any breed of these beauties.