tuxedo cat

Black & White Cats: Everything You Need To Know

Black and white cats are smart, affectionate and are a wonderful addition to any family home.

As 75% of all cats are black and white they are often overlooked and in cat shelters they, on average, spend more than 10 days longer than cats of other colours waiting to be adopted.

Not only that, black and white cats are also more likely to become strays and they make up the majority of the world’s feral cat population.

black and white cat banner

It doesn’t make sense to us that these amazing cats are so often overlooked and left without loving families so we want to help change that.

Black & white cats are perfect family cats and adopting one is a decision you’d never regret, let’s take a look at what makes these seemingly common cats truly stand out.

About Black & White Cats

Black & white cats are also known as tuxedo, or bi-colour cats.

They are not a specific breed but rather a colour pattern.

The prominent pattern can appear like the cat is wearing a little tuxedo.

While any black and white combination is considered a tuxedo cat, the most common pattern you will see is cats with a black body and white chest and paws.

a black and white cat sat on a carpet looking up at the camera

Many black and white cats also have a white chin or nose which makes it look like they are wearing a mask. Some even have a little black dot on their upper chest that make it look like they are wearing a bowtie.

These cats don’t just look great in their naturally occurring formal-wear, they have fun, playful personalities too.

Black and white cats are well known and much loved, with many being part of famous families and even appearing on television and in artwork.

Below are just a few of the common breeds that exhibit the tuxedo colour pattern:

  • American shorthair
  • Persian
  • Manx
  • Scottish Folds
  • Norwegian forest cats

The main factor is the coat colouration so the coat itself can be anything, it can be long, short, shaggy, smooth, silky etc.

Cat breeds that are defined by their coat colourings cannot be tuxedo cats unless they have been crossbred with another cat breed.

Example of cat breeds that are defined by colouring include Siamese Cats and Ragdolls.


White black and white cats, there are two colours (obviously) and the predominant colour is usually black.

While the tuxedo is known for being the attire of a gentleman, black and white cats can be either male or female.

Unlike orange tabbies or tortoiseshells, black and white cats can easily be male or female so there are an equal number of male and female black and white cats.

two black and white cats sat on sofa

It is common for black and white cats to have green eyes, the beautiful green eyes can be different shades including bright green, bluish green and golden green.

They can also have brown or yellow eyes but this is less common. You may also notice that they have beautiful white whiskers that stand out against their black faces.

They can be a wide range of breeds it means their appearance varies a lot and they can be longhaired, shorthaired, have shaggy, smooth or silky coats.

In terms of size, they can be anything from 6lbs to 16lbs.

The Genetics of a Black & White Cat

Black & white cats have mostly black colour genes with other white-spotting genes.

The white-spotting genes are important as they cause the white spots and colouration.

In black & white cats the white is usually seen on their legs, chest, throat and face.

Although difficult to know for sure exactly when the first black & white cats appeared, they can be traced all the way back to the Ancient Egyptians.

In fact, the majority of cats depicted in Egyptian tombs were black & white cats.

two black and white cats sitting next to some bubble wrap

In more recent times, these cats were popularized massively by Felix the Cat, an incredibly popular silent film character in the 1920s.

While they remain popular to this day it is unfortunate that there are many black and white cats in shelters waiting to find their forever homes.

As the black and white patterning is related to genes, the appearance of kittens can vary between individuals (even those of the same litter).

The white genes can be recessive or dominant and it is thanks to the white genes that they have their formal-wear look.

If just one of the parents is black & white you can still end up with black & white kittens as there does not need to be two black & white parents in order for a kitten to be born with that pattern.

Personality Traits of Black & White Cats

Black and white cats are lively, social cats that love to play and are used to being around people.

This means these cats tend to love the company of humans and will come to greet you when you get home.

They also usually get on well with other pets so are a good choice for bigger families and multi-pet households.

Their traits will vary between individuals and it is likely you will see many qualities that are close to the common personality traits of the breed.

They enjoy sitting next to you or even on you and getting cuddles, strokes and lots of fuss.

Cute black and white tuxedo cat relaxing

They are known for being talkative and vocal so they have no problem with letting you know what’s on their mind.

Generally, these cats have a laid-back attitude and seem to be happy enough to just go with the flow.

Although they love attention, they are also happy to spend time on their own too.

They are independent and curious so they can keep themselves occupied when you aren’t around.

There is good and bad to this as such an adventuring spirit can be a concern for owners who let their cats outside as a black and white cat won’t hesitate in exploring and creating their own games and fun.

When your cat is indoors you can help keep them entertained with various toys and even a window perch so they can watch the world go by from the safety and comfort of your home.

black and white cat sat on a wood floor

Of course, every cat has their own unique personality so these are simply generalisations of the behaviours and attitudes most often seen and experienced by black and white cat owners.

They can give you a pretty good idea of what to expect if you adopt a black and white cat.

Black & White Cat Care

They have their own unique pattern from birth so you will be able to see whether or not your cat has the tuxedo pattern straight away.

The kittens are simply miniature (adorable) versions of the adults. Black and white cats are highly intelligent and although difficult to prove, it is believed they are twice as smart as the average domestic cat.

Interestingly, it has been shown that kittens hit developmental milestones earlier when they have tuxedo patterns.

When it comes to caring for black and white cats, it’s pretty straight forward. They require the same care as any other domestic feline.

black and white stray cat looking for food

Early socialization is very important to ensure your cat is good with people, other cats and other pets in the home.

Their dietary needs are the same as other cats as the Tuxedo/black and white cat is not a specific breed. Every cats diet should be based on their weight, age, health condition and nutritional needs.

A vet can advise on this if necessary.

Talking of the vet, your cat should also have regular check-ups and should receive the necessary vaccinations and booster jabs to help keep them healthy.

Spaying and neutering is also a very good idea as it not only prevents breeding but can also prevent unwanted behaviours from occurring.

Their grooming needs will depend on the breed and coat type of the individual cat.

The colour pattern does not require any special grooming so find out what the breed-specific advice is for grooming your cat and follow that. Generally, brushing your cat regularly will help keep their coats clean, healthy and free from matts.

Frequent brushing will also reduce hairballs for your cat and spending time gently brushing your cat is a fantastic way to build bonds between the two of you.

Average Life Span

Black and white cats can live for 15 years or longer and they have a greater likelihood of reaching a ripe old age and living longer if they are indoor cats.

Of course, letting your cat explore outside won’t have detrimental effects but it is very important to monitor them when they are outside and if possible, bring them in at night and in extreme weather.

a black and white cat sat on a blanket with it's eyes closed

A smart cat flap is a great way to allow your cat access to outdoors during specific times of day.

You can help your cat live a long life by feeding them high-quality cat food, ensuring they exercise and stay stimulated and taking them to regular vet appointments.

To give you an idea of lifespan, you can generally expect a healthy cat with no ailments to live at least 15 years but even the healthiest of cats won’t live far beyond 20 years old.

Health Concerns

As black and white cats all come from different cat breeds there have been no known health concerns specifically related to the colour pattern.

They also don’t have any fur-specific health conditions that you need to know about either.

whisky cat

For health advice, it is best to look at the breed specific information and speak with a veterinarian.

Fun Facts

Who knew there was so much to learn about black and white cats?! Here’s 7 fun facts:

  1. The colouration of a black and white cat helps them to be hidden and camouflaged, for example when they are in tall grass. Their black back makes it harder to see them from above and the patches can help break up the outline of the cat’s body. This is very helpful when it comes to hunting and hiding.
  2. Tuxedo cats are sometimes called Jellicle Cats after the “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” by T.S. Elliot.
  3. Tuxedo isn’t a cat breed but is actually a colour pattern.
  4. A black and white kitten will hit developmental milestones earlier than other cats, for example they open their eyes 24 hours before any other cat.
  5. You can find black and white cats all over the world.
  6. In some parts of the world black and white cats are called Piebald Cats.
  7. There are lots of black and white cats in shelters including purebred and mix-bred cats. They are actually among the least-adopted cats in shelters so if you are thinking about adopting a cat consider a black and white cat. Their misfortune and poor shelter adoption rate could be due to some people’s superstitions relating to black cats.
Whisky the black and white cat

Famous Black and White Cats

We aren’t the only ones who think black & white cats are great.

Take a look at some of the most famous cats that sported a black and white coat.

You are bound to recognise a few of these names:

  • Felix the Cat – 1920’s silent film cartoon cat Felix was a black and white cat which is why they are also sometimes called Felix cats (particularly in the UK).
  • The Cat in the Hat – This Dr. Seuss story featured a black and white cat.
  • Sylvester the Cat – remember Sylvester from Looney Tunes? Popular since the first half of the 20th century, he’d always stalk Tweety Bird in the cartoons and his antics has brought laughter to numerous generations. Sylvester is black and white and sports a traditional black and white bicolour coat combination. Another black and white cat Looney Tunes character is Penelope who is not the most sophisticated of cat characters but is a Tuxie nevertheless.
  • Socks – The First Cat during the Bill Clinton White House administration. Socks lived until he was 19/20 years old!
Tuxedo cat with odd socks
  • Sparky – Sparky is one of the richest cats in history (if not the richest cat in history). This lucky cat inherited more than $6 million in 1998.
  • Simon – Simon was a black and white cat who guarded food against rodents on board the HMS Amethyst during the Chinese Civil War. Simon was even awarded the PDSA Dickin Medal.
  • Other famous cats include Postman Pat’s cat and Disney’s Figaro.
  • Black and white cats were also owned by some well-known names including Sir Isaac Newton, Beethoven and Shakespeare.

Why We Love Black and White Cats

Black and white cats are the best, we love them and we want to share with everyone how wonderful they are.

We’ve given you a lot of information about these cats so to round things up, here are our top 8 reasons why we believe they are the best type of cat.

1. Their Distinctive Looks

Black and white cats are dressed to impress!

What other cat shows up in a formal shirt and suit?

cat overdressed

You have to give them points for being the best dressed.

2. They are Great Swimmers

They have powerful hind legs and impressive athletic prowess that makes them brilliant swimmers.

Although they (like all cats) hate swimming so you’re going to just have to take our word for their swimming skills.

3. They are Super Smart

It is suggested that they are more intelligent than other cats, maybe even twice as intelligent as the average domestic cat.

Anyone who has owned a black and white cat seems to agree with this so they could be a great choice if you are looking for a cat that is easier to train.

4. They have a Rich and Varied History

These cats were loved by Egyptians and could have even been worshiped by them.

While we don’t worship them (even if they think we do), Tuxedo Cats have in some way or another been held in high regard ever since.

5. Cuddles and Affection are High on Their To-Do List

If you love a cat who is willing to cuddle and curl up with you then you will love a black and white cat.

Cat relaxing after a long swim

These friendly, affectionate balls of fur are great company and love to get scratches from their human family.

Black and white cats often love sitting in your lap or coming over for a snuggle and some affection.

6. They are Great Mousers

They are patient, stealthy and can catch mice with relative ease.

If you have a mouse infestation in your home then a black and white cat will very quickly sort this out for you.

7. Adventurous Spirits

They love to explore, they have curious natures and like to discover new things.

Memphis - 6 months old

Their independence means they are more than happy to keep themselves entertained.

8. They are Photogenic

The striking contrast of their fur and their bright eyes makes it almost impossible to get a bad photo of a black and white Cat.

Don’t believe us?

Search for them on Instagram and see for yourself how beautiful and photogenic they are.

Black & white cats are hugely popular and they have been for a long time.

They can come in the form of a number of breeds it is difficult to give any specific advice or instructions relating to their care and behaviour.

What we do know is that they are beautiful, smart and they make wonderful family cats.

There are so many black & white Cats in shelters waiting to find their forever families so we strongly encourage people to adopt and bring one home.

In return, they’ll give you endless cuddles and make sure your house is mouse-free.

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