Are Brown Cats Rare? Interesting & Fun Facts

Many types of cats exist in the world, and one way of classifying them is by color.

Just as some types of human hair colors are rarer than others, the same goes for cats.

So to answer this question, we need to look at the following:

  • What cat colors are there?
  • Which cat colors are the most and least common?
  • How cat genes determine cat color
  • Selective breeding in cats
  • How brown cats come into existence

What Cat Colors Are There?

Cats come in many different colors. One list of cat colors provides the following 7 examples.

  1. Chocolate
  2. Lilac
  3. Fawn
  4. Cinnamon
  5. Cream
  6. Smoke
  7. Chinchilla

But there’s more colors than these. Just think about the cats you see in your everyday life. Like when you’re on the way to work, or out for a walk.

You’ve probably come across black cats, white cats, grey cats, tortoiseshell cats, and tabby cats.

And most importantly for this article, there are brown cats as well.

But when was the last time you saw a cat that was solid brown…

Probably not often.

So we need to find out which cat colors are least and most common to be able to see where brown cats fit in.

What Cat Colors Are The Most And Least Common?

The most common color combinations for cats are orange, white, and black.

Usually, you get cats that are all black, all white, or all orange. But in many cases, genes will combine and give mixtures of these.

There are hundreds, and that explains why so many color blends and patterns exist in cat fur.

And in fact, these patterns and blends exist because all cats are naturally tabbies. You can find mackerel tabbies, spotted tabbies, classic tabbies, and more.

This is why there are so many colors.

Some just don’t show their tabby pattern because of the way their color genes have combined.

And these color combinations can be rare too. Gray, lilac, cream, and brown are all rare combinations.

Often you can judge how rare a cat’s color is based on how long a gap there is between seeing two cats of the same color.

But what you’ll notice is that brown cats are some of the rarest there are.

And to figure out why we need to look at genes in more detail.

How Cat Genes Determine Cat Color

Two types of genes decide what color a cat’s fur is going to be.

These are genes and polygenes.

One of these is known as a dilute gene, which changes one color into another.

For example, you can have a cat that is gray but would have been black without this gene. Or a cat that is cream but would have been orange.

The polygenes only work if there are several of them, which is why they have the term ‘poly’ in their name.

These determine the shade of a particular color. So a cat may be gray, but will that be a dark gray or a light gray?

Polygenes determine the answer.

Genes are also tied into sex, as some are transmitted through the female line and others through the male line.

This is why certain patterns and colors only appear in female cats, whereas others only appear in male cats.

The complex ways these genes can combine are why you get cats that have two or even three colors on their bodies.

But brown cats still don’t appear that often, even though there are all these combinations.

The reason why is selective breeding. We’ll cover that briefly, and then share how exactly it’s used to create brown cats.

Selective Breeding In Cats

The practice of selective breeding in cats begins with cats that are pure-bred or pedigree. Cat breeders will look to combine cats with positive characteristics.

In order of priority, these are health, character, and appearance. So it is a delicate process to find the right cats to pair together.

But once it’s done, you just have to wait for the kittens to be born.

And this is how cats with certain traits can be multiplied without waiting for nature to get around to it.

It’s also used for brown cats too.

How Brown Cats Come Into Existence

Unlike most of the other cat colors mentioned in this article, brown was only common in one breed, the Siamese cat.

They were originally documented in the 1890s, although they most likely existed for a long time before this period.

For reasons unknown to us, their breeding was discouraged, and they disappeared until after the Second World War.

They were then recreated through selective breeding.

Cats with chocolate genes were selectively paired together and would give birth to chocolate-colored kittens.

These became known as a separate breed of cat – the Havana Brown. This is now one of many breeds of cats that people can buy, but they’re rare.

This is because although tabby cats with brown markings are common, pure brown cats only came about naturally through the genes of Siamese cats.

So chocolate color rarely appears as a single solid color, outside of Havana Brown cats.

And any other cats that do have a brown color gene will only have it because of a mutation in the black color gene.

If the cat they mate with lacks that same mutation, the kittens those cats have won’t be pure brown.

So in effect, brown cats are now man-made, with self-brown cats being extremely rare if not non-existent.


Cats come in many different colors and patterns. More than there was space to write about in this article.

There are genetic reasons for this, but humans can also get involved in the process too.

But brown cats in particular are rare. There aren’t many of them naturally left in the world, and now they’re reproduced through selective breeding.

So if you want to get hold of a rare brown cat, then now you know you can settle for a Havana Brown.

avatar Noah
I’m Noah, chief editor at VIVO Pets and the proud owner of a playful, energetic husky (Max). I’ve been a volunteer at Rex Animal Rescue for over 2 years. I love learning and writing about different animals that can be kept as pets. read more...

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