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What breed of cat has a dark face?

What breed of cat has a dark face?

There are several breeds of cats that are known for having distinctive dark or black facial markings. Some of the most common include the Siamese, Himalayan, British Shorthair, Persian, Bombay, and Egyptian Mau. The dark coloring on the face is due to pigmentation in the fur and skin. Let’s take a closer look at each of these breeds and what makes their facial markings so unique.


The Siamese cat is arguably the most recognized breed with darker facial points. They have a cream or light beige colored body with darker brown or black extremities – including the face, ears, paws, and tail. This distinctive color pattern is a result of the temperature-sensitive albino gene that causes darker coloration in the cooler parts of the body.

Siamese kittens are born completely white. As they mature, their point coloration develops in the parts of the body with lower temperatures – extremities like the face, ears, legs and tail. This leaves the warmer torso lighter in color. The contrast can range from subtle to dramatic, depending on the individual cat.

Traditionally, Siamese cats had seal brown points. But modern breeding has introduced other point colors like chocolate, lilac, and blue. Regardless of the shade, the signature darker face remains a defining trait of the Siamese breed.


The Himalayan, also known as the Colorpoint Persian, has the same color-pattern as the Siamese breed. Like the Siamese, they have light-colored bodies with darker points on the face, ears, legs, and tail. This is also caused by the temperature-sensitive albino gene.

However, Himalayans have long, flowing coats like their Persian ancestors. This gives them a much fluffier appearance than the sleek, short-haired Siamese. The dramatic contrast of their masked faces against pale, luxurious coats makes them truly striking cats.

Himalayan kittens are born white like Siamese kittens. As they grow, the cooler points darken to shades of chocolate, seal, lilac, or blue. Their body color develops into a range of hues like white, cream, fawn, or apricot. But no matter the exact colors, the signature darker facial points always stand out.

British Shorthair

The British Shorthair is a pedigreed breed known for its plush, dense coat and broad face with big round eyes. As one of the earliest breeds native to Britain, they served as mice catchers before becoming beloved family companions.

While British Shorthairs come in over 100 color combinations, one signature look is the British Blue. These cats have slate gray fur with darker fur on the face, ears, legs, and tail. The dark facial markings almost resemble a mask or helmet against the paler body.

Other British Shorthair colors like brown, chocolate, lilac, and fawn also feature darker points on the extremities. But the regal, dignified British Blue with its dark face remains the most iconic British Shorthair coat.

Breed Facial Markings
Siamese Dark brown or black points
Himalayan Chocolate, seal, lilac or blue points
British Shorthair Darker points in slate gray, brown, chocolate, lilac


Along with the Himalayan, the Persian is another longhaired breed prone to darker facial shading. While Persians display many coat colors and patterns, those with colorpointed patterns have signature facial markings.

The full colorpointed Persian has a lighter body with darker points across the entire face, ears, legs, paws, and tail. This contrasts with the Himalayan which typically just has color concentrated around the nose and ears.

In particular, blue-eyed white Persians with deep blue facial markings are the most iconic. The dramatic shading on the nose and soft, rounded facial features create a beautiful, almost heavenly appearance. This ethereal look makes the Persian one of the most beloved breeds.


The Bombay cat takes its name from the exotic Indian port city now known as Mumbai. This sleek, panther-like breed was developed in the 1950s by crossing Burmese with American Shorthairs to produce a cat that resembled a miniature black panther.

True to its intended look, the Bombay has a distinctive jet black coat. This includes rich, black fur on the face, ears, legs, paws and tail. The striking color is the result of a recessive gene that suppresses reddish pigment, making the cat completely black.

To qualify as Bombay breed, kittens cannot have any traces of rust or noticeable lighter markings. The coat must be pure, inky black from their little noses to the tips of their tails. So in essence, the Bombay’s signature all-black face and body are the very definition of the breed.

Egyptian Mau

The Egyptian Mau is recognized by its unique spotted coat resembling the wild cats of ancient Egypt. Maus have graceful, muscular bodies with medium-length fur featuring distinct markings.

Maus have three main facial markings that make the breed so recognizable. First are the dark lines extending from the outside corner of each eye down towards the whiskers, resembling eye liner make-up.

Second are the “mascara lines” of black fur running along the outside edges of each eye towards the ears. Finally, dark horizontal stripes accent the cheeks and forehead to complete the dazzling facial markings.

Since Maus are colored by pattern rather than pigment, even lighter colored Maus feature these distinctive dark facial designs. They add to the Maus’ exotic, wild appearance that resembles their ancestral Egyptian felines.

Reasons for Dark Facial Markings in Cats

So why do some cat breeds sport these striking dark facial features? Here are some key reasons:

– Temperature-sensitive albinism – In Siamese and Himalayans, darker color on the cooler extremities like the face, ears, legs and tail results from temperature-sensitive albino genes. The genes inhibit pigment in warmer areas but allow it to concentrate in cooler spots.

– Breed standards – For breeds like the British Shorthair, Persian, Bombay and Egyptian Mau, dark facial points or masks are part of the ideal look and written right into the breed descriptions. Breeders select cats that exemplify these standards.

– Providing camouflage – Darker faces may have helped ancestral cats blend into shadows and avoid detection by prey. The trait was passed down as cats were domesticated.

– Enhancing expression – Dark lines, masks, and shading around eyes, nose, and mouth help define a cat’s facial features. This allows for clearer emotional expression that humans can read.

So in summary, the distinctive facial markings are a result of genetics, human selective breeding, and feline evolutionary adaptations. All of these factors come together to create the captivating breeds we know and love today!


In conclusion, while many cat breeds exhibit darker facial fur, some of the most iconic include the Siamese, Himalayan, British Shorthair, Persian, Bombay, and Egyptian Mau. The markings can range from subtle shading to dramatic masks and stripes around the eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. These stunning points and patterns stem from genetics, breed standards, evolutionary origins, and enhancing facial expression. So if you love cats with striking faces full of character, be sure to check out these remarkable black-masked breeds! Their elegant good looks and expressive faces are sure to captivate cat lovers everywhere.