I'll admit upfront that I do not know the answer to this for a fact, and anything I say on this is only my guess, based on personal experience, but my gut feeling would be to say yes...
Before I tell you why I think this way, let me just say that my cats are *real* tolerant and accepting of other cats, and I have never had any problems introducing other cats into the environment (knocking on wood, thanking my lucky stars and spinning bodily 3 times just in case I jinxed it *grin*) My cats will "make friends" with a wooden post! They are just real friendly girls.
...I think cats do, at least, visually recognize similarities or differences because...when I first brought Buttons, my 3-year old white with grey spots rescue boy, into the house (which was, at the time, inhabited only by Siamese cats) they all observed him with interest for a while before attempting to "make friends" with him. Calypso had never before seen another cat that wasn't Siamese, so, from a visual standpoint, I feel reasonably certain she did discern the differences in appearance simply from the way she behaved when she first saw him. Calypso would sit and watch Buttons for what seemed like hours...all the while tilting her head this way and that but not yet confident enough to allow him to approach her. She seemed absolutely fascinated by his grey spots and after she felt safe he wasn't there to harm her, she would groom him incessantly on ~only~ the grey spots. I have even seen her take her dainty little front paw and touch him gently on his white parts, then lick only the grey as though she thought it might be dirt. Being the thorough (maybe obsessive is a better word choice *grin*) washer she tends to be, those poor old grey spots have endured Calypso's attentions for a real long while now. I keep telling her he's clean and that she can stop, but she sees those grey spots and just has to knock him down on the floor, then hold him there so she can lick them. It really is funny to see this as he outweighs her by at least a half of her weight, and puts up these half-hearted struggles so she has get rough with him.
So, there you have it from my experience...it will be interesting to hear what others have to say.