(For Ginger Cat Appreciation Day!)
Is it true that all orange cats have an insatiable desire for lasagna? Sadly, no. And do they all hate Mondays? Probably, but there is no conclusive evidence that they hate Mondays more than any other day of the week. If you’re curious about orange tabby cat facts, we’ve compiled a few below—just in time for Ginger Cat Appreciation Day!
1. Only about 1 in 5 orange tabby cats is female.
Scientists and researchers are fairly certain that orange tabbies’ color transpires from a sex-linked gene, with the X chromosome responsible for the orange coloring. Because females possess two Xs and males possess XY, male cats only need the orange gene from their mothers to become a ginger—making them much more likely to carry on the trait.
2. Orange tabbies are not a breed.
Many people, even cat lovers, don’t know that “tabby” refers to specific coat markings, not a breed (and regardless of color). The word itself is taken from a striped silk fabric made near Baghdad. Tabby cats are striped due to the agouti gene. All orange cats are tabbies, but not all tabbies are orange.
3. They have four different patterns—and none of them is solid orange.
One of our favorite orange tabby cat facts is that, because all tabby cats carry the agouti gene, there has never been and never will be a solid orange feline. There are four unique tabby patterns, including:
- Mackerel (striped), which makes the kitty look like a tiger, with an “M” shape appearing on the forehead
- Classic (swirled, blotched, or marbled), which gives the kitty a tie-dyed look
- Ticked (stripeless), which breaks up the tabby patterning into a “salt-and-pepper” or “sand” appearance
- Spotted, which breaks up the tabby patterning so the stripes or swirls appear as spots
4. A specific pigment is responsible for their color.
You’ve probably noticed a variation in felines’ ginger-colored hues, from reddish-orange to yellowish-cream. The Purrington Post explains that these cats have a predominance of a certain pigment known as pheomelanin—the same pigment that produces red hair in humans.
5. Ginger fur is more likely to be found in certain cat breeds.
The orange tabby color is commonly found in Persian, Munchkin, American Bobtail, British Shorthair, Bengal, Maine Coon, Abyssinian, and Egyptian Mau cats.
6. They tend to develop black freckles.
Black freckles on an already adorable orange kitty? It’s like sprinkles on top of the icing! These freckles will develop along the tabby’s face, notably around the gums, lips, or nose. They’re usually harmless, but any change in pigmentation should be checked out by your veterinarian.
7. They’re “legendary.”
Of all the orange tabby cat facts on our list, this one is somehow the most and least debatable. Let’s start with the verifiable, which is that Winston Churchill was well known for his love of orange cats: Earlier in life he owned one named Tango, and later in life one named Jock. Then there’s the common legend that orange tabbies bear the “M” mark on their foreheads because one curled up with the baby Jesus, helped him fall asleep, and was blessed by Mother Mary’s touch for doing so.
8. Orange tabby cats get a lot of screen time.
This goes way beyond Garfield, people. Some of our favorite orange tabbies to grace the silver screen and TV include Crookshanks (from Harry Potter), Milo (from Milo and Otis), Jones (from Alien), Orangey (from Breakfast at Tiffany’s), Puss in Boots (from Shrek 2), Spot (from Star Trek: The Next Generation), and Orion (from Men in Black). P.S. Check out our list of 15 movies to watch with your cat right meow.
Did we forget any orange tabby cat facts? Let us know on Facebook!