Orange Tabby Cats: Facts, Lifespan & Intelligence – All About Cats
what do famous cats like garfield, morris and milo have in common? they are all orange tabby cats. the orange tabby isn’t a breed, but it’s certainly one of the most iconic (and some would say cutest) cats out there.
Although the term “tabby” does not refer to a specific breed of cat, it represents one of the most common coat patterns seen in the cat world, both wild and domestic. tabby cats are known for their striped coats, and while they come in a wide variety of colors, the orange tabby is exceptionally beautiful.
How can you not love a ginger cat, especially one with tiger stripes?
Because the orange tabby is not a specific breed of cat, it’s hard to make broad generalizations about things like temperament and personality. With that being said, there are some interesting facts about orange tabby cats that you should know. keep reading to find out what they are!
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what makes orange tabby cats so special?
All cats are beautiful, but orange tabby cats are known for their colorful coats and unique patterning. the term tabby refers to the combination of stripes, spots, and swirls that cover the cat’s body.
depending on the cat’s breed and individual genetics, the tabby pattern may be localized in patches or on certain parts of the body, or it could cover the cat’s entire body.
the tabby pattern comes in five different varieties:
- an m-shaped mark on the forehead
- white or dark lining around the eyes
- pigment on feet and lips
- fine “pencil” lines on the face
- pale color on chin and belly
- bands on legs and tail
- American Bobtail
- American curl
- American short hair
- American Wire Hair
- Egyptian Mau
- exotic short hair
- Maine Coon
- Norwegian Forest Cat
- rag doll
- scottish fold
- Turkish Angora
- Turkish van
While tabby cats come in a variety of patterns, most have some degree of striping in their fur. in some orange tabbies, the stripes can be conspicuous and clearly visible along the cat’s back and body. in other cats, the stripes are much more subtle or only appear on the cat’s paws and tail.
Although every orange tabby cat is different, tabby cats in general have specific characteristics that are easily identifiable. these include:
Now that you have a better idea of the physical characteristics that define the orange tabby cat, let’s take a closer look at each of the five tabby patterns.
1. mackerel orange tabby cat
When you hear the phrase “orange taby,” this is probably the variety you think of. The mackerel tabby is the iconic “tiger cat” with narrow stripes running parallel the length of its body. in an ideal example of the pattern, the stripes are evenly spaced with no broken lines.
Although they may look like tiger stripes, they actually branch out from a single stripe that runs down the cat’s spine, creating a pattern that resembles the skeleton of a fish, hence the name “mackerel.”
2. classic orange tabby cat
While the mackerel tabby may be the quintessential tiger cat, the classic tabby is the most common. These cats have bold, swirling patterns on their backs that resemble the marbling you’d see on a pastel. they have a random series of light and dark orange swirls, much like a target.
3. orange spotted tabby cat
Tabies are known primarily for their stripes, but they can also have spots. Spotted tabbies have bright spots of varying sizes on all sides that can be difficult to distinguish from the mackerel pattern tabby. in fact, experts aren’t quite sure if spotted tabby cats developed from mackerel tabby cats or if they simply have different genes.
4. marked orange tabby cat
This tabby variety is the most unique and can be difficult to identify because it has no obvious spots or stripes. Ticked orange tabbies have typical tabby markings on the front and the same agouti coat, but the stripes or spots are very subtle and may not be visible except in bright light. the most common breeds of marked brindle are the Somali and Abyssinian breeds.
5. bicolor orange tabby cat
While traditional tabby cats often exhibit the same solid orange tabby pattern throughout, orange tabby cats can often be seen in a bicolor pattern. these tabbies have a combination of tabby patches that are darker in coloration than the rest of the body. a common example of a bicolor orange tabby is an orange tabby with pure white markings.
When it comes to feline genetics, characteristics like coat color and pattern are passed down on the x chromosome. female cats have two x chromosomes (xx) while males have one x and one y (xy).
cats inherit a combination of genes from both parents, although the wide variety of colors you see in cats comes from just two main colors: black and orange (or red). A kitten inherits two copies of each gene from her parents (one of each), and each gene can be either dominant or recessive.
The orange color gene is dominant (o), so a kitten only needs to inherit one copy of the orange gene to show some degree of orange color in its coat.
This interesting fact explains why most orange tabby cats are male. because a female orange kitten must have two x chromosomes to be female, there is only a 20% chance that an orange kitten will be female.
whether a kitten shows the tabby pattern depends on whether she inherits a dominant or recessive agouti gene. the term “agouti” refers to hair that has alternating bands of light and dark color, producing a mottled or “salt and pepper” appearance.
Kittens inheriting a dominant agouti gene (a) will show a visible striping pattern, while kittens inheriting the recessive gene (a) will not. cats of one color can still display a subtle tabby pattern, often called “ghost striping,” if they inherit two copies of the recessive (aa) gene.
personality and temperament
Because the orange tabby is not a breed in its own right, it’s hard to make generalizations about things like personality or temperament. when it comes to the orange tabby’s personality, the best indicator is the cat’s breed and upbringing.
Unfortunately, determining your cat’s breed can be difficult if you adopted her from a shelter or as a stray. One way to learn more about your cat’s genetics is to use the basepaws cat DNA test.
basepaws takes a sample of your cat’s saliva and performs a comprehensive DNA test, comparing your cat’s genetics to the world’s largest cat DNA database. you will receive a detailed report detailing the breed groups your cat belongs to, as well as a list of feral cats to which it is genetically related.
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To give you an idea of what breed your orange tabby cat might be, here is a list of cat breeds that exhibit the tabby coloration:
The American Curl is known for its unusual ears that curve back from the cat’s face. these cats are born with straight ears that begin to curl over the course of several days. American Curl cats have soft, silky coats and a friendly temperament. they also tend to form strong bonds with their owners.
The Egyptian Mau is a small to medium-sized breed that is fairly rare. these cats are the fastest runners of all domestic cats and are very friendly, playful and loyal.
The Javanese is sometimes called the longhaired colorpoint and is a variation of the eastern breed. these cats have long, silky coats and tend to be very vocal. they love to play and can be very needy, following their owners around the house for constant attention and cuddles.
The ragdoll is another color-point breed, known for its large, muscular body and silky-smooth fur. These cats can be laid-back by nature, but they also tend to have bold personalities. Because they are very tolerant of children, ragdolls make great family pets.
Although generalizations about all cats with a given pattern cannot be made, orange tabby lovers have been known to describe their cats as friendly, intelligent, and tolerant of children and other family pets. just keep in mind that your orange tabby’s genetics and upbringing play a large role in determining his personality as an adult and in his old age.
fun facts about orange tabby cats
Here are some fun facts about orange tabby cats that you probably didn’t know:
- orange tabby cats are often nicknamed ginger or marmalade cats. these nicknames have been used for many years to differentiate traditional tabby cats from orange tabby cats.
- most orange tabby cats are male due to their unique genetics. The coat color gene is located on the x chromosome, so male cats only need to inherit one copy, while female cats need two. only about 20% of orange tabby cats are female.
- The orange coat gene is dominant over all other coat colors except white. This may be the reason why many bicolor orange tabbies exhibit white as a second color. li>
- orange tabby cats tend to have dark freckles on their noses and mouths; this is very common in tabbies and these markings tend to develop by the age of 2 years.
- An orange tabby cat’s personality is more influenced by its breed than its color. Orange tabbies can be found in a wide range of breeds, including the British Shorthair, Maine coon, american curl, manx, ragdoll, somali and more.
- all orange cats are technically tabbies, though not all tabbies are orange. Many orange tabby cats exhibit “ghost stripes,” which are faint stripes that you can only notice on the paws and tail at the light of the sun.
- one of the most distinctive markings seen on all tabby cats is the m-shaped marking on the forehead. tabbies have inherited this marking from their wild ancestors, including the African wildcat (Felis lybica lybica), European wildcat (Felis silvestris silvestris), and Asian wildcat (Felis lybica ornata).
- although temperament varies greatly among orange tabbies, national geographic reports that personality can be somewhat related to coat color. they also suggest that orange tabby cats tend to be more talkative than other cats.
- garfield (the lasagna-loving cat) is one of the most famous orange tabby cats. He made his debut in American culture in 1978 and holds the Guinness Book of World Records title for the most syndicated comic strip.
- winston churchill owned an orange tabby cat named jock which he received for his 88th birthday. churchill loved the cat so much that he decreed that an orange cat would always live in churchill’s house, even after of his death . the current inhabitant is jock vi, an orange tabby cat with a white bib and four white socks.
- Morris, the 9lives cat food mascot, made his television debut in 1968. The original Morris passed away in 1978, but the current mascot lives under the care of Rose Ordile in Los Angeles.
- Stubbs, an orange cat, is the honorary mayor of a town called Talkeetna in Alaska. The town has no human mayor, but stubbs was given the position in an effort to attract tourists. he has successfully held the position for nearly 20 years.
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