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23 Facts About Orange Tabby Cats

23 Facts About Orange Tabby Cats

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I’m sure all of us have seen an orange tabby cat; they are very common. Even when I was little, when someone mentioned a cat – an image of an orange tabby cat immediately came to my mind. Of course, years of being obsessed with Garfield lead to my favorite cat being the orange tabby cat.

Orange tabby cats have a beautiful orange coat color and an intriguing tabby coat pattern which may be one of several possible variants (classic, mackerel, spotted, ticked, or patched). Their eyes are either green, gold, or copper and they all have a characteristic M mark on their foreheads!

It should be noted that any breed of cat can be an orange tabby cat! Many people make the mistake of thinking they are a specific cat breed, but they aren’t. Nevertheless, orange tabby cats have become the stars of the cat world and people have been obsessing over them for years!

Cat lovers, if you’re interested in learning more about these ginger beauties, just continue reading!

23 Fun Facts About The Orange Tabby Cat

Let’s jump right into it!

1. Orange Tabby Cat Not A Specific Breed

orange Tabby Cat lying under blanket

The orange tabby cat is not a specific cat breed, as we have discussed. In fact, many different cat breeds have orange tabbies among their members. For example, a Maine Coon can be an orange tabby cat, and a Persian cat can be an orange tabby cat.

Essentially, any cat can have an orange coat color and tabby coat pattern and be considered an orange tabby cat.

It’s a common misconception that the orange tabby is a distinct cat breed, probably because they are so famous, they’re like the celebrities of the cat world!

2. All Orange Cats Are Tabby Cats

At first glance, this does not make any sense! Why would orange cats exclusively be tabby? Why can’t a cat have a solid orange coat color?! Well, let me explain…

The orange coat color and the tabby marking are forever linked by the complex world of cat genetics.

The tabby pattern can be concealed or covered up by the non-agouti genotype (meaning the coat is completely black). The dominant, wild-type agouti gene permits bands of black and red to appear on the hairs, creating the tabby pattern.

If you think you have a solid orange cat, I suggest you take a closer look into their fur and you will see that they are indeed tabby – it just may not be that obvious at first!

3. A Gene Called Taqpep Is Responsible For The Tabby Pattern

I know cat genetics can be a complicated subject, and I won’t go into too much depth on this subject, but there is one very interesting fact I will briefly mention – the gene responsible for the tabby pattern has been discovered and it has an interesting name – Taqpep!

Taqpep stands for transmembrane aminopeptidase, which is a gene that encodes an enzyme found in the membranes in all of a cat’s cells. It is known to be responsible for the tabby pattern of all domestic tabby cats.

The term “tabby” describes a cat coat pattern with dark swirls, stripes, and spots, overlaid on a lighter background of ticking fur (banded fur). Multiple-colored hairs along the hair shaft make up the banded background.

So there you go – this is the gene responsible for the tabby coat pattern!

4. All (Orange) Tabby Cats Have The Characteristic “M” Mark

Of course, for a cat to be considered an orange tabby cat, it needs to follow some “rules” about its color and coat pattern. As you can guess, following the color rule is easy – the cat simply needs to be orange! However, the rules for “tabbiness” are a little bit more strict.

For a cat to be a tabby cat, it must have the following two characteristics:

• It must have the characteristic tabby stripes over the majority of its body.

• It must have the characteristic M-shaped mark on its forehead.

The M marking is easy to spot if you are looking for it; absolutely every tabby cat has it, including orange tabby cats! Even if it’s not noticeable at first glance, trust me, the mark is there – just take a closer look!

5. Most Orange Tabby Cats Are Male

Tabby Cat sitting outside on table

Oh no, cat genetics again! Just bear with me, once again, I will simplify it as much as I can!

The vast majority of orange tabby cats are male. But why is this the case?

Well, it has to do with the gene responsible for the orange coat color. This is commonly called the orange gene or the ginger gene and it is found on the X chromosome.

Female cats have two X chromosomes and therefore they need two ginger genes in order to be orange. On the other hand, males have just one X chromosome and therefore need only one ginger gene to be orange.

Statistically, it’s easier for male cats to get that one ginger gene than it is for female cats to get two ginger genes. This is why the majority of orange tabby cats are male.

6. Their Coats Can Be Long And Short

As orange tabby cats may potentially belong to any cat breed, their coats can be either long or short.

For example, some famous long-haired cat breeds known to have orange tabby members include:

• Maine Coon

• American Bobtail

• Munchkin

On the other hand, orange kitties can also belong to a short-haired cat breed, such as:

• Abyssinian

• Bengal

• British Shorthair

7. They Can Have Different Coat Patterns

Orange tabbies can have the following coat patterns:

a) Orange Mackerel Tabby

This coat pattern is also known as the striped tabby pattern. Cats with this pattern have narrow, vertical, softly curved lines along the sides of the body.

b) Orange Classic Tabby

The classic tabby, sometimes referred to as the “blotched” or “marbled” tabby, has thick lines on its body in whorls or swirls.

c) Orange Spotted Tabby

The spotted tabby most closely resembles the mackerel tabby because the mackerel tabby pattern breaks up the stripes and gives the coat a spotty appearance.

d) Orange Ticked Tabby

This rare coat pattern lacks distinguishing spots or stripes. Ticked orange tabbies have the same agouti fur and the traditional tabby patterns on their forelegs, but any stripes or spots are quite subdued and might not be very noticeable.

e) Orange Patched Tabby

The fifth pattern is a combination of the four basic patterns mentioned above. The result is a calico or tortoiseshell cat with patches of tabby coat (such cats are sometimes called caliby and torbie).

8. Their Coats Can Be Of Various Shades Thanks To Pheomelanin

cute Tabby Cat sitting outside

The orange color of a cat’s coat can be in various shades – from a very dark, almost brown orange color; to a very light, almost yellow orange color.

Pheomelanin is the pigment responsible for the orange color of a cat’s fur. One characteristic of this pigment is that it produces a color that ranges from very intense orange to a very dilute cream color.

If a cat has a lot of this pigment, their coat will be richer in color, while cats that don’t have a lot of this pigment will have lighter, cream-colored fur.

9. Orange Tabby Cats Have Three Potential Eye Colors

Orange tabby cats have either green, gold, or copper eyes.

Most orange tabbies have a beautiful deep gold eye color, which I find captivating. A green eye color is less common in orange tabbies.

10. Orange Tabby Cats Can Have Cute Black Freckles

This might come as a surprise, but orange tabby cats can have a very unusual trait – freckles! They may be seen on a cat’s face, nose, paws, gums, and even on their butts.

Lentigo is the proper name for this condition; these freckles are benign spots that develop in certain areas of the cat’s face and body, but they usually first appear on the cat’s lips.

Although they are usually completely harmless, if they start increasing in size, then that’s a sign to go for a quick trip to the veterinarian, so they can make sure your kitty is healthy and well.

11. Many Popular Purebred Cats Come As Orange Tabbies

As I’ve already mentioned, orange tabbies are not a distinct breed; many cat breeds can have members that are orange tabby cats.

These include the:

• Persian cat

• American Bobtail cat

• Abyssinian cat

• Maine Coon

• Munchkin cat

• Bengal cat

• Egyptian Mau

• Siamese cat

• British Shorthair cat

12. The Most Common Orange Tabby Cat Is The Domestic Shorthair

As kids, playing around in our neighborhoods, most of us encountered a random feral cat wandering around, and chances are it was an orange tabby cat!

Orange tabby cats are often mixed-ancestry stray cats (you’re not likely to see a purebred orange cat roaming the streets). They can be often observed out in the streets as they are very common.

This is why orange tabby cats are the first cats that come to many people’s minds when they visualize a cat!

13. An Orange Tabby Cat Was A Town Mayor For Many Years

close shot of Tabby Cat

Have you heard about the orange cat who got involved in politics and was very successful at its job?

Stubbs, an orange tabby cat, served as the mayor of an Alaskan city named Talkeetna for over ten years!

Stubbs was elected for the mayor position in 1998. This feline mayor had a lot of jobs to fulfill every day, but the most important ones were to welcome tourists to the town (and he did that very nicely) and drink catnip-infused water!

In 2017, Stubbs passed away at the very advanced age of 20 years old. His job kept him active and happy until his last days!

14. The Most Famous Orange Tabby Ever Is Garfield

We all know who Garfield is – he’s the hero of everyone’s childhood. This chubby, lasagna-loving cat is undoubtedly the star of many comic strip books and animated films. But have you ever stopped to think about what type of cat Garfield really is?

Yes, the lazy, sarcastic cat that we all adore is an orange tabby cat! If you’re wondering about the breed, most would say Garfield is a Persian cat based on his facial features and body structure.

15. There Is An Orange Tabby Cat In The Harry Potter Movies

If you’re a true Potterhead, I’m sure you’ll know who Crookshanks is. Crookshanks is Hermione’s cat!

Hermione Granger, who had originally visited the magical creature shop in search of an owl, bought Crookshanks. The owner of the store told Hermione that nobody wanted that cat and that he had been in the shop for quite some time.

This cute cat appears in many scenes throughout most of the Harry Potter movies. You’ll have no trouble spotting this orange tabby cat if you watch the movies again.

16. An Orange Tabby Starred Alongside Audrey Hepburn In Breakfast At Tiffany’s

Have you ever seen the classic movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s? It’s a romantic comedy starring the amazing Audrey Hepburn! You may have noticed an orange tabby cat in some of the scenes.

The feline star of the show is named Orangey, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s is not its only acting role – this orange tabby appeared in many movies and had a bunch of TV roles too!

Orangey had great success in his acting career, earning him two PATSY awards!

17. Puss In Boots Is An Orange Tabby Cat

cute Tabby Cat sleeping

One of the key characters in the Shrek series is Puss in Boots. He debuted in Shrek 2 and quickly joined Shrek as one of his sidekicks. In the 2011 spin-off movie Puss in Boots, he plays the movie’s titular character.

Puss is definitely an orange tabby cat – just check out his vibrant coat color and pattern!

18. Goose In Captain Marvel Is An Orange Tabby Cat

If you’re a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you probably already know about this famous orange tabby cat – Goose the cat!

The protagonist in the Captain Marvel film owns a cat by the name of Goose, named after a character from another film, Top Gun. Goose, the devoted tabby cat who travels with Carol Danvers and Nick Fury on their voyage, is the friendliest and furriest inhabitant of Project Pegasus.

Without a shadow of a doubt, Goose is an orange tabby cat!

Who would have guessed that orange tabby cats were the stars of so many movies?!

19. Even Winston Churchill Had An Orange Tabby Cat

I’m certain that many fans of orange-tabby cats will already be aware of the next fact!

Winston Churchill loved cats and had several of them, including “Nelson”, “Mickey” and “Tango”.

Churchill’s personal secretary, Sir John “Jock” Colville, gave him a ginger cat, also named “Jock”, for his 88th birthday. It’s known he had a special bond with Jock the cat; he even ordered that Jock should live in his home after he died, and his wishes were carried out.

20. Orange Tabbies Are Thought To Be Very Friendly

A study of how humans perceive cat color as a personality indicator published in 2015 revealed that people tend to associate the color of a cat with certain personality traits. The scientists aimed to determine which colored cat was most commonly associated with which personality trait.

In the case of orange cats, people associated them with friendliness! But is this actually true?

Well, it depends on the cat in question. Some cats are friendly, while others are not… one thing is for sure – the color of a cat’s coat has nothing to do with it!

21. Orange Tabbies Don’t Share Personality Traits

Cat behavior and personality traits are heavily influenced by the breed of the cat. For example, all Maine Coons, no matter what their color or pattern, typically share some of the same personality traits.

It cannot be said that all orange cats share the same personality traits.

Although it’s commonly said that orange tabbies like to cuddle, meow and are amazing family pets, it really depends on the breed of the cat, not the color or pattern of their coat.

22. There Is No Reliable Average Lifespan For Orange Tabbies

As orange tabby cats are not a distinct breed, (a cat of any breed can be an orange tabby cat) it can be deduced that these cats don’t have a lot of shared traits and one of them is average lifespan.

Life expectancy is heavily dependent on the cat’s breed, and if orange tabbies can be of many different cat breeds then it’s not valid to give an average lifespan and say “All orange cats, no matter the breed, have this particular lifespan”.

Your ginger tabby’s lifespan depends on the breed your cat is, not its color.

23. Orange Tabby Cats Have Many Nicknames

Orange tabbies have earned themselves quite a few nicknames, probably because they are such popular cats.

In the UK, people often call them marmalade cats, due to the color resemblance of orange tabby cats with one of their favorite breakfast spreads – orange marmalade.

Another common nickname is Ginger cats, and that nickname has actually become so widespread it’s almost as if it’s their real name and not a nickname!


Tabby Cat lying

What Color Is The Fur On An Orange Tabby Cat?

The fur of an orange tabby cat can be of various shades of orange, from very intense burnt orange, to a very light cream color. In fact, there are many orange hues within the orange color spectrum.

What Is So Special About Orange Tabby Cats?

Orange tabby cats are a group of cats of various breeds and they share quite a few interesting traits. For example, there are more male orange tabby cats compared to female orange tabby cats. Another interesting fact is that they come in 5 different coat patterns and a vast range of orange coat shades!

What Breed Of Cat Is An Orange Tabby?

There is no distinct cat breed known as ginger tabbies. Any breed of cat can be an orange tabby cat if it has an orange coat and a tabby pattern.

Do Orange Tabby Cats Need To Be Groomed Often?

Grooming needs are something that is dependent on the cat’s breed. As a result, there is no set rule for how often orange tabby cats should be groomed.

What Do Orange Tabby Cats Eat?

It cannot be said that orange tabby cats need to have a specific diet plan since a cat’s diet is usually specific to the cat breed, and orange tabbies are a group of many different cat breeds.

Final Thoughts

orange cat lying on wall

I completely understand why people are crazy about orange tabby cats. They are the most famous group of cats for a reason! All other cats are grouped according to their breed – but not orange tabbies, they are stars no matter the cat breed!

Orange tabbies have many interesting facts about them, such as that most of them are male, they had to be tabbies because they’re orange, they come in five different coat patterns, they can be every shade from dark to light orange and that they’ve often starred in movies!

Cat owners, if your feline friend is an orange tabby cat, I am jealous of you! Their coat color is absolutely beautiful and their pattern is very interesting, especially after you learn the genetic reasons behind it. I’m confident these kitties will intrigue you, even if you’re not a cat person.

I hope this article was interesting to you and that you have learned something new!

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17 Orange Cat Breeds And Interesting Facts About Them

Grey Tabby Cat – Interesting Facts About These Beauties

Orange Purr-fection: 21 Fun Facts About Ginger Cats