Is there anything as cute as a little tiny orange kitten? Many refer to them as ginger, caramel, butterscotch, and marmalade cats. These friendly and chatty cats are some of the most pretty and adorable cats out there, and you may be considering getting one. From deep ginger to a light marmalade orange or yellow, there is no question that most orange tabby cats are unique and beautiful creatures to have the honor of owning.
What are some things you should know about orange cat breeds? Do they have a particular temperament? What are the different coat patterns you might see? Let's take a look at seven fun facts about orange cat breeds so you can decide if an orange tabby cat is the right choice for you.
Fun Facts About Orange Cat Breeds
1. No Orange Cat Breeds
The truth is there are no orange cat breeds, nor do orange tabbies belong to any one specific breed only. Like calico and tortoiseshell cats, "tabby" refers to a cat's color pattern. They are a color variation of the tabby cat coloring that can appear in many breeds of cats. There are a few cat breeds that are a little more likely to produce orange kittens, but there are no domesticated breeds of cats that are specifically orange.
The few domestic cats that are more likely to produce an orange tabby cat are the American Bobtail, Persian, British Shorthair, Munchkin, Devon Rex, Exotic Shorthair, Bengal, Maine Coon, Abyssinian, Egyptian Mau, and the Scottish Fold.
2. Types of Orange Tabby Pattern
Since all orange cats carry the agouti gene, all orange cats are tabby cats. Because of this, we can know there are four coat pattern variations possible in orange cats.
Classic tabby coats are mottled, swirled, or blotchy, sometimes even resembling tie-dye or marble. Classic coats will also commonly create a bullseye pattern somewhere on the cat's body.
Spotted coats are what they sound like—spotted. These spots can be small or large, round, oval, or rosettes. Some believe that spotted coats are actually versions of mackerel coats, just with the lines broken up.
Ticked patterns are the closest to a solid that you might get in an orange cat and may be mistaken for it at first glance. A ticked coat is a coat with hairs that are individually striped. These are called ticked or agouti hairs and may create the illusion of very fine lines all over your cat's body. They create a salt and pepper or a sandy appearance. Breeds like Abyssinian, ticked tabbies can make you think solid ginger cats exist, but they don't!
Mackerel coats are striking striped coats that resemble tiger fur with clean, thin, mostly unbroken lines. These coats are generally the most commonly seen in tabby cats. Because the agouti gene is also the orange gene in orange cats, you will never see a solid orange cat. They will all have some variation of the four coat types, making all orange cats tabby cats.
Also, some coat patterns are more common in particular breeds. For example, Abyssinian cats are more likely to produce ticked coats, and Bengal cat breeds produce spotted coat patterns.
3. Mostly Male
It may come as a surprise that most cats with orange fur are male. In fact, 4 out of 5 or 80% of all orange cats will be male. This is because the recessive orange gene is on the X chromosome. Because female cats have two X chromosomes to get an orange tabby girl she would need both parents to pass on the orange gene. Boy cats have an X and a Y chromosome which means they only need the one X orange gene from their mother to become a male orange tabby. This is why female orange cats are more rare and why orange cats, in general, are rare to find. But this does not mean there is no orange tabby female or female orange cat.
4. Happy Personality
The personality of an orange kitty is of course still highly dependent on the breed of cat and the temperament of its parents, but orange cats do seem to be famously good-natured animals. They are cuddly, lovable, and social, also preferring lounging around and sleeping over high activity. These laid-back kitties are vocal and chatty companions and make great family pets. Some say they can be picky eaters so be ready to potentially deal with that if you should get one.
5. Some Have Freckles
Another fun fact about orange tabby cats is that they can have black freckles. These dark freckles can show up on your cat’s face, lips, and mouth. They are not usually anything to be concerned about but if any of them change in size or shape you can always check with your vet to make sure. These black freckles will make your already cute cat that much more adorable and give it additional personality.
6. The Classic “M” Mark
Another trademark of tabby cats is the distinct “M” mark that they all have on their foreheads. While there are multiple legends as to the nature of this “M” mark, from a special mark from Mohammad to the sign of the Virgin Mary’s blessing, the truth is that it is DNA related. The same gene that carries an orange tabby cat’s coloring and pattern carry the classic “M” mark. Thus, all these ginger cats will have that “M” mark on their faces.
7. Redheads and Orange Cats
Did you know that the same pigment that makes a redheaded human is what makes a cat orange? It is the pigment known as pheomelanin which is responsible for the fair skin, red hair, and freckles some people have.
This pigmentation however is not why cats have freckles. Cat’s freckles are due to a genetic condition called lentigo which can affect any cat regardless of color. Pheomelanin in cats is only responsible for its color.