Facts on orange tabby cats

Updated June 07, 2017

The tabby cat is not a breed or colour, but a pattern that shows up in many breeds. When the tabby colour is in the red to cream range, the cat is called an orange or red tabby, also known as a marmalade or ginger cat.

Males versus Females

Orange tabbies are far more likely to be male, with an average ratio of 80 males to 20 females.

Orange Tabby Genetics

The gene for red is carried on the X chromosome. Males have one X chromosome, while females have two. A male needs only one red gene to be an orange tabby. A female must inherit two red genes, one for each of her two X chromosomes.

Tabby Types

Tabbies come in four distinct patterns: Mackerel, which includes the tiger tabby, Classic, a blotchy pattern with a bull's eye on the side, Ticked, a flecked or freckled look, and Spotted, in which ticked fur alternates with solid spots.

Fun Facts

Orange tabby cats often develop black freckles around the nose.

All orange cats are tabbies, but the markings may be so faint that the colour appears solid.

The word "tabby" derives from a striped silk cloth made in Attabiyah, a neighbourhood of Baghdad.

Famous Orange Tabbies

Winston Churchill's ginger cat, Jock, attended wartime cabinet meetings. Orange tabby film appearances include "Breakfast at Tiffany's," "Star Trek: The Next Generation", "Alien," and "Men in Black." Garfield, the cartoon character, and Morris, the feline face of 9 Lives cat food, are both orange tabbies.

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About the Author

Clara Maxwell is a freelance print and web writer. She writes on a wide range of subjects and holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from New York University.