Ginger And White Cat Gender Reassignment

With June being national Adopt-a-Rescue-Cat month we decided to do a special post on orange tabby cats.  Why you ask?

Long time readers may recall an article we did in 2016 called In Praise of Black Cats – in that post, one purrticular disturbing statistic is the fact that black cats (especially seniors) are the least popular cats to be adopted from shelters. Interestingly enough, the second least popular cats to be adopted are orange tabbies.  Now orange you glad we shared that!  Our own orange tabby (Mouse – photo below) is a real cuddler.

To highlight the meowgnificence of these ginger ninjas,  we decided to share 9 Fun Facts about orange tabby cats to bring awareness to their plight in shelters across the county.

A quote from  Jim Davis (creator of Garfield) comes to mind ~ “In my head, the sky is blue, the grass is green and cats are orange.”

We were so pleased when our paw pal Mary Nielsen {founder of} agreed to guest post this article and share her insights.

Here’s what Mary had to say…

Give us any color, any breed, any age, any size—if it’s a cat, we’ll still love it. Kitties offer that perfect mix of charm and companionship, while still actually being fairly low-maintenance (never mind what dog owners will tell you!).

But there’s something special about orange tabby cats that we find particularly charming. These flame-colored kittens are adorable and really stand out–in a good way. We should mention that we’re certainly not alone in our affinity; even famed British politician Winston Churchill was known for having an orange tabby (he named him Tango). These little guys are great family pets with a super friendly temperament and laid-back “cattitude.”

So, need some more convincing about why you should welcome this orange-colored kitty into your home? Keep reading—we’ve got at least 9 reasons why you may want this furry feline to be the newest member of your family!

9 Reasons to Love Orange Tabby Cats >^..^<

Fun Fact #1. The orange tabby cat isn’t actually its own breed.

The word “tabby” refers to specific coat markings rather than demarcating it as a specific breed of feline. This is akin to the brindle marking on certain dogs; that is, there is no “brindle breed” but many different canine breeds can and do have a brindle coat. In the same way, many different breeds of cats (just about all breeds, in fact) can present with an orange tabby coloration, including Persians, American Bobtails, Munchkin cats, Abyssinian cats, and Maine Coon cats.

Fun Fact #2. The orange tabby will typically present with 1 of 4 different types of coat patterns.

People who own and love orange tabbies will easily be able to tell the difference between the various coat marking patterns that are common to this type of feline. They include the classic pattern, mackerel pattern, striped pattern, and ticked pattern.

One thing you’ll never see? A tabby with a solid orange coat. For some reason, orange tabbies will always have some sort of pattern in their coat—the mackerel one, in particular, makes them look quite a lot like little tigers! (And for what it’s worth, domestic house cats and tigers share about 96% of their DNA—oh my!)

Fun Fact #3. The orange color comes from a specific pigment.

Orange tabbies don’t all present in the exact same hue, but will have some variation of a reddish, orange, and/or cream-colored hue. Why? These cats have a predominance of a certain pigment known as pheomelanin—the same pigment that produces red hair in humans.

Fortunately, that mean old joke that redheads have no souls doesn’t seem to apply to “redheaded” cats, since these orange tabbies are generally as sweet as they come!

Fun Fact #4. Orange tabby cats have a historical reference.

Apparently, there’s an old legend about baby Jesus who, when he couldn’t sleep, was comforted by a warm and purring orange tabby. The story goes that this little feline made such an impression on the young child that Mother Mary kissed the cat on the forehead, leaving the letter “M” in its fur (some retellings actually state that Mother Mary drew her first initial on the cat’s forehead with a gentle finger).

This supposedly explains why any tabby cat you’ll come across today has a pattern on its forehead shaped like the letter M.

Interestingly, no one really knows for sure where the name “Tabby” itself actually originated, although it is a word for a kind of striped silk made in the Middle East. Perhaps that is of some relation to the Jesus story? Of course, we can’t ever know for sure, but it’s certainly entertaining to ponder.

Fun Fact #5. You may see their nicknames in your pantry.

Known for years as either “marmalade cats” or “ginger cats,” the orange tabby has been so-nicknamed to ensure it’s distinction from the black tabby variety. It’s no wonder that so many orange tabbies end up with names like Ginger, Big Red, Marmalade, or even Tangerine (although “Orange” somehow seems far less creative).

Fun Fact #6. Male orange tabby cats outnumber females approximately 4 to 1.

For reasons that are not fully understood, about 80% of orange tabby cats are male. This certainly seems to point to some genetic link between sex and coat markings, although veterinarians and researchers still haven’t seemed to pinpoint the exact factors. Conversely, most Calico and tortoiseshell cats are female, so it’s evident that there are strong correlations that go with either sex.

Fun Fact #7. Orange tabby cats love to eat.

True to their cartoon mascot Garfield, orange tabbies tend to enjoy eating–so much so that leaving their food out all day (a freedom that many cat owners enjoy) can lead to a big cat—and big problems. Just like in humans, obesity in cats has been linked with a variety of health problems, including feline diabetes, cancer, and joint damage. A proper cat diet is a must for orange tabbies!

If you’re lucky enough to welcome an orange tabby into your home, do your due diligence and ensure that your feline companion remains at a healthy weight, and be sure to offer it plenty of cat-friendly play to help keep it bones, muscles, and joints strong.

Fun Fact #8. They tend to be low-energy.

While cats in general aren’t necessarily known for their bounding energy levels nor need for continual exercise, the orange tabby cat really seems to make a point of it. In fact, many owners of orange tabbies will fully admit that their cats are just plain lazy. This is especially important to remember given what we already know about these orange felines—that is, they love to sit around and eat food.

On the one hand, this laid-back “cattitude” can make them excellent lap buddies and snugglers. On the other hand, it’s just another precaution to remember, since it may make them more at risk for becoming overweight and obese.

Fun Fact #9. Like any other cat, an orange tabby will have its own personality.

From affectionate to aloof, playful to reserved, outgoing to stranger-danger-obsessed, orange tabby cats really come in all shades—personality shades, that is. There’s really no way around it: making the decision to welcome a cat into your home–orange tabby or otherwise—is somewhat of a risk you take. And while most orange tabbies that we’ve come across are as cute and cuddly as the next kitten, you can never really know for sure just how well the cat you’ve adopted will fit in with the rest of your family (both 2-legged family members and other 4-legged members, too!).

That said, we’ll argue that this certainly seems like a risk worth taking! After all, chances are you’re going to be raising an adorable, gorgeous, and friendly feline that you and your loved ones will cherish for years.

About the Author

Mary Nielsen founded and is a passionate cat lover, blogger, and part-time music teacher. She founded her blog to share her ups and downs of being a pet parent to a bunch of adorable kittens and cats. When she is not playing with them or teaching, you can find her experimenting in the kitchen.

Got a sweet orange tabby of your own at home? Let us know about its quirks by sharing in the ‘Leave a Reply’ box below!

17 June 2008, 07:33 PM

I know this is not about ginger cats but... My mother told me when I was a child that Calico cats were usually female. I never read around to find out if that was true. But I will say the Calico cats I have met were all females.

The Ginger Tabbies I have met though have been male... even the ones with white paws and chest.
17 June 2008, 08:10 PM

I have a male ginger named Cheeto. I've been told by several people, including his vet that ginger males tend to have very good personalities. He's the only one I've had so I can't really say but he's definitely been the funnest cat I've had. He's about 3 now and he still has a personality similar to his kitten personality. He's very playful and he even fetches things like a dog (I read Rotten by John Lydon recently and he mentions having a ginger male that fetched, as well). Has anyone else heard this concerning personality?
17 June 2008, 09:45 PM
Join Date: 29 August 2005
Location: Suburban Columbus, OH

Originally Posted by TESS
I have a male ginger named Cheeto.
So do I! Squee! Here is a picture of my Cheeto.

Cheeto is in some ways still very kittenish; he never lost his baby voice, for example. But while he was a lap cat and a cuddler as a kitten, he has gotten rather standoffish as an adult, and spends for more time than I'd like under my bed. He's still a cutie pie, though, and when he does want attention, he's very sweet.
17 June 2008, 10:23 PM
Join Date: 06 September 2002

I was looking for the a cite online, and could not find anything, but on a PBS show about theories on how dogs were domesticated, there was a bit on Russian breeders of foxes for the fur industry. They started to breed for temperment, and very soon, just a few generations, the foxes were black, many with blue-ish eyes, and the theory was that the color gene was close to the temperment gene, but then you would know, and more importantly, understand, those things far better than the general population. There was some horse thing that I can't quite remember... concerning piebalds (black and white pintos to us USA-ans) being crazy.

So, I guess that it is certainly plausible that an animals color could be linked to temperment.
17 June 2008, 10:51 PM

I'm going to search Wiki but I need to ask Llewtrah if torties and calicoes are the same. I think torties are black with brown patches and calicoes are white black and ginger, at least that's what I've always thought. We have what I call a tortie, female, long hair, and spacey, a long hair male white with gray striped patches, a very haughty fellow. We also have a gray male, a slob, who has difficulty connecting with the litter box, he'd much rather go anywhere else. He is not my favorite.

P&LL, Syl
18 June 2008, 03:51 AM

Originally Posted by Sylvanz
I'm going to search Wiki but I need to ask Llewtrah if torties and calicoes are the same. I think torties are black with brown patches and calicoes are white black and ginger, at least that's what I've always thought. We have what I call a tortie, female, long hair, and spacey, a long hair male white with gray striped patches, a very haughty fellow. We also have a gray male, a slob, who has difficulty connecting with the litter box, he'd much rather go anywhere else. He is not my favorite.

P&LL, Syl
I believe that calico is simply tortoiseshell with white.

As for the "naughty tortie" issue, there's a tortie cat named Molly at the Humane Society who loves to try to sneak out the back door. This isn't good, because the back room is where they isolate animals who are sick/potentially sick. Another one, a longhaired tortie, has a thing for playing rough and biting.
18 June 2008, 04:24 AM

As another anecdote, my mom's tortie is rather crazy. A little scaredy-cat, too, so you wouldn't think it unless you live there.

That's interesting about the male ginger cats. We had a long-haired barn cat that was a ginger, and he was MEAN. He wandered onto the farm when he was little, though, so it could've been nurture rather than nature.

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