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The Orange Tabby Cat: Breed Profile

orange tabby cat

The orange tabby cat may aspire to be the most outgoing of all the domestic felines. Thanks to Garfield, the most loved cartoon cat by those of us who were kids in the 90s, a fluffy cat who can put a smile on our faces every day just by looking at It.

They are not actually recognized as a breed. It is not a fact that many people know about, but it is something that we know and are happy to share with you. They are some of the cutest cats in the world, as well as the most common.

Find out how these popular cats achieve their signature look and about the exact chromosome combination needed to make this happen.

Origin and characteristics of the tabby cat

The pattern of these beautiful animals is one of the oldest; in fact, if we compare a wild cat (for example, a mountain cat) with any domestic tabby cat, we will see that they have many common characteristics.

Orange tabby cats have many different coats: red, orange, or even golden yellow. According to the Cat Fanciers’ Association, the breed to which they belong can determine their behavior, since certain breeds share common personality traits.

Still, it is important to mention that the ‘orange tabby’ is not a specific breed, but rather is a type of color pattern that occurs in many feline breeds. A tabby cat of any color, including orange ones, has stripes on its fur, lines on its face and around its eyes, and a kind of “M” -shaped mark on its forehead. The stripes usually appear a shade or two darker than the main orange of the coat.

Orange tabby combinations and shades range from dark red to gold to white

Orange tabby cats can range from red to orange, yellow, or ivory. However, people generally refer to these cats as orange no matter what color they are.

An orange tabby is the combination of two main traits:

  • Colour
  • Pattern

Orange cat colors

According to Berkeley.edu, melanin is responsible for the production of color pigment, and it comes in two types:

  • Eumelanin – This type of melanin produces a range of colors that includes different shades of black and brown, from dark to light.
  • Pheomelanin – This type of melanin produces color in a range from red (at its highest density) to cream (at its highest dilution).

Thus, the orange coat is created by the presence of pheomelanin.

The orange tabby is a cat coat pattern, not a breed

The brindle, like the calico, are not a race. They are simply a hair pattern that appears in a wide range of colors, including orange, and is found in many breeds, including Persian and British shorthair cats, to name a few.

Brindle cats often have a marking that resembles the letter M

Tabby cats generally have some degree of head marking that resembles the letter M. This is more prominent in some cats than others. Orange tabby cats, as well as tabby cats of other colors, come in a variety of patterns. Berkeley.edu describes four distinct tabby patterns.

Types of orange tabby cats

orange tabby cat

Classic Orange Tabby

The classic orange tabby cat pattern is very common.

With this pattern, the cat’s fur:

  • Has a random series of light and dark orange swirls
  • It almost looks like the cat has been dyed.
  • Has the signature M mark on the forehead
Orange Mackerel Tabby

Orange Mackerel Tabby

The orange mackerel tabby pattern is quite common.

With this pattern, the cat’s fur:

  • Has bars or stripes
  • Striped is a darker shade of orange than the base coat color.
  • Has the traditional M mark on the forehead
Ticked Tabby

Ticked Tabby

The Abyssinian variation of the tabby pattern, also known as “ticked”, is much more subtle.

This pattern produces:

  • A dark stripe down the center of the back
  • Faint streaks or “ghosts” that are barely visible
  • The classic M branding on the forehead

You will find this pattern in Abyssinian cats and Somali cats in particular.

Orange Bi-Color Spotted Tabby

Orange Bi-Color Spotted Tabby

The spotted tabby pattern is slightly less common than the classic and mackerel patterns.

With this spotted pattern:

  • The skin is marked with patches rather than swirls or bars
  • The patches are a darker shade of orange than the rest of the body.
  • The traditional M marking is still present

The tabby shown here also has the bicolor trait.

Orange cats are mostly male

There is an interesting link between orange coloring and a cat’s gender. About 80 percent of all orange tabby cats are male.

Each cat’s sex is determined by the sex chromosomes it inherits. There is an X chromosome and a Y chromosome.

  • Female cats inherit two X chromosomes (XX).
  • Male cats inherit one X chromosome and one Y chromosome (XY).

The gene that produces the orange coloring is found on the X chromosomes, so it is a sex-linked trait.

  • In male cats, it is quite simple; either they have inherited an X chromosome that contains the orange gene, or they have not.
  • It’s a bit more complicated with cats. Both XX chromosomes must carry the orange gene for a female to be orange.

Facts about orange cats and kittens

Do you want to know more? Here are some more interesting facts.

  • According to Berkeley.edu, all orange cats are tabby due to their genetic makeup.
  • The orange gene dominates all other colors except white, which, according to the Cat Fanciers’ Association , is not technically a color, but masks a cat’s true color to some extent.
  • These cats can also have long or short hair.
  • Many of these cats develop freckles on their noses and lips as they age. This is known as orange cat lentigo, and it is harmless.

The behavior of orange tabby cats

A cat that has this color pattern needs to be socialized correctly so that they can become furry adults who want to spend time with the family. For this, it is important that from the age of a month and a half you need to take it in your arms and give it affection; this way, little by little It will gain confidence in you and, in the course of a few days, It will want to play with you.

When It has become comfortable with people, It can be separated from its mother. This will not be done unless the cat has already reached at least eight weeks of age since during the first two months of life with their mother, It will learn all the basics of being a cat.

Like all cats we bring home, the orange tabby will need veterinary attention: we will take it for an examination once a year, and get all the vaccinations that are required. Nor can we forget to sterilize It, especially if we don’t intend to raise a litter. In this way, It won’t have to go through heat, Its life will be much calmer and longer-lasting, since the chances of developing cancer are considerably reduced.

This is an intervention that veterinarians perform on a daily basis, which does not last more than an average of 30 minutes. The males recover quickly, in fact, it is likely that that same day they will return to their normal life; the females take a little longer: from 2 to 5 days, but considering that they will be able to enjoy a longer life expectancy, it is worth it. And this is an intervention that will influence the character of the cat, making it more sedentary, calmer, and even somewhat more sociable.

If your cat is educated with respect, affection, and, above all, a lot of patience, I can assure you that It will never have any behavior problem. On the contrary, if it is ignored or mistreated, then you are going to live with a cat that is going to be afraid of you and of all humans.

That said, buy It toys as this cat loves to play. For this reason, if you have children, It will soon become their new best friend

How Much Does An Orange Tabby Cost

This beautiful and friendly cat can be found in animal shelters, where you will only have to pay for the adoption costs. This price is usually around 50 to 100 dollars depending on the age, which includes the microchip, vaccines, and deworming.

Now, if you want a breed of cat with orange hair, such as the Manx or the Maine Coon, you will have to look for a professional cattery that is dedicated to raising these orange fellows,  also takes good care of them. For a kitten, they can easily ask you between 300 and 500 dollars, depending on the breed.

How to choose a good cattery to buy a tabby cat?

Serious and professional cattery have these characteristics :

  • The facilities where the cats are are clean, without bad smells or stains.
  • The animals look healthy and happy.
  • Kittens spend as much time as they want with their mother, from whom they will not be separated until they are 2 or 3 months old.
  • The manager answers all the questions you have.
  • At the time of delivery, they will also give you all the papers related to the pedigree of the animal.
  • They should be able to provide you the health history and certificate of the kittens

If you see something that doesn’t quite convince you, turn around and look for another cattery.

Winston Churchill had one

He is one of the most famous men in history, and he had an orange tabby that he loved very much. Winston Churchill’s cat was named Jock, and It was a very sweet cat. It even attended wartime cabinet meetings and no one was allowed to eat at the meetings until the cat was sitting at the table to join them for their meal.

Also, Garfield is an orange tabby and so is the 9-life cat. It is a famous cat, although it is not considered a breed. 

Final Thoughts

Orange and white tabby cats may not look as luxurious or exciting as other types of cats, but there is certainly a lot going on below the surface to produce one of these cute felines. Now that you have a better idea of ​​what it takes to make a cat an orange tabby, chances are you’ll never see one the same way again.

Written by Amanda

Passionate about animals, Amanda draws her expertise from her training as an educator, canine behaviorist as well as her extensive experience with animal owners. A specialist in dog and cat behavior, Amanda continues to learn about our four-legged companions by studying veterinary reference books but also university research sites (UCD, Utrecht, Cambridge, Cornell, etc..)

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