Some Amusing Facts About Orange Cats.

Posted by Theresa Blood on

When I was a child I used to enjoy a children’s program called ‘Bagpuss’, whose title character was, "a saggy, old cloth cat, baggy, and a bit loose at the seams". Bagpuss and his friends are toys in a turn of the century shop for 'found things'. When young Emily brings them a new object, the toys come to life to work out what the strange new thing could possibly be. Although Bagpuss was actually pink and white striped he was, (in my mind anyway), a ginger cat. It was because of that program that I always wanted to have a marmalade cat of my own one day. I now have a beautiful long-haired tabby named Hamilton, who’s a sweet-natured ‘lazy bones’ who loves to stretch out in the sun. This blog is for everyone who adores the orange, butter, yellow, butterscotch or ginger-colored feline.

I once had a visitor to my home who started sneezing within minutes. My guest informed me that it was because she was allergic to ginger cats specifically because their fur was finer texture. It’s certainly true that my ginger tabby Hamilton has long hair and it’s very fine in texture; his coat also sheds a lot, leaving clumps of orange hair on the carpet around the house. I’d never heard of this before, and I only relate this as an interesting anecdote because I found it fascinating that my visitor said she was fine around other cats – it was only the ginger one’s which brought on her sneezing!?!

Bagpuss was my first ever encounter with a cat on television, but are you aware that ginger tabbies have starred in lots of film and television shows, some becoming famous in their own right? Here are a few examples:

  • Garfield
  • Crookshanks from Harry Potter
  • Orangey from Breakfast At Tiffany’s
  • Puss In Boots from Shrek 2
  • Spot from Star Trek The Next Generation
  • Goose from Captain Marvel
  • Orion from Men in Black
  • Morris the Cat who was the advertising mascot for 9Lives brand cat food.
  • Milo from The Adventures of Milo and Otis, a Japanese adventure comedy about a ginger tabby named Milo and his friend. 
Winston Churchill Loved Orange Cats.

The British Prime Minister Winston Churchill loved marmalade cats and owned several of them during his lifetime. Jock, his favourite, was a gift upon his 88th birthday; Churchill even commissioned a painting of his loyal companion, who was also mentioned in his will. Jock was taken to all the wartime cabinet meetings and slept on his bed each night.

Ginger Cats Have Green Or Gold Eyes.

All ginger kittens have blue eyes when they’re born, but the eyes turn gold, green, copper, or bronze as they mature. It’s very rare for an adult ginger cat to have blue eyes.

The Term ‘Tabby’ Refers To The Particular Markings Of A Coat.

A 'tabby' is not a breed. DNA determines the coat markings of the individual tabby, and also the ‘M’ marking found on the forehead. There are five distinct tabby patterns:

  • Classic tabby – marbled, swirled or blotched patterns
  • Mackerel tabby – rings around the tails & legs and bands of solid color around the rest of their body
  • Spotted tabby – has bands of spots that vary in size
  • Patched tabby – these have patches of orange & brown, and are also referred to as tortoiseshells because the spots of orange and brown are reminiscent of the shell of a tortoise
  • Ticked tabby – if you look closely at their individual hairs, they have bands of light and dark coloring  
Orange Cats Have Their Own Annual Day Of Celebration.

Did you know that ginger cat’s have their own holiday which is celebrated on the first September each year? ‘Ginger Cat Appreciation Day’ was founded by software developer Chris Roy to honor the marmalade tabby.

Marmalade tabbies are known for being super chilled. I have previously mentioned, I myself have a ginger tabby and can testify from personal experience that my cat Hamilton is a couch potato whose perfect day involves lounging around on the sofa, chair or bed. Hamilton is so relaxed both inside and out that he could be a Zen master!

All Gingers Are Tabbies.

All ginger cats are tabby cats, but not all tabby cats are ginger. Therefore, there is no such thing as a solid orange-colored cat.

Pheomelanin & Lentigo.

Pheomelanin is the pigment which is responsible for the orange cat’s color; this is the same pigment found in human red-heads.

Lentigo simplex is a condition which is commonly found in orange tabbies; this causes an animal to develop dark brown or black freckles, especially around the head, gums, lips, nose or inside the ears. This is a completely innocuous state, and several breeds also share this tendency.

Most Gingers Are Male.

Up to 80% of marmalade tabbies are male, because their color comes from a sex-linked gene. The gene that produces the orange fur is on the X chromosome: since females have two X chromosomes they need the gene for orange fur to occur twice in both of their X genes., whereas males only need their one X to contain the gene.

Some breeds are more likely than others to have orange fur, and there are numerous different types of orange cat breed to choose from but the best known is probably the Persian, one of the oldest breeds in the world. Others include:

  • Exotic Shorthair
  • Munchkin
  • American Bobtail
  • British Shorthair
  • Maine Coon
  • Egyptian Mau
Final Thought

I hope you found this interesting, and don’t forget to put September first in your diary to celebrate orange fur babies everywhere!

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