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.”
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!
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.
* Do check out Maine Coon Lover which is a website filled with tips for Maine Coon owners.
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).
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 FelineLiving.net 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!