A Tribute to Tuxies and their ‘Tuxitude’

Here’s a bit of trivia you may not know…this year (2018) marks the 127th anniversary of the American Tuxedo.  How’s that for a segway for us to pay tribute to the always dapper and impeccably dressed tuxedo cat!  [The article that follows is an updated re-post of one we did back in late 2016.]

tuxedo cat photo

Photo: our tuxie (Newman)

Back in October of 1886 New York’s social elite gathered at a brand new exclusive country club called Tuxedo Park for their first annual Autumn Ball.  Attendees included many well known upper class gentlemen such as William Waldorf Astor and JP Morgan.  As was custom they dressed in their black tailcoats, starched white shirts and formal bow ties.

But there was also a small group of young mavericks who decided to have a bit of fun with the era’s obligatory evening attire and arrived in a variation so outlandish it was reported in all the local newspapers.  Each of these fashion renegades wore a tail-less dress coat and waistcoat of scarlet satin. How shocking!  This apparently marked the debut of the shorter version of the formal coat which would eventually take the name of the club where it first appeared.  And voila, the Tuxedo was born.

Formal fashion conscious cats have known the secret allure of the tux long before these socialites and their country clubs.  Indeed, tuxedo cats look like they’re always ready to go the opera or a special gala. Just ask our tuxie (Newman).

tuxedo cat image

Photo: our tuxie (Newman)

Tuxies are very striking in their appearance and we lovingly refer to them as “nature’s version of elegance and sophistication.”  Most are known to have real ‘tuxitude’ and know how sharp they look.  Our tuxie is always up for a photo op and dons his regal air whenever the camera approaches.

Definition

OK, so what exactly is a tuxedo cat? Is it a cat breed?  Is it just a color pattern?

The answer to the second question is no, tuxedo cats are not a cat breed. They just happen to have a very unique coat pattern and coloring. In fact, tuxedo cats are bi-color cats. They are true black and white feline beauties.  This answers the third question.

Now, the answer to the first question (what is a tuxedo cat?) … for a cat to be a tuxedo cat, she must be bi-color and have the following characteristics:

  • She must have solid black throughout her entire body (except for a few white patches).
  • The white patches must be on her chin, chest, belly, and paws.
  • She must have more black than white.

Tuxedo cats look as if they’re wearing a tuxedo. No question with these two beauties!

Photo credit: © Marjan Debevere

It is important to note that not all black and white cats are tuxedos.  There are some bi-color, black and white cats that are not tuxedos. Some of these cats, for example, may have more white than black, or be half black and half white, or have solid white throughout their bodies and just have a few small patches of black. These kitties are not considered tuxedos.

The genes of white spotting are more dominant and easily masks the true color of the cat where white color occurs. Tuxedo cat have inherited the genes for solid color and a gene for white color spots.

A Tribute to Tuxedo Cats on the 127th anniversary of the American TuxedoClick To Tweet
Bi-color Patterns

Other black-and-white bi-color coat patterns include the “masked cat” pattern (also known as “mask-and-mantle” pattern). These cats seem to be wearing a black mask over a white face and/or a black mantle on their backs.

Another pattern is the “cow cat” and like the name suggests, they look like cows. These cats don’t have one big patch of solid black. Instead, they show small patches of black over white fur.  Just like one of our favorite cats – Scotch {the cow cat}.

Photo credit: @scotch_thecowcat

Here are the most common pattern variations:

  • Cow pattern. A predominantly white cat with black spots or patches on the torso.
  • Van pattern. A white cat with black markings on the head and tail only.
  • Mask-and-mantle pattern. A cat with a black back, shoulders, and head, and a white underside.
  • Cap and saddle pattern. A cat with black over the top of the head, white shoulders, and a large black patch on the lower back, near the tail.
  • Locket pattern. A black cat with one small white patch on the chest or tummy.

See the bi-color pattern chart below for the different coat types.

Photo: Flickr Commons

Some black and white cats show patterns with swirls and stripes and some even look like skunks. The amount of black and white may vary. For instance, some cats may have a mostly white coat with black swirls and stripes while others may show equal amounts of black and white. These patterns, however, are not considered to be tuxedos.

We noted above that tuxedos are not a breed, but they may occur in different cat breeds. The tuxedo pattern occurs equally in both long hair and short hair cats. Indeed, bi-color coats (including the tuxedo pattern) occur in several breeds, including the American Shorthair, British Shorthair and Persian.

The first longhaired tuxedo cat seen in Western Europe were of Persian breed and they arrived some time in the 19th century. Back then, they enjoyed a great popularity. Persian tuxedos have longer, thicker fur, fluffy undercoat, immense tails, and round faces. By the end of 19th century, they were among the most wanted pets, attracting the attention of many cat lovers worldwide. However, their fame come to fade in the 20th century due to new longhairs became common favorites.

newms4

Photo: our tuxie (Newman)

Purr-sonality

Tuxedo cats are very friendly in nature, highly intelligent and also extremely active. They like to communicate with loud vocalizations. They are more vocal as compared to the Persian breeds but less so than Siamese. They are smart and affectionate and very likely to sit on your lap and enjoy your company. They get along well with other pets in the house due to their friendly nature. They may even follow you around the house like dogs.  Ours does.  🙂

Some studies suggest that tuxies can be up to 200% smarter than normal domestic cats. Some of the most popular and well-known personalities who have owned tuxedos include William Shakespeare, and Beethoven.  Be sure to check out our other tuxie related post:  9 Reasons Tuxedo Cats Rock

Photo courtesy of @tuxedotrio

Famous Tuxies

Now that we have established what makes a tuxedo cat, let’s celebrate some well-known tuxedo cats.

Tuxedos were immortalized in Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, a poem by T.S. Eliot in which a tribe of black and white cats are the protagonists.  In the book, the tuxedo kitties were known as “Jellicle Cats”.

tomOther famous tuxedos include Sylvester the Cat (of Looney Toons fame), Felix the Cat (who became a star of the silent era), Tom (of Tom and Jerry), Mr. Mistoffelees of Cats! the musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and even Dr. Seuss’s “Cat in the Hat” is a tuxedo.  TV trivia: anyone recognize the cat below (right)?

mistoffoleseCartoon photos: Flickr Commons

Let’s not forget Socks – former President Clinton’s cat who called the White House home, and Humphrey the “Chief Mouser” at 10 Downing Street, the official residence of the U.K. Prime Minister, for 18 years.

A Purrington Post Feature Spotlight

And now for a special treat…let’s meet two of Newman’s favorite IG tuxie families…the Fab Four from London and the Boston Beauties!

Introducing London’s Fab Four!

OK, only 2 of the Fab 4 are true tuxies by the definition we used earlier but they’re all equally adorable to us.  Super cat-mom Marjan Debevere, is an amateur photographer who lives in London, England. When not taking breathtaking photos of her own clowder, she photographs the cats at Wood Green, a nearby re-homing centre for shelter cats.  In her spare time, Marjan studies Feline Behaviour and Psychology.  How cat-centric is that!  =^..^=

lulugang

Photo credit: © Marjan Debevere  Check out her IG @lillmanlulu_luigi_and_co

Reference above photo…from left, first up is Miss Hula (Poppet), a five-year-old Tuxedo cat who runs the show. Next is Clive, a five-year-old black house panther who was adopted at the same time as Hula. They are unrelated but very bonded. Hula was born at a rescue centre called The Mayhew Animal Home in London and Clive was found in a black dustbin bag left to die at five weeks old. They were put together in a cabin and became inseparable buddies.

Third in line is Luigi (Lill’Man – Lulu – WeegieWoo), 3 years of age (will be 4 in December). He’s the rebel, life & soul of their clowder.  And last, but not least, is 2 year old Archie, the sweetest Tabby Tux.  He rounds out the Fab Four purrfectly!

Marjan expains…

Through Hula & Clive, I became a volunteer photographer and socialiser at the shelter they came from.  On my very first day there I met Luigi. We were doing some press shots of some t-shirts when one of the press officers said, ‘we need a kitten in this shot’.  Out came Luigi. He literally took my breath away. I became rather overwhelmed and knew I was in trouble. I drove home that day in floods of tears, overcome by emotion. All my friends and family thought this was quite funny…first day “on the job” and she’s already bringing home a cat…I can’t quite explain what happened that day but I’ve never felt like that since about any of the 2000+ cats I have since photographed in shelters. He is what I refer to as “The forth chamber of my heart.”

A Tribute to Tuxedo CatsClick To Tweet

We asked about Archie’s arrival…

One night, my husband and I woke up in the middle of the night with him sprawled out on his back between us. Archie had decided that he wasn’t going home again. We did try to convince him to go back home, but in the end it was decided by the previous owners that he would be much happier with us, so we officially adopted him about 11 months ago.

Here’s an example of her amazing photography with Hula and Luigi hamming it up for the camera.

Photo credit: © Marjan Debevere  Check out her IG @lillmanlulu_luigi_and_co

When asked if there might be any more additions, Marjan was quick to state; “I have a self-imposed rule when it comes to adopting cats – four and no more!” 

Q:  How do they all get along?

I am amazed and very lucky to have 4 cats that are totally unrelated but so bonded to each other. The dynamic between the 4 of them is great.

They love to play and play-fight together and are very good about waiting their turn when I play with a stick toy with them. They also have turned allogrooming (mutual grooming) into an Olympic sport and will habitually “share the love of licking in those hard to reach places” at dinnertime, whilst I’m preparing their food.

luigi2

Photo credit: © Marjan Debevere  Check out her IG @lillmanlulu_luigi_and_co

Q:  Are these the first tuxie’s you’ve owned?

I’ve had tuxies all my adult life. I adopted my first one, Tom, as an “extra” that came with a tabby I adopted some 24 years ago. It really didn’t take me long to get hooked on the “tuxitude”. 

Although it is very unlikely that scientists will ever be able to definitively link certain personality traits to particular genes, I would love it if Tuxies could become their own certified breed. Some coat colours have been scientifically linked to certain temperaments so I’m hoping it’s just a matter of time 🙂

The ones I’ve had the pleasure of sharing my life with, Tom (13), Squeek (14), Tash (16), RIP, you were all legends, and now Hula & Luigi have all been outstanding, individual characters. They seem to be more independent, naughty, manipulative, headstrong and intelligent than the other non-tuxedo cats I have been lucky and worthy to serve.

They want things “just so” and mine may not be the cuddliest of cats but when they decide to give, oh boy do they know how to make you feel special! And let’s not forget they always look ready to party!

On the photo below (right) Clive sneaks in for a photo bomb appearance neatly sandwiched between Luigi and Hula.  Well done Clive…we love house panthers (we have one too!).

luigi3

Photo credit: © Marjan Debevere  Check out her IG @lillmanlulu_luigi_and_co

OK, we love these guys!  Follow their exploits on Instagram and see some really amazing photos!

Zipping across the pond back to America, up next is The Tuxedo Trio from Boston.

 

Introducing The Tuxedo Trio (aka Boston’s Beauties)

The Tuxedo Trio are a Boston based family consisting of Ben who just turned 5, Jack now 3, and Hugo who is 2.  Owner Deb told us that they are the proud owners of three best friends. Ben is the alpha male, always making sure Jack and Hugo know he’s the boss. Jack is by far the most playful. He loves to play fetch and catch–and lately he has been loving it when we blow bubbles around the apartment for him to catch. Hugo is the vocal one, always chirping and talking loudly like he needs attention. She told us she couldn’t imagine her life without them in it.  We asked Deb a few questions:

triogang

Photo courtesy of @tuxedotrio

Q:  Why did you choose tuxies?

It’s weird–they kind of chose me! We wanted to adopt some kittens when we knew our older (orange tabby) cat, Jake, was not going to make it through his bout of bone cancer. Around that time, a friend of the family’s female cat snuck out of the house before her spay appointment and came back pregnant. Not wanting the kittens to end up at a shelter, she began looking for good homes for them all. I told her if she had two boys in the litter, we would take them and it turns out the only two boys in the litter of six were two tuxedos! That’s how we came to adopt Ben and Desmond. Jack came along about a year and a half later–from the same family friend. And then, when Desmond passed suddenly from heart failure, I began looking for another kitten. I wasn’t actively seeking out another tuxedo, but it just so happened that we found Hugo online and I knew I had to adopt him.

trio1

Photo courtesy of @tuxedotrio

A Tribute to Tuxedo CatsClick To Tweet

Q:  Funniest moment(s) you’ve experienced with the trio?

I would have to say every day is an adventure with these three guys. Seriously, I can think of so many stories that have made us laugh. One time we came home from work when Ben and Desmond were kittens and found the freezer wide open and all the food from inside it all over the floor. I’m talking melted ice cream, frozen blueberries smashed into the hard wood floor, half-eaten raw chicken ripped to shreds… ugh it was a mess. And that’s how we came to have baby locks on our freezer even though we don’t have any children.

trio2

Photo courtesy of @tuxedotrio

Q:  Any noteworthy story about their background and/or how you acquired them?

I might as well tell you where their namesakes come from! My husband and I are huge LOST fans, so we named the cats after characters on the show (Benjamin Linus, Jack Shephard, Hugo Reyes, Desmond Hume). That’s also where the design for our shirt designed by YippeeCatYay comes from:

(If you have ever watched LOST, you will get the reference.)

trio3

Photo courtesy of @tuxedotrio

One other thing I’d like to add–we have a blog! I like to write posts on city living with 3 cats, arts and crafts, home organization, and product endorsements. I started the blog 5 years ago when I toilet trained Ben and Desmond (Ben still uses the toilet to this day–yes, you read that right) and then just kept writing about the cats and our lives.

We love these guys!  Follow their exploits on Instagram here => @tuxedotrio

In closing we wanted to make mention of a very famous tuxedo cat named Simon who in 1949 was awarded the Dickin Medal, which honors animals in wartime. Read his inspirational story…

According to TIME Magazine….Aboard a British Royal Navy ship sailing down China’s Yangtze River, Simon the Cat was a long-time favorite of the sailors on the H.M.S. Amethyst. He was hit by some shrapnel as a result of an attack by Chinese Communist forces. Simon was injured in the leg and back, and his whiskers were singed off.  Some of the sailors didn’t think he’d make it through the night.

Eventually, Simon recuperated enough to wipe out a massive rodent infestation on board the ship, eventually taking down an enormous rat the sailors named Mao Tse Tung. Later, his exploits became known around the world; he even managed to garner a TIME obituary.  In August 1949, Simon was awarded the Dickin Medal, which honors animals in wartime.


According to Wikipedia, Simon was originally found wandering the dockyards of Hong Kong in March 1948 by Seaman George Hickinbottom, a member of the crew of the British frigate HMS Amethyst stationed there. It was thought that Simon was approximately a year old, and when found, he was very undernourished and unwell. Hickinbottom smuggled the cat aboard ship, and Simon soon ingratiated himself with the crew and officers, particularly because he was adept at catching and killing rats on the lower decks. Simon rapidly gained a reputation for cheekiness, leaving presents of dead rats in sailors’ beds, and sleeping in the captain’s cap. The crew viewed Simon as a lucky mascot.

A Tribute to Tuxedo CatsClick To Tweet

Summary

Are you a fan of tuxies?  Drop us a comment below and tell us about your favorite tuxie.

 

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35 Comments

  1. Marlene September 26, 2016
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