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Why Are There More Male Orange Cats Than Female?

April 9, 2019

If you trace the history of the cat, these animals date back to early humans and are believed to have descended from the African wildcat. Although a lack of archaeological discoveries of cat remains makes it difficult to pinpoint exact occurrences for cat evolution, domestic cats currently are found on all continents with the exception of Antarctica. To help control the rodent populations, the early Neolithic farmers in the Mediterranean region may have domesticated cats nearly 10,000 years ago. During Medieval times, the cat spread along trade routes and became a mainstay aboard ships, as independent-minded seafaring companions with innate predatory skills.

Common Characteristics in Tabby Cats

As the domestic cat grew in popularity, tabby cats became a popular coat pattern that is found today in over two dozen distinct breed standards. Although orange is a common tabby color, ginger-colored cats actually range in color from red to cream with many coat patterns and traits:

  • M on Forehead - Various cultures throughout the world have differing stories but one says the Virgin Mary stroked a tabby cat that had jumped into the manger, which resulted in the traditional "M" on the forehead.
  • Black Eyeliner - Tabby cats often have the appearance of black eyeliner around the lighter colored fur surrounding an eye or eyes.
  • Pigmented Lips & Paws - Tabbies may have long hair or short hair but splotched pigmentation is often seen on the lips and paws. Occasionally, black freckles occur as a pigmented glitch on the lips or gums.
  • Thin Pencil Lines on Face - Although it may be difficult to see on some colors and fur types, tabby cats most often have thin pencil lines of color on the face.
  • Outlined Pink Nose - A pink nose (full or partial) may appear to be outlined by a darker color due to uneven pigmentation.
  • Banding on Tail, Legs & Torso - The primary tabby gene sets the basic pattern of stripes that underlies the coat, such as blotched, broadband, fishbone, or mackerel striped.

One of the reasons that tabby cats have long been a favorite for cat lovers lies in the fact that tabbies are almost as old as nature itself. Moreover, the "tabby gene" is believed to be present in all cats, even cats that appear to be solid black. It should be noted that cat coat genetics allow a cat to show a color or pattern to a certain breed without having any genetic link to that breed.

The Male Dominant Influence in Orange Tabbies

The reason that a cat is red or black is due to his or her genetic makeup and the chromosomes the cat inherited. Melanin decides the final coat color and an orange fur results from one gene changing the expression of another, which can change black pigment into orange. Because a tabby's color depends upon a sex-linked gene, an orange female must inherit two orange genes (one from each parent) whereas a male red cat only needs one. Since any red color is epistatic, all orange cats are tabbies and solid red show cats are usually a low contrast ticked tabby.

Since red cats are tabby cats, they come in a broad range of colors, including orange, ginger, yellow, butter, marmalade, butterscotch or caramel, as well as unique coat patterns like traditional stripes, bullseye patterns on the side, ticked tabby, spotted tabby, patched tabby, fishbone and mackerel-striped. While kittens traditionally have blue eyes, the eye color most often changes as they mature. Although some cat owners consider tabbies to be commoners, a tabby cat likely identifies with his or her owner as their landlord and indentured daily servant. So, whether you have a male or female orange tabby, it is sure to brighten your life and add curb appeal to your home.

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