Everyone loves a ginger cat, and we think there’s something inherently cheeky and charming about orange cats! In this article, we will look at ginger cats in more detail. Are ginger cats a particular breed? Are all ginger cats male? We’ll take a look at the genetics of this type of cat, talk a little about their temperament (are they as feisty as people think?), offer some fantastic name suggestions for your ginger cat or ginger kitten, and hit you with some fabulous facts about ginger cats!
Read on to find out more…
How Ginger Cats Get Their Orange Coloring
A ginger cat breed doesn’t technically exist. Ginger cats are all tabbies which means that most of them (but not all) will have a distinct ‘M’ shaped marking on their forehead and have very characteristic striped markings as well as lined, flecked, banded, dotted, or swirled tabby patterns across the cat’s body.
What makes ginger cats red?
Not many people realize that it takes a complicated mix of genes to make a ginger tabby cat.
Here’s the science bit…
The ginger color is down to a gene called the ‘O’ gene – which is responsible for producing the red pigment that you see in orange coats. The ‘o’ gene (lowercase) is different and doesn’t produce any red pigment. The ginger gene is so strong that it will mask other colors, and this gene is carried on the X chromosome.
Female ginger tabbies are rare…
Now, since male ginger cats have one X chromosome and female ginger cats have two X chromosomes, it’s usually male cats that are ginger because they only need one copy of the ‘O’ gene to be ginger. Female ginger cats need two copies of the ginger gene ‘O’ to become ginger, if they have ‘Oo’, then they will just have a little red pigment on their bodies, making them calico cats or tortoiseshell.
A red, tortoiseshell, or calico mother with any father can create male ginger, whereas a female ginger cat needs to have one fully ginger male cat father, and the mother would have to carry (at least partially) the orange gene so they would have to be tortoiseshell, calico or ginger.
It isn’t just the classic tabby that can carry the ginger gene, other cat breeds display this color too.
But let’s first look at the classic markings of an orange tabby cat.
Tabby Patterns Found in Ginger Cats
As we mentioned earlier, all ginger cats are indeed tabby cats! You just need to look closely at their markings, and you will see how similar they look to the ‘usual’ tabby cats – they just have fabulous red hair!
Their patterns differ slightly. Here are the usual coat patterns you might see:
- Mackerel Pattern: this is the most common pattern in ginger cats and is characterized by ‘tiger’ stripes down the side of the cat’s body and down their legs. A mackerel tabby will often display an ‘M’ shape on their forehead.
- Spotted Pattern: a patched tabby or spotted tabby will be characterized by spots and oval-shaped areas over the body.
- Classic Pattern: this pattern almost has a marbled effect and has also been described as tie-dyed.
- Ticked Pattern: ginger cats with this pattern appear as though they have one block of color – but on closer inspection, you would find finer speckled coloring.
- Bicolored Pattern: AKA the orange tuxedo cat. This cat is very distinguished! You will be able to spot them by their distinctive markings, which resemble a tuxedo. A tabby tuxedo cat will have tabby markings and a white neck area, making them look like they’re wearing a formal dress.
Ginger Cat Breeds
Most ginger cats are just plain old domestic cats – and no less fabulous for it, of course! But certain breeds seem to be more susceptible to the orange coat color:
Could this possibly be the cutest cat breed ever? These little guys are characterized by their short legs and very small bodies. They stay relatively kitten-sized throughout their lives and can display beautiful red coloring.
Highly intelligent and playful, this specific breed has a stunning red coat that looks almost golden in the sunlight.
These cats come in a beautiful range of colors, varying from ruddy to fawn and sorrel.
Known mostly for their colossal size, Maine Coon cats have long silky coats in various colors. When these cats get the orange color gene, they resemble lions in the wild!
Long-haired, elegant Persian cats also come in all different colors and look particularly stunning when the cat’s coat color is orange.
These chilled-out cats are super popular at the moment due to their relaxed nature, and these cute guys can be a ginger cat breed.
Famous Ginger Cats
One of the main reasons that ginger cats have become popular over the years is their appearance on popular TV and on the silver screen. Think of the most famous ginger cat and the first kitty that will likely spring to mind: Garfield and his lazy ways! Why was Puss in Boots so charming? Because he was ginger, of course! And let’s not forget, of course, Orangey from Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Any type of cat that has won fame from featuring in an iconic movie such as Breakfast at Tiffany’s is purrfect in our minds!
People tend to associate ginger cats with being feisty, but is this stereotype fair and accurate? When looking at a ginger cat’s personality, the simple answer is that no one knows! Because most ginger cats are tabbies, but the same gene can occur in different breeds, it is better to look at the personality traits of the particular breed. Other factors can affect your marmalade cat, too – if your ginger tom hasn’t been neutered, it is bound to be a little feisty as it may be following its instincts to breed and protect itself.
Best Cat Names For Orange Tabby Cats
If you are looking at names for your orange cat, you might want to look at classic names for orange tabbies. Many ginger cats share the name Garfield, but it doesn’t make it any less cute! Other names that we like are the following:
Ginger Cat Facts
Your orange cat is fabulous, and here’s why…
- Around 80% of ginger cats are male! That’s a big percentage of cats in the cat world! Female marmalade cats are rarer because they need two of the ginger gene from the x chromosome.
- Orange cats are not a breed as tabby refers to the coat markings and not breed. All orange kitties are tabbies, but as we know, ginger cats exhibit the tabby pattern, but not all tabby cats are orange cats!
- The ‘M’ marking on some ginger tabby cats has a religious backstory. The ancient Egyptians called cats Mau which translates to ‘seeing’ and ‘light’, and due to the nature of cats’ eyes and how they light up at night, the Egyptians associated this with the moon, and the ‘M’ is said to reflect this. Another story tells the tale of baby Jesus shivering on his manger from the cold. Nothing Mary could do would calm baby Jesus, so she asked the animals to help, and legend has it that a tabby cat jumped into the manger and cuddled up to the baby to keep him warm and help him sleep. As a thank you, Mary marked her initial onto the cat’s forehead so that all future tabby cats would always remind the world that they helped newborn Jesus.
Dark ginger cats, light ginger cats, white and ginger cats, yellow tabbies, long-haired, short-haired, we love them all! Ginger cats have a special place in our hearts, and if you are thinking of getting one, there are plenty of reputable establishments where you can adopt your ginger kitty. Male gingers can be boisterous before they are neutered, but this isn’t exclusive to this particular type of cat. Generally speaking, ginger cats make excellent companions, and with lots of love and care, we are sure they will be a welcome addition to any family home.
Below we have answered your most commonly asked questions regarding the ginger cat.
Q: How long do ginger cats live?
A: This is a difficult question to answer because ginger cats are not a breed of cat, ginger is a coloring. It also depends if your cat is an indoor cat or outdoor cat, but on average, ginger domestic cat breeds can live up to a whopping 20 years!
Q: Are ginger cats always male?
A: Ginger cats are nearly always male, but ginger females exist! Approximately one in every five ginger cats is female.
Q: What breed are ginger cats?
A: Like a black and white cat, the ginger cat is named for its majestic color and not because it is a breed. Many breeds of cats can inherit the ginger gene called pheomelanin – the same pigment that gives humans their red hair.
Q: Why do ginger cats get black freckles?
A: Very common in orange tabby cats, these freckles are nothing to worry about and are a genetic condition called lentigo, which increases the number of cells which produce pigment. If these freckles change, however, it is best to consult a veterinarian for advice.