Orange cat varieties – Why they are special?

30 Aug, 2021

Orange cat varieties – Why they are special?

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As any pet owner and especially cat lover will tell you each breed of cat has a particular personality. Some non cat lovers simply say that felines are at worst aloof and at best indifferent. But not many people will tell you that a cat’s colour will influence its personality. However, one vet quoted in the National Geographic magazine said exactly that. Whether you are a cat lover, catsitter or a cat owner, read on to learn all about the orange cat varieties and why cat lovers believe they are rather special.

Orange cat varieties – Why they attract and engage us so

orange cat
You may be familiar with Garfield the cartoon cat, well meet Milo who can out talk a human

Orange cats are not a breed

And the orange tabby cat?

Throughout history orange cats have been called many things. Sometimes in English we call them Ginger cats, or Marmalade cats and some are indeed Tabby cats.

The name is to do with the coat markings and colouring rather than a specific breed.  The earliest Egyptian art has orange cats portrayed in simple domestic scenes, making us believe that to be chosen in this way they must have been popular throughout the ages. But why do they attract and engage us so?

They are brightly coloured, and vibrant, and when moving they flash past like a streak of light. They have captured the human imagination for centuries. Could it be because their cat owners see them as fiery personalities, mini tigers ready for a scrap but will melt into a cuddle instantly if one is offered.

Patterns of infinite variety, but no breeding

What is an orange cat?

To be clear orange cats (or ginger or marmalade cats if that’s how you know them) are not a breed of cat.

Is an orange cat a ginger cat?

The widely used term ‘orange cat’ simply describes the colour of their coat. So that can mean a ‘ginger cat’.

orange cat
The colouring is distinct and attractive

Orange tabby cat

Does it have a ginger cat personality?

Many ginger cat owners attribute their forthright personality to the fact that most of the variety tend to be male and strident. But does that mean that the orange tabby cat exhibits the same personality; well may you ask.

What is a Tabby cat?

In addition, many people, even cat lovers, don’t know that “tabby” also refers to specific coat markings, not a breed (and regardless of colour). The word itself is taken from a striped silk fabric made near Baghdad. Tabby cats are striped due to the agouti gene.  Just to specify a little more, all orange cats are Tabbies, but a Tabby cat is not necessarily orange.

Varieties of Tabby Cat and the coat patters

There are four known distinct patterns for a Tabby cat. Each has a sound genetic explanation, comprising:

  1. Mackerel
  2. Classic
  3. Ticked
  4. Spotted tabby patterns.

A fifth pattern is formed when any of the four basic patterns form part of a patched pattern e.g. a patched Tabby, or a calico or tortoiseshell cat with patches of tabby coat. Such cats are called Caliby and Torbie respectively.

Featured above is Larry the cat who is a brown and white Tabby cat, not an orange cat.

All five patterns have been observed in random-bred populations. Additional patterns are found in specific breeds and so are not as well known in general. For example, a modified classic Tabby is found in the Sokoke breed. Some of these rarer patterns are due to the interaction of wild and domestic genes, as with the rosetted and marbled patterns found in the Bengal breed.

The orange Tabby cat

The orange tabby is a variant of any of the above tabby patterns, having phaeomelanin instead of eumelanin. The colouring is usually orange and white – frequently displaying a white underside and paws. The back is usually orange. Darker orange markings appear such as spots or stripes on the orange areas. However, the white areas are mostly a solid color. The ratios between orange and white vary, and range from a few orange spots on the back of a white cat to a thin white stripe down the stomach, or sometimes little or white at all.

Often they have either a white spot on their face that covers their mouth and sides of their face, and comes to a point around their forehead; or their faces will be orange, and they will only have white starting on the bottom of their head or neck.

Popular with pet sitters and cat sitters

Why are orange cats so attractive and engaging?

orange cat
Winston and Clementine Churchill with Tango their cat at Chartwell – by William Nicholson

Fun cat sitting ginger cats

It goes almost without saying that a catsitting assignment on the Housesit Match housesitting assignment listings with an orange cat will go very quickly. When we first started this housesitting website it did surprise us to see that those petsitting adverts were not live for long. What is more, the stories we heard from our housesitters and petsitters about the pets they cared for often featured a friendly feline with an orange or marmalade colouring. It was truly remarkable. And these stories came from all over the world so it was a common theme repeated in many countries.

Are ginger cats all male?

What do we know about Ginger or Orange cats?

Ginger or orange cats are mostly male

We know that they have been popular throughout history. From the earliest Egyptian art portraying them in domestic scenes to paintings showing Winston Churchill at home with Tango one his favourite orange cats.

It has been determined that most orange or ginger cats are indeed male. In fact the numbers appear to be that 80% of all orange cats are male. Scientifically speaking, this is because the “ginger gene” which produces the orange or what is sometimes called their marmalade colour is found on the X chromosome.

Female cats have two X chromosomes and so need two copies of this gene to become ginger, whereas males need only one. This increases the likelihood or probability that a ginger cat will be male.

Colour may well influence the personality of the cat

Many cat owners have long described their relationship with orange cats to be a strong and fulfilling one. They say that their cats are the most engaging and entertaining amongst all their friends and fellow cat owners.

Quoted in the National Geographic magazine veterinarian Gay Weitzman has said –

“A cat’s breed can certainly affect its appearance, but can it affect a cat’s personality?

Definitely. The color of coat is linked to behavior. For example, tortoiseshell cats, torties, can be independent and they usually like just one person, and they can be pushy about what they want. Torties and calicos and Abyssinians all have strong documented links between their coat color and personalities. More anecdotal is the orange tabby, who is the poster child for the most gregarious. But personality really seems to go with coat color.”


Ginger cats cut the mustard

So it’s official, orange cats cut the mustard. They are big personalities, largely male and outgoing fiery in colour and sometimes temperament.

Fancy cat minding an orange cat ? This may well explain why so many of our live in house pet sitters love the orange cats so. To say nothing of their pet owners.!

Why not become a petsitter or find your housesitting pet-sitting solution by registering with HouseSitMatch:

To register as a House-sitter follow this link

Register as a Homeowner follow this link


Useful blogs about cat sitting and housesitters

At we like to share useful blogs and practical advice about housesitters, housesitting and pet sitting. We hope you find this small selection of our blogs on house sitters useful.

Housesitters keep pets safe at home and save money

What a housesitter does – Top 10 responsibilities

Preparing a home for a house or pet sitter

Why do we love ginger cats so much?

Top 10 tips on cat sitting 



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