An orange and white cat carries the genes for red fur pigment (pheomelanin) and white spots. All orange and white cats have tabby markings in their orange coat, but these are too subtle to tell them apart. Because of the particular way coat color is inherited, about three-quarters of orange and white cats are male.
The orange and white cat is something that cat lovers often come across, but many people don’t know much about these tiger-like kittens. We will answer all these questions and more here!
The genetics of the orange and white tabby cat
However, there are some interesting parallels with color. For example, the same gene that makes cats orange or cream-colored is also the gene that makes the tabby pattern visible. For this reason, orange and white cats almost always have a tabby pattern. Rarely, if ever, will you see an orange and white cat that doesn’t have any tabby markings in its orange coat.
Even if you have a cat that looks like an all-orange cat, genetically, she’s still a tabby cat! ALL orange cats are brindle even if the distinctive tabby patterns are not visible because the ticking pattern is so fine or the color contrast is very poor.
Interested in learning more about the science behind tabby coat patterns? This scientific study examines the concept in detail.
The orange and white tabby cat
You may have encountered several orange and white tabby cats. But did their similar fur mean they were all of the same race? Indeed not.
Tabby is not a breed, but a term that describes a specific coat pattern on domestic cats. A brindle is a cat that has a pattern of dots, stripes, whorls, or lines on its fur. These patterns are usually accompanied by unique identifiers, such as B. a mark on the forehead resembling an “M”. There are several types of tabby cats including:
- and patched.
And each tabby mark has a unique pattern, like a fingerprint. Tabby markings can come in a whole range of colors, and so the “tabby” distinction refers to coat pattern and not coat color.
The genetics of color
Cat genetics are quite complex, but we can learn some interesting things from the genetics of their coat color. For example, did you know that there are only two types of fur pigment in all cats?
The pheomelanin that we have already met is a reddish pigment. The other, eumelanin, is a black pigment. All cat colors, including creams, grays, and browns, are a combination of these colors in varying proportions. White, of course, lack both pigments.
The breed myth of the orange and white cat
A white cat with orange spots is often thought to represent a particular breed. That is not true! In fact, many breeds of cats can exhibit an orange-white coloration. The orange and white cat next door could be an American Bobtail, Persian, Munchkin, or even a Maine Coon!
Their orange color comes from the predominance of a pigment called pheomelanin. This is the same pigment that makes some people “red,” so when you look at an orange-and-white kitten, there’s only one thing you can know for sure right away
She is brindle and has the genes for the pigment pheomelanin.
Are all orange and white cats male?
Another misconception is that all cats with orange and white markings or a combination of orange and white coloring must be male. That’s not true, but we can understand why people think that. About 75-80% of orange cats are actually male.
How can that be? Again, it is a question of genetics. The O gene for the orange pigment is on the X chromosome, making it linked to gender as well.
Males only have one copy of the X chromosome, and if they carry the O gene, they are orange. Females have two X chromosomes, which means they can have the O gene on one and the B gene for black pigment on the other. When this happens, they become a beautiful calico cats!
Of course, they can also get two copies of the O gene and be all orange, but since they have more options, their share of the orange cats will end up being smaller.
Orange Pigment is Dominant
The orange tint can also “mask” other colors, including black. That’s because the gene for the orange pigment, called O, is dominant. If a kitten has inherited the O gene from either parent, it will definitely have an orange coloring somewhere, although it may not be quite orange.
Light cream cats also have the orange gene. However, they also have a dilution gene that limits the amount of red pigment produced. So there are many variants that can contribute to a cat’s coloration, and the permutations are quite complex but intriguing!
How about a white cat with orange spots?
Does it make a difference if your cat looks orange with white markings or white with orange spots? Where does the white actually come from? White and orange cats owe their white spots to the white spotting gene, which overlaps pigment-free areas above the tabby orange base.
These pigment-free spots can cover most of a cat’s body, or just the classic feet, bib, and tip of the tail. So technically, all orange and white cats are orange with white tips, and not the other way around.
Exploring the connection between cat color and personality
However, there are some traits that are more common in orange and white cats, although there isn’t much scientific evidence supporting them yet. An online survey of 189 cat owners found that orange cats are likelier to be described as friendly.
Anecdotally, many orange cat owners also report that their feline companions are somewhat lazy, very cuddly, and very talkative!
Orange cats can also be prone to greed (remember Garfield’s love of lasagna?). However, the problem with all of these reports is that they rely on human perception, which can be flawed and prone to bias.
Orange and White Cat Personality
Because orange and white tabby cats look similar, many people assume they might share similar personality traits as well. This is largely wrong. Personality and temperament are more closely related to breeding than color.
Personality is also a product of the way the cat is bred – and indeed there seems to be some element of chance.
Cats are truly unique and independent creatures, and they tend to behave as they please, really! It’s one of the reasons we love cats so much: their independent and energetic nature makes them constantly fun and quirky.
Whether you fall in love with an orange and white tabby kitten or adopt an adult white cat with an orange tail, there’s plenty of room for her personality to surprise you.
Final Thoughts on the Orange and White Cat
There is no specific breed associated with orange and white coloring, and in fact, many cat breeds can be orange and white. All orange and white cats have orange tabby underneath and overlapping white patches on top. It is one of the most distinctive and admired cat fur patterns out there.
An orange cat is much more likely to be a tomcat due to the genetic roots of orange coloring. And finally, each orange and white kitty is a unique little creature!
You can’t put this cat in a box (although she loves boxes!). We often associate them with certain character traits, but there is no evidence of a biological mechanism behind them.
Do you have an orange and white cat?
Are they a boy or a girl? Do you think they are very friendly? Tell us about them in the comments! Check out our funny quotes about cats too!
What is an orange and white cat called?
Orange tabby cats also called red or ginger cats, are white with all shades of orange from the lightest cream to the deepest red.
What is the rarest color of cat?
The rarest cat color is albino. In order to have an albino cat, both parents must have two recessive genes and their offspring must receive both.
Are orange and white cats always male?
Male cats inherit a Y chromosome from their father and an X chromosome from their mother. Because the X chromosome contains the gene for orange coat color, and males only need one X chromosome from their mother to turn orange, most orange cats are male. Calico cats are almost always female due to the same genetics.
Are orange and white female cats rare?
Dee: Well, it’s not that orange kittens are rare, it’s just that an orange cat is more of a tomcat. For a cat to be orange, it must inherit two orange genes: one from its mother (orange, calico, or tortoiseshell) and one from its father (who must be orange).
Why are orange cats so friendly?
The gene responsible for the orange color is sex-linked, with an orange cat being much more likely to be a male than a female cat. Although research is far from complete, male cats are said to be slightly friendlier than females, which could explain the orange cat’s affectionate nature.
Are 2 colored cats always female?
The real, scientific fact is that most calicos and turtles are female. There are a few rare exceptions! According to a study by the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, only about 1 in 3,000 calico cats is male!
What type of cat is orange and white long hair?
Persian. Among the orange cat breeds, the Persian cat stands out. She is perhaps the most famous orange longhair cat and one of the oldest cat breeds in the world. There are different types of Persian cats, but they all have an orange coat color.