Ginger cat

Ginger Cat Day- September 1st, 2023

Marmalade, red, orange or ginger - whatever you want to call it, ginger cats are nothing less than extraordinary. Find out everything there is to know from what's responsible for the colouring of ginger cats to the cat breeds that come in this wonderful shade.

It's no secret that ginger cats are among the most well-loved and that all who meet them think there's something special about them. This may be since they've played such cheeky characters on TV and film, including Shrek's Puss in Boots, Breakfast at Tiffany's Orangey and of course, who could forget Garfield? In fact, ginger cats have their own holiday – Ginger Cat Appreciation Day falls on the first of September each year.


The Intriguing Genetics of Ginger Cats

Female cats have two X chromosomes while male cats have one X and one Y chromosome. The gene for ginger coloration is carried on the X chromosome. When it comes to coat colour, cats inherit a combination of genes from their parents. Interestingly, the wide variety of colours you see in cats comes from just two primary colours: black and red (or orange).

Kittens inherit two copies of each gene from their parents which can be either dominant or recessive. The ginger gene “O” is dominant which means a kitten needs only inherit one copy of the ginger gene to display ginger coloration.

Whether a kitten displays full or partial ginger coloration depends on how many copies of the “O” gene the kitten inherits. Male kittens need only inherit the dominant “O” ginger gene from their mother to be fully orange while female kittens need to inherit it from both mother and father.

Male kittens that inherit the recessive “o” gene from their mother will be born calico or tortoiseshell and females that inherit “Oo” can be either ginger or calico. Because females inherit two X chromosomes, there is a higher number of possible genetic combinations. As a result, only about 20% of ginger cats are female. By comparison, about 80% of ginger cats are male.


Personality And Temperament

Many different cat breeds exhibit some degree of ginger coloration, so it is difficult to make sweeping statements about the personality and temperament of a ginger cat.

Even so, ginger cats have a reputation for being friendly and easy-going. In fact, a survey conducted by the University of California, Berkeley revealed that cat lovers were more likely to assign positive personality traits to orange cats than white or tortoiseshell cats. Ginger cats were widely regarded as friendly while tortoiseshell and white cats were described as more aloof.

How you raise your ginger kitten plays a role in developing his personality, but the kitten’s breed makeup is a major determining factor as well.

11 Fun Facts About Ginger Cats

  1. The ginger cat is not a distinct breed but a colouration. All ginger cats display some kind of pattern in their orange coats – they are never solid orange.
  2. Ginger cats get their orange colour from a specific pigment called pheomelanin. This is the same pigment that is responsible for red hair in humans.
  3. All ginger cats are tabbies. The tabby pattern is one of the most common exhibited by both wild and domestic felines and is easily distinguished by an M-shaped marking on the forehead.
  4. Ginger cats can have either long hair or short hair, depending on their breed.
  5. Certain breeds are more likely to exhibit ginger fur than others. Some of the most common ginger cat breeds are the Abyssinian, Bengal, Egyptian Mau, Munchkin, and Persian.
  6. The lifespan of an orange kitten is not specific to their colouring. They have the same average lifespan as does the particular breed of felines they belong to.
  7. Orange cats have a reputation for being friendly and affectionate, more so than other patterns like the tortoiseshell cat. The cat’s breed largely determines individual temperament, however.
  8. 80% of ginger cats are male. Female ginger cats are less common because they must inherit two copies of the ginger gene from their parents to exhibit the orange coloration.
  9. Most ginger cats are solid orange with tabby markings, though you may also come across bi-colour ginger cats which are typically orange and white.
  10. Many ginger cats develop black freckles on their faces. They most commonly appear on the lips, nose, and gums.
  11. Ginger tabbies are popular in film and TV. Some of the most famous ginger cats include the comic strip cat Garfield, Milo from Milo and Otis, and Orangey from Breakfast at Tiffany’s.