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Orange Cats and Red Tabby Cats

Orange tabby cat

Orange cats represent a common type of cats that differ from the other domestic felines only by their coat pattern.

We are not talking about a new breed of cats here, we are only talking about cats that have an orange (red) coat, which is usually tabby in pattern.

These cats are called orange cats, red cats, ginger cats, Garfield cats, marmalade cats, yellow or butter cats, caramel cats, or butterscotch cats.

They have many names, but we are actually talking about cat breeds featuring this specific coat pattern.

Almost all orange cats (red cats) are orange tabby cats.

Giving the fact that this is not a distinctive breed, orange cats can have short hair or long hair coats, so you can choose from a pretty wide variety of breeds and coats if you want to own such a lovely cat.

It seems that all felines have the tabby cat gene in their DNA, however, some cat coat colors or patterns may hide the tabby markings, even if the gene is present in their genetic code.

I’m sure that you’ve never seen a cat with full orange, red or cream coat without the tabby markings because even if the markings are faint, you can see them well when the cat sits in full sunlight.

How To Recognize An Orange Tabby Cat?

You can easily recognize an orange tabby cat after its thin lines on its face, after the well defined markings around its eyes, and the distinctive “M” letter on its forehead.

Orange tabby cats feature orange, reddish or even cream-colored coats due to the presence of a particular pigment in their body (pheomelanin), which is the same pigment that creates ginger people (people with red hair).

Regarding the eye colors, we can easily recognize orange cats due to their green, gold, or copper eyes.
Some red cats can also have golden or topaz eyes (kittens start off with blue eyes, but as they mature, their eyes color become golden, green, copper, or topaz.

Types of Orange Tabby Cats

Orange tabby cats usually have four different coat marking patterns such as: the classic pattern, mackerel pattern, spotted pattern and ticked pattern.

1. Classic Orange Tabby Cat

This type of red tabby cat looks more like a tiny liger due to its coat markings.

If the cat has solid color in its coat, the tabby markings will be pretty faint, but if the coat has areas with a lighter color, the stripes will be more distinctive.

The eyes can be green, gold, or copper, and the orange tabby markings can be found on the entire body of the cat, and this is the reason why many owners consider them as tiny, but pretty lazy ligers.

2. Mackerel Orange Tabby Cats

These orange tabby cats are considered by their owners as “tiger cats” due to their narrow stripes running in parallel down their body sides.

On their body, the narrow stripes that run down the sides are following a vertical pattern.

The shades of orange or red can be found on their face, ears, nose, on their tummy and legs.

These cats usually have (when mature) copper or marigold eyes.

It is preferred to see non-broken and evenly spaced stripes that branch out from one stripe running along the top of the cat’s back down its spine, in order to resemble a fish skeleton — which is the distinctive mark specific to these cats.

3. Spotted Orange Tabby Cat

A spotted orange tabby cat can be easily recognized due to its brownish spots that cover its back, sides and legs.

Despite the size of the cat, the spots can be large or small having a round, oval or rosette shape.

A mackerel orange tabby can look like a spotted orange tabby if its mackerel stripes appear to be broken.

Today, we still don’t know for sure if these spots are coming from a mackerel tabby cat or have been created by a separate gene.

Spotted orange tabby cats usually have sunfire or copper eyes.

4. Ticked Orange Tabby Cat

A ticked orange tabby cat has a nice orange coat with long hair that makes her look like a fluffy toy.

If we look closer, we can’t see the traditional stripes or spots specific to tabby cats, however, its fluffy coat has tabby markings on the face and agouti hairs (individual hairs feature alternating light and dark bands) on the body.

lazy orange tabby cat

A very lazy orange tabby cat.

The ticked pattern is displayed prominently in Abyssinian cats, often appears in mixed breeds.

The eyes of the ticked orange tabby cats feature colors like alien green or metallic ocean.

Facts About Orange Tabby Cats

If you own an Orange Tabby Cat, you have to read the following facts about your feline.

1. Orange Tabby Cats Do Not Represent A Distinctive Breed Of Cats

Orange tabby cats are not a distinctive breed of cats, they only feature a coat pattern that is specific to tabby cats, but has an orange, red, yellow, caramel or butterscotch background.

2. Any Cat Breed Can Have Orange Or Red Tabby Cats

Orange or red tabby cats can be found in any cat breed, actually any tabby cat (even we talk about tabby cats with classic pattern, mackerel tabby cats, striped pattern tabby cats or ticked tabby cats) that has an orange coat is considered an orange tabby cat.

3. All Orange Or Red Cats Are Tabby

All red or orange cats are actually tabby. I’m sure that there is no orange cat without stripes, spots, and the distinctive “M” letter on its forehead.

All orange cats are tabby because even if the stripes or spots are very faint, they are still there due to the presence of specific gene (common to all tabbies) in their DNA.

4. A Pigment Creates The Orange Color

Pheomelanin is the name of the pigment that creates the orange color of the coat, and the same pigment is present in ginger people (creates the red hair).

All orange tabby cats have this specific pigment in their body, and this is the reason why we have ginger cats.

5. The Term “Tabby” Is An Ancient One

We don’t know for sure who introduced the word “tabby” in their name, but in the past, the same word (tabby) was used a certain type of striped silk produced in the Middle East.

6. The Name “Ginger Cat” Was Introduced With A Certain Reason

To differentiate the orange tabby cats from the black tabby variety, the name “ginger cat” was introduced to name these funny felines.

7. There Are More Males Orange Tabby Cats Than Females

We have more male orange tabby cats than females due to genetics.

The X chromosome creates the orange coloring, and female orange tabby cats are XX, while male orange tabby cats are XY.

For a new female orange tabby cat, both parents (the sire and the dam) need to pass each an X chromosome, but for a new male orange tabby cat, only the mother needs to pass an X chromosome, and this is the reason why at every ten orange tabby kittens, we have 8 males and 2 females.

8. Orange Tabby Cats Love To Eat.

Do you remember the famous Garfield created by Jim Davis?, well Garfield is an orange tabby cat that loves to eat and spend time in front of the TV (it’s quite a lazy cat).

That cartoon actually shows that orange cats love the good life and tasty food.
They don’t bother hunting, they prefer to stay inside the house, eating and sleeping all they long.

9. An Orange Tabby Cat Can Be Quite Lazy

Acting like low-battery cats (not all of them, but a large number of red tabby cats are considered lazy cats), they are perfect lap buddies and snugglers.

Even being lazy, these cats are playful and big-hearted companions for their owners.

However, you need to keep them in good shape because if they become overweight and obese they won’t be happy.

10. Famous People Have Owned Orange Tabby Cats

Throughout the history, orange tabby cats were owned by famous people, which turned to be the most important promoters of this type of cat.

Winston Churchill was the owner of a famous orange tabby cat named Tango.

Audrey Hepburn’s cat that appeared in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, was an orange tabby cat named Orangey.


Being a lazy cat that eats a lot of food and sleeps all day long, an orange tabby cat is the perfect choice for people that want a lap buddy.

If you are an active person you can interact with your orange cat to motivate her to eat less and play more with you.

An active life will keep your feline in good shape and will make her extremely happy.

Article written by:

Darius Savin is a lifelong animal lover and protector and the chief editor of Checkmember. He writes and edits articles and is also the creator of the distribution maps for all the creatures featured here.