Ginger Striped Tabby Tiger Cats

by okzadmin on December 9, 2010

Are Ginger Cats Always Male?

A Portrait of Cats, Nike and Zeus

A portrait of Zeus the Orange Kitty, a red striped tabby, and Nike, a tortoiseshell or "tortie" tabby cat.

This is a common misconception about orange kitties. Ginger cats can be either male or female although ginger females are less common. Here is a quick explanation from the UK site, MessyBeast.com:

The ginger colour of cats (known as “yellow”, “orange” or “red” to cat breeders) is caused by the “O” gene. The O gene changes black pigment into a reddish pigment. The O gene is carried on the X chromosome. A normal male cat has XY genetic makeup; he only needs to inherit one O gene for him to be a ginger cat. A normal female is XX genetic makeup. She must inherit two O genes to be a ginger cat. If she inherits only one O gene, she will be tortoiseshell. The O gene is called a sex-linked gene because it is carried on a sex chromosome. Tortoiseshell cats are therefore heterozygous (not true-breeding) for red colour.

A Striped Cat is a Tabby Cat is a Tiger Cat

Some people call tabby cats “tiger cats” which makes sense because tigers are stripped tabby cats, too. The relationship between the orange striped tabby cats that live in our homes and their much bigger tiger cousins is most apparent in the rare golden tabby tiger, also known as the strawberry tiger due to its strawberry blonde coloration. You can learn more about the Golden Tabby Tiger here on Wikipedia.

Golden Tabby Tiger at the Buffalo Zoo

Golden Tabby Tiger at the Buffalo Zoo

All Red Cats are Red Tabbies

A ginger cat or “red tabby” has orange stripes on a cream ground color. The orange stripes may be dark reddish orange, or light “marmalade” orange. Zeus, my orange kitty, is a red “mackerel striped” tabby. A “mackerel tabby” has narrow stripes that run in parallel down its sides and is what some people refer to as a “tiger.” This means that Zeus has the “Mc” gene which is the wild-type tabby gene that results in stripes.

In addition, white spotting of any level can also appear in combination with tabby patterns. One fanciful way I’ve seen this described is that some tabby cats wear white “accessories”, ruffs, vests, mittens and boots.

African Wild Cat

African Wild Cat

Interestingly the striped tabby pattern may be related to the coloration of the domestic cat’s direct ancestor, the African Wildcat.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

denise asberry May 3, 2013 at 2:34 pm

The orange and white striped cat that I named Tommy was laying with two baby kitties this morning! What a surprise as I thought she was a male! One kitty was black and one looked to be a calico, white with black. I think she was still in the process of having babies.

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okzadmin May 3, 2013 at 3:45 pm

Wow, I bet you were surprised! :-D

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