Are All Orange Tabby Cats Male?

Are All Orange Tabby Cats Male

Are you a fan of the eponymous cartoon character Garfield and wished you had a cat like him? Orange tabby cats are quite common and make great pets because they are affectionate, smart, and friendly. 

Are all orange tabby cats male?

No, not all orange tabby cats are male although at least 80 percent of them are, while females only make up about 20 percent of the population. Since a tabby’s color is dependent on a sex-linked gene, orange female cats need to inherit two orange genes, one from each parent. However, males need only one of the genes. Thus, there are roughly three males to one female ginger or orange cat.

How do ginger or orange tabby cats get their color?

The ginger gene O is what produces pheomelanin, the red pigment, which is dominant and usually masks other colors. For a cat to be ginger or orange, the gene needs to be carried to the X chromosome, wherein a male has one and females have two. The ginger gene has two variants, O which produces red pigment, and o which does not. A male tabby cat that gets the O type from its mother will be ginger but if it gets the o gene it will be calico or tortoiseshell. 

In order for females to be ginger, they need the O chromosome on both X chromosomes but if they have Oo they will be calico or ginger. It is less likely for females to be ginger or orange tabbies as they have many possible combinations compared to males where fewer variables are involved. To be ginger males, they need to come from red, calico and tortoiseshell mothers while to be female, a cat needs to have a fully red father while the mother has to be red, calico or tortoiseshell. 

Ginger or orange cats may come in the following patterns:

  • Classic – these cats have a tie-dyed look, swirling patterns like a marble cake
  • Mackerel – these cats are tiger-like in appearance and have stripes 
  • Ticked –   these cats have speckled coloring and the pattern is also present on the head
  • Spotted- these cats have spotted markings on the coat and are usually seen in the Bengal cat breed 
  • Patched – these cats are also called tortoiseshell with separate patches of brown and red 

Orange tabby cats characteristics and personality

Orange tabby cats characteristics and personality
Image: / Robert Way

The common characteristics of tabby cats include the M on the forehead, black eyeliner on the lighter-colored fur around the eyes,  thin pencil-like lines on the face, pigmented lips and paws, outlined pink nose, and banding on the legs, tail, and torso. Orange or ginger tabby cats are also called marmalade cats, they are very affectionate and they also tend to be very vocal. 

These cats are friendly, and smart and tend to have big appetites, they grow up to 18 pounds depending on the breed and also have unique personalities and characters depending on the breed. They also tend to get along well with kids and they make good companions and family pets. 

Here are some of the popular cat breeds with the orange tabby pattern:

  • Munchkin – these cats are known for their short legs and small size
  • American Bobtail – they are intelligent, good companions, and intelligent
  • Persian – they are known for their long, silky coats and beguiling eyes 
  • British Shorthair – they are known for being affectionate and laid-back
  • Maine Coon – famous as the largest cat breed 
  • Bengal – they are known for their intelligent and leopard-like appearance 
  • Abyssinian – these cats are known to be very smart and have distinctive ticked coats

Orange tabby cats have become famous as “stars” and you have probably heard of these popular cats aside from Garfield which includes Puss in Boots, Milo of the Adventures of Milo and Otis as well as Heathcliff, the character from an American comic strip. Former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was a fan of orange cats and has a famous ginger feline named Jock. 


Orange tabby cats, also known as ginger and marmalade cats, are popular for being affectionate and good family pets.  They are famous for being food-lovers but also for their sociable and friendly nature. At least 80 % of orange tabby cats are male while only 20 % are females since to be one, females need two copies of the X chromosomes, as opposed to males that only need one chromosome. 

Image: / jakubzak