Dapper in black and white. Intelligent with liberal dashes of charm and playfulness. Meet the tuxedo cat.
Tuxedo cats have figured prominently in history and popular culture, making them among the most popular domestic cats. But what makes these cats popular? Their sleek and classy appearance? The tuxedo cat personality?
A quick look at the tuxedo cat personality
Although there is no scientific basis to their claims, many tuxedo cat owners assert that their pets are among the most intelligent cats around.
One reason behind that belief is that among cats of different colors and patterns, tuxedos, also known as piebalds, tend to open their eyes faster than their peers. While most kittens open their eyes between one to two weeks of age, tuxedo kittens can open their eyes in as little as a full day after being born.
Additionally, tuxedos grow at a rapid pace, with many able to attain their full height and weight in a fraction of the time it will take cats of other colors and patterns.
Another unique trait that tuxedos share is their dog-like nature. Compared to other cats, they are more energetic, outgoing, playful, and more vocal. For all intents and purposes, tuxies might be dogs trapped in feline bodies.
Like dogs, tuxedo cats will run to and greet their humans upon arriving home. But remember, tuxedos are still cats, and as such, they can be independent. In fact, black and white cats have a reputation for being wanderers.
Tuxedos will readily come and sit at the laps of their humans. Although these cats are affectionate to all members of the family, they tend to pick one member as their person.
Tuxedo is a pattern, not a breed
Contrary to what some people might believe, the tuxedo is not a breed. Rather, it is a color pattern. In fact, the pattern is relatively common. One quick trip to an animal shelter is more than enough for you to confirm this fact.
The pattern can be found in different breeds, including:
- American Shorthair
- British Shorthair
- Turkish Angoras
- Maine Coon
- Cornish Rex
- Devon Rex
- Norwegian Forest Cat
- American Curl
- Scottish Fold
- Exotic Shorthair
Although the tuxedo pattern is commonly associated with black and white, other color combinations are also classified as a tuxedo.
Typically, tuxedos have black coats all over their bodies, except for their faces, neck, chest, and tail tips. But there are tuxedos where the colors are reversed: the main color is white but the head and tail are colored black. This is called the van pattern.
There are also cap and saddle tuxedos that black colored heads with splotches of black in other body parts, including the ears, back, and tail. A mask and mantle tuxedo cat has black fur from the top of its head down to its back and tail while the rest of the body has white fur. In harlequins or magpies, the black and white colors are spread randomly on different body parts.
Additionally, not all tuxedo cats have black and white patterns. Although this combination is the most common, cats with orange, silver, gray, and tortoiseshell coats mixed with white fur are also called tuxedos.
How tuxedos get their coat pattern
It is widely believed that the first domesticated cats were the tuxedos. And there is a robust body of evidence that supports this claim. Upon inspection of hieroglyphs found in the tombs of ancient Egyptians, about 70 percent of the drawings were tuxedo cats.
But how exactly do tuxedo cats get their gorgeous looking coat pattern?
It was initially believed that bi-colored cats developed because the spread of pigments in the coats of kittens inside the womb spread slowly. Those who proposed this hypothesis said that the white fur on tuxedos are the parts of the kitten’s body that were unable to get pigments before they were born.
However, recent research counters this theory. Experts now say that the pigments develop randomly on kittens while inside the womb. Scientists claim that no gene directs coat color and combinations.
And although tuxedos share genetic similarities with cats of other patterns, the piebald pattern appears in both males and females. In contrast, calicos and tortoiseshell cats are almost always females.
Color, coat pattern, and personality
Is a cat’s personality linked to its coat pattern and personality?
From old wives’ tales to popular culture, cats of certain colors and patterns are associated with certain personality traits.
Tabbies, for example, are believed to be friendly and calm while black cats are often seen as both friendly and fiercely independent. Orange cats, on the other hand, are believed to be a bit temperamental.
But do color and coat pattern influence a cat’s personality? According to a survey conducted by the University of California, Berkeley, people associate colors and patterns with personality traits.
However, there is no scientific evidence that supports that belief. In fact, such belief can be detrimental for some coat colors and patterns. Some cats are abandoned while some are kept based on the notion that color and coat patterns dictate personality.
Specifically, there is a bias against cats which are colored black and brown. Cats that have these colors are less likely to be adopted. And experts believe that the main reason behind this phenomenon known as black cat syndrome is the belief that black and brown cats make bad pets.
Whether consciously or unconsciously, coat color and pattern has a direct effect on the chances of a cat getting adopted.
If you are keen on adopting a cat, experts suggest looking beyond the color of a cat’s fur. Instead, they suggest that prospective cat owners spend some time with a few felines so that they can have a fair idea of the individual personalities of each cat on their shortlist.
On the converse side of the coin, there is conclusive evidence that a cat’s breed has a direct effect on his personality and temperament. For example, Persians and Ragamuffins have long been known to be laidback and placid while the Bengal and Egyptian Mau are renowned for being active.
Tuxedo cats: beauty and brains
Shakespeare, Beethoven, Sir Isaac Newton, and Bill Clinton are just a few of the people who are known to have owned tuxedo cats. And if you are planning on adopting one, you will be joining some good company.
But do not let a cat’s color or coat pattern dictate your decision to adopt a feline or not. At the end of the day, your decision should be based on the personality match between you and a cat. And the best way to do that is to spend some time with a cat you are planning to adopt.
Image: istockphoto.com / Svetlana Popova