Orange tabby cats are the stunning beauties of the feline world with their bright ginger fur bedecked with a bevy of striped patterns. Although these orange felines are typically associated with feisty and outgoing personalities, coat color doesn't determine a cat's temperament at all. In fact, a variety of factors affect how friendly, shy, docile, and playful a cat will be, usually based on the environment in which the cat is raised.
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Orange cat breeds
Orange tabby cats aren't a unique breed of feline; rather, their fur is a coat color and pattern that you'll find among many cat breeds. Several breeds of cats come with orange tabby markings, including Persians, American shorthair cats, British shorthair cats, ragdolls, American bobtail cats, LaPerms, Maine coon cats, Manx cats, and Scottish folds. The personalities and temperaments of these orange tabby cats may vary by their breed; there is no one type of orange cat character.
Orange coat characteristics
Each orange tabby cat, no matter what breed, has an abundance of a pigment called pheomelanin, the same one that is responsible for red hair in humans. This leads to various shades of orange coat colors, from light coral to dark reddish-orange shades. All orange cats are tabbies. There are five types of orange tabbies: mackerel, spotted, ticked, classic, and patched tabby cats. Each tabby has a signature "M" on his forehead.
Orange tabby cat personality
So, does the coat color and pattern affect a cat's temperament? Some claim that anecdotally, orange tabby cats of all breeds appear to be more gregarious than others. However, this could be because of the fact that the majority of orange tabby cats are male ― around 80 percent of them. This is simply due to the genetics of their coat color.
There is some evidence that male cats tend to be more outgoing, friendly, and gregarious than their female counterparts. So, the fact that more orange tabbies are males could account for why people tend to view them as friendlier than cats of other colors.
Every orange tabby is different
Although there may be some anecdotal evidence that orange tabby cat personality tends to lean toward being friend and outgoing, every cat is different. No matter what the breed, one of the most important contributing factors to a cat's personality is the upbringing and socialization that the cat gets as a kitten.
It's important that your cat had exposure to people and other pets, ideally before the age of four months. During this sensitive period, your kitten will learn how to interact with people and other pets based on her interactions with them. If these interactions are positive, the kitten will be more outgoing and friendly than kittens who have negative experiences or who aren't around people at all.
Dealing with temperament issues
If your orange tabby cat isn't an outgoing, friendly cat like the famous Morris, Heathcliff, or Garfield, you can work on that with positive reinforcement, even for older cats. Food is a good motivator for cats, and you can use tasty treats or small pieces of cooked chicken to reward your ginger kitty for the behavior that you want. For example, if you want a cuddlier cat, sit quietly with your cat in a small room and encourage him to come over and sit with you. When he does, give him a series of treats.
For shy ginger cats, encourage them to be friendlier by inviting some friends to your home. Have each friend give your cat some treats so that your cat will soon associate strangers with good things (treats). Pretty soon, your formerly shy cat will be a social butterfly.
- Psychology Today: Why Orange Cats Are So Special, According to Science
- FelineLiving.net: Orange Tabby Cats Facts, Personality And Genetics
- National Geographic: Surprising Things You Never Knew About Your Cat
- Catster: The Orange Tabby Cat — 8 Fun Facts
- The Cat Fanciers' Association: CFA Breeds
- Alley Cat Allies: How to Socialize a Kitten