Orange you glad there are orange cats?

Orange colored cats seem to have gathered a reputation online for being, well, not the brightest. But is that true? Are orange cats dumb? Are orange cats weird? 

You can't judge any cat solely by it's color and an orange colored cat is no different. All the cats I've known have been little weirdos no matter what color their fur is, but there actually are a few things that may set orange cats apart. 

Orange color in cats is not associated with one specific breed. says  there can be exotic shorthair cats with orange fur like Scottish Folds or Devon Rex and longhair cats like Persians and Maine Coons can have orange hair. Even tigers are known for their orange fur (and I dare you to call a tiger dumb!) also says that orange cats are never a solid color orange. They always have a pattern. Cats with patterned fur are often called tabby cats. Orange tabbies can have different patterns. An orange cat could have spots, or a swirl pattern known as a classic pattern. It could also be ticked, which means at first it doesn't look to have stripes, but each hair in the lighter part of the coat has stripes on it! An orange colored cat could also have stripes. An orange cat with tiger stripes is known as a mackerel pattern, 

Another interesting note about orange cat fur patterns is that they often have an "M" shaped marking on their foreheads. gives a few legends about this. It could be that the "M" is a gift from Mohammed to show his appreciation for an orange tabby named Muezza who saved his life. Another story is that the "M" is for Mary, who pet an orange cat who curled up in the manger to keep the baby Jesus warm. Another option is from Egypt where cats were called Mau after the noise they make. And here I thought orange cats were just big fans of Mil Mascaras. 

But when we're talking about orange domestic cats, (not tigers), the gene responsible for orange cats is sex linked, so orange cats are more likely to be male. says 80% of orange colored cats are male, so only 20% are female orange tabbies. says there is some research that seems to suggest that male cats are slightly more friendly then female cats, and so that might account for orange cats reputation for friendliness.  

 Besides the likelihood for an orange cat to be male, the PyschologyToday article also says that orange cats are more common in rural areas, where females are more likely to have only one male mating partner. They also say that orange cats are less common in more dangerous areas. This seems to suggest that orange cats might be bigger risk takers, so that in dangerous areas, they are less common because their risky behavior causes them to use up their 9 lives! They also say that male orange cats tend to be bigger than cats of other colors (and orange female cats smaller than cats of other colors). Based on this, they theorize that the larger orange male cats are more aggressive. This combination of aggression and risk taking might be another reason that orange cats seem to be more friendly to humans. They might be more likely to take a risk in approaching a human than another color cat who is more timid. 

Based on all this, my own theory is that orange cats may have some different attitudes than other cats which contribute to the stereotype of them being dumb. Their confidence and willingness to take risks might lead them to do things that other cats would not dare (and which we might consider to be dumb!). So, the next time you see an orange cat do something dumb, think about it - is he doing that because he's being aggressive and because he's not afraid of taking a risk? If that's the case, then maybe we should all be a little more like orange cats sometimes!

Photo by Amber Kipp on Unsplash

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