An orange tabby cat sleeping with his eyes closed.
An orange tabby cat sleeping with his eyes closed. Photography ©Ryhor Bruyeu | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

The Orange Tabby Cat — 8 Fun Facts

We’ve compiled a few facts about the orange tabby cat that address common questions like, “Are all orange cats tabbies?” and “Are all orange tabby cats male”?


Morris and Garfield are just a few of the iconic orange tabby cats that are part of our culture’s collective cat consciousness. It’s not hard to know why. Their big, bold and brightly colored coats is one reason. But, as anyone who’s lived with an orange tabby cat can attest, it’s really their personalities that make them stars. They’re infinitely fascinating felines, so here are eight fun facts about the awesome orange tabby cat!

1. Tabby is actually a coat pattern, not a breed.

Specifically, the presence of stripes denotes a “tabby” cat. It’s not specifically an orange cat breed, but the color and pattern of their coat. And there are five different tabby configurations: classic tabby, mackerel tabby, spotted tabby, ticked tabby and patched tabby.

An orange tabby cat with an "M" marking on his forehead.
An orange tabby cat with an “M” marking on his forehead. Photography ©elenaleonova | iStock / Getty Images.

2. All orange cats are tabbies.

Go ahead, Google “orange cats” – they’re all tabbies. Even if their stripes are faint, they’re there. So, while all orange cats are tabbies, not every tabby is orange.

3. Is every orange tabby cat male?

While it’s true that a higher percentage of orange tabbies are male, the ratio is actually about 80 percent male to 20 percent female. And it’s not some sort of magic — it’s genetics. The X chromosome is responsible for the orange coloring. Females possess two Xs and males possess XY. Hence, a female orange tabby cat requires the sire and the dam to pass on the orange genes. But males only need the orange gene from their mothers.

4. What does that orange tabby cat “M” stand for?

One of the most distinctive markings on the orange tabby cat is the “M” above his eyes. This is seen in all types of tabbies, so it’s not just the orange kitties that boast these cool peeper accouterments! Tabby stripes are probably predominant because of their camouflage properties, so it’s most likely that the markings helped them hide in the wild. Depending on the orange tabby’s parental décor choices, this may or may not be the case for the modern tabby.

5. Orange tabbies tend to talk a lot!

National Geographic reports that personality is tied to a cat’s coat color. Guess who won anecdotally “most gregarious?” Of course, every cat’s personality is different, but Amy Wester has lived with many different cats over the years, and “MoMo” short for — you know it! — MotorMouth, is a testament to the findings. “He’s the most affectionate and happiest cat,” says Amy. “When we rescued him 11 years ago, his constant loud purring could be heard throughout the house.” His name is fitting, and even more so today: “MoMo hasn’t stopped purring since we got him!”

6. Orange tabbies are known for being Velcro cats.

Tiger the orange tabby cat.
Tiger is an orange tabby cat who loves to be loved. Photography courtesy Karen Stephenson.

Every cat is an individual, but orange cats have a reputation for being snuggly attention lovers. In addition to being a real purr machine, MoMo the orange tabby cat seeks affection every waking hour from Amy, and then some. His frequent less-than-stealthy move is to climb up onto her pillow and start climbing around her head for attention. It makes no difference whether she’s awake or not!

Karen Stephenson echoes these sentiments. Her house has been filled with all sorts of companion animals for two decades and yet there’s one snuggle monster who is the most in-your-face when seeking some loving. “Since the first day my husband brought home Tiger, he’s been the most loving animal,” says Karen. Even 18 years later, Tiger’s nightly habit of sleeping on her head is only broken when she’s traveling. He also likes to sit and stare at Karen’s husband, Brett. “I don’t know why he does it but it’s part of what makes him so adorable!”

7. Winston Churchill famously owned an orange tabby cat.

Maybe it’s a little too fitting that the man who said, “Never, never, never give up,” owned an orange tabby cat. That’s right, Winston Churchill shared his life with an orange tabby cat called Tango. He was probably just trying to get some sleep in his own bed when he came up with the famous line.

8. Orange tabbies are the color of appetite.

What? The psychology of colors arguably started with Goethe. His writing asserts that red-yellow is associated with “warmth and gladness.” He also claimed that yellow-red possesses the highest energy (apparently causing folks in days of yore to freak out if they saw an orangey cloak on a dreary day).

Contemporary findings include that orange is the color of adventure, social communication and, yes, stimulating the appetite (Howard Johnson was onto something!). While it may be a broad brush to paint all orange tabbies in — we can see that there’s definitely an anecdotal correlation between their coat colors and their personalities. Now we know exactly why Garfield couldn’t resist that lasagna!

So, whether they’re trying to hog the pillow so you’ll wake up and pet them or purring up a storm so you’ll pick them up and pet them — there’s one thing we know for sure: orange tabby cats are as bright, beautiful and varied as their coats!

Tell us: Do you have an orange tabby cat? Did you know these facts about your orange tabby cat? Is your orange tabby cat a snuggler who loves to talk a lot? Do you have an orange tabby girl?

Thumbnail: Photography ©Ryhor Bruyeu | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

This post was originally published in 2018.

About the author

Denise LeBeau is a writer, editor and photographer with almost 20 years of experience of creating content for animal-related issues, endeavors and events. She worked at Best Friends Animal Society for 12 years where she had two columns in the Best Friends Magazine, and held multiple content creation roles including web managing editor and outreach campaign editor. Denise has been an ongoing contributor to Catster since 2014, writing for the magazine and website. The self-professed poet laureate of the pet set is currently the manager of development for an animal welfare agency, where she works with a team to create content across media platforms. She lives in Hampton Bays with her two rescue Siamese mixes – Flipper and Slayer, and her LBD (little brown dog), Zephyrella.

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305 thoughts on “The Orange Tabby Cat — 8 Fun Facts”

  1. I have recently been adopted by a male orange tabby. He was a street cat that started showing up and sneaking food when I would leave the kitchen door open. Over the last 18 months he has gotten more and more comfortable and has even figured out how to get through the cat door. I woke up this morning and found him sleeping at the foot of my bed. As I write this he is laying on my chest.
    I never thought I would meet a more affectionate and chatty cat than my Bombay, Omen. This little Peanut is starting to give him a run for his money.

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  2. My female orange kitty Gillie is an aggressively affectionate CHATTERBOX! She is a sweet cuddle machine to me and my husband and the muffin-making is endless, but she's a total a-hole to everyone else. If someone spends the night, she'll cuddle on top of them while they sleep… and then hiss at them when they wake up!

    She loves bathroom time and insists on being in the lap of whoever is on the toilet. She is strangely *trainable*, she seems to thrive when she is challenged with rules and games. She is indoor-only but she obediently sits right inside the wide-open door and watches me garden, and knows that if she doesn't step outside then she'll get catnip when I'm done.

    She likes to chase me around the house, and be chased. She wrestles but keeps her claws in and doesn't bite hard. She has weird eating habits, she likes her kibbles to be rolled over to her so she can "hunt" them.

    Does this sound like anyone else's cat??

    1. He sounds like such a sweet lovely cat! I have a female orange tabby, and she likes for me to flick her treats across the room so she can chase after them :)

  3. We had an orange tabby cat that we inspirationally named "ginge" when I was a kid. He was a big bruiser tomcat who was fearless and would take on anything – foxes, other toms….but he was nice as pie with people.

  4. My orange tabby, Tigger, is frequently purring. He's an indoor/outdoor cat during the day. When he comes in for the night, he expects me to stop whatever I'm doing and hold him. If he can't get enough room on my lap, he'll just hang on as much as he can and use the chair for the rest of him. He's not as talkative as some cats I've had but he does talk a lot. He has a soft meow and is not loud.

  5. I have a female orange tabby named Livvy and she looks more yellow than orange. She has the legendary 'M' on her forehead and a white underbelly. The rest of her consists of stripes. Stripes all over. Personality-wise, she's can be quite complex. She only meows when she is letting me know she's low on food or the drinking fountain. She purrs loudly and will even purr if I just look at her. She and her Bombay "sister" sleep with me all night every night. She loves her whiskers/ears rubbed the most and likes to be held. But if I'm holding her for a second longer than she wants, she'll drop the hiss N' growl. She probably hisses more than meows, when including playing with her sis Lana. And 5 seconds later, she'll be purring again. She likes to lick my face and arms. I've had kitties all my life, so I don't mind. Theres a morbid reason why kitties try to lick your eyes, so I read. When I use string to play with Livvy, she's never careful to avoid scratching me. Lets see, she eats a lot but isn't overweight. Lana will try to eat anything I have, but the only human treats Livvy will eat is canned Tuna (and the occasional piece of fancy pricey cheese). Oddly, she won't rink any kind of milk. Sometimes she eats kitty treats, sometimes she wont and will walk away for Lana to take them. Livvy's the bossy kitty between her and Lana. She used to be scared of rain and thunder and would crawl into a makeshift hideout box I made for her. But we live in Tampa Bay, so it only took a couple rainy seasons and she doesn't mind the weather much these days. Though she'll usually walk slowly to my workstation and lay underneath when the rain begins. Oh and she HATES collars. I tried over and over to keep a collar on her when I first brought her home, but she would claw at it like crazy and get her lower jaw caught under the collar. They never go outside anyway, though I wish she wore the darn thing just in case. For some reason, Livvy isn't crazy about Catnip. I have to put some on her scratcher and physically set her in front of the catnip, or else she won't eat it. Speaking of scratchers, and the messy things drive me crazy, but she will only use the cardboard scrathers. No rope, no carpet scratchers. But when I tried to introduce carpet/rope scratchers, she wouldn't touch them and scratched up my rugs instead! She is a lap cat and will sleep for hours in my lap if I don't move. Naturaly she loves the windows. When people walk by, she'll always growl at them. She typically hides when visitors come over, but will venture out soon after they arrive. I guess thats enough lol. She's got a ton of personality, but what kitty doesn't?

  6. For a moment I thought you were talking about the American Drug Enforcement Agency in regards to some shady cat shampoo, like, ‘bath salts’ :D

  7. Shannan Peterson

    I forgot to mention my beautiful companion LOVES to play fetch! She could do this all day!

  8. Shannan Peterson

    I have a beautiful female orange tabby. She is very loving and cuddly….on HER terms! She loves to talk to me and has a special way to verbally remind me when it’s time to feed her. She gave birth to 4 kittens, 3 of them being males. They all looked just like their beautiful mama. My best friend also has an orange tabby male who is very loving and affectionate, mostly with her. He just turned 20 years old yesterday ????

  9. I have an orange tabby (aka ginger) girl named Whiskers, and for a small cat, her personality is huge! She does not appreciate her female companions, or her male ones, for that matter, but she sure loves me! She is very vocal, and very affectionate. I’ve never owned a cat that was as attuned to my emotions as she is. Whenever I get upset, she comes running to sit in my lap and comfort me. Such a special girl, she will always have a place in my heart ????

  10. The love of my life was an orange tabby. Yes, Phebe was a female! She lived to be 21 years old and never let a night go without sleeping on my back or hip, whichever was available. Phebe was a deep orange with bright white chest and other areas that here glimmering highlights. Phebe was a talker, of course, but most importantly, she followed me around the house to be wherever I was — just like a dog! Phebe loved to be loved and cuddled. I’ll miss her for ever.

  11. O’Malley is my orange/Siamese boy. His brother, Tito, is a flame point. My friend’s husband found them abandoned (est 4weeks) at his work site. O’Malley is the orange kitty poster boy. He fetches and talks constantly. Wouldn’t trade him in for the world. I’ve leashed trained him. We go for walks and car rides together.

  12. I just adopted an Orange Tabby and his name Manju. Boy, he so loving! Follows me everywhere, sleeps with me, meows in my face, looks for your hand so he can get a pet. Purr, purr, purr. I try to creep out of bed to use the bathroom… boing! He’s up! Walks all over me in bed. Thought I gave him the wrong name… should have been Pepe le Pew!

  13. I am owned by an orange tabby female. She is my baby I am going to have her spayed soon so I’m sad she will not have any babies but I am enjoying my life more with her in it! She is a very intelligent kitty and enjoys her snacks such as temptations catnip flavored cat treats. She has a personality that really sets her apart from most kitties. She is very empathetic and sensitive to emotions and will cuddle and show love when she feels your sadness. I couldn’t ask for a better fur baby!!!

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  15. Donna Somboonlakana

    We just took a female, orange tabby, neighborhood cat in December 2020 when it was real cold outside. She once belonged to a neighbor who spaded her but she was very unruly as a young cat and ended up on the street for about three years. Other neighbors prepared an outdoor place for her but she wanted more. We used to chase her away from our backyard birds but she snuggled up to me one day while I was sunning on the trampoline. Now, she is our sweet-wild companion. We enjoy her quiet slickness and are happy to have her in our home.

  16. I had an orange tabby named Scout. He got the name because he scouted the neighborhood and would just walk into people’s homes and make himself at home. One person told me she had put her two little girls down for a nap and she went to check up on them when they started giggling. Scout was in bed with them playing to his heart’s content. He LOVED our black lab and would give him what we called “Cat Scans” (rubbing against him from one side of the tail, around the head and down the other side of the tail where he would turn around and do it again). We would usually have to intervene to stop the cat scan even though the dog was very tolerant. He would only purr for the dog and the purr during a cat scan was VERY loud. He never purred for a human until after the dog died. Scout has been gone for 19 months and I still miss him.

  17. I have a rescue who was dancing around my front yard at 8 wks. When he ran off, he looked like a chicken from behind! Long fur at that early a age! He turned out to be a Maine Coon! The biggest ball of orange fur ever!
    We named him Fire Ball, but he’s also known as Prince Hairy. He looks exactly like the real Prince Harry! I have side by side pics to prove it! Lol. He is loathsome of my other cats and has been known to disappear for a couple days at a time. And he actually gets mad at me about this. He has recently gotten another shock. I’ve rescued a Momma short hair orange tabby. I named her “Spark”. Realized she came with two kittens. Male orange tabby – just like her and a female tortie. Named Joey and Kamala. Mom spayed and the other two will be neutered and spayed. Hope to find them homes. Fireball hopes so too.

  18. I have an 18lb, long haired, male named formerly named Mr.Opus, but often called Opie. He was born on a welcome mat (he still uses to nap on) in my kitchen. Opie is the silliest critter and fills the house with hilarity. He is often found laying around flattened out in a pose we call “Opie skin rug” or using the wall to sit upright on his butt. He is also the best mannered cat that has never been destructive, despite having huge clawed front paws. An absolute joy to have in the house.

  19. hqve 5 yallertabbies eenie meanie minie and moe amd momma 3 are female momma and meanie and moe were all feral found em being predated by a raccoon hiding in an old truck out in the woods was a bit rough gettin em all rangled took 3 days and a can of tuna and a whole box of band aids momma figured out whar was goin on and jumped right in the car as i had 4 of what had been6 in a large box i left to wean iny bathroom cortaimed off and the wimdow open so momma could come and go as she pleased and now …well im tje proud member of a pride of little lions we enjoy huntin the squirrels out back eenie is extremely efficient at retrieval ..if minie dont get to em first h3 dont let go but wont chalenge eanie well except for pancakes hes a little thief i love how we pack up and spread out in the woods ..course a bed full of these little hotrods can be soft fuzzy and sometimes surprising if meanie is feelin spry thats when i relate to fred flintstone …shoulda never showed em how to pop the screne out and get in lol smart lil critters love em to death…and all i was thinkin is ..these guys ,ll handle the squirrels in the attic ..

  20. I’ve had cats in my life for nearly 6 decades now. I’ve had every color from pure white to pure black. Every cat that has left a large, loving imprint throughout my life has been an orange tabby. My 14.6 year old female orange and white tabby Juju died a couple months ago. She was perhaps the most intelligent cat I’ve ever had. This month we adopted a male orange long hair tabby at just 10 weeks old – he is already showing all the signs of being a very intelligent loving cat. And he’s huge compared to the female cats I’ve had the pleasure of knowing.
    Love all your cats!

  21. We have a orange tabby female kitten we call marmalade. She is curled up in my arms as I write this. Purrs non stop and curls around my head on the pillow at night. She tells me when she wants a bath, food or anything else. Every time I brush my teeth she has to help by keeping her paw on my hand and I can not visit the bathroom without her sitting by my feet. Very much like this article says orange tabbies are very different from other cats.

  22. Our orange tabby, Jerry, is everything described in the article. He didn’t talk at first (we have had him since kittenhood) but when he found his voice, he loves to “talk.” He is cuddly and so sweet. We also have his sister in our little family who is a tortie. We love them both very much, but boy are their personalities a lot different!

  23. We have a feral orange tabbie who has spent the last 10+ years living in my home. Buster who we initially thought to be male is a female feral kitty who wondered in to our home and has refused to leave. Her purring is constant and she stalks me where ever I go. In January she finally succumbed to the domesticated lifestyle of an indoor cat and allows us to pet her after all of these years of living with her. She has become quite the cuddle bug and the purring is never ending. Buster is officially my favorite.

  24. I inherited a female orange tabby named Sally. Well, that’s her given name… I just call her Li’l Girl. She is most affectionate and introduces herself to all visitors to the point of jumping up on laps after getting to know them. However, the reason I have her is she doesn’t get along with others! Like most cats she finds a place in the sun and naps to rest up for her sleeping before she has to go to bed. Every now and then she’ll wake up and make her rounds but that seems to tire her out so it’s nap time again. One of these days I’m sure she’ll be rested up enough to maybe get a job and get her own place but until then I’ll take care of her.

    1. I am laughing so hard at your comment! I’ve had two orange tabbies spanning the past 3 1/2 decades; neither one would tolerate another cat in the home ???? their mellow easy going disposition quickly disappeared if my mom’s cats would even come over for a weekend! They both dearly loved their dogs though

  25. Thanks for this info! I’ve had two orange tabbies: Topaz and Crackerjack and they were the best cats. So friendly and sweet. My best friend growing up also had an orange tabby named Floyd.

    I didn’t know that about them being majority male!

  26. Our female orange tabby, appropriately named Gabby, is sweet as can be. She showed up on or doorstep at about 8 months old and we couldn’t resist her constant cat speak and purring. She is a bit nervous about new sounds and people, also scared to death of storms which we think is because she lived on her own in the scary outdoors. She follows me around, when I sit she is immediately there wanting on my lap.

    1. Of course, I have a tabby cat. I wouldn’t read it if I hadn’t one. Actually, I read this article out of loud for him (a bit weird, but who cares).
      His name is Sean, and he’s not gregarious cat. When someone comes to our house, he hides under the sofa. But, he sometimes walks around the house and meows without a reason.
      When he was a kitten, he used to sleep with me and purred all the time, but he doesn’t do it now. He’s not a snuggler, and doesn’t like when people rub him. He can let you to rub him if only you give him some food????
      I was slightly surprised by the fact that orange tabbies are the colour of appetite.
      But I have another cat who is not a tabby, but he resembles everything that’s described in the article ????
      I just love my cats whatever they are ????

  27. I have a female orange tabby. She is exactly like this list describes. Very talkative, super cuddly and affectionate, just loves everyone. When I rescued her, I couldn’t resist her because of how loud she was purring and how she just curled right up in my lap and went to sleep. She really couldn’t hurt a fly, literally, she hasn’t ever even hurt a bug! She sleeps on my back all night and on my lap or beside me the rest of the time and follows me around like a shadow. Love her.

  28. I have always loved orange tabbys. Because of there Character and vocal and loving they are. My Morris never shuts up always by my side just like his brother Wink. Both with there own unique trates. One sleeps on my head other cuddles beside me always have. They listen better then most dogs I know. The kisses and cuddles are endless. They are a special breed for sure ❤

  29. My tubby tabby survived a 30-mile round trip under the hood of my Dad’s car: from Groton, MA to Nashua, NH and then BACK to Groton clinging to the wheel well!

  30. I’ve had 4 oranges – Lisa, Mickey, Willie, and now Leo. Liscmy first ginger baby was originally named Sam as when adopted, the shelter folks thought she was a he!! Mickey and Willie came together from a neighbor’s cat. And now Leo, who was a feral kitty rescued by another neighbor. Leo came with Stella. a little black sweetheart with a shooting star on her chest. All 4 gingers are exactly yams advertised – lucky us – and Miss Stella is a little dream come true who loves to be brushed. Not so much the ginger’s tho’ they are most cuddly!!! We loved/love them all. Also a big mixed Black Lab rounds out this wonderful family!!! Cheers to all the cats, dogs and animal lovers everywhere!!!

  31. My mom and dad got an orange tabby last year his name is Sampson he is the cutest kitty ever loved to play tricks with our feet and very active and playful and smart and the attention thing is true they know what they want when they want it he is very alert and talkative and also obedient his favorite resting place is the lazy boy chair which was my dad’s but now his chair and he doesn’t mind making u move out of it we love our little dude and we are proud of our orange tabby my Sammie also known as Sampson..

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