Yellow (Orange) Tabby Cats - Photo by Mrs eNil
People search for yellow tabby cats on the internet. When I first saw this I wondered what it meant. I knew of no yellow cats, tabby or otherwise. About the same time I was considering doing a short post on yellow tabby cats, Dorothy emailed me about a feral cat she called, Yellow Cat. And as it happened this cat was a tabby cat. That is not surprising as solid coloured yellow cats are hard to breed or come by and tabby cats are the most common of all cat coat types.
And what is interesting is that breeders and geneticists call these cats “red” cats. Both are a little wide of the mark, I think, as they are really orange unless I have become colour blind.
Actually, I am not colour blind because the gene that causes the orange colour is unsurprisingly the sex linked “orange” (or sometimes called red) O gene. This gene is found on the X chromosome which means its inheritance is more complicated as males have one X chromosome and females have two. Therefore males have one O or o (recessive non red) allele, while females have two: OO, Oo tortoiseshell or oo (non-red).
Tortoiseshell cats are almost invariably female. The O gene creates an orange cat because it converts the pigment that makes a cat black, eumelanin into orange pigment phaeomelanin.
Yellow cats are a dilute orange and the dilution comes from the incorporation of the d gene into the genotype. However, it seems that an orange cat does not have to be dilute to be yellow. "Ginger" or "marmalade" are other terms for orange in the cat fancy.
As for the tabby coat; that is another story, which is told on this page: Cat Coats Tabby.
- Tortoiseshell cats
- Orange Maine Coon
- Orange Persian Cat
- Yellow Cat by Dorothy – this is about a feral cat with a dilute orange coat.