Geneticists call red cats ‘orange’! Cat breeders describe them as ‘red’. The general public say they are ‘ginger’ while story-tellers refer to them as ‘marmalade cats’. They are also still referred to as ‘yellow cats’ by some people. The confusion over the description of red cats reminds me of the various names for the mountain lion.
If we were obliged to choose one of the five descriptions we’d have to choose ‘orange’ because geneticists have priority over all others in this discussion. The ‘standard designation is now orange’.
The gene symbol is ‘O’. It is sex linked as it is carried on one of the sex chromosomes. What does this gene do? Well, according to Robinson’s Genetics, ‘..the action of the ‘O’ gene is to eliminate all eumelanistic pigment (black, chocolate, blue etc.) from the hair fibres….The result is a lighter pigment granule, with different optical properties…’
In the early days of the cat fancy ‘orange’ was used in the description of some breeds such as: Orange Tabby Short-hair (1887) and Orange Persian (1903). As mentioned, breeders nowadays refer to them as red cats.
The quotes are from Robinson’s Genetics for Cat Breeders and Veterinarians at page 143. The picture is from Pinterest.