Categories: black and white

Tuxedo cats: 10 facts

Tuxedo cats are bicolor cats. Bicolor means two colors which in the case of tuxedo cats means black-and-white with much more black than white. Although it is questionable whether both black and white are colors!

Maine Coon Cat MAGNACATS JACK BLACK. Photo copyright Helmi Flick. He is a great Maine Coon cat and a tuxedo.

White chest

The tuxedo cat has white mitts, chest, belly and nose and she may have a white tip to her tail. Although there is a certain amount of latitude in the quantities of white fur. They can be male or female (I just don’t like calling cats “it”).

Random bred tuxedo show cat in USA. Photo copyright Helmi Flick

Genetics

The distinct pattern is caused by the white spotting or piebald gene. The tuxedo cat is what is called a “low-grade white spotting”. This represents a less than 40% amount of white fur throughout the coat of the cat (source: Sarah Hartwell).

Origin

I’m sure that you are aware of this but the colloquial term “tuxedo” is a reference to the dinner jacket or dinner suit which is used by men for formal evening events. This reflects the white fur on the chest of tuxedo cat but the fur extends to the face and other parts of the body as well.

Tuxedo cats are black-and-white cats. Some people would simply call them black-and-white cats but a more precise description would be tuxedo cats provided the coat pattern fits the description.

Coat

The term is a description of a cat coat. It is not a description of a cat breed. You will see some famous and popular cat breeds such as the Maine Coon wearing a tuxedo coat. In fact the picture of myself holding a cat taken many years ago is of a champion tuxedo Maine Coon (see him above too).

Michael Broad and Jack Black taken 8 years ago by Helmi Flick.

Personality

Because the term is used to describe a cat coat you cannot say that tuxedo cats in general have a certain personality. You can refer to purebred cats as having a certain personality because breeders selectively breed for appearance and personality. But most tuxedo cats are random bred (free-living) in any event.

Cartoon cats

This color pattern has been popular with cartoonists, both Felix the Cat and Sylvester being tuxedos.

Celebrity cats

There have been some celebrity tuxedo cats. One of them is very much in the public eye at present. He is Palmerston who lives at the UK’s Foreign Office, London. He is the chief mouse in that large building. He engages in fights with his neighbor, Larry, who is the chief mouse at Number 10 Downing Street. I believe that Palmerston wins the battles.

Another well-known tuxedo cat was Socks (1989-2009), the White House cat at the time of the Clinton presidency. He was an adopted stray and the only pet of the Clintons during the eight years of the Clinton administration.

Percentages

I’m told that 75% of all cats are black and white (I would dispute this). Of course a fraction of these are tuxedo cats. I don’t have a percentage for tuxedo cats. My guess would be something in the order of 10%. It is quite a common coat type.

Rescue

I’m also told that black-and-white cats spend an average of 10 days longer at cat shelters waiting to be adopted compared to cats with other coat types. This may be a spin-off from the unpopularity of black cats and because the tuxedo appearance is quite common as mentioned.

My cat

A former much loved female cat of mine was a tuxedo. She was a rescue cat as usual. She was a poor mouser and very gentle.

My former tuxedo female cat. Picture taken at the end of her life when she was old and ill with kidney disease. You can see how it affected her.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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  • One of my first two was a Tuxedo and one current female is clearly a Tuxedo while my feral just has a large spot of white on his chest. I could love the look more but it would take work.

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