What Are Marmalade Cats?

Marjorie McAtee

Marmalade cats, also known as ginger cats, are domestic cats of any breed that are reddish, yellowish, or orangish in hue. These cats typically sport some sort of tabby pattern, in which dark spots, blotches are stripes can be seen against a pale yellowish or orangish backdrop. There are generally considered to be four basic fur coat patterns for marmalade cats — classic tabby, mackerel tabby, ticked tabby and spotted tabby. There are also several variations on these basic fur coat patterns for marmalade cats. The color of the average marmalade cat can vary greatly, from very pale yellow to very deep reddish orange, as these cats may be solid orange in color, or may have patches of white on the feet, tail, abdomen, or legs.

Any breed of cat can be a Marmalade as long as it is reddish, yellow, or orange in color.
Any breed of cat can be a Marmalade as long as it is reddish, yellow, or orange in color.

One of the most common types of marmalade cat is the mackerel-patterned marmalade cat. This type of cat also usually has stripes on its tail and legs, and an M-shaped marking above its eyes. Rather than splotches of darker orange color, however, the mackerel-patterned marmalade cat typically has dark, broken or unnbroken stripes running from its spines down its flanks towards its abdomen. The abdomen is typically paler in color than the rest of the fur, and may even be white.

Orange tabbies are considered marmalade cats.
Orange tabbies are considered marmalade cats.

The classic tabby marmalade cat, also known as the oyster tabby, butterfly tabby, or blotched tabby, is the other most common type of marmalade cat. Classic tabby marmalade cats usually have stripes on their tails and legs. There is also normally an M-shaped mark above the eyes. The cat's back and sides, however, will usually bear large, dark splotches of reddish or orangish color against a paler backdrop. Seen from the top, these dark splotches typically create a pattern that resembles a butterfly's outstretched wings.

Less common fur coat patterns for marmalade cats include ticked tabby and spotted tabby. A ticked tabby is typically very pale in color, with a sprinkling of darker individual furs across its back. The spotted tabby usually has the tabby's striped tail and legs, with rows of small leopard-like spots on its flanks. All of these types of cats typically have an M-shaped mark above their eyes, as this mark is generally considered indicative of the tabby cat fur pattern.

The several variations on these basic tabby cat fur patterns are generally found in feral and wild breeds, or in domesticated recently derived from wild ancestors. Most of these patterns are far more complex, and may serve to camouflage these cats in the wild.

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Discussion Comments


Another cat fact is that pure white cats with blue eyes are deaf. I have read that if they have one blue eye and one green/yellow/orange eye they are only deaf in the ear that corresponds with the blue eye.


That's funny. I have a male tortoiseshell and a female marmalade tabby.


@KoiwiGal - Now that I think about it, I have only ever seen female tortoiseshell cats and most of the ginger cats I've met have been male. I had a gorgeous one when I was a kid that I called Flame.

He was a stray kitten that I secretly fed and kept in my room until my parents let me keep him and he had a very sweet nature. He was extremely striking as well, that very bright orange color that some of the marmalade cats seem to have.


So, apparently tortoiseshell cats (which can have orange and black and tabby markings) are usually female and ginger, or marmalade cats are usually male. This is because the gene for the orange color is "sex linked" meaning it's only present on the X chromosome.

So, since the male cats only have one X chromosome, either they are orange, or they aren't. The females have two Xs which means that if both carry the gene, they will be marmalade. But more often one will be orange and one will be something else, which makes them tortoiseshell because they include more than one color.

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