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Orange is an optimistic color. It radiates warmth, happiness, and an enthusiasm for life. Not surprisingly, orange cats are often considered friendly and loveable while white cats are seen as distant and black cats as mysterious. According to researchers at University of California, Berkeley, the color of a cat’s fur can affect the likelihood of said cat being adopted.
In a shelter full of unwanted animals, the luckiest ones aren’t brown, black, or white. It’s orange.
And it all comes down to genetics.
In 2007, Stephen O’Brien of the National Laboratory of Cancer Research contributed to the original sequencing of the domestic cat genome. Different genetic combinations can affect the color, pattern, and length of a cat’s fur. For example, the tabby cat gets its stripes from the same gene responsible for the cheetah’s spots.
What about the common belief that orange cats are always male? Well, that’s not entirely true. Orange cats are usually male. The reason? The gene that codes for orange fur is on the X chromosome. Since females have two X’s and males are XY, this means that a female orange cat must inherit two orange genes (one from each parent) whereas a male only needs one, which he gets from his mother. This orange gene can be found in calico cats and tortoiseshells too.
In other words, orange cats always come from mothers with an orange gene, but female orange cats also require a father with the same gene. That’s why orange cats are usually male.