Tabby cats and cat coat colour

To: "'Brian Fleming'" <>, <>, "'Michael Hunter'" <>
Subject: Tabby cats and cat coat colour
From: "Philip Veerman" <>
Date: Sun, 20 May 2018 13:18:31 +1000
Hello Anthea,

You are part right. You use the words "ginger tabby-marked cats". That has a 
redundancy, because ginger always show the tabby markings.  Female all ginger 
cats are rare but they certainly exist. Sisters of ginger males can be black 
base, tortoiseshell or ginger. To show ginger (my word equates to orange) 
requires one ginger gene in a male but both ginger genes in a female (because 
the gene is on the X chromosome).  The allele to the ginger gene is the black 
gene. Because the black gene is much more common, by simple statistics (the 
square of the gene frequency), having just one ginger gene is easy but having 
both ginger genes is rare. 

The other main aspect is that (ignoring for now any white), ginger always shows 
the tabby pattern on the ginger parts, whereas black may or may not, dependant 
on another gene. As well as the common tabby variants of blotched and mackerel, 
is the rare Abysinnian that has tabby pattern mostly restricted to the face.

Also dependant on when in its embryology the switching occurs, in a 
tortoiseshell female, the orange or black patches may be obvious big blotches 
or completely mixed together. 

41 years ago I did a study on cat coat colour genetics with the idea to 
investigate whether ferals more commonly show a different phenotype to that of 
an "unwanted" urban population. The idea being that more wild type phenotype 
(especially black mackerel or blotched tabby) would be more common in ferals 
than in urban cats. It was hard to get enough of a sample size. The results I 
got then were supportive but not conclusive. At the time I did not fully take 
in the idea about gingers are commoner in the inland. But I have since become 
aware of the too. What I got was consistent with that too.

So of course I first had to learn the basic genetics. Of course I have only 
mentioned the very basics. 


-----Original Message-----
From: Birding-Aus  On Behalf Of 
Brian Fleming
Sent: Sunday, 20 May, 2018 12:37 PM
Subject: Tabby cats and cat coat colour

Incidentally, all the ginger tabby-marked cats I have known have been 
males.  Perhaps their sisters are the tortoiseshell females. I don't say 
there are no ginger females, just that I haven't met one.

True grey and brownish/black tabbies, whether blotched or barred 
pattern, can be either male or female.  I am told that gingers are 
commoner in the inland - protective coloration against large raptors.

Anthea Fleming

On 20/05/2018 11:53 AM, Philip Veerman wrote:
> How is this possible? "Tabbys are always males for what it's worth." What do
> you mean by "tabby"? The genetics of "tabby" are independent of sex, apart
> from that the gene controlling whether the base colour is black or orange,
> is sex linked. Thus tortoiseshell (having both the black and orange gene)
> are always female, males can only have one gene. The orange parts of cats
> are always "tabby", that is showing alternate patches of dark and light
> tipped hairs. These are of two main types, blotched or mackerel, according
> to another gene. The black parts of cats are either black or "tabby",
> depending on another gene.
> Philip
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Birding-Aus  On Behalf Of
> Michael Hunter
> Sent: Sunday, 20 May, 2018 8:37 AM
> To: <>
> Subject: [Birding-Aus] Tabby cats
> We have had a continuous influx of bird- killing cats from adjacent bush,
> control them by using wire box possum traps available from rural stock
> stores or probably online.
> Best bait is Snappy Tom cat food. It seems irresistible, has never failed
> over twenty years.
> Big Tabbys here are very big ferals, Tabbys are always males for what it's
> worth.
> Once caught our local vet euthanases. them with an injection.
>              Cheers
>                  Michael

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