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No, not all orange cats are male. But most are!

Except around here lately! The RAPS team has noticed a disproportionate number of orange females. What’s up with that?

There are a fair number of misconceptions – urban myths, of a sort – about orange cats. Some people think that all orange cats are male.


The truth is … most orange cats are male – but not all. But even this scientific fact gets a little mixed up around RAPS … where we have a preponderance of orange females.

Let’s take a step back and get a bit science-y.

The gene responsible for orange fur color is located on the X chromosome. Male cats have one X and one Y chromosome, while females have two X chromosomes.

The orange color is typically caused by a gene called “O allele” or “O gene.” In order for a female cat to be orange, she must inherit two copies of the orange gene (one from each parent). However, male cats only need one copy of the orange gene to display the orange coloration.


Due to this genetic inheritance pattern, approximately 80% of orange cats are male, while only about 20% are female. So while it is less common, there are indeed female orange cats.

However, anecdotal evidence says Metro Vancouver – and maybe British Columbia more broadly – might buck this trend.

Valerie Wilson, assistant manager of the RAPS Cat Sanctuary, has noticed a disproportionate number (by which we mean more than 20%) of orange females over the past several years.

“Just in our geographic area, we seem to have some genetic predisposition for a greater number of female orange cats,” she says. “For me, it dates back to 10 years ago.” While working with animals in Kamloops, she encountered orange females who represented well more than the one in five that would seem statistically predictable. Close to 50% of the deep orange tabby cats in Kamloops were female, she recalls. It’s an unexpected thing that she has noticed on multiple occasions.

Last year, she noted, a group of eight kittens arrived at RAPS. Of these, five were orange … and, of the five orange kittens, four were female.


Statistically, at the RAPS Cat Sanctuary, we have 49 orange cats. Of those, 32 are male and 17 female. That’s 34.7% female, so although not quite 50/50, it’s enough to rethink our assumptions – and to acknowledge that, while the 80-20 number might be a global fact, around our parts the rule often seems to get broken.

Of course, these are obviously not huge sample sizes. It’s more of an observation than any sort of scientific study! But it’s a curious fact that the RAPS team has noticed.

We can’t completely explain it. But here’s the bottom line: If you like orange kitties – male or female – we’ve got some who are looking for forever homes. We also have ones who are not orange.

If you are considering adding a new member to your family, now is the time. We are offering 50% off adoption fees so we can ensure as many of these sweet animals find their families as soon as possible! Click here to learn more about adoption and to begin the process. (Also, click here to learn about RAPS preference for adopting cats into homes where they will not be the sole feline.)