Unlike the peppermint pig, chocolate bunny, sugar mouse or marshmallow chick, each of which is a holiday-related confection, the ginger cat is a living, breathing, orange-hued feline. But the ginger cat is not a distinct feline breed. Ginger, quite simply, refers to a cat's rich, striking coat color.
Color Not Breed
Many references to "ginger cats" appear in books and films, leading people to believe the ginger cat is a distinct feline breed, like the manx or Egyptian mau. On the contrary, "ginger" simply refers to the coat color of a cat. For the most part, ginger cats are domestic short-hair or long-hair felines with an orange coat, although cats representing other breeds may be referred to as ginger if orange is their primary color.
In the United States, an orange-colored cat is usually identified as, well, an orange-colored cat! However, in the U.K. and other countries of the former British Commonwealth, the orange color is generally expressed as "ginger" or "marmalade," or even "red." Any of these color references may be used to describe the very same cat.
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An interesting fact about ginger or orange cats is that, in most cases, they are males. As a result of genetics, according to Dr. Arnold Plotnick of catchannel.com, the ratio of male to female gingers is 80-20. Morris, the famous Nine Lives cat food mascot, was a typical male ginger cat and most, though not all, gingers encountered in homes, on the street, in shops and in pet shelters will turn out to be male.
Myths about Temperament
Daily Mail Online and messybeast.com report a recent study conducted by the University of California-Berkeley, which reveals that many people seeking to adopt kittens and cats have certain biases when it comes to feline color. Ginger cats are often considered "friendly and approachable," while black cats are seen as mysterious and untrustworthy and white cats are believed to be lazy and aloof. All of these beliefs, of course, are without foundation. Sweet, wonderful cats come in all colors, shapes and sizes!
Orlando and Crookshanks
Two of the most famous orange felines, aside from Morris, are Orlando and Crookshanks. Orlando the Marmalade Cat is the main character in a series of children's books produced in the 20th century by British author Kathleen Hale, while Crookshanks is the magical ginger cat owned by the character Hermione Granger in the "Harry Potter" series of books and movies.
Jeff Katz has been a professional librarian, educator, historian, writer and editor for almost 20 years. He holds a Master of Library Science degree from the University of British Columbia and a BA degree in Classical Studies from Hunter College of the City University of New York.