The almost endless array of coat colors and patterns seen in cats has given rise to some pretty descriptive terms – cap and saddle, ginger cat, tortoiseshell, mackerel tabby. The distinctive pattern called the tuxedo is one of the most interesting and recognizable of all.
Cool Coat Pattern
Tuxes have an unmistakable coat pattern -- mostly black with white paws, belly, chest, throat and chin. The black drapes across his back, his paws resemble white spats, and some appear to have a collar buttoned around the neck. This kitty truly looks dressed for a formal affair. Faces are usually mostly black, making it look like he’s sporting a mask, although it’s not uncommon to see white blazes on the nose or white, got-milk moustaches or beards.
Genetically, tuxes are classified as piebald, or bi-colored cats, which are white and another color. While several theories exist to explain the various amounts and patterns of color, it is known that the gene for white spotting is dominant and actually masks the cat’s true color in the areas where white occurs. So a tuxedo cat has inherited a gene for solid color and a gene for white spotting. The tuxedo pattern is considered low-grade spotting, meaning that there is less white than in higher-grade spotted coats.
Is There a Tux Personality?
The tuxedo coat pattern can be found in mixed breeds as well as purebred cats, unless the breed standard is partially defined by a distinct coat pattern such as a Siamese. Cats are rarely bred for temperament, but certain breeds are generally agreed to have certain personalities – for instance, Maine coons are described by Cat Fanciers’ Association as loving, kind and intelligent. So while few studies have been conducted on the link between coat and personality, it is certainly possible that they are. One Bavarian study did find that black and white cats in general wandered further from home than other cats!
Anecdotal evidence organized from veterinarians’ opinions reported that black and white cats are “placid” and “even-tempered” regardless of breed. Any tuxedo cat’s human will tell you they are extremely intelligent, affectionate and likely to rule the roost.
Mr. Mistoffeles, the character who sang and danced in “Cats,” is not the only famous tuxedo-clad kitty. Sylvester and Felix were fictional felines who wore tuxes, while Socks was a real kitty who lived in the White House with the Clintons. In World War II, a tux named Simon was awarded a medal for protecting the soldiers’ scant food supply aboard ship in the South Pacific!
Leslie Darling has been a writer since 2003, writing regularly for "Mississippi Magazine" and "South Mississippi Living," specializing in food and wine, animals and pets, and all things Southern. She is a graduate of the University of New Orleans.