Cats can come in a variety of colors and patterns. One of the most striking is the tuxedo cat, a contrast in black and white as well as a contrast in gregariousness and independence.
It is not a breed of cat, and yet, cats with this coloration do tend to have a general personality that includes intelligence, charm and playfulness.
The unusual patterns are as striking as the splashy black and white coloration. They have been a popular cat color pattern for millennia and have a reputation for mystery, magic and luck.
It's no wonder at all that some of the most famous cats are tuxies.
What is a Tuxedo Cat?
Tuxedo cats get their name from being mostly black with a white chest and perhaps little white paws, as if they were wearing a little tuxedo. While this pattern is often associated with black and white cats, it can also apply to grey and white felines. There are also ginger colored tuxies and reverse tuxies who are white on top and black on the bottom.
They often have black coloring around the eyes, usually with a white chin or nose that gives them the appearance of wearing a mask, like the Phantom of the Opera or Tuxedo Mask.
Tuxedo Is Not A Breed
This is a pattern color, not a breed. A Persian can have the tuxedo pattern as could an American shorthair, Manx, Scottish Folds, Munchkins, Norwegian forest cats and many others. They can be long haired, short haired, fluffy, shaggy or silky. Nearly any breed that is not defined by coat color can be a tuxedo cat.
Even then, some breeds known for a specific color or pattern may display this pattern. They just won't win any prizes for meeting breed standards.
There Are Different Types Of Tuxedo Cats
Bicolor cats can come in differing patterns. Most tuxies are completely black save for the face, paws, throat, chest and perhaps the tail tip. A Van-patterned kitty will be mostly white except for the cap of the head and the tail.
There's also the cap-and-saddle with black on top of the hear or even just the ears and a black patch covering the tail, rump and some of the back. The mask-and-mantle will be black from the top of the head to the tail tip and white everywhere else.
A magpie or harlequin cat will have random patches of black and white. Some of these cats have spots on their throats that almost look like a little bowtie. Some cats have a combination tabby and tuxie pattern, giving them a rather mackerel look.
Genetics and Patterning
It was at one time surmised that their unusual coats were the result of inactive genes that did not move quickly enough to cover the coat.
The now more commonly accepted hypothesis is inclined toward evidence that two-toned cats are formed in the uterus by a defective version of “kit” genes.
They’re defective because they do not propagate at a usual speed.
There are an equal number of males and females
While orange tabbies have a tendency to be male and calicos and torties tend to be female, cats with a tuxedo pattern are just as likely to be male as they are female.
Whenever you see a woman in fiction wearing a tux, it signals that she's not an ordinary woman, but someone with a quirky, offbeat attitude and maybe a little star quality. The same could be said of your tuxedoed queen.
Tuxedo cats usually have green eyes
The gene connected to the tuxedo pattern seems to also have a connection with eyes in some shade of green. Tuxedo kitties often have eyes that are either bright green, golden green or bluish green. It's quite the stunning look.
Most Tuxedo Cats Have White Whiskers
Many tuxedo cats have white whiskers standing out against their black faces. While this is true of most felines, it looks especially cute on tuxedo cats.
Tuxedo patterning is caused by a white spotting gene
Like other bicolored cats, they get their coloration from a white spotting gene mixed in with the recessive alleles of the agouti gene.
Toms and queen cats alike will both carry the necessary genes for pie-balding. Pie-balding when an animal has spots of unpigmented white fur. If the gene for being piebald is dominant, that means your cat will have a lot more white fur.
In order to have a kitty with tuxedo patterning the animal must be either piebald dominant or have unfinished dominant genes.
Because the white spotting gene is dominant, two tuxies are likely to have a litter of all tuxies, providing Mama doesn't have a bit on the side. (Female felines can be pregnant by more than one male at a time.)
Tuxedo Cat Personality Traits
Just like James Bond, tuxedo cats look dapper but aren't afraid of a little action. They're lively, energetic and very social compared to most other cats.
As soon as you walk in the door, your tuxie will come running up to you with her black tail straight up in the air. They do have some sense of independence and curiosity like any other feline, however, and care must be taken to keep them from wandering off.
They also have a tendency to be very vocal, more like an opera star than the opera attendee they're dressed like.
Facts About Tuxedo Cats
The tuxedo cat's coloration can act as camouflage just as it does for a penguin. When a penguin is in the water, his white belly blends in with a light colored sky and his black back blends in with the dark colored water. With tuxedo cats, this coloration helps them hide in tall grass. Keep reading for more facts!
It’s Easy To Find Tuxedo’s At Shelters
Though uniquely beautiful, tuxedo cats are by no means rare. You are sure to find at least one at your local animal shelter.
Unfortunately, due to superstitions about black felines, many of them have trouble finding a family to take them in.
Tuxedos on average find they have to stay ten days longer in the shelter than cats of other coloring. If you are thinking of adopting a cat, please consider a cuddly little tuxie!
You Can Find Tuxedos All Over The World
Tuxedo cats are common in every corner of the globe. Both American and British shelters are filled with plenty of tuxedo cats ready for adoption.
The Swedish cartoon Pelle Svanslos makes the tuxedo cat popular in that country.
No Known Health Concerns
Tuxedo cats are just as healthy as any other felines and their lifespan can be lengthened by the same factors. Isaac Newton was fond of tuxedo kitties and invented the cat flap so they could go in and out without his help. You may want to install a smart cat flap to limit how much outdoor time she has.
Make sure she gets the best food, enough exercise and rest not to mention regular veterinary care and you could have your friend from anywhere from fifteen to twenty years.
Tuxedo Cats Were Worshipped in Ancient Egypt
A good 70% of the cats illustrated in the ancient tombs and arts from Egypt were tuxedo cats. Perhaps the Egyptians believed they represented the union of Nut the sky goddess and Geb the Earth god. They were popular in Egypt before the word “tuxedo” even meant anything.
They Are Super Smart
If you like a pet with intelligence, tuxies are the way to go! They seem to be twice as smart as the average cat. Kittens with the tuxedo pattern have a tendency to hit developmental milestones earlier than most kittens. Despite their coloration, they're not as likely to be hit by cars as other cats. Could it be that they're smart enough to watch for traffic?
They have their place in history
Not only was this type of cat worshipped in Ancient Egypt, but William Shakespeare, Isaac Newton, Ludwig von Beethoven and Roger Daltrey all owned tuxedo cats. It was once believed that they could become invisible on the vernal equinox, giving them a magical reputation.
Today, it's believed that tuxie owners are luckier when playing the lotto. Keep reading to learn about famous tuxedo cats from both history and fictional accounts.
Famous Tuxedo Cats – Fiction
- Sylvester The Warner Brothers' Looney Tunes cartoons brings us a few different tuxedo cats. Sylvester is the best known of them. He's best known for chasing after Tweetie Pie the canary, but he has also been an adversary for Speedy Gonzales and a young kangaroo that Sylvester kept mistaking for a giant mouse. He never succeeded, much to the shame of his look-alike son, Junior.
- Penelope Her name is almost never mentioned, but she is the love interest in the Pepé Le Pew cartoons. She's a somewhat fluffy feline with tuxedo markings who would somehow or another manages to get a white stripe painted down her back. This would cause Pepé to mistake her for a female skunk and attempt to woo her, much to Penelope's dismay.
- Pussyfoot This tiny kitten was only in two Looney Tunes shorts, but her role was nonetheless memorable. She befriended a big bulldog named Marc Anthony who would go to great lengths to protect his little friend. In the first cartoon, he tries to hide her from his mistress and has a breakdown when he (mistakenly) believes Pussyfoot has been turned into cookies. In the other cartoon, he protects her from a bigger, meaner cat.
- Mr. Mistofelees The T.S. Eliot poem this showstopper from the musical Cats was named after was described as black “from his ears to the tip of his tail”. Lloyd Webber made him a tuxedo cat to look even more like a stage magician. There's a fan theory that he might be related to Bustopher Jones, explaining their similar coloration and why Misto gets away with being so impudent towards him.
- The Cat in the Hat He was the eponymous star of a couple of Dr. Seuss books about a mischievous cat who likes to have fun while rhyming. The Mike Myers movie based on the character was something of a bomb, but the educational children's program The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot about That makes up for it by teaching kids about science.
- Peter-No-Tail In his native Sweden, he's called Pelle Svanslös. Peter-No-Tail is the star of a series of children's books by Gösta Knutsson and two feature films. He was born not only with tuxedo markings but no tail, a great shame among cats. Despite this shortcoming, his kind and gentle nature manages to win him friends including a cream colored queen named Molly Silknose.
- Tom Most tuxedo kitties depicted in fiction are black and white. Tom was the rare grey tuxie. He's also the one with seven Academy Awards! He's best known for chasing a mouse named Jerry and getting into many amusing incidents along the way. In “The Cat Concerto” Tom wears a literal tuxedo (that doesn't survive the picture) as he shows off his skills as a piano virtuoso, waking up a very annoyed Jerry while he's at it.
- Figaro In Disney's second feature film Pinocchio, Geppetto has a little black and white cat named Figaro. The same cat can be seen in a few Mickey Mouse cartoons as Minnie's pet. There was a deleted scene where Geppetto had to stop Figaro from eating Cleo the goldfish. A mechanical Figaro can be seen at Fantasy Faire in Disney Land being woken by a singing caged bird.
- Kat Kong This humorous children's picture book by Dav Pilkey re-imagines King Kong as a plump tuxedo kitty going on a rampage in Mousopolis. The pictures are an innovative collage of manipulated photos and acrylic paint.
Famous Tuxedo Cats – Reality
- Socks When President Bill Clinton moved into the White House, his teenage daughter Chelsea brought her pet cat Socks with her. Socks would be spoofed by appearances in Mad, Outland and on episodes of Murphy Brown and Eek! The Cat.
- Simon This little sea kitty sailed with the British Royal Navy in 1949 during the Chinese civil war. He was awarded the PDSA Dicken medal for protecting the soldiers' rations. Unfortunately, the poor thing died of wounds after an attack.
- Trixie They say only dogs are loyal, but this cat could be loyal too. Lots of people try to break out of prison, but Trixie broke in! Trixie somehow or another broke into the Tower of London in 1801 just to be with her owner.
- Tuxedo Stan In 2012, Tuxedo Stan was a black and white cat who ran for mayor of Halifax, Canada. While he didn't win, he did inspire the city council to donate a sizable grant to the area in order to build a low-cost spay and neuter clinic.
- Palmerston His full title is Chief Mouser of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office at Whitehall in London. His job is to keep the offices at the King Charles Street building free of rodents. He has been known to scrap with Larry, Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office.
- Roosevelt Roosevelt was saved as a partially paralyzed four week old kitten by Tenth Life Cat Rescue. Roosevelt pulled through though he was never able to walk or eliminate properly. He now lives at a veterinary clinic where he improves the morale of the patients.
- Sparky In 1998, Sparky inherited 6.3 million dollars on the demise of his owner, making him one of the richest cats in the world.
- Roderick Cats love to climb! The only cat ever to climb Mount Everest was a tuxedo cat named Roderick.
- Felix You can find the image of this smiling tuxedo cat on the package of Purina's Felix line of cat foods. The wonderful, wonderful cat of the old cartoons he was named after is almost entirely black save for his large eyes. This Felix has a white mask to better frame his wide, pink smile.
- Professor Meowingtons PhD This highly educated cat belong to electronic artist deadmau5. He has featured his adorable little cat on several album covers.
The tuxedo cat is both beautiful and plentiful. One is sure to make a playful, clever and adoring companion. There are many different types and they come in just about every breed.
Consider a dapper little fellow or a dashing little lady for your new furry companion. You will be glad you did!
Frequently Asked Questions
- Black and white cats ‘owe distinctive coloring to faulty genes' at Independent
- THE TUXEDO CAT at www.cat-breeds-encyclopedia.com
- Is There a Connection Between Markings and Personality in Cats? BY DR. MARTY BECKER DVM
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