If you’re unfamiliar with the term tuxedo cat, it’s easy to figure out. Tuxedo cats are bi-colored, usually black and white but sometimes other color combinations can be found, and their coats look like tuxedos. (Some people refer to their black and white pattern as cow-like in appearance). They are a strikingly beautiful type of cat (not a breed, but a pattern). Here we will discuss some fun facts and trivia all about tuxedo cats.
Tuxedo Cat Patterns
As mentioned above, just like the tabby cat pattern, tuxedo cats are not a breed. Rather, they contain a pattern of two colors on their coats that resembles a tuxedo. This two-color pattern is called piebald. The two colors most likely seen are usually black and white, but tuxedo cats can show other two-color combinations in their coats.
The patterns in the coats of tuxedo cats are caused by their genes. At one time, scientists thought that tuxedo coat patterns were the result of slower pigment cells that didn’t reach the entire kitten embryo before it had fully formed. Now, however, scientists believe that pigment cells move randomly during a kitten’s development, not following any particular instructions for a certain coat pattern or color. They think, instead, that a faulty version of the “kit” gene is responsible for the tuxedo piebald pattern in tuxedo cats.
There is a gene that causes the white spotting in tuxedo cats. There are different “grades” of tuxedo cat patterns, as follows:
- Low grade genes (one to four) – These tuxedo cats have 40 percent or less white coloring in their coats. It can show up as just tiny spots of white, or white on just the paws or coat, or white in a tuxedo pattern.
- Medium grade genes (five) – These tuxedo cats have coats that are comprised of half white fur (from 40 to 60 percent) and half of their coat is another color.
- High grade genes (six to ten) – These tuxedo cats have more than 60 percent white fur in their coats, with some having predominantly white fur and just a few spots of another color. They may be called:
- Cow cats or magpies if they have random colors on their bodies
- Harlequin if they have random colors on their bodies along with a colored tail
- Van if they have colors just between their ears and on their tail
Cats with the tuxedo pattern can have yellow, brown or green eyes (although a greenish-gold color is the most commonly seen in tuxedo cats).
An interesting side fact – there are an equal number of male and female tuxedo cats.
Tuxedo Cat Breeds
Tuxedo cat patterns are found among a variety of breeds, but not among all breeds of cat. Some of these include Turkish Angora, Maine Coon, British Shorthair, and American Shorthair. They can have long- or short-haired coats. Cat breeds in which the tuxedo pattern will never be found include Siamese and Ragdoll.
Why are Tuxedo Cats So Special?
If you own a tuxedo cat, you likely think that he or she is the most unique, special cat in the world. Tuxedo cats are special, for a variety of reasons. Here are just a few:
- While most kittens open their eyes within one to two weeks of being born, tuxedo cats open their eyes 24 hours before most other types of cats.
- Many people believe that tuxedo cats are the smartest types of cats, up to 200 percent smarter than other cat types.
- Owners of tuxedo cats often believe that their personalities show “tuxitude,” sassiness and attractiveness that draws people to them, especially in shelters where tuxedo cats may be adopted faster than other types of cats. Tuxedo cats are also known to elevate people’s moods.
- During the vernal or diurnal equinox, tuxedo cats may appear invisible because of the colors of their coats. Some attribute this ability to tuxedo cats having magical powers.
- Other names for tuxedo cats include billicart or jellicle
- In the United Kingdom, tuxedo cats are sometimes called Felix cats, after the cartoon character Felix.
- Ancient Egyptians worshipped tuxedo cats, believing that they had magical powers. In fact, they were the most commonly depicted and worshipped cats in ancient Egypt.
Famous Tuxedo Cats in Fiction
Throughout history and to the present day, there have been many famous tuxedo cats. A few of them from fiction are:
- The cartoon character Felix, created by Pat Sullivan and Otto Messmer
- Kitty Softpaws, from the Shrek sequel
- Puss in Boots
- The Cat in the Hat, by Dr. Seuss
- The cartoon character Sylvester from Loony Tunes
- Mistoffelees from the Broadway show Cats and T.S. Eliot’s original poem on which it is based, is a jellicle, or tuxedo, cat. He is described as black “from his ears to the tip of his tail.”
- Penelope, the love interest for Pepe le Pew in the cartoons, is a tuxedo cat. Pepe le Pew, of course, thinks she is a skunk when she somehow gets a white stripe painted down her back, and he tries to woo Penelope.
- Pussyfoot, a Looney Tunes kitten who befriends a bulldog named Mark Anthony who protects her.
- Peter-No-Tail, a cat who is the star of Swedish children’s books by Gosta Knutsson and two films.
- Tom, of the cartoon Tom and Jerry, is a grey tuxedo cat.
- Figaro, in the Pinocchio film, is Geppetto’s black and white tuxedo cat. He is also seen as Minnie’s pet in a few other Mickey Mouse cartoons.
- Kat Kong, a children’s picture book by Dav Pilkey, re-imagines King Kong as a fat tuxedo cat.
Famous Real-Life Tuxedo Cats
There have also been a large number of tuxedo cats who are famous in real life, such as:
- Socks, President Bill Clinton’s cat who lived in the White House
- William Shakespeare had a pet tuxedo cat
- Beethoven had a pet tuxedo cat
- Sir Isaac Newton had a pet tuxedo cat
- Tuxedo Stan in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, ran for mayor of his town in 2012. He didn’t win, but he was the first cat to run for public office, on the platform of the plight of homeless cats. He inspired the creation of the Tuxedo Party before his death in 2013.
- Sparky, a tuxedo cat, inherited 6.3 million dollars after his owner died in 1998, making him the world’s richest cat.
- A tuxedo cat named Roderick was the first to make it to the top of Mount Everest (carried by his owner).
- Simon, a tuxedo cat, went to war in World War II with the British Royal Navy in 1949 and earned a medal for protecting British food supplies from mice and other pests.
- Trixy, a tuxedo cat, stayed by his owner’s side when the owner was imprisoned in 1601 in London Tower. He stayed with his owner in prison until his owner’s release.
- Henri, le Chat Noir, is a tuxedo cat on social media who has been featured in many videos.
- Palmerston, Chief Mouser of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office at Whitehall in London, has the job of keeping the King Charles Street offices free of pests.
- Roosevelt is a partially paralyzed tuxedo cat who was rescued as a kitten and now lives at a veterinary clinic where he improves the morale of visitors and patients.
- Professor Meowingtons PhD is the tuxedo cat owned by electronic artist deadmau5.
- Humphrey was the official tuxedo cat of the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street for 18 years.