Ginger tabbies are among the most loved cats. If you don’t have one yourself, you have no doubt seen one or more. Although they are very popular, they are not a distinct breed. They can be any breed from domestic shorthair, Maine coon cats or Persians. Their genetic makeup is responsible for their coloring. It is a naturally occurring mutation. Their coats have a light background in any shade of orange or red. The patterns may include swirls, mackerel, tick or spotted. All have an “M” on their foreheads.

Many ginger tabbies will have one or more little black freckles around their nose, lips or eyes. They appear when the cat is two or older. The spots start small and grow larger. They are harmless, like human freckles. If you have any concerns about them, have your cat looked at by a vet.

About 80% of ginger tabbies are male and 20% female. It’s a matter of genetics. A female ginger tabby requires both the mother and father to pass on the ginger genes, but males need only the ginger gene from their mothers.

Ginger tabbies are not usually picky eaters. They generally eat about anything anytime. It isn’t a good idea to let them eat all day long. They need to maintain a healthy weight. Obesity in cats can lead to diabetes, high blood pressure and a shortened life expectancy. It’s better for him if you keep him on a routine of controlled portions of food. Since they also like to just lie around, provide him with lots of mental stimulation and play to burn off some of those extra calories.

Ginger tabbies love people. Their owners say they have a strong desire to be with their owners. Most are also quite vocal. They will talk loudly all day for all to hear. If they are awake and moving, they will be talking. Female ginger tabbies are a bit quieter and calmer. Whatever traits a ginger cat shares with other ginger cats, he is likely to share more common characteristics with cats in general, plus some that are his alone.

Some ginger tabbies have become quite famous. Orangy started his acting career in 1952 in the movie Rhubarb. He won the PATSY Award in 1952 and again in 1962. He also starred in Breakfast at Tiffany”s with Audrey Hepburn in 1961. He was also in Gidget and the television series Our Miss Brooks.

More recently Orion was the ginger tabby who wore the galaxy around his neck in Men in Black in 1997. In Alien, starring Signoury Weaver and directed by Ridley Scott, the ginger cat Jones is one of two survivors of the attack on the doomed mining transport ship Nostromo.

Morris became well known in advertising playing a finicky and egotistical cat in food commercials. The original Morris was adopted from a shelter, but the character was played by other ginger cats over the years. Morris had a loyal following and won a PATSY in 1973. Spot was the ginger cat belonging to the android Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation. She was first seen in “Data’s Day.” Jim Davis created the comic strip Garfield which featured Garfield, Odie, the dog, and their inept owner Jon Arbuckle.

Some ginger cats are luck enough to have famous owners. Winston Churchill had several ginger cats during his life. He commissioned a painting of Jock, his favorite. Jock slept on his bed every night and went to the wartime cabinet meetings and formal dinners. A ginger kitten, also named Jock, stayed with Churchill in his bed during the end of Churchill’s life. He was mentioned in Churchill’s will.

You probably know more famous ginger cats or their famous owner.

If you want to adopt a ginger tabby or a cat of any other color, visit the Pittsburg County Animal Shelter at 1206 N. West Street in McAlester. The hours are Tuesday-Friday from 10:00 until 5:00 and Saturday from 10:00 until 2:00. The phone number is 918-421-7803. The adoption fee for is cat is $15 and $20 for a dog. All have been spayed or neutered, vaccinated and microchipped.

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