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And Meow, A Word About Tuxedo Cats

January 15, 2024

Is your feline friend a tuxedo cat? You might want to mark your calendar for January 29th: Tuxedo Cat Day! Fluffy can be cute in any outfit, but she looks adorable in formal wear. In this article from Arapahoe Animal Hospital, your Boulder, CO animal hospital, serving Louisville and surrounding areas, a local vet discusses the sharp-dressed tuxedo kitty.

Tuxedo Cats: What Are They?

Also called the tuxie, Felix cat, Jellicle cat, or piebald, tuxedo kitties are distinguished by their bi-color coat pattern. The most common tuxedo color combination is black with a white chest, belly, face, neck, and/or paws. However, gray kitties with the same coloring are also technically tuxies.

Tuxies can wear long, short, or curly fur. In fact, some tuxies have longer white fur than dark fur. Fluffy can have yellow, green, or amber eyes. Some tuxies have heterochromia, or different-colored eyes.

What Kind Of Cat Are Tuxies?

Tuxies aren’t any single, specific breed. Several breed standards allow formal wear. That list includes the Domestic Shorthair,  American Shorthair, British Shorthair, Maine Coon, Turkish Van, Turkish Angora, and Manx, to name just a few.

What Kind Of Purrsonality Do Tuxies Have?

There are no specific personality traits associated with tuxedo coloring. One thing we can say for sure: our feline buddies all have their own unique personalities! Breed may very well play a role in Fluffy’s character, but her history is also important. A kitty that was properly socialized and was raised underfoot may be outgoing and friendly, while a rescue furball may be more timid. It ultimately just depends on the cat!

Are There More Boy Or Girl Tuxies?

Tuxedo coloring in kitties is pretty much split down the middle, with half being girls and the other half boys. It’s worth noting that this is not true for all coat patterns and colors. For instance, the vast majority of ginger and calico kitties are male.

How Do I Name My Tuxedo Cat?

It’s always interesting to see the different names people choose for their pets, and how those dogs and kitties often embody those names.

Here are a few suitable monikers for kitties in formal attire:

  • Penguin
  • Jasper
  • Felix
  • Sylvester
  • Piano
  • Soccer Ball
  • Jeeves
  • Domino
  • Socks
  • Oreo
  • Orca

Of course, you don’t have to pick Fluffy’s name based on her coat color. Let her personality factor in as well! 

What Is The Best Way To Care For A Tuxedo Cat?

Fluffy’s basic needs are the same as those of any other cat. Your furball will require good food, clean water, a fresh litter box, and regular veterinary care to stay happy and healthy. In addition to toys and playtime, you should also provide beds, furniture, sunbeams, and boxes. It’s important to get that motor going!

Ask your Boulder, CO veterinarian for specific care tips.

What Are The Good Things About Having A Tuxie?

Although every kitty is unique, tuxies tend to be charming, playful, affectionate, outspoken, and a lot of fun. You may even be able to get cute photos of your pet dressed up like a void kitty, depending on her markings. In addition to looking dashing, tuxies go with any outfit and décor, and they always photograph well. Of course, you would want a tuxie for the same reason as you’d want any other kitty. No matter what outfit Fluffy is wearing, she makes a great pet! Are Tuxedo Cats Rare?

It’s not unusual for our feline pals to be sporting formal wear. In fact, tuxedo patterns are one of the most common coat colors for shelter kitties. (This can actually work against Fluffy, since many people want pets that look a bit different than everyone else’s.)

Why Do Some Cats Have Tuxie Patterns?

Fluffy’s tuxedo pattern appears to be more the result of her genetics than anything else. There is still a lot to learn about kitty genetics. However, research indicates that pigment cells move around during embryo development. There are two genes for tuxies: one for black fur, and one for white spots, tips, or patches. The gene responsible for white coloring blocks melanocytes, which are responsible for color, from moving to certain parts of Fluffy’s body.

(Fun fact: Cats’ white coloring is graded on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being all white. Tuxies are usually between one and four, depending on how much white they have.) 

That is of course the nutshell version. Ask your Boulder, CO veterinarian for more information on kitty coat colors and patterns.

What Is the Origin of Tuxedo Cats?

No one knows for sure where the tuxie first appeared. However, it’s safe to say that our feline  buddies donned formal wear a long time ago. Bi-colored kitties have been found in Egyptian tombs. (We’ll save the story of how Fluffy convinced the ancient Egyptians that she was a goddess for another blog.)

Kitties aren’t the only animals with similar markings. Many fish have pale undersides and darker tones on their backs and sides. This makes them harder to spot. (The coloring isn’t foolproof, but it doesn’t hurt.) Something looking down at a fish from above may miss them as the dark color blends into the water, while something looking up from below may see the light pattern blend into the light near and above the water’s surface. Of course, Fluffy may have chosen the pattern more for aesthetics than blending in.

Who Are Some Famous Tuxedo Cats?

Quite a few tuxies have become famous. The list just keeps growing!

Let’s start with cartoon celebrekitties. One of the earliest is Felix The Cat from the silent films of the 1920s. Even today, a hundred years later, Felix often appears in memorabilia. There’s also The Cat In The Hat from Dr. Suess. However, the most famous animated tuxie has to be Sylvester—or technically, Sylvester J. Pussycat Sr.—from the Looney Toons universe. The iconic sputtering furball made his official debut in a 1945 short film called Life With Feathers. The movie also marked the beginning of the feline’s tumultuous relationship with feathered roommates. He has since appeared in 103 cartoons!

Currently, Sylvester has the unique distinction of being the character in the Looney Toons universe that has died the most times. He’s also added some military accolades to his resume. He is the mascot of the USS Alameda County, and appears on the emblems of the 45th Reconnaissance Squadron and the 151st Fighter-Interceptor Squadron. The kitty was also briefly a spokeskitty for 9 Lives cat food. Morris, the famous ginger cat, soon overshadowed him.

Let’s not forget the literary kitties. In Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, T.S. Eliot referred to tuxies as ‘Jellicle cats.’

Real-life tuxies have also made their way into the spotlight. Socks, the Clintons’ cat, was often in the news during his tenure as First Cat. Tuxedo Stan, a Canadian tuxedo, actually ran for mayor in 2012. Last but not least, there’s Sparky, who made headlines back in 1998 after inheriting 6.3 million dollars from his owner. He was the richest cat in the world.

If you have any questions or concerns about your cat’s health or care, please do not hesitate to contact us here at Arapahoe Animal Hospital, your Boulder, CO vet, serving Louisville and surrounding areas. We are dedicated to offering the best care around!