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So, How DO Tabby Cats Get Their Stripes? March 23 2022, 0 Comments

While not a specific breed of cat, "tabby cats" make up around 60-70% of all domestic cats in the world. That means roughly two-thirds of all cats that you might encounter will display some sort of stripe, dot, or swirl in their coat pattern. And as an extra special mark, they often sport what looks like an 'M' on their forehead.

However, scientists didn’t really know what gave tabbies this distinctive appearance - until now. 

In a recent study published in Nature Communications by Christopher B. Kaelin, Kelly A. McGowan & Gregory S. Barshresearchers reported that the gene responsible for the tabby pattern are named Dickkopf WNT Signaling Pathway Inhibitor 4 (DK44 for short). 

DK44 is a "secreted molecule," a messenger protein that tells other skin cells surrounding it that this is where the dark hair will grow - resulting in the dark stripes that make tabbies, well, tabbies.

According to new research, DK44 genes activate in the embryo even before the cat’s fur begins to develop. Examining individual skin cells under a microscope, the team of scientists discovered that these early skin cells will imitate a tabby’s stripes long before the development of hair follicles or pigment. This is the first time this development has been seen in embryonic cells.

Interestingly enough, this discovery of the origin of tabby stripes has helped to prove Alan Turing's reaction-diffusion theory of mathematical biology, which mathematically explains how patterns spontaneously emerge in nature. 

The researchers speculate that this genetic process might also be present in non-domesticated cats (wildcats), but some believe that these stripes developed from the Near Eastern wildcat which is a direct ancestor to our current domesticated cats.

According to the National Geographic, the embryonic cells were collected as part of an "ethically approved research protocol" using nearly "A thousand embryos that otherwise would have been discarded from veterinary clinics that spay feral cats, many of which are pregnant when admitted."

And for an extra tabby fact: The origin of the term "tabby" can be traced to French tabis, stemming from Medieval Latin attabi, from Arabic attabi. This originated from al-Attabiya, a suburb of Baghdad where silk was made, itself named for the Prince Attab. Cats got the name tabby after similarity of their coats to the patterned silk cloth ... or maybe the cats inspired the pattern! 

Do you have a tabby at home? Now you can get their photo printed on any custom item, like a mug or blanket! Click here for more details.


All About Oriental Shorthair Cats! March 14 2022, 2 Comments

Oriental Shorthairs are a sleek, elegant and very striking breed of cat. From the tips of their pointed noses to their long, sleek tails, and large, pointed ears, they are a breed that certainly makes a statement. And no, we're not talking about their tendency to be very talkative!

Oriental Shorthairs come in a variety of colors and patterns; so much so that they are often nicknamed "Ornamentals." But that's not the only reason this breed has become so popular among cat lovers - it's their high intelligence, energy, and affection!

 


Kamée, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

History and Origins

Unlike some of the older cat breeds that can be traced back to ancient history, the Oriental Shorthair got its humble beginnings in 1950s England, and wasn't recognized as an official breed until the 1970s in the Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA).

In the wake of World War II many cat breeders ceased their operations and put many cat breeds in jeopardy of going "extinct", including the British ShorthairNorwegian Forest Cat, and even the beloved Siamese.

To bring back the Siamese and expand their gene pool, breeders in England began a process of crossbreeding into other breeds like the Abyssinian, British Shorthair, and Russian Blues. The traditional "pointed" kittens were bred back with Siamese, but the non-pointed kittens became the foundations of modern-day Oriental Shorthairs. 

  

They're Intelligent and Energetic 

Oriental Shorthairs are also known to be highly energetic and intelligent and may need more environmental enrichment and physical/mental stimulation than other cats. Orientals like to stay on the move and can be avid climbers, explorers and can get bored if not given proper mental and physical stimulation.

According to The International Cat Association (TICA), Orientals are known to be excellent "fetchers" and may play fetch with their favorite catnip toys. 

Vertical space is a must to keep these energetic kitties entertained as they jump and climb their way to happiness; be sure to provide your cats with tall cat trees and window ledges for climbing. The higher, the better!  

 


Oriental Shorthairs have more color and pattern combinations than any other breed. 

Sometimes referred to as "Ornamentals" or "Rainbow Cats," for the variety of their colorful coats, Oriental Shorthairs can come in over 300 different color and pattern variations, some even say up to 600.

Be it spots, stripes, calico or tortoiseshell, black, silver, smoke, cinnamon, lavender (yes, lavender!) ... the list of colors and patterns seems almost endless!

 
Nickolas Titkov from Moscow, Russian Federation, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons


They're Chatty Cathys

Or should that be chatty catty? Much like their Siamese origins, Oriental Shorthairs are known to be quite vocal and love to express themselves and their moods in all sorts of vocalizations.

It's important for families looking to bring an Oriental Shorthair into their lives to expect a very "outspoken" feline; while all cats are as different and unique as humans, their breed does tend to share this trait.

And did you know that cats can make over 100 different vocalizations - from trills and purrs and meows - while dogs can only make about 10? 

 

The Bold and The Beautiful

Oriental Shorthairs are more than just their pretty fur! While a lot of cats are shy of strangers and may act scared or aloof, Oriental Shorthairs are known to be a bit more bold when it comes to making new friends.

They are also known for forming very deep, affectionate bonds with their owners - many Oriental Shorthairs can be a "one person" cat and will seek out (or demand!) companionship and affection from their humans.

 

oriental shorthair cats

Where to Find an Oriental Shorthair

Oriental Shorthairs can be quite expensive to purchase from breeders, depending on certain factors of their breeding. If you are considering purchasing a cat from a breeder, be sure to do your research beforehand

Here at Meowingtons we always encourage our fans to adopt cats in need from rescues or shelters; these cats are often fighting for their second chance at life.

Believe it or not, purebred cats like Oriental Shorthairs do end up in shelters and rescues due to owner death, divorce, and many other factors. You can look for adoptable Oriental Shorthairs by contacting Oriental breed rescue organizations or checking your local shelters or the listings on Petfinder or Adopt-a-Pet.com for Oriental Shorthairs available for adoption.

 

Have a cat of your own? Now you can get their photo printed on any custom item, like a mug or blanket! Click below for more details.

 


6 Purrfectly Posh Facts About British Shorthair Cats March 03 2022, 0 Comments

british shorthair cat facts

These stunning gray cats are as English as they come - but you don't have to serve them tea and scones. British Shorthair cats are quickly becoming a feline fan favorite; their round chubby cheeks, expressive eyes, and soft, plush fur have put them the list of the top 5 most popular cat breeds in the US. And is it any wonder why these plump, plush pussycats are so popular?

British shorthair cats actually have a storied past as a breed, from ancient feline heritage to almost going extinct as a breed! Read on for six facts about these amazing cats.

 

1. They're descended from the cats of Ancient Rome.

The British Shorthair is one of the world's oldest cat breeds, tracing their lineage back cats that wandered the streets of ancient Rome. These cats were believed to have been imported to Rome from ancient Egypt. The Romans then took these cats with them when they invaded Great Britain in 43 CE. And the rest is hiss-tory! 

 

 

2. British Shorthairs made their appearance at the "world's first cat show" in 1871

British Shorthairs came into the limelight thanks to Harrison Weir, the "Father of Cat Fancy." He began breeding the street cats and barn cats of Britain, the native cats, giving rise to the British Shorthair as a breed unto itself. He showcased the breed at London's Crystal Palace in 1871 at a national competition that is considered to be the world's first cat show. 

 

 

3. They tend to get chunky.

Adult British Shorthairs generally weigh anywhere from 9 to 17 pounds, with females averaging 7 to 12 pounds. But this solidly built breed has a, ah, predisposition towards obesity. PetMD listed the British Shorthair as one of its "top 10 fat cats." Owners of British Shorthairs are advised to ensure their kitties get plenty of exercise, as obese cats can face an increased risk for diabetes, heart disease, and other serious conditions.   With their chill attitudes, it can be difficult to get British Shorthairs to get on their paws and exercise; try encouraging them with catnip. If that doesn't get your cat moving, a toy that encourages natural hunting instincts (to stalk, hunt, and pounce) might be a better fit.

 

 

4. A British Shorthair helped inspire the "I Can Has Cheezburger" era. 

Perhaps the beginning of it all, the mother of all cat memes, a British Shorthair was featured in the original I Can Has Cheezburger? meme in 2007 by blogger Scott Nakagawa. It wasn't long after that lolcats was born - thanks to a British Shorthair! 

 

 

5. British Shorthairs may have inspired Lewis Carroll's Cheshire Cat.

While this is more speculation than fact, many historians believe that the Cheshire Cat in Lewis' Alice in Wonderland was inspired by a tabby British Shorthair. If you look at the wide, round eyes, chubby cheeks and big grins (just look at the I Can Has Cheezburger cat!), is it any wonder where Carroll drew his ins-purr-ation? 

 

6. The breed almost went extinct.

In the early 20th century, Persian cats and other longhaired breeds began to overcome the British Shorthair in popularity. So much so that cat fanciers actually stopped breeding the British Shorthair, especially in World War I and II, leading to a sharp decline in the breed's population. British Shorthair aficionados crossbred their British Shorthairs with Persians and other felines. The British Shorthair persevered and is accepted in cat registries worldwide. 

Do you have a British Shorthair cat at home? Now you can get their photo printed on any custom item, like a mug, toss pillow, or blanket! Click below for more details.

 


6 Fun Facts About Orange Tabby Cats September 01 2021, 130 Comments

From their gorgeous coats of orange (and sometimes white) and their tendency to be the friendliest of felines, it’s safe to say that ginger cats are one of the most colorful cats to share your home with. If you have ever owned a ginger cat - also called orange or marmalade cats, you know they are special. Their mischievous ways and lionesque good looks are a recipe for greatness. Here are some fun facts about these colorful cats that we all love so much!

1. The orange tabby cat is not actually its own separate breed of cat. 

Whether you call them orange, red, ginger or marmalade tabbies, orange tabby cats are not a specific breed of cat, rather it is referring to their fur color. Orange tabbies can be many different breeds, from Persian and Maine Coon to your standard Domestic Short Hair! 

2. Many orange tabbies will develop little black freckles on their nose and mouth area. 

Not only do ginger cats come with perfectly kissable pink noses, they may also develop adorable little freckles! These freckles will normally develop around the gums, lips, or nose area and can continue to appear throughout their life. These freckles are caused by a benign genetic called lentigo which increases the number of pigment-producing cells (epidermal melanocytes) around the lips, nose, and eyes and results in those little black freckles. They're like little sprinkles of joy! These freckles are normally harmless, but any change in size or pigmentation should be checked by a veterinarian. 

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3. They come in 4 beautiful coat types: Classic (swirled), Mackerel (striped), spotted and ticked (agouti). 

  • Mackerel: Mackerel tabbies are striped and may be tiger-like in appearance, with a classic ‘M’ shape on their forehead! 
  • Classic: the classic tabby pattern usually consists of a dark swirl or bullseye around your cat's midsection
  • Ticked: Most common in breeds like Abyssinian, ticked tabbies can fool you into thinking that solid ginger cats exist - but they don't! Ticked tabbies have an almost speckled pattern with tabby markings on their heads.
  • Spotted: Spotted tabbies appear, well, spotted! Their stripes or swirls are broken up and appear as ovals. This marking is most commonly seen in Bengal cat breeds!

4. Most orange tabby cats are males: 80% male, and 20% female - No wonder they are usually mischievous!

Interestingly enough, most orange tabby cats are indeed male! It's all thanks to their genetic makeup. According to Spruce Pets, the gene O codes for orange (referred to as Red in genetics) fur and is carried on the X chromosome. Because females have two X chromosomes, this means that a female orange cat must inherit two orange genes (one from each parent). But a male tabby only needs one O gene, which he gets from his mother. 

5. All orange cats are tabby cats, they do not have a solid coat!

Without getting too deep into genetics (it's complicated, folks!), thanks again to their genetic makeup, all orange cats will have tabby markings of some kind. This is because of the agouti gene. The agouti gene determines whether a cat has a tabby pattern or not. However, when the red pigment gene is expressed, the non-agouti gene does not work. So you can't have a non-agouti gene with an orange cat - meaning they will have some type of tabby marking, whether it is classic, mackerel, or ticked.

 

6. Orange tabby cats get a lot of screen time!

Beyond the famed lasagna-loving Garfield, orange tabby have graced the silver screen - more than you may have realized! There are live-action kitties like Goose (Captain Marvel) Orion (Men in Black) and Jones (Alien), ... wow, there are a lot of orange tabbies in space, aren't there? And don't forget Orangey in Breakfast at Tiffany's. And you can't forget about Puss in Boots, who melted everyone's hearts with iconic big kitty eyes!

Does your orange cat have particular characteristics? Tell us about them! We love to learn more. 

 


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8 Larger-Than-Life Facts About Maine Coon Cats June 04 2021, 18 Comments

With monikers ranging from "gentle giants" to "the dogs of the cat world," Maine Coon cats are one of the most popular domestic cat breeds in the US. Maine Coons are known for their big personalities - and even bigger sizes! Here are eight fascinating facts about the lovable, larger-than-life Maine Coon cat!

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8 Ancient Cat Breeds Still in Existence Today March 17 2021, 1 Comment

Ancient Egyptians may have given cats the personality to conquer the world  | Science | AAAS

Absolutely Awesome Facts About Abyssinian Cats February 08 2021, 1 Comment

abyssinian cat facts

 

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9 Fascinating Facts About Siamese Cats January 06 2021, 24 Comments

Siamese cats might be best known for their sleek, streamlined bodies, creamy coats and distinctive markings. But as with most things feline, there is much more than meets the eye when it comes to Siamese cats! 

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8 Furiously Fluffy Facts About Norwegian Forest Cats December 11 2020, 6 Comments

with their thick, fluffy coats, large sizes, and friendly dispositions is it any wonder that this breed continues to this day? Here are 10 furiously fluffy facts about Norwegian Forest Cats - or "Wegies" as they're affectionately called! 


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8 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Sphynx Cats November 17 2020, 4 Comments

While Sphynxes may not be everyone's cup of tea, these hairless felines sure have dominated the Internet the past few years! With their big ears, round eyes, knobby knees, and sleek, hairless bodies, these "alien" kitties are certainly eye-catching. And they prove that a fluffy coat isn't everything! Here are 8 facts you might not know about our fine feline friends!

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