Q:

Are female ginger cats rare?

A:

Quick Answer

Male ginger cats outnumber females by about three to one, according to Focus. This coloration is a sex-linked trait found on the X chromosome. The University of Miami Department of Biology states that this gene has two versions, or alleles: orange or black. Orange is typically dominant over black.

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Full Answer

Male cats have both X and Y sex chromosomes. Because the dominant ginger color is carried on the X chromosome, any male cat that inherits that version of the gene is orange, UM indicates.

However, females have a more complicated pattern for inheritance, according to UM. While the cat is still an embryo, one of the X chromosomes is always inactivated in each of her cells. Therefore, only the genes on the other X chromosome are expressed. If a female cat gets a ginger allele from both parents, she is ginger-colored. If she gets one orange and one black allele, some of her cells have inactivated orange alleles, while others have inactivated black alleles. Therefore, she is a patchwork of orange and black, sometimes known as tortoiseshell.

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