Second Chance: How Cats Show Their True Colors!

Second Chance: How Cats Show Their True Colors!

Second Chance Humane Society’s Animal Resource Center and Thrift Shops have been serving San Miguel, Ouray & Montrose Counties for 27 years. Call 626-2273 to report a lost pet, learn about adopting a homeless pet, or about our Emergency Response, Community Medical, Spay/Neuter, Volunteer, or other services. View shelter pets and services online:

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Cats are very colorful creatures, inside and out. Thus, it may seem hard to believe, but genetically, there are only two colors of cats: black and red with many combinations, dilutions, or mixtures of these.

Unless they have the sex-linked orange gene, in which case, they might be red (commonly called orange or ginger), cats are black. Other genes affect coat colors and patterns, such as the dilute gene (turning a black to gray or orange to cream), point-restricted gene (creating Siamese-type marking), pie-bald white spotting gene (creating bi-colored cats like tuxedo) or the W-masking gene (which produces a white cat).

Another interesting fact is that all cats have a variation of the “tabby gene” (agouti), which creates the striped pattern. Whether they show their tabby pattern or not depends on whether the cat has the dominant agouti gene or the recessive non-agouti solid color gene. Solid-colored kittens will sometimes show their underlying tabby pattern when young, that is before their adult coat grows in. Also, when an adult cat with a solid coat lies in bright sunlight their underlying tabby pattern can often be seen.


Black cats, black tabbies, and brown tabbies are the most common cat colors. Of the main cat colors, fawn is the rarest, because it relies upon an unusual combination of recessive genes, which are easily masked by other colors.

If you’re a cat person, you know that calico and tortoiseshell cats (those with both black and red coat colors) are almost always female. That’s because the orange gene is carried on the X chromosome. Because males are XY with only one X chromosome, they can only be black or red (or the variations of each).


The same logic explains why orange cats are more likely to be male. Since females have two X’s and males have one X and one Y, this means that a female orange cat must inherit two orange genes (one from each parent). A male only needs one, which he gets from his mother.

So why is this important?

There are some who believe that a cat’s color gives a clue to his or her personality. One researcher was interested in the link between how cat color influences adoption rates. After surveying 189 responses, it was found that people were more likely to assign positive personality traits to orange cats and less favorable ratings to whites and tortoiseshells. Orange cats were largely regarded as friendly; white cats as aloof; tortoiseshell cats as intolerant.

The link between cat color and personality has been studied by several research teams, and so far there is little evidence that coat color determines personality or friendliness. With these prejudices, there are serious repercussions for cat adoption rates if people believe that some colors are friendlier than others. I strongly recommend people consider every cat as a unique being, regardless of color!

My name is Bolt. I’m 5-month-old lab mix, who used to live on the reservation near Towaoc. I am a happy-go-lucky pup, who loves to be outside. I enjoy playing with my friends, and my Second Chance staff and volunteers are teaching me the basics, such as how to walk on a leash. Like all the pets here at Second Chance, I am ready to show you my true colors, so please adopt me today.


AND… To continue the new Second Chance Highlights section we wanted to share the following:

We LOVE Our Volunteers!

We are happy to introduce you to volunteers Myriam Rivard and Martin Bouliane.

Myriam and Martin have been volunteering at Second Chance Humane Society since September 2019.

An active outdoor couple, Myraim and Martin show up at least twice a week to hike with our dogs who are waiting for forever homes. Whether the walks are short post surgery strolls or hour long hikes with high energy dogs, Myriam and Martin are here to help!

Myriam and Martin are also involved in our foster program. They are great at fostering the high-energy dogs or the ones that just need a little more help in a home. Myriam and Martin have opened their home to multiple pups and potential adopters because “Our dogs seem to feel better in the home. It’s a place they know and feel comfortable, whereas the shelter can be a stressful place.”

We applaud Myriam and Martin for volunteering their time, love, and home to help our homeless pets.

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