Curious Cats

How unique is your cat? Did you know that all tabby cats have the letter “M” on their foreheads? What about these other curious cats?

Most owners like to think their cat is unique in some way. In fact there are several traits that are common in different breeds, some are really unusual. For instance did you know every tabby colored cat has the letter “M” on their forehead? Here are some other features you may not know about in every day domestic cats.

Known as Heterochromia, this cat has two different colored eyes. This can be genetic or the result of an injury. What is interesting is that this cat is white. It is not uncommon for blue eyed, white cats, to be deaf. In the case of cats with one blue eye, sometimes they are deaf in one ear.

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Cats can be born without a tail or with a tail shorter than usual. Cats can be born like this, or may also lose a portion of their tail if it gets caught in a door or from frost bite. The Manx breed is especially known for having shorter tails or none at all. Since this does occur in other cats, it does not mean the cat is a manx.

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Oh my, what big feet you have. This is a Polydactyl Cat, if you are unfamiliar with this term, one glance at the cat should tell you what it means. The cat has extra toes. This can occur on one or more of the cats paws, and is often considered to be good luck.

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This photo was taken by Marc Averette of one of the cats at Ernest Hemmingway House.

Now this is a normal house cat, in fact he is one of my own cats, left behind by his old owner when they moved away. He is a terrific mouser on our farm but is also very friendly. He is here to demonstrate what often happens when you photograph a cat. Note his pupils in his eyes have turned yellow. This is a common trait in nocturnal animals, and is called Eyeshine.

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What is special about this cat? Nothing really, other than that she is cool looking. How did I know the cat is female? Well generally all calico cats are female. A calico is a cat who is white, black, and orange. She may also be white, gray, and peach (this would be referred to as a dilute calico). The same is true about Tortoiseshell cats, which are black and orange, or gray and peach. As I said, they are usually always female. A male cat of either coloration is extremely rare, and often sterile.

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A very striking calico cat, from Wikimedia.

I want to add, you may have recently heard about a cat named “Yoda” who has four ears, and may be wondering why he is not mentioned here. That is because his abnormality is limited to under five cats world wide, and I am mentioning occurrences here that may be rare, but you are still likely to encounter given the large number of cats in the world.

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User Comments
  1. Glynis Smy

    On September 22, 2008 at 7:27 am

    Great info, I will be trying to find the M on the Cypriot strays I feed from now on!

  2. Karen N

    On September 22, 2008 at 8:27 am

    Beautiful cats!

  3. eddiego65

    On September 22, 2008 at 8:54 am

    Great article and amazing pics of beautiful cats.

  4. Stahl

    On September 22, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    Another interesting fact: every red tabby (with no white spots!) is male. When there are white areas on the fur, it can be female, although when its only on the neck or chest area its also very likely to be a male cat.

  5. ehutch

    On September 22, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    cats are awesome

  6. DaviDC.

    On September 22, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    Not all tabby cats have an M on their heads. There’s an alley cat around here who has an H. It doesn’t look like a modified M; it’s clearly an H.

  7. neelam pandey

    On September 22, 2008 at 2:12 pm

    very beautiful pics!

  8. Gwen

    On September 22, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    Not every solid red or red and white tabby is male. A red-only female is one who was lucky enough to inherit the red gene on both X chromosomes. It\’s also possible that she has both red and black, but the black hairs are so few as to be unnoticeable.

    I adopted a stray red tabby that I assumed would be male, but upon catching it, it was clearly female, and pregnant. Some of the babies were red just like her (all males), some were dilute tortishell females, and a couple of generations on (before I managed to get all her female kittens spayed) there were dark torties, cream males, a black female, and red males.

  9. ket

    On September 22, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    My cat Hobbes has spots with spots in them on one side and stripes on them on the other.

  10. PW

    On September 22, 2008 at 5:25 pm

    My mom’s cat has 4 ears. He’s quite old now. She found him on the side of the road. He also has crossed eyes, so she calls him Clarence as in Clarence the cross eyed lion.

  11. Noadi

    On September 22, 2008 at 6:04 pm

    My cats are polydactyl, they both have huge feet it’s really cute.

  12. Becca

    On September 22, 2008 at 6:29 pm

    WOW yellow eyes!O_O

  13. me

    On September 22, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    ^ ^
    o o

  14. C. Jordan

    On September 22, 2008 at 7:46 pm

    We used to have a cat with just 3 toes on each paw

  15. Smokey Demon

    On September 22, 2008 at 8:35 pm

    We had a male calico and my oldest daughter had a female red tabby.
    Great pictures! Cats rule. Dogs drool! (so do some cats when they are being petted.)

  16. Ruby Hawk

    On September 22, 2008 at 9:41 pm

    These are all beauties. My granddaughter has beautiful white cats with black markings. Their eyes are the brightest blue. The dog lets them walk all over her.

  17. Cheryl F.

    On September 23, 2008 at 1:13 am

    I had someone tell me about the “M” before, and I know my tabby Kitty has 1. I didn’t a lot of the other info though, and I liked all the pics.

  18. Redburn

    On September 23, 2008 at 6:18 am

    Awesome Job!

  19. Zofia

    On September 23, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    Very good article!

    Here’s another interesting cat fact: When you see a ginger tabby (orange), chances are, it’s a boy because only 16-17% of ginger tabbies are female.

    I found this out from my vet when I brought in a female ginger that I had rescued.

  20. LP Jardine

    On September 23, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    Another cat person cool. I love cats great pictures.

  21. goodselfme

    On September 23, 2008 at 7:18 pm

    Great pics and wonderful descriptions/explanations with each one. Thank you. I have 3,one Seal point siamese and the other are mixed breeds. I think they own me.

  22. Josy

    On September 23, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    Wow I did not know about quite a few of these traits. Great article and wonderful information.

  23. Melissa P

    On September 23, 2008 at 11:40 pm

    Cats are such gorgeous, wonderful creatures. There isn’t a day that goes by where they don’t astound, amaze, amuse and fill my life with warm-furry-fuzzball love. Wonderful article!

  24. swapna

    On September 24, 2008 at 5:19 am

    wow amazing…..

  25. Julie

    On September 24, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    Beautiful cats! I am a lifelong cat lover myself.

  26. Darla Smith

    On September 24, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    This is a very interesting article. I love cats and I really enjoyed reading it.

  27. Joey

    On September 24, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    I love kitties!

  28. Gale Barker

    On September 24, 2008 at 4:54 pm

    I learned lots of new things about cats from this article, including the fact that one of the cats I once owned was a dilute calico. I always thought her markings were distinctive, but didn’t know there was a name for that colour combination.

  29. Tiffaney

    On September 24, 2008 at 5:01 pm

    I found this to be very imformative.

  30. Jackie Stroud-Painter

    On September 24, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    Very pretty cats. I have two and both are very different.

  31. purnomosidhi

    On September 24, 2008 at 8:02 pm

    Your article gives me more knowledge about cat. BTW, I am cat holic too

  32. marketli

    On September 24, 2008 at 11:50 pm

    Nice pics of cats.

    THe article is superb.


  33. angelstar

    On September 29, 2008 at 8:39 am

    nice one, thanks

  34. Lunyka

    On October 25, 2008 at 11:09 pm

    You forgot the mane coon cats. They are like normal cars in every way but their paws are exceptionally larger but they have a normal number of toes.

  35. wolfvalleyfarm

    On January 28, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    I have a male calico cat. He is covered in colors. most tri-colored male cats have alot of white on them. You can view my male calico cat on flickr. He is the first photo that pops up.

  36. wolfvalleyfarm

    On January 28, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    I also have a cat that wears clothes when its cold outside. Its so cute.. You can view her photos on flickr too..

  37. dancergirl

    On April 17, 2009 at 10:29 pm

    I have 2 cats, I found them when they were babies, they are both female brown tabbies, striped with dots on their underside, neither one has a tail, one of them have extra toes, even on her back feet. They are 16 and 18 pounds apiece…maybe they are part bobcat?

  38. Bill M. Tracer

    On April 23, 2009 at 12:17 am

    Very cool article and pictures.

  39. Nancy Hardman

    On May 1, 2009 at 1:47 am

    My daughter found 2 kittens That has odd colors light gray almost white on the back sides above the eyebrows and black ears face tail stomach and legs

  40. Brenda Nelson

    On June 2, 2009 at 8:52 am

    Nancy (#39) that color sounds like what is called Lilac Point.

  41. Rob Robinson

    On July 28, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    I have a male dilute-calico male with blue eyes he is only 5 weeks old so don’t know if he is sterile or not but wondering how rare male tri coloreds with blue eyes are (his mother is a blue and father siamese) all other kittins in this litter are siamese and one female blue can send you a pic when ya get back to me thanks

  42. Brenda Nelson

    On July 30, 2009 at 10:41 pm

    to Rob
    the eye color is not related to gender so its not so spectactular. still pretty rare to have the male be a calico.

  43. Theresa Johnson

    On September 8, 2009 at 7:17 am

    the cats were absolutely adorable. loved the piece

  44. Duff D Moss

    On September 8, 2009 at 8:09 am

    Polydactyl Cat – ye god – that is one big freaking paw.

  45. Rod Ferrandino

    On September 8, 2009 at 9:02 am

    I like the conversational tone you manage to get into the article, as well as the “fun facts”. And, since you are now my resident feline expert, perhaps you could tell me if it is common for there to be more than one father in a litter of kittens; our two youngest cats, both black females, have different eyes; one has yellow eyes, and looks like a miniature puma, while the other one is amber-eyed, and most resembles a furry beach-ball.

  46. David Crerand

    On September 8, 2009 at 9:28 am

    Very interesting with really nice photos in support. Good Job B.

  47. Marie Milton

    On September 8, 2009 at 9:45 am

    This is an awsome write Brenda : )
    Cats can have some really cute/funny facial expressions – they are just so cute.

  48. BullwinkleMuse

    On September 8, 2009 at 10:25 am

    I’m having nightmares now, of a nocturnal predator with paws the size of baseball mitts, wildly-colored eyes, and the mark of the Beast in its forehead..aaaggggh!

  49. Tlchimes

    On September 8, 2009 at 11:21 am

    Great information and written in a fun way!

  50. raptor22

    On September 8, 2009 at 11:33 am

    Great info and pictures. The cats are gorgeous.

  51. Karen Gross

    On September 8, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    Great article – I liked that you had a picture to illustrate each point.

    I’ve noticed the yellow eye pictures with my cats, it makes them look evil. I’ve learned that it can’t be fixed with the red eye eraser – too bad there isn’t a yellow eye eraser for pictures where you don’t want a cat to look evil.

  52. BradONeill

    On September 8, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    LOL Karen- Evil eye reduction for cats and Demons! Another superb article B. Nelson. I didn’t know about the M I am going to have to look for that now. :)

  53. Annie Hintsala

    On September 8, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    Great work, though I am not a ‘cat person’. I love the pictures of the calicos.

  54. STEVE666

    On September 8, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    Great write. I didn’t think there was so much to know about cats.

  55. oldster

    On September 8, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    Good job B. Doggie man myself–but I’ll always fuss a cat too.

  56. Used to be Shelly

    On September 8, 2009 at 9:58 pm

    I loved it, B. The pictures are fabulous.

  57. 8uuuuyy

    On September 9, 2009 at 2:11 am

    i loved the pics!
    hey B, is this a part of triond??

  58. WriteEditSeek

    On September 9, 2009 at 10:57 pm

    Informative and fun article. Love your chatty writing style–it’s perfect for the subject.

  59. cafftee

    On September 10, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    Nicely written and informative – I’m just about to get a cat myself for the first time, my little girls have been nagging me for ages!

  60. maranatha

    On September 23, 2009 at 1:37 am

    Another great article, well written and informative. I am a cat lover, but the hubby is not – which is rather surprising, considering the last one we had saved us from a rattlesnake we didn’t know was nearby.

  61. DJC

    On November 12, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    I, too have a dilute calico with piercing blue eyes. She was dumped on my block and I found her hiding under my car. Their loss, my gain.

  62. Soni

    On June 29, 2011 at 4:30 am

    Awesome post..all the pictures are beautiful..i didn’t know about the M word on a cat’s forehead..thanks for this wonderful info.

  63. Doggy Training

    On June 29, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    Great site on cats.Thank you for your great information and will visit your site again.

  64. Cat towers

    On July 12, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    Wow, so many different genetic make ups! That one cat had feet bigger then my dog haha.

  65. Inkassotipps

    On July 21, 2011 at 10:54 am

    Very beautiful cats. I like cats.

  66. Reptiles for sale

    On August 17, 2011 at 3:13 am

    Reptiles for sale, including lizards, snakes, turtles, tortoises, salamanders, newts, frogs, toads, and feeders!

  67. Mathias

    On September 20, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    Beautiful cats, i love the odd eyes :)

  68. Great Beauty Deals

    On October 31, 2011 at 8:45 am

    cute cats!! I wish I have same asthose pics but my mom won’t allow ME :(

  69. nami

    On November 16, 2011 at 11:12 pm

    my new cat got half grey and half blue at the right side.. o.o ..

  70. nami

    On November 16, 2011 at 11:15 pm

  71. maroof

    On January 22, 2012 at 8:01 am

    very cute cats and nice

  72. Literary Agency Delhi

    On May 17, 2012 at 7:59 am

    Beautiful pictures of cat and nice article :)

  73. Adiphene

    On January 17, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    very useful information if you have a cat and you love it. thank you.

  74. William

    On January 19, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    Yup, I thought it would be a good idea to use an M as the initial to name my tabby until I realized that the M is not a rare trait on tabby kitties

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