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History of Tuxedo Cats — Taking a Look at Their Past

Everyone can recognize a tuxedo cat when they see one, but few people realize that they’re not actually a breed. Still, tuxedo cats still have a place of honor among cat lovers.

Their refined, aristocratic appearances, intelligence, and loving natures make them popular cats throughout history.

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What Are Tuxedo Cats?

Tuxedo cats are recognizable by their distinct coloring. With their black fur and white chests mimicking the appearance of a tuxedo, these cats always look like they’re dressed to impress.

Strictly speaking, tuxedo cats aren’t a breed. The name, instead, refers to the specific patterning of their fur. While the traditional black and white colors of formal wear are more recognized as the coloring for tuxedo cats, not all black and white cats are tuxedo cats.

The same can be said for tuxedo cats themselves. Many cat-lovers don’t limit the patterning to black and white fur, allowing a range of gray and white or ginger tuxedo cats to join the ranks. There are even a few white tuxedo cats that have black undercarriages.

Since what makes a tuxedo cat is a specific pattern of color, these cats can be a variety of breeds. A few cat breeds that display this patterning include:

tuxedo cat sitting outdoor
Image Credit Piqsels
  • Maine Coon
  • American Shorthair
  • Scottish Folds
  • Norwegian Forest cats

Unlike calicos and tortoiseshells, which are both mostly female, tuxedo cats are equally likely to be male or female.

Where Did Tuxedo Cats Originate?

Since they’re not a breed, it’s difficult to know exactly where tuxedo cats originated. The earliest depictions of tuxedo cats date back to Ancient Egypt, a long time before tuxedos were ever a thing.

The Ancient Egyptians loved cats. Considered to be “mutually beneficial companions,” they were allowed to take shelter from the heat inside households in exchange for handling pests like rats, snakes, and even scorpions.

The relationship didn’t end there. Many cats were entombed alongside their human companions so they could continue their relationship even after death. They were also depicted in paintings and believed to be vessels for gods and goddesses, like Bastet.

Many of the paintings depicted in Egyptian tombs, particularly those for the royalty, and hieroglyphics show tuxedo cats. While all cats were held in high regard among the Egyptians, tuxedo cats had a particular place of honor. They were believed to bring fortune and good luck. Due to this, most felines in tomb paintings are tuxedo cats.

tuxedo cat on tree
Image Credit: Pixabay

Famous Tuxedo Cats

The Ancient Egyptians aren’t the only ones who found tuxedo cats fascinating. Beethoven, Shakespeare, and Sir Isaac Newton all owned tuxedo cats too. Although the cats didn’t become famous themselves, their relationships with these familiar names show how popular tuxedo cats have been as companions.

Even without being a separate breed, they’ve played their part throughout history. Over the years, tuxedo cats have done everything from accompanying famous artists to making appearances in TV shows.

There are too many tuxedo cats that have achieved great things over the years to mention all of them. Here are a few examples to show how awesome these cats are.

Black and White tuxedo cat on grass
Image Credit: Melody Sundberg, Shutterstock
  • Felix: During the silent film era in the 1920s, Felix the Cat was a familiar sight in merchandise, cartoons, and animations. He was so popular that tuxedo cats are also called “Felix cats.”
  • Mistofelees: In the musical, “Cats,” by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Mr. Mistofelees was known for his charm, sass, and magic powers. He was based on a character in a book of poems by T.S. Elliot. Elliot wrote about “Jellicles,” ordinary house cats who happen to have magic.
  • Roderick: We’ve all heard of the climbing exhibitions that conquer Mount Everest, but few people know that a cat has climbed the mountain too. Roderick, a tuxedo cat, is the only feline to take on the challenge so far.
  • Simon: Ships are no stranger to rat infestations, and one Royal Navy warship during World War II had its fair share of rats trying to devour the food supplies. A tuxedo cat called Simon earned a People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals Dickin Medal and a Blue Cross Medal for Animal Military Gallantry after protecting the food from vermin.
  • Socks: Socks was the First Cat of the White House during Bill Clinton’s presidency. As a former stray, he embodied the phrase, “from rags to riches.”
  • Sparky: Another tuxedo cat that rose to fame was a feline called Sparky. He inherited a small fortune in 1998.
  • Sylvester: A famous tuxedo cat that’s never been forgotten is Sylvester from Looney Tunes. He might be the bad guy relentlessly stalking Tweety Bird, but you have to admire his persistence.
  • The Cat in the Hat: Written by Dr. Seuss and published in 1957, “The Cat in the Hat” is one of the most popular depictions of tuxedo cats today. Not only does the tall hat make him a recognizable character, but his tuxedo patterning makes him appear aristocratic, despite the mischief that he gets up to.
  • Trixie: When her owner was imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1801, Trixie demonstrated how loyal cats can be. She broke into the prison to keep her owner company.
  • Tuxedo Stan: Although there’s been a First Cat in the White House, there have been fewer cats running for office. In Halifax, Canada, Tuxedo Stan put his suit to the test and ran for mayor. His goal was to help his fellow felines by raising awareness of how important spaying and neutering programs are.

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Final Thoughts

Not being a breed doesn’t make tuxedo cats any less interesting. Their stylish looks, intelligence, and regality lead many people to believe that they bring good luck. Considering how many tuxedo cats have made their names known throughout history, their “good luck charm” nature only seems fitting.

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Featured Image: Bettina Calder, Shutterstock

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