August is Tuxedo cat month at Cat Faeries and smart cat Issac Newton wants to tell you about them

All dressed up with everywhere to go is the gorgeous tuxedo cat. Many of them have white spats, slippers, socks, or little shoes on their feet (even after Labor Day!). They have a wide variety of patterns on their bodies and faces, always with a lot of white with black, or gray, or other colors to create a very regal, elegant formal looking feline!

Some people feel their temperaments are particularly pleasing – would you agree?

We asked our good friend Sir Issac Newton, who’s one smart cat and always has a very unique purrrspective, to tell us about the origins of these delightfully marked cats.

Newton’s Purrspective – Cats in Formal Attire

Who are all these cats dressed in tuxedos and where are they going? They go everywhere, of course! “Tuxedo” describes a particular color pattern in a bi-colored cat that gives them the appearance of dressing for a black tie event. Although feline color genetics are sometimes a mystery we do know that the gene for white spotting is dominant. It masks the cat’s true color in the areas where white occurs. So a tuxedo cat has one gene for solid color and one gene for white spotting. If the white spotting gene wasn’t there the cat would be one solid color.

Isaac Newton

Traditionally, Tuxedos are mostly black with white trim on the face, chest and feet. But let’s not be stuffy! Some of us are fashion trend setters and wear grey or orange tuxes. Although it is not obvious in my photo, I have the white bib and feet, but I also have stripes. So I like to think of myself as the “cat in the pinstripe suit”.

Virtually any breed can wear a tuxedo since it is a color pattern, not a breed characteristic. Although there is no scientific evidence linking Tuxies with personality traits, I think they all know they possess a certain elegance.

People seem to agree. Some of the most famous cat characters are tuxedos. For example:

  1. Felix the cat (cartoon from the silent film era)
  2. Sylvester (Looney Tunes cartoon)
  3. The Magical Mr. Mistoffeles from the musical “Cats”

It is said that Shakespeare and Beethoven both had tuxedo cats – always dressed for the theater, no doubt.

Meet a cat who travels the world on a boat!

Ahoy mates! Have you ever dreamed about saying bye-bye to all that binds and holds us back and saying to hello to a life of total freedom and adventure? And with your cat?

What better way to continue the 4th of July celebration freedom than by meeting Matt and Jessica Johnson who quit their jobs, sold everything and in August of 2011 they set sail around the world. A year later they adopted a cat named Georgie who not only loves living on the boat, but loves a good swim! Inspiring story. Great photos!

Newton’s Purrspective – Sense of Smell and a Cat’s 6th Sense

Here’s guest writer and “one smart cat” Newton to give us the science behind a cat’s sense of smell.

Newton’s Purrspective – Sense of Smell and a Cat’s 6th Sense

Isaac Newton

Cats and humans share the same 5 senses (hearing, sight, touch, taste, and smell), but our abilities are far from equal. Despite my obvious bias, I have to say that you can’t argue with science. In a comparison of the two species, overall cats win paws down. Cats have a far greater range of hearing (45-64,000 Hz compared to humans 64-23,000 Hz). (1) Our eyes have six to eight times as many cells for viewing objects in low light as humans. (2) Our whiskers are so sensitive that we can detect the slightest change in air currents around objects (such as furniture). This is one of the reasons blind cats can get around so well. (3) True, we only have 473 taste buds compared to 9,000 in humans (4), and our reputation for being finicky is well deserved. But, we are obligate carnivores and our natural diet is primarily protein. We have no need to taste sugar! (5) If your apple pie mysteriously disappears from the table I suggest that you blame it on Fido.

Perhaps most amazing of all is our sense of smell. Any human who has suffered a cold knows how important smell is to being able to taste food. Cats have 200 million odor sensitive cells in our nostrils, 40 times more than humans. (6) We also have a special structure called the Jacobson’s Organ (vomeronasal organ). This structure is located behind our upper front teeth and connects to the nasal cavity. Inhaled information is transferred directly to special areas of the brain for concentrated processing and analysis. Has your cat ever sniffed you intensely and then made a face suggesting the smell was bad? Kitty is actively breathing in air to utilize the Jacobson’s Organ. The curled lip is called “Flehmen” (German for lip curl) (7) or sometimes “Flehmen’s smile”. This process allows more in depth analysis of scents and, among other things, is used to detect pheromones. We KNOW if a strange cat has been rubbing up against you! For this reason it is sometimes called an auxiliary or extra sense – a Sixth Sense.

Does this mean cats are psychic? I can’t say for sure, but some researchers suggest that a cat’s sense of smell is extra special. Atmospheric air flow through Jacobson’s Organ may reveal small changes in chemical composition. This could enable a cat to sense impending disasters such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and forest fires. Supporters of this view say Jacobson’s Organ is the structural origin of a Sixth Sense. (8)

In conclusion, understanding the sensitivity and importance of smell to cats can help humans to make our environments more pleasant. Remember, smell can attract or repel. I come running when a new box of Cat Faeries Legendary Catnip toys arrives. But please don’t be offended if I don’t enjoy your Chanel No. 5.

Smell influences:

  • the types of food we will eat (we need lots of protein)
  • what areas of the house we prefer (we don’t like most chemical cleaning agents, so I suggest an enzyme based cleaner such as Cat Faeries Anti-Icky Poo in cat box areas)
  • litter box acceptance/avoidance (we prefer unscented litter) (9)

Following these guidelines can foster a more peaceful coexistence for all.



Scientists Prove Sitting in Boxes Calms Cats

Cats and boxes. Has your cat ever met a box it didn’t like (other than a teeny tiny box that a fabulous piece of jewelry came in)? Cats love boxes. Even boxes that appear to be too small for them, somehow your cat will squeeze into it and be blissful.

We found an article on about fascinating scientists who have researched why cats love boxes so much, and from one in particular you’ll learn why boxes are a good thing. Claudia Vinke, a Dutch Ethologist* worked with cats in a Dutch shelter. She provided boxes for a newly arrived group of cats while not giving boxes to another group. She found a significant difference in stress levels between cats that had the boxes and those that didn’t. The cats with boxes got used to their new surroundings faster, were far less stressed early on, and were more interested in interacting with humans.

The article on has more fascinating scientifically proven reasons for why cats love boxes – and actually need boxes. This has us thinking about our recent article about cats, stress, over grooming and the benefits of wearing a jacket or sweater for purposes of calming. We at Cat Faeries wonder: would cats who are self-barbering or over grooming not just benefit from a sweater, but also from having several boxes in the home to hang out in? It’s certainly an experiment that’s virtually free of cost, doesn’t take up a lot of space, and your cat could love it and be happier. What do you think?

Here’s the article about cats and boxes at Wired:

Here’s a link to our our story about cats and sweaters written by Cat Faeries’ friend, Newton, a cat who knows everything –

* Ethology is the scientific and objective study of animal behavior, usually with a focus on behavior under natural conditions. Behaviorism is a term that also describes the scientific and objective study of animal behavior, but it usually refers to the study of trained behavioral responses in a laboratory context.

Why Male Calico and Tortie Cats Are So Rare

Recently we stumbled upon an article about an extremely rare male calico kitten up for adoption in Silicon Valley. Less than 0.1% of all calicos or torties are male. And, it’s likely this kitten, named Sherman, or any other male calico or tortie was born sterile.

‘Unicorn Cat’ Makes Its Way to Silicon Valley Animal Shelter

By Renee Schiavone (Patch Staff)

A very special kitten has found his way to a Silicon Valley animal shelter, and now representatives are hoping someone will be willing to give him a forever home.

Sherman is a male calico cat. Which is apparently really rare.

Dr. Andrea Berger, who is a veterinarian at the Humane Society Silicon Valley, says the chances of a calico cat being born male is less than 0.1%.

“It’s like a unicorn! I’ve been involved with shelters for 20 years and I have never seen one,” Berger said.

The four-month-old kitten recently arrived with the HSSV, as a transfer from one of their sister shelters, which was full.

“We work with shelters in the area to help alleviate the strain on resources when shelters are too full and when there’s an animal who needs a little extra help getting adopted,” a spokeswoman told Patch.

Anyone interested in adopting Sherman can stop by the Sunnyvale Neighborhood Adoption Center, inside Petco at 160 East El Camino Real. The adoption fee is $175.

By the way, shelter representatives say the little fur ball is very personable and friendly– and he’s a sucker for people and wand toys.

We asked guest writer and over all “one smart cat” Newton to give us the science behind the rarity of male torties and calicos. Here you go!

Newton’s Perspective: Calico Genetics

My namesake, Sir Isaac Newton, was a renowned physicist and mathematician. Although some credit him with inventing the cat flap to protect his experiments from light exposure (, I doubt that he actually knew much about cats. That’s not surprising since we are WAY more complicated than physics! Recently my insatiable cat curiosity led me to a book about a male calico cat titled “Cats are not Peas” – Well, that seems pretty obvious. I thought this was about genetics, not gardening. But what I read was far more complex than I imagined.

Have you ever met a male calico cat? If you said no I am not surprised. Less than one percent of all calico cats are male. But before I go any further, let’s define calico. Calico is a color pattern. When I think “calico” I see a cat that is predominantly white with patches of orange and black. However, this is only one variation. The key is having both orange (or beige) and black (or grey) colors.

The genetic code for black and orange colors is located on the X chromosome. Females have two X’s (XX), while males have an X and a Y (XY). If a female kitten gets both an orange and a black X then she will be calico XoXb. A male kitten from the same litter would get either an orange or a black X with the following results.

The only way for a male to have both orange and black colors is through a genetic mishap that gives him three chromosomes XoXb Y instead of two XoY or Xb Y. This is called Klinefelter Syndrome in humans and generally results in feminization and sterility.

So now you know why male calico cats are so rare. But I’m sure you’ll agree, all cats are special, no matter what color they might be.

Meet a Roman Cat!

Mimi sent us this picture of Aka…

“This is Aka, my beautiful almost 15 year old Roman cat. She is the Queen of Piazza Mazzini here in Rome, which she watches over from our 5th floor balcony. She is on her window perch; outside the window in the background you can see the top of St. Peter’s dome. She is quite a lady and doesn’t have a wrinkle on her. She loves relaxing on her favorite armchair or gazing out the window, looking at the streets of Rome. We met when she was 5 days old and left her mom to waddle over to my hand. 2 months later she moved in with us. She’s my gattissima bellissima!!!”

We wrote her…

“We are located in San Francisco and there is an organization here called Friends of Roman Cats – they raise money for Italian cat shelters and rescue! One of the groups is called Torre Argentina. They have an annual fund raiser here which we’ve donated to in the past.”

“I’ve had many interactions with Italian cats! My favorite, the funniest: I was in Verona (one of my favorite places) and walked past an alley. There were a lot of street cats eating. I looked up and sitting in a window about 4 floors up was a woman, something right out of Fellini… Harsh looking face with garish makeup, buxom figure, sleeveless dress with bra straps hanging down, a cigarette dangling from her lips, throwing pieces of fish out of her window the cats below. I watched for awhile. Then she saw me and threw fish at me and yelled something in Italian at me. Pretty funny! I once helped the old ladies feed the cats who live on the grounds of a museum in Milano.”

“Thank you so much, it gave me a few minutes to think of the cats I saw and met in Italy!”

Mimi wrote back…

“Thanks so much for the interesting information on the “Friends of Roman Cats”. Everyone here knows the cats of Torre Argentina. They are very famous and inhabit some very important architectural digs. In fact they have recently “discovered” or “uncovered” the exact location where Julius Caesar was assassinated there. I work near an area that is a crossroads between the Aventine hill, Testaccio and the Pyramid and there is a colony of cats there too. In fact many cats (lovely black ones) live in the garden/parking lot of the pool/Gym where I work. They are well cared for by the volunteers from the Piramide cat colony.”

If you ever come to Rome, I’ll take you to visit the Piramide cat colony!!! I’ll look forward to seeing Aka in an upcoming newsletter.

Thanks and baci.