Tuxedo cats: What makes them special?

Tuxedo cat lying on the bed
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you're eager to find out more about the adorable tuxedo cat, you're not alone: these adorable black and white felines have been winning the hearts of humans as far back as ancient Egyptian times.

With their gorgeous bi-colored coats that genuinely make them look like they’re wearing a tuxedo, this intelligent and affectionate kitty has long been a popular choice for those of us looking for a charming companion. 

They love to play and be mentally and physically challenged too and have a spirited and adventurous nature, so having a box that’s well stocked with the best cat toys is a must for keeping this feline happy, healthy and entertained. 

Easy to spot thanks to the white bib it sports across its chest, some tuxies also have white boots that complete their sweet ensemble while other variations include a white strip on the nose or perhaps even a white mustache! 

Whatever form the tuxie takes, you’re guaranteed to fall in love with one if you welcome it into your family. While the temperament of each of our feline friends will vary, tuxedo cats have a reputation for being very loving with their owners and many take well to life as a lap cat.

To learn more about the best dressed kitty on the block, we’ve rounded up a range of fascinating tuxedo cat facts that reveal everything you need to know about the moggy behind the mask. Let’s take a look….

1. Tuxedo cats are not a breed

Just like the calico cat, the tuxie is not a breed in its own right but is rather a bi-color or piebald cat that is composed of two colors. And while we traditionally think of the tuxedo cat as being black and white, any cat whose coat is white with another color (orange or gray, for example) is considered a tuxie cat. 

So, how exactly did the tuxedo cat come to get its markings? Well, it definitely has its genes to thank for its striking looks. For a long time, scientists believed that that the tuxie’s coat was the result of sluggish pigment cells that weren't able to reach all the parts of the embryo before it was fully formed, but a recent theory has come up with another idea.

Researchers now believe that pigment cells move and multiply in random ways during the embryo’s development, so a bi-colored coat may be less a result of slow cells and more a result of those cells not following any genetic instruction for what the coat color should look like. 

2. Tuxedo cats were worshipped in ancient Egypt

Tuxie’s were revered during ancient Egyptian times, with the gods believing they brought immense good fortune to anyone who was lucky enough to own one. The earliest depictions of tuxedo cats date back to that time, with some pet parents going so far as to be entombed alongside their black and white feline friend.

3. There are an equal number of males and females

Unlike the orange tabby cat who has a higher number of males or the chimera cat  (tortoiseshell) and calico cat, most of whom are born female, the number of male and female tuxedo cats are equal. 

4. Tuxedo cats have a rich history on the big and small screen

Tuxedo cat

(Image credit: Getty Images)

From Dr Seuss’s the Cat in the Hat and Sylvester from Looney Tunes to Mr. Mistoffelees in the Broadway musical Cats and Figaro from the Disney film Pinocchio, the tuxedo cat has always had a special place in the heart of pop culture. 

5. They’re super affectionate….and intelligent

Okay, so while the jury is still out when it comes to hard scientific data on this one, many experts agree that tuxedo cats mature faster than other cats and that more rapid maturation means they often show higher levels of intelligence when given cat puzzle feeders and other complex toys to engage with. 

Those that own tuxedo cats also often report that they are highly affectionate, with loud purrs that can be heard as far away as the next room and a penchant to curl up on the lap of those they love. 

6. A tuxedo cat once ran for office

It may sound too good to be true, but this is one impressive story that actually happened! In 2012, a spirited and tenacious little feline named Tuxedo Stan ran for mayor of Halifax in Canada. Now, granted, he didn’t end up winning, but he certainly helped to raise awareness for homeless cats in need of forever families. 

Sadly, Tuxedo Stan died a year after running for office, but not before he helped to raise funds for a low-cost spay and neuter clinic and inspire the creation of the Tuxedo Party, a political movement aimed at improving the welfare of felines living in the Halifax area. 

7. They’re a decorated war veteran

A courageous tuxie named Simon served on board the Royal Navy sloop-of-war HMS Amethyst during the Chinese Civil War in 1949, helping to protect the British food supplies from mice and other pests. He did such a wonderful job that he was awarded the PDSA Dicken Medal for the role he played in raising morale.

8. A tuxedo cat once lived in the White House

Socks the tuxedo cat sat behind desk in Oval Office at the White House

(Image credit: Getty Images)

One of the most well-known and beloved pets to have lived in the White House, little Socks belonged to Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of former President Bill Clinton, who adopted him just before her father was elected in 1992. He moved into the White House with the family and soon became the mascot for the Clinton Administration’s website. 

9. The record for the richest cat in the world is held by a tuxedo cat

With more money than most humans, a tuxie cat named Sparky was awarded the title of richest cat in the world in 1998 after he inherited a mind-boggling 6.8 million dollars when his owner died. 

10. They have magical powers

It’s true….well, maybe. Some people believe that during the vernal or diurnal equinox (the one date in spring and fall when the day and night are of equal length) that the tuxie becomes almost invisible due to the color of their coats. 

Scientists are more likely to propose that their ‘disappearance’ is due to the physics of light and shadow, but tuxie lovers definitely think it has more to do with this particular feline being more than a little magical. 

Kathryn Williams
Freelance writer

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has been a member of the PetsRadar family since it launched in 2020. Highly experienced in her field, she's driven by a desire to provide pet parents with accurate, timely, and informative content that enables them to provide their fur friends with everything they need to thrive. Kathryn works closely with vets and trainers to ensure all articles offer the most up-to-date information across a range of pet-related fields, from insights into health and behavior issues to tips on products and training. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with her family (which includes one super sassy cat), drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.