cream tabby cat with yellow eyes, dilute orange tabby cat

What Is A Cream Tabby Cat?

 A cream tabby cat sounds exotic and unusual! Do you want to know what these cats are, whether they are a specific breed, do they have a specific temperament, are they rare and how much do they cost?

If you do, read on because we will bring you up to speed on what makes these cats special!

What Is A Cream Tabby Cat?

Are you curious as to what a cream tabby cat actually is? Essentially, a cream tabby cat is an orange tabby cat that is a diluted or faded-out color. 

This results in a cat with dark stripes and markings that are amber, light orange in color, or a fawn color and a body coat that is cream or off-white. 

Their paws and pads are usually pink rather than black or dark brown and their eye color are often a golden to full amber color.

Basically, they are a dilute version of an orange tabby cat!

dilute orange tabby cat, cream tabby cat
Cream Tabby Cat

Are Cream Colored Tabby Cats Rare?

Cream-colored tabby cats are one of the rarest color options around! 

This is down to genetics. Cats have two primary colors, black and red. All other coat colors such as grey, chocolate, and fawn are derived from those two primary colors. White color does not come from a white gene but is derived from a masking gene – a gene that hides color in patches or over different areas of the cat. Tabby cats have an “agouti” gene that specifically gives rise to the stripes and tabby markings. 

The genes for coat color in cats are carried on the “X” chromosome. Males have one X and one Y chromosome and females have two X chromosomes.  The red color gene has a dominant and a recessive variation.

If a male kitten inherits a red gene on his X chromosome that is dominant from his mother he will be red. If he inherits a recessive red gene then other genes will be dominant and lead to his coloration being expressed as black. A male cat cannot be red and black at the same time which is why calico or tortoiseshell male cats are incredibly rare!

If a female cat inherits two dominant red genes she will be red. If she inherits one dominant and one recessive red gene she can be calico or tortoiseshell. A female red, calico, or tortoiseshell cat can produce a red male cat but a female red cat must inherit the dominant red gene from both parents.

Additionally, all cats that express as red cats are tabby cats! The agouti gene which creates the tabby pattern is turned on with red cats – a non-agouti gene is inhibited with red cats. In cats that are not red, the non-agouti gene can present giving solid color variations and non-tabby options.

a red tabby cat with orange eyes sitting swiping with a paw against black background
Orange Tabby Kitten

All this means that red cats are statistically 80% male and 20% female.  So clearly red cats are a little bit unusual, but really only the females might be considered uncommon.

But what about cream tabby cats? Here the odds get even narrower. 

Cream cats are dilute versions of red cats. This means that beyond the color genes they must also inherit the correct dilution genes. Dilution genes are recessive genes. This means that to express dilution the cat must inherit two copies of the dilution gene variation. If a father cat has two dilution genes (dd) and the mother cat has the same (dd) then all the kittens will be dilute variants of the color they inherit. If both parents only have one dilute gene and one full-color gene (Dd) then the chances are that one kitten in four will be fully dilute (dd) – the others will carry but not express the dilution gene (Dd) or may not even carry the dilution gene (DD). If one parent has no dilution gene (DD) then the offspring will not be diluted but may carry a dilution gene if inherited from a (Dd) parent.

So a cream tabby cat has to inherit the correct genes to be red and then the correct genes for dilution! This makes cream tabby cats very unusual and rare! 

To top it all off, to achieve the perfect cream tabby the cat has to avoid inheriting piebald genes and masking genes that might create an orange or cream cat with white patches!

It is all complicated stuff with huge opportunities for genetic variation making a cream tabby cat a happy coincidence rather than something that can be planned – and something quite rare!

cream tabby cat domestic shorthair
Domestic Shorthair Cream Tabby Cat

Do Cream Tabby Cats Come In Different Patterns?

So are all tabby cats and specifically cream tabby cats the same pattern? Well, tabby cats can come in four different patterns, classic, mackerel, ticked, and spotted and the cream tabby cat is no different although ticked and spotted are far more unusual and rarer than classic and mackerel!

Some might say their cream cat is actually not a tabby – but the colors can be so faded out due to dilution that the patterns will be there just not as obvious as you might think in a tabby cat. The true giveaway is often the face stripes and the classic tabby “M” forehead marking. These face stripes and forehead markings are often more pronounced than on the body and are usually the first thing to look for on a tabby cat.

So you can get cream tabby cats in different patterns and the patterns may be less pronounced in some compared to others. The results will vary depending on the genes the cat has inherited – but all orange tabby cats have the tabby agouti gene expressed and cream tabbies are the dilute version so will have some markings even on the very most dilute cats!

Cream Tabby Cat Personalities – Are They Friendly?

Are cream tabby cats friendly? Well, male cats have a reputation for being more friendly than female cats. Scientists believe this most likely comes down to size. They theorize that size is important in the cat world with larger cats being more dominant and therefore getting their way more often and being overall more socially confident and willing to take a risk as a result. 

Additionally, science has found that male orange cats tend to be bigger than male cats of other colors. What this all means is that orange tabby cats have a reputation for being more affectionate, outgoing, and social than other cats – and as cream tabbies are essentially orange tabbies with a dilution gene we can probably assume a cream tabby will be as affectionate and outgoing as a full-color orange tabby!

Additionally, cream-tabby cats are not just domestic shorthairs. They can also be purebred cats. Some pure breeds like Maine coons, British Shorthairs, and Persians are known to have breed traits that make them social, friendly and interesting, loyal personalities – so if you can find a cream tabby from these breeds you can potentially get some personality traits baked into the cake!

Are Cream Tabby Cats Male Or Female?

As we discussed earlier, the genetics of coat color with regard to orange cats end up producing 80% male orange cats and 20% female orange cats – it is simply down to the chromosomes and the odds of inheriting a dominant red gene.

As cream tabbies are dilute orange tabby cats then it follows that cream tabby cats are way more likely to be male than female – but females are still entirely possible, just very unusual!

maine coon cream tabby cat kittens
Maine Coon Cream Tabby Cat Kittens

Cream Tabby Cat Breeds

Tabby cats are not a breed, they are a coat pattern – we know that domestic shorthairs (mixed breed cats) are available as cream tabby cats, so are there any pure breeds that are known to produce cream tabby cats? 

We touched on this briefly, and you will be interested to know that there is an extensive list of CFA-recognized breeds that have a cream tabby variant as an acceptable pure breed standard!

This means that if you favor a cat with a certain look or build or even personality, you may be able to find a cream tabby version amongst the pure breed cats.

Check out these breeds that list cream tabby as an acceptable coat pattern and color for the breed:

American BobtailAmerican CurlAmerican Shorthair American Wirehair
British Shorthair Cornish RexDevon RexExotic
Japanese BobtailLaPermMaine CoonManx
Norwegian Forest Cat OrientalPersianRagamuffin
Scottish FoldSiberianSphynxTurkish Angora

What Do Cream Tabby Cats Cost? 

Ok, so we get to the real question. What do cream tabby cats cost? Well, obviously this is going to depend on whether you are happy to go with a domestic shorthair cream tabby cat or whether you want to buy a cream tabby from a specific breed.

A pure breed cat will always cost more and the price will be dependent on the show-winning lineage of the cat. A Persian from an unrecognized breeder with no-show prizes to their lineage is less likely to command a high price than a Persian from a prize-winning set of parent cats developed by a renowned cat breeder!

an orange tabby american shorthair cat in sphinx pose
American Shorthair Orange Tabby Cat – No Dilution.

But, let’s check it out. Availability plays a big part in all of this as well. You might struggle to find a cream tabby from a specific breed without having to wait around for some time for the fates to deal you with the right set of cards!

Right now, in July 2022, I can see one advert in the UK for a cream tabby domestic shorthair. They have a full orange tabby cat brother in the same litter available for £400 ($480) and a cream brother available for £600 ($720). In comparison, a standard domestic shorthair cat can be bought from the litter for £40 ($48). They come vaccinated, chipped, and fully weaned (8 weeks old) from a home with multiple cats, dogs, and children.

We also have a British shorthair blue cream tabby cat – male. A pure-bred, certified, vaccinated, microchipped, litter trained, wormed and vet checked available for £850 ($1020), brought up in a litter of five, in a home with children having been handled and become socialized at age 8 weeks.

Having said that, if you keep your eyes open and you are perfectly fine with a domestic shorthair tabby cat from a rescue you may be able to locate a cream tabby for as little as £35 ($42).

Final Thoughts

A cream tabby cat is a great choice if you want a distinctive cat with a reputation for being male and friendly! They are rarer than most cats, and females are particularly unusual. If you decide a cream tabby is for you, keep your eyes peeled because they are not available regularly, can command a price, and are often homed very quickly due to their distinctive look!