Are there skeletons in this Royal’s closet?

Duchess & Thomas O'MalleyNot sure how this film got into our collection. It was not one that I grew up watching so I know that I didn’t buy it for my kids. Most likely it was one of their grandparents that slipped it in when I wasn’t around. Regardless, The Artistocats has quickly become one of my daughter’s favorite Disney movies. It does, like most Disney movies, have some catchy tunes and fun characters but I must say I get bored a little to quickly with it. That being said, there is one thing that always kind of bugged me. If you don’t know the story, Duchess is a ‘long-haired purebred white Turkish Angora cat‘ who lives with her three kittens and a rich retired opera singer who is slightly mental. I say that because the old woman plans to change her will to leave all her money to her cats when she dies.

The AristocatsDuchess is a single parent. This is not necessarily a major plot point unlike most Disney movies, save for the fact that it opens her up to finding love at the end. However, this fact raises some major questions with me as to who is the father of her three kittens–two of which look nothing like her? Do we need to call Maury? Her daughter, Marie, is the spitting image of her while Toulouse is completely orange and Berlioz is completely black. I am not a cat expert, so I had to do some Googling on this one and I wasn’t pleased with the results. One site I found said that if kittens from the same litter look markedly different, it is often because they have different fathers. Oops! Looks like the cat might be out of the bag for ole’ Duchess. She acts so prim and proper and talks about being a lady when it seems that she might have been on the prowl in the not too distant past. Another theory is that the father could have potentially been a mixed-breed cat which could explain the sibling differences. Yet, I don’t see how Duchess could have encountered such a cat. She is a pure-breed and would most likely only be surrounded by other purebreds for the purposes of breeding. So such an encounter with that type of cat would had to have been on the sly. I mean, she only ends us meeting Thomas O’Malley, ‘The Alley Cat,’ because she is kidnapped. But, who knows? Maybe this wasn’t the first time she had met Mr. O’Malley…Toulouse does bear a striking resemblance to him after all…


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  1. OK. 1. I never watched this either – but my kids love it too. 2. I’ve ALWAYS wondered who the father was – totally valid question… 3. And the multiple father thing is so weird I don’t even want to think about it.

    1. Yeah. Apparently when a female cat is in heat, she releases multiple eggs that can be fertilized. If she has multiple partners during that time period, they could all be the father. Yikes!

    2. The multiple fathers thing is called heteropaternal superfecundation I think. It happens in humans sometimes as well. Twins can have different fathers to eachother, even though it’s really rare.

  2. Hi! Just thought I should slip in that not all Turkish Angoras are white, they can have a multitude of colours, including black and red. The multiple fathers theory is valid, naturally since they do have a cat door so I assume that Duchess is free to come and go as she pleases. And I don’t think it matters much how “prim and proper” a cat is when she goes into heat. But it is also possible that Madame had her bred and that she and/or the male had genetic lines for a multitude of colours in their offspring.

  3. Not necessarily. Here’s some cat colour genetics for you:

    Cat colours boil down to being either red based or black based. The genetics for this are carried on the X chromosome. Solid White is a dominant colour blocking gene which basically masks the true colour.

    So bearing in mind there are two male (XY) kittens, one is black and one is red, and they can only get that colour from their MOTHER then it’s safe to assume that underneath the white she’s genetically a tortoiseshell (black and red).

    The only kitten that could get it’s red/black colouration from its father is the female, however she has inherited dominant white from one parent (probably the mother) so it is impossible to know what colour the father was.

So, what do you think?

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