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Any genetic correlation between color and personality?

lyrajean

TCS Member
Thread starter
Top Cat
Dec 23, 2008
1,259
120
VT
Having been owned by 2 torbies and currently one calico, I am wondering if there are any indications of genetic truth to people ascribing certain personality characteristics to cats based on color? I have even described my cat to veterinary techs who don't know her and then been asked if she's a calico. (she hates Vets) I used to work in a clinic as a receptionist and the myth that all calicoes are stubborn persists even among people with good medical training.

Our first torbie also had attitude or "tortitude". But our last torbie who sadly passed this week was the complete opposite: relaxed, couch potato, who would patiently let you do anything to her, would accept petting anytime any place, even tummy rubs.

Some people seem to ascribe calico "attitude" or stubbornness to coat color and others just say that it's because they are almost all female cats and females tend to be well more  "@itchy" than males. 

Lesser stories I hear from cat people are that all grey cats are crazy or that if you want a love bug get an orange (red) male tabby.

Is there any truth to this?
 

catwoman707

Advisor
Veteran
Dec 16, 2011
7,643
2,192
Vallejo, CA
I absolutely believe this, yes. There definitely are some traits that go with the coat color.

What I have found personally, having a cat rescue group I see ALOT of cats, have a chance to get to know each of them, and there have even been studies done on colors/characteristics that go along.

For instance I recall in a study, black cats, male or female didn't matter, that black kitties do best in multi cat homes. Interesting!

Orange are easy going lovers.

Calicos/Torties have a bitch streak, catitudes, bossy, sweet on their terms :when/where/how long :)

Siamese, whiners/vocal, have a mean streak often times.
 

luciafernanda

TCS Member
Adult Cat
Nov 6, 2013
153
21
London
 
Calicos/Torties have a bitch streak, catitudes, bossy, sweet on their terms :when/where/how long :)
I don't want use the word bitch but my calico is incredibly bossy and vocal. I've never known a cat as loud as her. When she was a month old abandoned kitten and we lived in a fourth floor apartment, I left her home alone to go out to buy baby cat milk. When I came home, I could hear her shouting as I was walking up the second flight of stairs. She has a very expressive face and miaow, you know when she's pissed off. She's also very, very sweet and loving but it's always on her terms.

Lucia has every single one of the characteristics on any "tortitude" list I've ever seen.

She's pretty manic but I'm not sure if that's her coat colour or her age, she's only ten and a half months...
 

angelinacat

TCS Member
Alpha Cat
Jan 15, 2014
532
47
Florida
I have been told that Tortoishell cats have a personality called 'Tortitude'.  I don't know that I believe that, but I do know that my two Toties and Calico, were VERY determined individuals.

But isn't that true of all cats????
 

happybird

TCS Member
Super Cat
May 9, 2013
1,029
166
Northern Virginia
I do not know if there is proof, per se, but my red, male tabby is the sweetest, lovey-ist, little guy I have ever met! All he wants to do is adore, and to be adored. :heart3:
 

catwoman707

Advisor
Veteran
Dec 16, 2011
7,643
2,192
Vallejo, CA
 
I don't want use the word bitch but my calico is incredibly bossy and vocal. I've never known a cat as loud as her. When she was a month old abandoned kitten and we lived in a fourth floor apartment, I left her home alone to go out to buy baby cat milk. When I came home, I could hear her shouting as I was walking up the second flight of stairs. She has a very expressive face and miaow, you know when she's pissed off. She's also very, very sweet and loving but it's always on her terms.

Lucia has every single one of the characteristics on any "tortitude" list I've ever seen.

She's pretty manic but I'm not sure if that's her coat colour or her age, she's only ten and a half months...
That's why I only called it a bitchy streak :)  I think I meant to put a y on the end of the word :O

On their terms they are just as wonderful as any other color. I adore them all, each for their individual characteristics as well as flaws, although try telling a calico or a tortie they actually have any flaws......haha!
 

Norachan

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May 27, 2013
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Mount Fuji, Japan
As the current slave to two torbies and one tortoiseshell I would have to say that there might be some truth in the "Bitchy streak" rumour.

I have Susy, a tiny little torbie who bosses all the other cats in the house around and terrorises the other cats in the neighbourhood.

I have Mia, Susy's daughter, who is a complete diva and will only come in at night after all the other cats have been removed from "her" room.

However,  I also  have The Mu, who is actually the sweetest, most chilled out cat I've ever met. Maybe the "Bitchy streak" only shows up in two out of three cats? 
 

profleslielyons

TCS Member
Guest Expert
Feb 18, 2014
34
1
Howdy ho Cat Lovers,

The discussion on the forum has already highlighted the obvious question of color and behavior - "tortietude".   We asked the exact same question as we did have an anthropology student with interests in doing a formal study while I was at UC Davis.  Although the project did not really materialize, we did start by asking many of the veterinarians if they felt there was a correlation.  Male toms that are orange seem to be very mellow, while tortie females have more of an "attitude" than the normal cat!  However, I am afraid there is no "scientific" proof of this correlation.  One could speculate that since some known behavior genes are on the X chromosome, such as MAOA, perhaps there is a link with the Orange coloration mutation.  This is all speculation - but we do know there is genetic variation at these genes in cats.  I lean towards there is an association!
 

cassiopea

TCS Member
Top Cat
May 30, 2013
3,120
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Ontario, Canada
Anyone know what the personality reputation of white cats are? just for pure interests sake. I actually don't know, the only thing I ever really hear or read about their colour was in regards to health (Which is a different topic altogether)

As I have my two, a father/daughter pair. Camelot: Loves the simple life, laid back, really noisy vocally when he wants something but otherwise not the bossy type, very affectionate/cuddly. Morgana: Mischievious, playful, clever, adventurous/curious, queenly, though also very affectionate/cuddly. She is the boss of Camelot. Both are gentle. Both are super sticky - always want to be the center of my activities, or follow me around wherever I go.
 

Morgana is deaf, acts the exact opposite of any fear, fustration, anger. Fairly quiet vocally.

Is all that normal white cat behaviour? Or different than their "usual" image?
 
Last edited by a moderator:

profleslielyons

TCS Member
Guest Expert
Feb 18, 2014
34
1
Howdy ho Cat Lovers,

I have never heard of an association of behavior with white cats.  But, I think you have pointed out the possible issue to consider.  White cats, especially those with blue eyes, have a higher likelihood of being deaf.  Deafness will then alter the behavior development of the cat.  Deaf cats will not have all the normal cues from the environment, thus could be more or less skiddish and more or less vocal.
 

nyghthawk

TCS Member
Adult Cat
Feb 8, 2014
133
6
NW Ontario, Canada
From what I understand, tabbies are generally friendly and happy?

Not mine. I think she's the definite exception to the 'rule'. lol

I love her, but she has more attitude than any calico I've ever met!
 

scubacat

TCS Member
Young Cat
Jan 5, 2014
59
4
Jackie is the first Torbie I have had (we adopted her almost 2 months ago), and she is SO amazingly affectionate, cuddly, (and also wicked smart). She will let my husband and I rub her anywhere, touch her anywhere...even will sprawl on her back with her paws up in the air for belly rubs while she lays on our laps! She loves to follow me all over the house wherever I am going. She is not at ALL bitchy or bossy and will happily snuggle for hours if you let her (usually I have to get up and pee eventually!). She runs to greet my husband and I at the door and will put her paws up on our legs/thighs while we rub her head. She will plaintively look me right in the eyes and meow for food whenever I go into the kitchen but I manage to stay strong in the face of cuteness. She is the best! She may not be an orange male, but she certainly IS a love bug with her people (at night while my husband and I watch TV, she will make sure to move between us both to get equal time with us both, ha).  She is also really playful (still plays like a kitten at 3 years old!).

I only ever had one Calico, and she was kind of reclusive and timid, but that was also likely because our Tabby at the time would stalk her time to time when she was bored. The Tabby could be affectionate...loved hugs and shoulder rides and would snuggle with my mother when she was ill during cancer treatments, but also could have her bitchy moments! Also smart, though. My sister's male Tabby is dumb as rocks, but SUPER sweet and easygoing. The Siamese we had when I was young was very vocal, and could also be a bit aggressive. Very independent.
 

sneakymom

TCS Member
Super Cat
Mar 24, 2005
910
19
Sneaky Pie was a Tortishell Tabby.  We lost her a year ago at age 12
  She had "tortiude" down to a science.  Everything was on HER terms.  And she could be quite the vocal snit. 

Holly is all black.  Someone who posted earlier said that black cats tend to do better in multi cat homes.  Holly was an only for about 8 months before we got Sam- before that she lived with Sneaky Pie since she was a kitten.  My husband noticed that she seemed sad when she was living by herself- but seems much happier now. 

Sam is an orange tabby.  I don't know if it's true or not about male orange tabbies- but this cat is the most loving goofball I've ever known
  Some of it may be that he's not even a year old yet, we'll have to see what his personality is when he's older.

Cheryl
 

kiki13

TCS Member
Kitten
Feb 28, 2014
1
1
My baby is a rescue. A little girl that used to live behind me brought him up. My husband didn't want me to have another cat but as soon as i saw him i fell in love. He was about 8-12 weeks when i got him. He saw so skinny you could see every bone he has. I named him Buger.

Buger is a white cat with an orange tail and a few orange spots in his head and heart shaped spot on his butt and the back of one hind leg is orange too. all he wants to do is poke his head out the window or lounge on you or around you. he likes to lay right in the middle of everything. He'll lay on me when i'm in bed and paw my blanket or rub on my face. He loves attention. Lately all he does is meow at everything. but other than that he's a VERY loving cat. likes to play and have his tummy rubbed. 

I just wish i knew what breed he is. Oh well.

He's what keeps me sane. I LOVE MY BUGER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

herberthops

TCS Member
Kitten
Feb 28, 2014
7
2
Canada
I do not know if there is proof, per se, but my red, male tabby is the sweetest, lovey-ist, little guy I have ever met! All he wants to do is adore, and to be adored. :heart3:
Does your kitty pose well for pictures? I had a red tabby named Cheeto who was an orange cat. All my orange tabbies have picked me. Just go to the pet store to look, and they come home with me. Cheeto passed away in August from heart problems. Very cuddly guy and mischievous. I recently was adopted by Herbert Hops who was looking out the window at a pet store when I went for lunch one day. He's orange tabby. Well I tell you somethings he does I forgot about that Cheeto used to do. Like tripping over him. He is just always so close. I also have a tortie gal, and a grey tux. Who have different personalities. My tortie is totally Moody, and a real queen! My tux is intelligent and very Prince like. He likes dogs, but not other cats.
 

tnhand1022

TCS Member
Young Cat
Feb 22, 2014
28
2
This thread is so interesting! I wish there was money to do a scientific study on this topic.

I grew up with a lovable white kitty who was deaf. My family was surprised to learn that it's fairly common amongst white cats.

I had an orange cat, Sheldon, who was incredibly sweet and affectionate. He'd let my niece just carry him around anywhere - not many cats put up with kids like that!

I got orange littermates last year, and they're incredibly affectionate as well. Like HerbertHops said, they're so close that you trip over them. Marky Mark is the worst about it - he LOVES to sleep on my head & knead my hair while purring in my ear. He lays behind my mom's head on the back of the couch & purrs. He follows my mom around the house, meowing for affection. When I'm in the kitchen, he sneaks in & parks himself behind my feet, so that when I turn to the stove or something, I have to throw myself across the room to avoid stepping on him!

His brother, Donnie, is very affectionate as well, but he's not actively trying to trip & kill me. ;) He gets in these love-fest moods and has to have tons of affection RIGHT NOW. He rolls over on his back and gives me the squinty eyes & the slow blink, as well as this baby meow that's high-pitched and half-purr. It's a two syllable meow, with all the emphasis on the "ow". It's disgustingly cute!

All this said, my aunt used to have a giant orange kitty who was meaner than a damn snake! But then again, my aunt is kinda mean too...
 

lokimonster

TCS Member
Young Cat
Nov 26, 2012
43
11
Seattle
I would think that generally the coat might reflect personality, it just depends on how they were brought up. I have a tortiseshell/calico (not sure which one she is) and she has zero attitude, isn't very needy and she's a bit skittish. I have a tabby who is just the sweetest thing in the world and loves cuddles and being held. My mom has an orange tabby who is a total brat, but he is a big baby at times, and my step dad also has an orange tabby who was totally stand off-ish until my mom moved in, now he's much more friendly to people.

I don't think there's much relation between fur color and personality, it just seems like a lot of coincidence to me. I would love to see some studies on it though, it is pretty interesting.
 

teagranny

TCS Member
Young Cat
Mar 2, 2014
22
4
My current calico is extremely mellow and in fact in her recent trip to the vet was called the most majestic well behaved cat ever seen!  I have had several calicos and would never have thought of them as have any sort of crankiness.

I have had three all white cats, and my daughter has had one, all of them were 'dumb' but very loving and agreeable to being handled by small children.
 
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