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I've heard some people say that a cat's coat color says a lot about its personality. I think it's fairly common to think that tortoiseshell cats have attitudes ("tortietudes"). Is this urban legend, or is there any truth to this?

I found a study that seems to suggest that it's people's perceptions of the colors that leads them to believe that they're related.

So what makes people say that a cat's coat color is an indicator of it's personality? Is it there some truth to it, just peoples perceptions, or maybe even just an urban legend?

  • belongs on biology FILLER TEXT – JoshDM Jul 16 '14 at 22:07
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    I think Matt's edit brings the question in scope. – James Jenkins Jul 17 '14 at 10:31
  • Matt's edit makes it clearer, and you know my history with trying to edit to keep things on topic here (I'm pro-keep), but this is too biology-related and my close vote stays. Discuss further in the meta post on this topic if necessary. I won't vote on it because the question itself is a good one, but not, IMHO, on topic. – JoshDM Jul 17 '14 at 15:04
  • It may also be that certain breeds tend to have certain types of coats, and certain personalities. If so, a correlation may be there, but the coat is not at all directly linked to personality. – Kai Jul 17 '14 at 15:39
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    I've made an edit to make it a more substantial question. I believe I've kept what was originally intended to be asked, but if I haven't then the question needs to be edited to make what the original question was clear. – Spidercat Jul 18 '14 at 14:11
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I think a cat's personality is too subtle a thing to be rigidly controlled the few genes that the theories ascribe. Orange color, and Tortie color is controlled by a single sex linked gene. This supposedly makes friendly Orange males AND stubborn Torties. White cats are often made by a second single gene, and these cats can also have the same gene as an Orange cat. Yet the white gene makes them reserved and aloof?

I've had a few torties and neither had "tortietude". I've had tabbies and solids and they have had varied personalities.

I don't buy it any more than I do the legend that red haired men are "fiery" in temperament.

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    +1; I also suspect that some of this is a bit self-fulfilling. If you believe a cat of a certain color has a certain attitude and begin treating them, even subconsciously, as if they had that attitude, you can certainly see how that affects their long-term behavioral development in a biased way. You'd also tend to take observations of their behavior and mold those observations (again, even subconsciously) to fit your preconceptions and ignore the observations that don't fit; a fair bit of confirmation bias. – Jason C Jul 16 '14 at 21:56
  • I'm really hoping for more than anecdotes- I have my own anecdata too. – tedder42 Jul 16 '14 at 22:12
  • Even a study is just a collection of anecdotes. – Oldcat Jul 17 '14 at 17:43
  • "Orange color, and Tortie color is controlled by a single sex linked gene. This supposedly makes friendly Orange males AND stubborn Torties" is not an anecdote (though could probably use a reference). – Spidercat Jul 18 '14 at 14:14
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I think there might be an extremely weak correlation with some patterns but by in large it is an urban myth. What I mean is maybe if a cat has coat type X it is maybe 5% more likely to have some personality trait, at the same time a cat of any coat type can have any personality....

To me tabbies seem a tiny bit more wild in temperament than solids, tuxedos, tortoiseshells, calico...

Tortiseshells seem a tiny bit more "neurotic" than other coat types

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