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 people's perceptions, or maybe even just an urban legend?

  • 1
    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, 2014 at 15:39

2 Answers 2


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.

  • 2
    +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, 2014 at 21:56
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    I'm really hoping for more than anecdotes- I have my own anecdata too. Jul 16, 2014 at 22:12
  • Even a study is just a collection of anecdotes.
    – Oldcat
    Jul 17, 2014 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, 2014 at 14:14

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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