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?

  • 1
    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
  • 1
    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

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.

| improve this answer | |
  • 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 '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

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

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.