Published by: Ingrid King. Last Updated on: July 25, 2023 by Crystal Uys

A tortoiseshell cat in the nature

Even though we don’t like to admit it, we often make snap judgments based on appearance – and apparently, this is the case for cats as well. In a new study published in Anthrozoos, researchers from California State University and the New College of Florida surveyed nearly 200 people. Study participants were asked to associate 10 personality terms (active, aloof, bold, calm, friendly, intolerant, shy, stubborn, tolerant and trainable) with five cat colors–orange, tri-colored (tortoiseshells and calico cats), white, black and bi-colored (white and anything else).

Tri-colored cats (tortoiseshell and calico cats) rated high in aloofness and intolerance. Those of us who love our torties for their unique personalities, also known as “tortitude,” may disagree with this assessment. Torties tend to be strong-willed, a bit hot-tempered, and they can be very possessive of their human.  Other words used to describe torties are fiercely independent, feisty and unpredictable.  They’re usually very talkative and make their presence and needs known with anything from a hiss to a meow to a strong purr.

But even though there may be a connection between coat color and temperament, all cats are also individuals. Tabbies are said to be laid back and friendly, orange cats are said to be very affectionate, black cats are said to be sweet and stubborn at the same time, and tuxedos are said to be even tempered. But for every laid back tabby, there’s a feisty striped hunter. For every friendly orange cat, there’s a high-spirited marmalade clown.

Tortoiseshell Norwegian Forest Cat
Image Credit: Nui Rattapon, Shutterstock

And for every feisty tortie, there’s also a sweet one. Of all the torties in my life, Virginia, my first office cat at the animal hospital I managed at the time, was probably the most “typical” tortie. She may not have written the manual on tortitude, but she had definitely memorized it. Amber was a sweet, laid back and almost shy cat. Buckley was a high-spirited, super-affectionate tortie. Allegra is an interesting combination of a high energy spirit that sometimes almost borders on hyper, and a loving calmness that melts my heart. Ruby is a little imp who goes from playful and feisty to cuddly and purring from one second to the next.

All of this goes to show that you can’t judge a tortie, or any other cat, by her color – and that’s especially important when it comes to adoption. Spend time with a cat and get to know her before you commit to adopting her, because ultimately, it’s the personality of a cat, and not the color, that will determine whether a cat is the right fit for you and your family. Unless, of course, your heart has been stolen with just one look.

Do you think there’s a connection between coat color and temperament?

Featured Image Credit: Cheryl Toepfer, Shutterstock

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