Busting cat-color myths: Your orange tabby isn’t dumber than its feline pals


Video screenshot by Gael Fashingbauer Cooper/CNET

The current viral fame of an orange tabby cat named Jorts led to debates about whether or not Jorts was much less clever than different cats just because he has orange fur. Some mentioned it was unfair and prejudicial to evaluate the feline based mostly on its look. 

But is there actually a medically identified tie between cat fur colour and character or intelligence? People suppose so, however science doesn’t, Zarah Hedge, chief medical officer on the San Diego Humane Society, advised me.

Get the CNET Science publication

Unlock the largest mysteries of our planet and past with the CNET Science publication. Delivered Mondays.

“While there could be some genetic components associated with coat color that also impact personality, there is little scientific evidence demonstrating this to be the case in domestic cats,” mentioned Hedge, who has 5 cats of varied colours. 

The concept that fur colour dictates character isn’t as loopy because it sounds. Some research do present associations between coat colour in different mammals and their conduct — silver foxes, for one. But that hasn’t been confirmed in home cats. And cat fur colour can fluctuate even inside the similar breed. The widespread home shorthair cat is available in many fur colours, so actually, the stereotypes are sometimes evaluating apples to apples.

Still, even when cats don’t act a sure approach due to their fur colour, we people may suppose they do, and that may trigger issues.

“Despite not having solid evidence linking coat color to personality, people, to some degree, likely make decisions on which cat to bring into their home based on this,” Hedge says. “It can set up people to have unrealistic expectations for how the cat will behave in the home.”

Orange cats: Friendly however dim?

Let’s have a look at the stereotypes: Orange tabby cats are thought of by many to be probably the most gregarious of felines, although some, as seen with the weird Jorts and Jean saga, suppose orange tabby cats are additionally the least clever. 

“I’ve definitely seen and worked with hundreds of orange tabby cats and seen a wide variety of personality types,” Hedge says. “I would say that a cat’s upbringing and socialization to humans, other animals and different environments plays a larger role [than fur color] in their overall personality and how they interact with humans.”

Orange cats are also popular culture favorites. Morris the Cat, the 9 Lives cat meals mascot and the comic-strip cats Garfield and Heathcliff are orange. Hedges guesses that maybe the creators of those characters had orange cats as pets, however notes that the artists could have been influenced by the stereotype of orange cats as friendlier and extra social.

“From a marketing standpoint, it kind of makes sense,” she says.

‘Tortitude’ and playful tuxies

Got a tortoiseshell cat? These cats might be from many alternative breeds, however have a particular tricolor coat. Does your tortie appear particularly sassy and energetic? That matches the stereotype about their colour sample, too.

“There has been a long-held belief that tricolored cats have what has been coined ‘Tortitude’ or tortoiseshell attitude,” Hedges says. “Tortoiseshells are known for being more spicy and sassy.”

But she notes {that a} 2016 research from the University of California at Davis discovered little distinction in cat perspective between totally different coat colours.

“I’ve also heard that tuxedo cats tend to be more playful” than most cats, Hedges says. “And of course, there’s been a long superstition surrounding black cats. And having lived with many different cats over the years, and working with many more in the shelter, I can say these stereotypes are not true. Each cat has their own unique personality.”

Comments are closed.