Science Links Cat Color to Cattitude!

Most members of the Cat Fancy have heard the term, “Tortie-tude” – a term of endearment to describe the sassy, no-nonsense mean streak that tortoiseshell cats are widely known for having.

Well, it turns out, according to a recent study by the University of California, Davis, that there actually is a link between the color of a cat’s fur and their level of aggression!

ThinkstockPhotos-83454804Scientists surveyed 1,274 cat parents about the everyday interactions of their pet. Their answers were then used to give each cat a rating on an “aggression scale.”

The study, published in the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, found that cats who were black and white, tortoiseshell and white or grey and white were the most likely to exhibit aggressive behavior.

More specifically, black and white cats responded badly to being handled or held, gray and white cats are most aggressive at the vet’s office, and tortie’s ranked worst for everyday interactions with humans (which explains why they have a reputation!).

The study revealed that the most friendly felines were black, solid gray, and tabby.

Does your cat’s ‘cattitude’ match the results of this study?



  1. Chana

    Oct 26, 2015 at 11:39 am

    This doesn’t match my 50-year history as a multiple cat owner at all. I’ve always had several cats at a time. The least aggressive cats I’ve ever have have always been the tuxedo cats (black and white, which your study indicates are the most aggressive.)

    • Cats Meow

      Oct 27, 2015 at 1:19 am

      I have had many cats over the years and some match the study and some go opposite it I would say about equally in frequency.

  2. Helen

    Oct 26, 2015 at 11:40 am

    Doesn’t sound right to me. Our tortie cat (no white on her though) was very sweet and friendly. Never had a problem with her attitude.

  3. Marg

    Oct 26, 2015 at 12:12 pm

    I’ve found that ginger/orange cats are the calmest and least aggressive, but I don’t think colour has anything to do with attitude.

  4. Tracie

    Oct 26, 2015 at 12:17 pm

    I had a tortie cat for almost 13 years and she was the best cat ever. She was my first baby and then 3 children later she was still the same sweet girl, not a mean bone in her body.

  5. Jan

    Oct 26, 2015 at 7:38 pm

    All of my kitties are Maine Coons. One is 90% white with splotches of orange and the other is various shades of gray with splotches of white. Both are just as sweet as you could imagine. Neither is aggressive unless someone or something hurts them.

  6. Nancy

    Oct 26, 2015 at 10:08 pm

    My torti Purrcilla is one of the sweetest cats I’ve had the pleasure to know. Your results don’t reflect my experience as a cat mom. In fact the the tom’s personality has a dominant effect on a kits personality. A timid tom will father timid kittens, an aggressive tom will produce more aggressive kittens, etc.

  7. Poe

    Oct 27, 2015 at 6:30 am

    This isn’t true.
    I find my black & white cat is easier to hold than the tabby one!
    Probably it also depends on their breed or how they’re raised.

  8. Wendy

    Oct 27, 2015 at 9:21 am

    I have 3 tuxedoes. Our oldest girl is very calm and will sit with you on her terms. Our 2 boys are complete maniacs and if they aren’t messing with each other they are trying to mess with our girl cat. Our middle boy is extremely timid and will hide from everyone but my husband and I. The baby (who was fostered and only with the SPCA for 2 days before we snatched him up) is extremely friendly and affectionate.

  9. Darlene

    Oct 27, 2015 at 11:09 am

    This is not true or accurate. I’ve had at least 50 cats or more in my life time and nothing in this article bears any resemblance to them. Siamese are loving and loyal, black cats were loving and very intelligent, orange marmalades loved being held, grey and white tux loving, tiger kitties very smart, playful and loving, tortie manx also loving but, did ‘choose’ their favorite person to cuddle with, black and white tux cat playful and loving….I have 3 main coons….two that are white mixed with grey tabby stripes ..they are slightly more aggressive than any other but, I think it has more to do with their enormous size than color. My tabby main coon is loving and sticks to me like glue. I don’t like articles that put out there that one type of animal is better than another. So many cats are euthanized daily and deserve loving homes. Color is just fur. The same goes for dogs. You start putting out there which breeds are aggressive….it depends on the owner; not the animal. Same goes for people.

  10. Julie

    Oct 27, 2015 at 1:59 pm

    I really think this study needs to be done again with many, many more cat parents involed. I have had cats for over 40 years most of them have been black and white and all of them have been lap kitties and enjoyed being carried and being loved on. I now have 2 solid white 1 is sweet and lovable and the other is kind of stand offish. I also have 2 grey tigers and they are both very loving and seek attention from everyone. Last but not least I have 1 calico that is kind of afraid of people but is coming around.

  11. Karen

    Oct 27, 2015 at 2:42 pm

    My cat is a ragdoll mix with lynx point coloring, he is grey and brown and is the nicest living thing on the planet…:)

  12. Nicole

    Oct 27, 2015 at 6:22 pm

    For my current group of cats, this is surprisingly accurate. The tortie is very aggressive, especially around other cats, and my ginger tabby has better manners than a guide dog. I also have a seal point snowshoe, but her erratic attitude is affected by severe social anxiety and accumulated abuse from the tortie and is unlike any of the other snowshoes I’ve kept, which have been generally sweet and friendly.

  13. Michela

    Oct 30, 2015 at 11:23 am

    I have a black cat, a black and white and 2 tabby and they are all lovely, not aggressive at all. Only Muffin (black and white) occasionally spit at the dogs.

  14. Evelyn

    Nov 23, 2015 at 4:57 pm

    I’ve had cats for years. My most aggressive was a calico, but she had severe skin issues and did not like to be touched. She was sweet as pie as long as you didn’t try to pet her back. My siamese have all been the best tempered, sweetest babies I have ever had EXCEPT for one who was so cross-eyed I think he was just angry because he had no depth preception. He’d try to jump up in the window sill and hit the wall. My calmest, sweetest cat is Oliver, a 3 year old orange marmalade. I have an autistic teenager and Ollie is his therapy pet. When D starts to shut down, just put Ollie in his lap and D starts smiling, blossoms like a flower. He starts to listen, to communicate – he comes back to me. It’s almost a miracle.

  15. Lorri H.

    Nov 23, 2015 at 7:33 pm

    As the cat rescue person for our local humane society I seriously disagree! I have worked with them for 10 years fostered over 1300 cats some of the most loving have been tortoies! The black and white cats we have are snuggly and affectionate. The ONLY cat I have ever taken to the vet that behaved badly was and orange tabby. Please please don’t group all cats of a color or breed into a group. Cats are like people….they love and trust those who are confident and love and trust them.

  16. Lili

    Nov 23, 2015 at 11:54 pm

    All of my cats have been sweet, in all colors. Torres are no meaner than other colors and tuxedos are no less cuddly. At the moment I have a tortie snuggled up by my head and a calico Siamese glued to my hip. I think it depends more on breed and how they are raised.

  17. Missy

    Jan 6, 2016 at 1:36 pm

    Sounds exactly like my tuxedo cat! He hates to be picked up and held, but as long as it’s his idea he will sit on your lap and snuggle with you, but it has to be on his terms. And he is a little aggressive when someone gets on his nerves. And he is BOSSY!!!!

  18. Sue

    Aug 17, 2016 at 8:22 pm

    What about pure white cats. Ours thought he was a dog. Played catch, came to the door and growled or bared teeth in 13 years.

  19. Mary

    Aug 18, 2016 at 8:52 am

    One of my black cats is very aggressive. He wants to be petted and then bites. My tuxedo cat is the sweetest cat ever as well as my grey and white cat. I do agree with the assessment on the tabby. Mine are very sweet and friendly.

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