your calico has "catitude?"
tortie is temperamental?
seems you’re in good company.
from the University of California, Davis, have
discovered, in recently published research, that cats
with calico and tortoiseshell coat patterns tend to
challenge their human companions more often than felines
whose fur is less flashy.
research backs up long-standing observations among
veterinarians that such cats often are
"difficult," said Dr. Elizabeth Stelow, a
behavioral expert in the UC Davis Veterinary Medical
Teaching Hospital. Her study, based on a survey of more
than 1,200 cat owners, found that calicoes and torties
are more likely to hiss, chase, bite, swat or scratch
during interactions with humans.
UC Davis data also suggest that cats with gray and
white, and black and white coats are slightly more
likely to engage in those behaviors, a finding that
surprised researchers. Cats sporting other colors,
including solid black, gray and white, display
aggressive personality characteristics significantly
less frequently, according to the study, published in
the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science.
online survey, posted on a social media site, did not
reveal the study’s focus. It simply asked cat owners
questions about their feline’s behaviors, and
requested that they choose a color category and written
description that best fit their pet.
and torties have reputations for being feisty and
unpredictable, characteristics that the study appears to
confirm. Calicos are mostly white with patches of orange
and black. Tortoiseshells have coats that feature a
constellation of black, brown, amber and red patches.
Because two X chromosomes are necessary to produce their
coloring, the vast majority of both types of cats are
fiery," said Front Street animal shelter manager
Gina Knepp. "They’ve got a little spirit and zip
to them. If you want a cat that will keep you on your
toes, a calico or tortie is the way to go."
the UC Davis survey, cat caretakers used a scale from 0
to 5 to assess the frequency of behaviors such as
hissing and biting. A complex data analysis of answers
to the survey found statistically significant
differences between the frequency of such behaviors in
"orange females" — including torties and
calicoes — and most other cats, Stelow said. She said
the research suggests that the same genetics that
dictate coat color may play a role in aggression, but
that more study needs to be done to explore that theory.
study is believed to be the first to look at specific
behaviors related to coat coloring. Although it had some
limitations, including the fact that researchers relied
on the observations of cat owners and never observed the
felines in question, the research offers insights that
warrant further investigation, said Stelow.
thought the findings were very interesting, and we would
love other researchers to take the baton and run with
it, to look at the genetics of why this may be
happening," she said.
who authored the study with veterinarian Melissa Bain
and data analyst Philip Kass, said the findings should
not discourage people from adopting a tortoiseshell or
calico cat. "I have a crazy calico myself,"
she said, along with an orange tabby. Both are great
companions, she said.
in cats, Stelow noted, rarely is violent. "It’s
very different from dogs. Dogs show a very, very wide
range from not aggressive at all to capable of killing.
The overwhelming majority of cats are not the least
aggressive," and those that are usually display it
in "very subtle ways," she said.
are not suggesting that anyone avoid having these cats
in their homes," she said of calicos and torties.
"Most of them make lovely pets. It’s just
information to help you understand what you might be up
a cat rescuer and founder of the nonprofit LapCats,
which works with Sacramento County’s Bradshaw Shelter
to find adoptive homes for felines, generally describes
calicos and torties as the "divas" of the cat
an attitude," she said. "Some of them just
want to be the one and only, the queen of the household
so to speak. They tend to be a little more high
shares her home with a tortie who "is more
sensitive" than most cats, she said. "She
loves most people, but if another cat rubs up against
her and gets too close, she might swat her."
adopters tend to gravitate toward colorful cats,
research has shown, while black cats tend to linger
longer in shelters. The key, said Doty and Knepp, is
finding the right personality match. Black cats, Knepp
said, "seem to have the most balanced
personalities, from my observations. For the most part
they are very stable."
I truly believe that there’s somebody for
everyone," she said. I would suggest spending some
time at the shelter, see who catches your eye and watch
the cat for a while. Then open that door, hold out your
arms and see what happens."