People believe tortoiseshell cats are "aloof" and "intolerant," study finds

Illustration for article titled People believe tortoiseshell cats are "aloof" and "intolerant," study finds

There are a lot of urban legends and folk tales about black cats, but apparently there's nothing worse than a tortoiseshell. A group of psychology researchers have just published a study about people's beliefs when it comes to cats — and it turns out that even cat people judge felines by their colors, rather than their personalities. And those judgements can affect cats' lives. Dark colored cats are euthanized more often than light colored ones. Also, people often consider orange cats to be much friendlier than white or tortoiseshell, calico ones. Torties are often returned to shelters after adoption.

In an online survey, the researchers asked 189 people to assign personality traits to cats of different colors. Report the researchers in their paper:

There were significant differences in how participants in this study chose to assign personality terms to differently colored cats. For example, participants were more likely to attribute the trait "friendliness" to orange cats, "intolerance" to tri-colored cats [tortoiseshells], and "aloofness" to white and tri-colored cats. No significant differences were found for "stubbornness" in any colors of cats. White cats were seen as less bold and active and more shy and calm than other colors of cats.


At least we can agree that all cats are equally stubborn.

UC Berkeley psychology researcher and lead author Mikel Delgado said in a release, "To date there is little evidence that these perceived differences between differently colored cats actually exist, but there are serious repercussions for cats if people believe that some cat colors are friendlier than others." Adopting a cat should involve evaluating the creature's personality, not its coat. In other words, don't judge a cat by its color. Black cats and torties can be just as friendly — or aloof — as their orange pals.

Read the full scientific paper via Anthrozoos

Photo by John Kroetch via Shutterstock


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Corpore Metal

Calico is different from tortoise shell, right? Because the picture you show here is of a calico cat, not a tortoise shell by my reckoning. I imbed a picture of what I think a tortoise cat looks like. The difference is perhaps subtle.