New Study Shows People
Judge Cats By Their Color

Published December 2012

Just like humans, domestic cats are also often judged by their color. Consider the snobbish, aloof, silver kitty who promotes Fancy Feast cat food or the spooky images of black cats associated with bad luck and witches, especially around Halloween. All types of kitty color stereotypes are reinforced by the media and in folklore.

Sadly, this type of feline typecasting can have a negative impact on kitten sales from breeders and adoption rates at animal shelters.

There is little scientific evidence that these perceived personality differences between differently colored cats actually exist.

Research Study Into Cat Color Stereotypes

Mikel Delgado, a doctoral student in psychology at UC Berkeley, is the lead author of a study which surveyed 189 "cat people" regarding which personality characteristics they associated with different colors of cats. Delgado and her co-authors used Craigslist to recruit a national sample of cat owners and cat lovers in large U.S. metropolitan areas. Participants were asked to rate, the personalities of black, white, bi-colored, tri-colored (tortoiseshell or calico) and orange cats on a scale of 1 to 7, based on their tendencies to be active, aloof, bold, calm, friendly, intolerant, shy, stubborn, tolerant and trainable.

The Study's Results

  • Orange cats have a reputation of being friendly, and are very popular among cat adopters.
  • Bi-colored cats were also considered to be friendlier than other colors.
  • White cats were considered to be more shy and lazy but calm over-all.
  • Tortoiseshells were more likely to be depicted as both more intolerant and more trainable, an odd contradiction. Tortoiseshell cats often are said to have a bad attitude - called“tortitude.”
  • Brown Tabbies are thought of as less extreme i their behaviors.
  • Black cats also are typified as having less extreme character traits, somewhat mysterious.

Final Thoughts

While most people surveyed said personality informs their decision about which cat to choose, the characteristics they ascribed to cats based on their coat color indicated that color consciously or unconsciously played a key role in their final choice of which kitty to take home.

The truth is, there's very little connection between a cat's coat color and its personality. You can't judge a cat by its color. It's the personality of that cat – not the color – that determines the right cat for you.

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