Study Suggests A Link Between Cat’s Fur Color, Aggressive Behavior

A group of veterinarians suggested the correlation after surveying 1,274 cat owners.

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Surprisingly, this wasn't one of the cats in the study. Via Tim Dobbelaere/Flickr
Surprisingly, this wasn't one of the cats in the study. Via Tim Dobbelaere/Flickr

When you think about your cat’s disposition, do you picture a warm, cuddly ball of purrs and delight or do you imagine a four legged Jerry Springer guest, made entirely of hisses and scowls?

According to a group of veterinarians from the University of California, Davis, a cat’s temperament could be related to the color of his fur. In a study, which was recently published in the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, the vets surveyed 1,274 cat owners, asking them questions about their cats’ fur color, their aggressiveness toward humans or other cats, what kinds of “combative features” they displayed toward people or other cats and whether they were polite patients during vet visits.

After sifting through the results, the vets determined that female orange cats (including tortoiseshells, calicos and torbies), female black and white cats and female grey and white cats were the most likely to display aggressive behaviors toward humans and other cats and were also the most likely to misbehave at the vet’s office. On the gentler side of the spectrum, gray, black, white or tabby fur were determined to be the least aggressive.

"You wouldn't like me when I'm angry." Via Matt Niemi/Flickr

“You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.” Via Matt Niemi/Flickr

But as IFLScience explains, that connection might not mean that aggressive behavior causes that particular fur color to appear — or vice versa. The combination of fur color and aggressiveness could be a “spandrel,” which the site describes as “a physical feature that appears as a byproduct of the evolution of another characteristic.” But does it matter which came first, the snarly behavior or the orange fur? You’re still going to love your cat the same, even if he was a little nightmare at the vet’s office today.

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