Cattitude – Study Links Cats’ Coat Colors to Aggression

July 7, 2017 in Aerowood Animal Hospital

Are cats with certain coat colors more likely to be aggressive? A study by researchers at the University of California Davis says yes…but they stress that these results shouldn’t prompt people to base their choice of a feline companion on the color of its fur.

1,274 cats in 13 coat color categories, 617 females and 657 males aged 18 to 60+, were studied. Data about the cats was collected from an online survey taken by their humans. Owners answered questions about their cat’s behavior, coat color, and a written description that they felt best described their pet.

The study found that calicoes (cats that are white with patches of black and orange) and tortoiseshells (named for their coat’s resemblance to tortoiseshell, combining 2 colors other than white), are the most aggressive. For the purposes of the study, aggressiveness is defined as hissing, chasing, biting, swatting, or scratching while interacting with humans. Gray-and-white and black-and-white cats were found to be only slightly less aggressive, and orange female cats to be aggressive more often than other cats.

A caveat of the study is that the researchers did not personally observe the cats themselves; it is based on aggression as described by the cats’ owners. And even though some groups of cats scored higher on aggression, the reported aggression for all groups was relatively low.

Dr. Elizabeth Stelow, lead author of the study, says that “We are not suggesting that anyone avoid having these cats in their homes.” If you choose a cat by the color of its coat, you might be missing a really great pet.

Stelow, Elizabeth A, Bain, Melissa J, Kass, Philip H. “The Relationship Between Coat Color and Aggressive Behaviors in the Domestic Cat.” Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science. 2016;19(1):1-15.

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