Veterinarians Study Cat Coat Patterns, Discover Attitude in Certain Cats

A new study showed that cats with tortoiseshell and calico coat patterns challenge their owners more often than cats with other coat patterns.

If any of your clients ever asks why their calico or tortoiseshell cat gives them attitude, you can now tell them that it’s a typical personality trait in cats with those coat patterns.

Veterinarians at the University of California, Davis recently conducted research in which coat patterns of cats were studied, based on a survey of over 1,200 cat owners. The online survey did not inform cat owners of the focus of the study, but did ask them questions about their cats as well as requested the cat owners choose what color category their cat best fits in as well as a written description of their pet. This limited the study in some ways since the researchers did not observe the cats themselves; however, the researchers found the insights revealing.

The study, led by Elizabeth Stelow, DVM, Dipl. ACVB and published in the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, revealed that “cats with calico and tortoiseshell coat patterns tend to challenge their human companions more often” than cats with other coat patterns, according to Seattle Times. Dr. Stelow and her research team discovered “calicoes and torties are more likely to hiss, chase, bite, swat or scratch during interactions with humans.” The research team was surprised to learn that the data suggested that cats that had gray and white coats and black and white coats are also more likely to behave in such a manner than cats with other coat patterns. The study also suggested that cats with solid coats were far less likely to exhibit aggressive behavior.

It is believed that this is the first study to specifically look at cat behavior and how it relates to coat coloring.

“We 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,” Stelow told Seattle Times. She added that the study’s findings should not be a deterrent from owning a calico or tortoiseshell cat. “We are not suggesting that anyone avoid having these cats in their homes. Most of them make lovely pets. It’s just information to help you understand what you might be up against.”

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