If your feline friend has a bad "cattitude," the color of its fur might be a factor. Researchers at UC Davis have found a correlation between a cat's markings and its level of feistiness, the San Jose Mercury News reports.
Calicos and tortoiseshells are more likely to be aggressive — to bite, hiss, scratch, or swipe — when interacting with humans, according to the study published this month in the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science. It may have something to do with the cats having two X chromosomes. And it's not a universal designation, the News notes, but the behaviors are more prominent in those cats. Also, the researchers say the results shouldn't be interpreted to mean that cats of those colors are dangerous; they're just feisty.
Researchers based their findings on the results of an online survey of more than 1,200 cat owners, the California Aggie reports. Respondents answered questions about their cats' behavior — using a scale of zero to five to rate frequency of particular behaviors — and provided their feline's color and pattern.
Researcher Liz Stelow tells the Aggie that the study aimed to explore the "long-standing assumption" among vets and cat owners that "calicos and tortoiseshells are somehow different." As it turns out, "they were significantly different from most other coat colors for aggression toward humans." (On the flip side, the study found that cats with solid black, gray, or white coats are less aggressive.)
Researchers want to be sure their findings don't discourage people from adopting calicos and torties. Just because they're more aggressive, another researcher tells the Aggie, "does not mean they are a problem.” (Of course, your cat might secretly want to kill you.)