Are Calicos Tops in Catitude?


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By Adrea

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Calico (Photo:

A recent survey on a social media website asked participants to identify their cat(s) by coat color then answer a series of questions about behavior.  The survey had some interesting results.

The research, conducted by behavioral expert Dr. Elizabeth Stelow, UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, and partner researchers, had more than 1,200 participants found something that many veterinarians and cat owners had long suspected.  As compared to other cat coat colorings, human interactions with calicos and torties produced more aggressive behavior; hissing, chasing, biting, swatting, scratching.

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Tortoiseshell (Photo:

Calicos are defined as being primarily white with orange and black patches while tortoiseshells are mottled in black, brown, red, and amber patches.  Most felines with this coloring are female as two X chromosomes are required for this coloring.

Two adorable sister kittens sitting together
Calico sisters (Photo:

Stelow authored the study with veterinarian Melissa Bain and data analyst Philip Kass.  The study also showed that cats with other colored coats, gray and white, black and white, also appeared to be a little more aggressive in nature.  Cats with solid coats, black, gray and white, were identified as having far less aggressive behaviors in their personality make-up. It is believed this is the first study of its kind, looking to coat coloring and associated behaviors. The abstract was published in the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, October 2015.

Freckleface Tortoiseshell hear2heal dot com Sindi Short
Freckleface Tortoiseshell (Photo: Sindi Short)
There is subjectivity involved in this study as the researchers relied solely on the observations of cat owners as opposed to being directly involved.  However, the information does make a compelling argument for continuing the study of behavioral characteristics as it relates coat coloring.  Stelow and her fellow researchers are hoping others will use this as a starting point for more genetic research to see if there is a viable connection between the two factors.



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2 thoughts on “Are Calicos Tops in Catitude?”

  1. This breaks my heart and angers me to no end. The torties and calicos that have and will wrongfully be judged and suffer now because people wont adopt them due to that quack’s ridiculous researchand you for even giving it time of day here is terrible injustice to them. I can tell you theyre incredible..loyal..and never have any of babies acted like this article claims they do. Maggie Mae, Creator rest her soul, hissed once…at the man who broke into iur home and was attacking me on our stairs. She ran and jumped onto his neck and face to save me. You shoukd be ashamed to cindemn these blessed lil miracles. Theur chromosomes are flawed hence the coloring. I hope Elizabeth Stelow is found out to be the quack she is.

  2. I adopted twins calico from a shelter (villa kitty bali) almost a year ago. They were 5 months old when they picked me.
    My pretty calico girls, Luna & Lucy are sweet, loving, well behaved twins.
    Its unfair judging cat carachter from their fur color. How do you like people judge you from your hair or your skin color?

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