Are ginger cats more friendly?

Chez Piper is well-endowed wit cats, having two ginger tabbies and an elegant grey one with white mittens.

The two ginger cats are much more outgoing and friendly than the grey one. A visitor who is familiar with cats says that’s not unusual, and that ginger cats have a reputation for being friendlier.

Is this correct? If so, why would fur colour be replayed to temperament?

I have a grey tabby and an orange tabby.

Grey tabby thinks every stranger is a friend he hasn’t met yet. Orange tabby doesn’t let anyone but me or my son touch him. After ten months he’s just now starting to tolerate my GF.

I’ve heard the “Orange Tabbies are ALL friendly” meme; can’t imagine how it got started.

I’m guessing you call “Ginger tabbies” what others call 'Orange tabbies".

OTOH, I’ve not heard the “All Siamese all vicious” theory in ages.

There was a recent study that found 3-color (tortoiseshell & calico) cats are more likely to be aggressive than other colors.

In my experience, Maine Coons are the friendliest cats, though they tend to be loyal to one person, similar to some dogs.

And solid black ones are a close second.

I suspect there is scant real evidence for any breed or colour.

I like to quote Desmond Morris (he of Manwatching fame) who considers that the first 12 weeks of life as being the determinant of how friendly (socialised) a cat is. He says that if a kitten is handled and petted by at least 5 different people in this period they will become totally socialised and will be friendly with anyone they meet. If their mother has also been so socialised they will be even better, as they will not learn any anti-social behavior from their mother.

Overall my experience has supported this. With a mix of strays, premium breeder, and rescues, in my life, the level of friendliness does seem to directly correlate with this hypothesis, and does not seem to relate at all to breed of colour.

When I first adopted him, my ginger tabby (Tigger) was very mean to my dear little bicolor (grey and white) Shiloh, who is now afraid to even be in the same room as Tigger. As a result, poor Shiloh prefers the basement, which I keep Tigger out of.

Shiloh gets plenty of treats and head skritches, and seems pretty happy overall, as long as the basement is hers, and hers alone. She does enjoy visits from my Fiona (a tuxedo cat), and the two of them happily play and nap together and so on. I just wish that I didn’t have to keep the basement door closed, lest Tigger get down there. Shiloh remains terrified of him.

Tigger is living proof that not all ginger cats are friendly.

Gingers are more likely to be male - I’m pretty sure that’s scientifically correct, though I’m not going to check. (And having owned a ginger female, I know there are exceptions.)

I have heard it said that male cats tend to be more affectionate than females. Is there any evidence for this? If there is, perhaps the two traits (ginger and male) have become conflated. But I don’t know, that is pure speculation on my part.

Thanks for the comments, everyone. I hope this doesn’t go off to IMHO on anecdotes about everyone’s personal experience with cats. I’m wondering if there are any studies about friendliness in cats.

The Deanond Morris summary sounds like the sort of thing I’m looking for.

There were several studies done in France that linked the orange gene with:
a.) increased average aggression ( towards other cats ) based on behavioral observations,

b.) greater sexual dimorphism ( orange males tended on average to be larger than other males, females smaller than other females ).

c.) greater reproductive success in areas of low population density ( orange cats were more common as a percentage of the population in rural areas where larger, more aggressive orange males could dominate access to relatively scarcer females - this disappeared in areas of high density where it was impossible for stronger males to exclude others ).

d.) differential disease exposure, based on aggression, size and their relationship with disease etiology ( higher rates of FIV in orange cats, lower rates of FeLV ).

So for an example of the last, that mentions the others, voilà.

IF these observations are correct, what could that mean for pets? Speculatively ( i.e. total WAG ) it could mean that a big, neutered orange tom raised by people might translate that aggression into friendly assertiveness. My orange tom will happily crawl into strangers laps, whether they want him to or not.

But, y’know, that’s a WAG ;).

I don’t know if they’re friendlier, but it’s common knowledge that the orange ones fuck you up REAL good.

For a male to be orange/ginger, he only needs one orange gene which he gets from his mother. For a female to be orange, she needs to inherit the orange gene from her mother and she needs to inherit a second orange gene from her father, and that father must be orange. This makes female orange/ginger cats much less common.

We have two orange tabbies, both from the same litter. Mama cat gave birth to a litter in the industrial park where I work, and kept moving the kittens around. At one point, she left one of the orange tabbies behind. We waited for her to come back for it, but she never did. When the little guy looked like he wasn’t going to last much longer, I took him in. He was a bit too young to be separated from his mama, but at that point it was either I take him in or we take his corpse out to the dumpster soon. When the other kittens got a little older, we snatched them up as well, because the last thing that Baltimore needs is more stray cats running around. A friend and co-worker took one of them, and I took two, one for another friend who wanted one, and another orange tabby that we were planning on finding a home for. We weren’t planning on keeping him, but then my kids fell in love with him, and we ended up not trying to find a home for him and kept him.

The first cat is my little buddy, possibly because I rescued him from near-death. He’s very friendly, and likes to sit near me and lays near me when I sleep. He sucks on blankets and kneads me, both typical behaviors for a cat who was separated from mama cat too early.

The other one we named Courage, for Courage the Cowardly Cat (Courage the Cowardly Kitten when he was little). I would not describe him as friendly, though he can be once in a while. Mostly, he’s just skittish. He startles easily and doesn’t like commotion.

Anyway, the plural of anecdote isn’t data, but there’s two examples of orange tabbies for you.

Also, here’s a link to a previous IMHO thread:

And since this is GQ, I went googling and found this, which is from one of those “ask a vet” type sites (dates to 2012):

This is a pretty long article, and has lots of good info, and points out that people expect cats to conform to stereotypes based on their colors and markings, and tend to approach cats differently as a result. The cats sense the difference, and therefore end up behaving differently, thus “confirming” the stereotype.

Don’t be so fast to judge a cat by its color, study warns

Our indoor cat watches the world go by from our windows. She enjoys watching squirrels and birds and even a nice visiting gray & white cat. There was an orange one that would come around and she would fly into a fury when she saw him(?). Charging from window to window following him around, yowling and flailing at the glass.

As far as anecdotes go, my late black n’ white tom, the most laid-back, lapdog cat I’ve ever seen, had two neighboring cats (all three would go outdoors). My cat would act very aggressive towards one, a small, timid black cat and be BFF with the other, a big ginger tom that was friendly with us humans, as well.