While research shows cat breeds impact behavior, some studies argue that coloration does not. Looking at the behavior the Himalayan, a breed of cat, and a "tortie," a color pattern, we can see what factors may influence these cats’ personalities.
Tortie refers to tortoiseshell, a particular color pattern found on cats. The pattern typically features very little white color, nonsymmetrical markings, and a brindle appearance. The patterns include multiple colors that can range from cream to black to red. Because of the genetic factors involved in this pattern, most of these cats are female. If a male cat is born with tortoiseshell markings, he is usually sterile. You can find torties in cat breeds including Persians, Siamese and Selkirk Rex.
Parents of tortoiseshell cats claim the cats exhibit dominant personalities. They, not the owner, determine when affection and attention can be provided. Owners claim these seem more confident, particularly in their interactions with other cats, and are louder and more talkative. Cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy believes tortoiseshell cats may have increased sensitivity to their surroundings, which may cause some of the behavior differences; however, he adds that he tries not to prejudge cats on their coloration.
Dangers of Tortie Generalizations
While many tortie parents have been vocal about their cats’ feisty and problematic behavior, such generalizations can be dangerous for cats. A 2012 University of California at Berkeley News Center article suggests people make generalizations about cat coloration and personality when choosing felines to bring home. The article focuses on the findings of a study of cat lovers who were asked to rate the personalities of cats of different colors without having contact with them. They find the same generalizations repeated over and over based simply on cat color, such as that tortiseshell cats were less tolerant. The cat coordinator for the Berkeley East Bay Humane Society says people need to spend time with each cat to find out its true personality; cats cannot be judged by their color patterns.
A Himalayan is a specific breed of cat. The breed was created in 1930 by combining Siamese and Persian cats. After four generations of cross-breeding, the Himalayan was created, displayed characteristics of both breeds, including the roundness of the Persian and the blue eyes of the Siamese. Because many Himalayans are born with short legs, they do not climb or jump as much as other breeds.
Because Himalayans come from a combination of Persian and Siamese traits, they share similar personalities. For example, they tend to be playful like Siamese cats and can be easily entertained with paper, yarn or toys. However, they tend to be docile and less demanding in behavior like Persian cats. They enjoy human companionship, as do both Persians and Siamese cats, and prefer living indoors to exploring outside. Additionally, Himalayans can be vocally expressive, but not to the same extent as Siamese cats.
- Catster: Do Tortiseshell Cats Really Have "Tortitude"?
- VPI Pet Insurance: Tortiseshell Cats
- UC Berkeley New Center: Don't Be So Fast to Judge a Cat by Its Color, Study Warns
- Governing Council of Cat Fanciers: What Do You Know About Tortoiseshell Cats?
- Petfinder: Himalayan Cat
- Cat Fanciers Association: Himalayan Persian
- VPI Pet Insurance: Himalayan Cats