Ginger Cat Personality

Ginger cat personality

Marvin, Dorothy’s red tabby boy has personality. He has a mind of his own. He is confident. That’s the impression, I have. I have met a red tabby in Malta. His name is Fedo. He is a distinguished rescue cat. He had a bit of presence, if you know what I mean. Are people stereotyping cats of a certain colour or is it possible to match cat personality to coat colour? People certainly like to match personality to cat breed, which often leads to exaggerations.

In the cat world “ginger” is called “red”. So I am writing about red tabbies and red tabby and whites. Some people call them “orangies” or “yellow cats”.

Many people believe the ginger tabby cat is friendly and lovable. I believe that ginger cats are more laid back and have leadership qualities. That seems to be stretching things a bit. But is it? Apparently, ginger toms are more likely to lead feral groups because they are better fighters, which in turn is because they can be more aggressive1. This is the opposite to the “laid back” image of ginger cats. Confusing? Perhaps not. The two can go together. It is about confidence.

Due to sex linked genetics, ginger cats are nearly always male — ginger fur is caused by the orange gene O. The O is carried by the X chromosome. There is a difference between male and female cats. That is certainly a factor.


Search results on PoC for “cat personality” (opens a new window)


Why do people perceive ginger cats as having personalities that are very suited to being good human companions? Well not everyone does. Some people think ginger cats have the same temperament as redheaded people: fiery. The situation is a bit confused.

The first valid point is that if people believe red tabbies have nice personalities then that is enough in itself. People can imprint their beliefs onto something and make it true. For example, tortoiseshell cats are sometimes thought of as naughty. “Tortie” and “naughty” rhyme. Is that why people have come to believe that torties are naughty?

But are red tabbies really nice cats? How can coat colour affect character? Redheaded people are meant to be more sensitive to pain than other people. If this is true it means hair colour can be associated with some other aspect of the person/animal.

It is said that the gene that makes cats black also makes the cat more healthy. Once again genes affecting hair colour can affect other things. That at least opens the door to the possibility that red cats are likely to have a certain type of character because of the gene that makes their fur red.

My research indicates that there is no clear, hard evidence that ginger cats have a certain personality. We have to rely on what people have experienced, which may be coloured by preconceived ideas.

Here are some observations or thoughts by others on ginger cat personality:

  1. Mellow and warm in nature – Franny Syufy (About.com)
  2. Laid back but unpredictable and can have a  fiery temper – “shifty” character
  3. Docile and affectionate. Good mousers (hunters)
  4. Soft characters and laid back1
  5. Laid back and leadership qualities – “red cats are rarely aggressive with people. He is intelligent and shows this by rarely getting flustered even when total strangers are around. When it comes to his dealings with other cats he feels superior and so he is King” (from Martha Kane of Kitty Appeal in Malta)
  6. Strong personality (my assessment of Marvin)

What can we deduce from all this uncertainty? Four things:

  1. Irrespective of coat colour and pattern, each cat has his/her individual personality that has been formed through genetics (nature – inherited) and experiences (nurture). These factors have more impact on overall character than the colour of a cat’s coat if a cat’s coat cat can affect character, which is far from settled.
  2. Ginger cats are nearly always male.
  3. People like to associate a type of cat with a type of personality. If there is no true association between colour and character, they will create one even though they don’t realise it. It is the human way. Perhaps it is a way of creating stereotypes, which creates certainty out of chaos. People don’t like chaos. They like routines and certainties just like cats.
  4. Taking all the anecdotal evidence together, it seems that red tabbies tend to have strong personalities. They are confident cats that allow them to be more relaxed (laid back) than average but which also provides them with the ability to be dominant when needed.

Refs:

  1. Messybeast.com – my thanks to Sarah Hartwell amongst others.
  2. And as stated in the text.

Comments

Ginger Cat Personality — 35 Comments

  1. I think Cyprus and Turkey are the only places where you have a good chance of finding red female cats even solid reds. This is because the O gene is very common and the chance of 2 suitable cats mating is higher. The surest way to get red females is a black tortie female to mate with a red tom. One such female is this one who produced 2 red males and 2 red females. There was one LH’d male and one LH’d female. The tortie mother is very wild and only trusts one person, but the kittens are much better.

      • That is an interesting comment and I understand it. If I was walking around Turkey as a tourist and saw this cat, I’d stop, look and stay. I’d wouldn’t want to leave her.

        • Thanks. I deal with feral girl tortis every day. They can be difficult and aggressive in a colony environment; but, they are capable of trusting to a certain extent if you are with them long enough. I know that I may never be able to be allowed to pick some up, but some will allow petting at times. However, it takes a l-o-n-g time.

    • Interesting comment Harvey. This is a fabulous looking cat; just a faint glimmer of tortoiseshell amongst the black. I can sense the place because I have been to these places.

  2. I’d say you’ve just about covered it. But having said that, the individuality of their strong personality makes them each unique. You called Marvin a Boss cat and it made me smile.

    Ginger cat

    When he comes in the house for a visit, he struts in with is tail and head high and he walks with a John Wayne swagger, talking the whole time. And if you try to ignore him the talking gets louder and louder. Essentially, he wants you to stop what you are doing and only pay attention to him. Then, he entertains you. For being such a tough guy in the outside world, he is as sweet as can be to humans. He is careful with his claws and teeth while playing (but I have been nicked by accident) and he will sit on your lap and be rubbed up all you want. He cannot curl up on my lap. He is too big. I have to support his bum when I hold him. I have lots of photos of him sprawled out, but he seldom sleeps inside. He is usually just showing off. I have only heard him snore once. If he falls asleep, you cannot move a muscle. He hears even the most subtle movement. Being so social…he won’t sleep if there is movement around. Oddly, he will leave and sleep on the ground outside where there is more noise than inside, and sleep soundly.

    I could talk about Marvin endlessly. He is so interesting.

    • Great picture. Love this picture. Marvin in a big cat. He is so “cat” in personality. Sharp skills and tender with you at the same time (wild and domestic). I can see why you love him. He is a model, classic, domestic cat of quality.

      When I see Marvin and read about him I do think that ginger cats have a certain personality. Thank you, dw, for showing us Marvin and you together. It is a photo that sums up what we like about our cats.

    • What a wonderful photo Dorothy – I just love the sound of Marvin – he has a lovely character I’m sure. Red was so much younger so he was very busy although when he slept he was always sprawled out without a care in the world and you couldn’t move him if you tried to. Really mellow – but outside I think he was entirely different :)

      Marvin is such a beautiful cat.

  3. That’s right. SHE is a female. I am still kicking myself for re-homing her to Holland. She would have caused quite a stir at any show especially with those folks who say females can’t be red. I can’t keep them all, no matter how nice. Here us a photo of another red female kitten, Malaika.

    • Wow – beautiful. Harvey you really are surrounded by some of the most amazing cats or all colours, shapes and sizes. I ‘m just getting jealous now. I know an orange and white, mostly orange though, female cat but I’ve never come accross an entirely orange female.

    • Wow, beautiful is my reaction too. She has a very classy appearance. Not that I am into appearance that much but I know a good looking cat when I see one. Good photo too.

  4. I LOVE this post, Michael.
    There are 2 things that are especially true in my world.
    As you know, I manage 3 feral colonies. In all three, a large red male tabby rules. They are first in all matters and are disciplinarians as well as peacemakers.
    Also, I have 2 female red tabbies and, as Harvey pointed out, each one was the product of a dark torti mother and red tabby father.
    Thanks, guys!

  5. The trouble is I only have one red/white tabby female now and she is spayed due to a medical problem. She is doing OK now. My other females are either pure white or red Van patterned, and one blue and cream Van patterned. That marvellous pure red Turkish Angora female (not the one in the photo)never showed up again. Maybe when the weather gets cold she will come looking for a good meal.

    • I have never asked how many cats you care for and how many cats have you cared for over the years. It seems like a lot. I think you are top of the tree on numbers.

  6. Did you know that ginger with white cats are considered lucky in Russia? Just heard that today. I have known several gingers, two pretty well. The first one Gorto was an exotic tabby who was introverted and a follower. The other, George, was very laid back, but he was not a leader or follower. More of a do-what-I-want-when-I-want. He did have buddies he lived with, but did not venture outside. I think the “I am an individual” is the best label for something as broad as a coat color.

    • Thanks Dan. I agree that all cats are individuals. This is the conclusion ultimately. I had no idea that ginger and whites were lucky in Russia. You have given me an idea for a post!

  7. “Head count” that makes me smile. It is like having a battalion under your charge.

    I have not seen the video you mention. I hope you are not going to tell me that you have more ;)

  8. No. I am a long way short of 600 but still I have too many. That conclusion is arrived at on account of not having much time left over for anything else. In total I have 37 cats. However 8 live outside permanently, and 7 are inside outside cats. 3 including my valuable Minos live in an outside enclosed patio, and there are 5 smelly toms in a purpose-built cattery with A/C. The cattery also houses Chulita my white SH Anatolian with her neutered male kitten Arkos. Arkos is better off inside permanently because he is over-excitable and soon gets into trouble. The first time I tried him outside he fell half-way down the side of a shallow ravine and I had to rescue him at some risk to myself. He is unhappy by himself but both he and his mother are clearly very happy together.
    Interestingly the permanent outsiders rarely wander far and are usually within a short distance of the house. They have around 2,000 m2 of my own garden to romp around plus perhaps several square kilometres of olive and orange groves, bushes, woodlands, etc. They are obviously satisfied with being close to home.
    The remainder of the cats are inside the house distributed and separated according to a well-worked out plan. Needless to say these are the cats that have clean habits and get along well together. The house is 322 m2 so there is plenty of space for some cats.
    Inside the house there are 3 intact tom-cats. 2 of them are inside outsiders, but none of them mark their territory and only use their litter boxes. The 3rd tom, Karan, can only survive inside the house because he panics when he gets even just a short distance from his usual domain which is the kitchen. Recently he has been showing a little interest in the outside, just peeking out, and I hope one day he will be confident enough to at least spend some time on the kitchen terrace. He is very affectionate and although highly strung is very nice with the other cats. Here is a photo of him.
    2 of my Angoras are booked to go to France on Oct 25th so that will be a little help.
    Orkide, probably my best ever Turkish Van kitten went recently to her for-ever home. Her mother Fatima never noticed!

    • Phew…I feel a bit tired thinking about caring for 37 cats. I need a lie down….You have have a lot of land and a large home so I suppose they fit in well. You are not swamped by cats.

      I found your comment interesting, I knew I would which is why I asked. You have what seems to be quite a complicated set up but one that is well organised and logical.

      I wonder if you’d let me convert it to an article. I could dress it up a bit and refer to the Turkish lady with 600 and the video as well.

      Thanks for taking the time to write it and count the cats ;)

  9. My 4 year old Traditional Persian tomcat “Matata” in the photo is a ginger cat.He was the freak of the litter of 6 kittens, the only “Ginger(Orange)” coloured kitten, the rest all being pure whites.His dam “Matahari” is pure white as was his sire and hence i was surprised on seeing a brown kitten, the first born of the litter.He is very aggressive and dominant , a total “Alpha male” who many times attacks his own dam Matahari.View his blog for a better view of this strange and childish tomcat. :- http://persiancatmatatacatwalks.blogspot.in/

    • I like this picture. Good one. I am surprised he attacks his mother. Mind you I didn’t like my mother ;)

      He is an interesting dilute red faint tabby coat. He has a nice solid, typically Persian “cobby” body. He definitely qualifies to be on this page as he is ginger and he has a personality – alpha male. His character supports my view that gingers are alpha types.

  10. Hi Michael. Please do make an article about me and my cats, as well as the Turkish lady.
    I forgot to mention that most of my indoors cats show no interest at all in going outside even with a door or window left open. This is just as well because my beautiful white cats would soon be snapped up by Turkish Angora/Van lovers.
    I have a video of my cats and kittens in my bedroom when they were at the growing up stage when socialisation is important. O will have to send it on an E-mail as this page says it is an invalid image. Here is a photo showing the general area around my house where my cats are free to explore but mostly prefer no to!

  11. Hi Dorothy. Bigfoot looks to be an impressive cat. He seems have a red or brown tinge in his coat. Karan has a litter brother called Kyros who has not had good health for a long time but os doing very well now. I think it’s because his immune system has kicked in rather than all the treatments he got. Lot’s of good food and a happy environment would have helped him too. I notice he has formed a loving relationship with a solid red stray tom I call Rufus. They go everywhere together and constantly rub up and groom each-other. Strange how Kyros’ recovery coincided with this relationship.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Heads up! You are attempting to upload an invalid image. If saved, this image will not display with your comment.

To upload a photo (1) place the photo on the desktop of your computer (2) write your comment (3) click on the "browse" button below the comment area (4) select the photo (5) click on the "post comment" button (6) wait and it will appear if you are a regular. It failed? Please click this. Thanks.