There is a conviction that orange cats are friendlier and more affectionate than those of another color
There is a conviction that orange cats are friendlier and more affectionate than those of another color. There are several owner surveys that suggest this, but is it so or is it a myth? Let’s use science to find out.
The gene responsible for Orange is linked to sex, resulting in a much higher probability that an orange cat is male than female. Given the fact that males tend to be more affectionate than females, there we have evidence.
But there is more. French scientists, led by biologist Dominique Pontier, conducted a study examining the frequency of the orange gene variant among cat populations and found that these colorful kittens can differ from other cats in several ways.
More rural than urban
According to Psychology Today, analyzing 30 cat populations in France and collecting data from 56 to 491 cats from each population, the researchers found three trends regarding orange cats.
First, they found that orange cats are more common in less dense, rural areas compared to urban settings.
This finding suggests that orange cats may enjoy greater reproductive success under particular social conditions. And in rural environments, the mating system of cats is peculiar. Male cats tend to mate with multiple females, while females tend to mate with only one male. In urban settings, both male and female cats have multiple companions.
Second, orange cats are less common in areas with the highest risk of mortality. This finding indicates that orange cats may be more likely to engage in risky behaviors that result in their death.
Finally, orange cats show greater sexual dimorphism. The orange males weigh more than the cats of other colors, while, on the contrary, the orange females weigh less than the cats of other shades.
Higher risk of death in the city
Researchers, taking these patterns, came up with a theory that suggests that, due to physical and behavioral differences, orange cats (male cats in particular) may depend on a different reproductive strategy.
Because they are larger in size (and probably more aggressive, given the previously documented links between a male cat’s body size and aggression towards other cats), orange male cats may enjoy higher social status and therefore greater reproductive success in rural areas, where females normally only mate with one male.
However, in urban settings, their social status may not carry them that far. In these dense environments, female cats tend to mate with many male cats. As a result, reproductive success depends on the competition for sperm rather than physical competition among male cats.
Therefore, in an urban setting, the competitive nature of male orange cats can increase their risk of death (for example, through fights with cats or other animals), reducing the proportions of orange cats. This idea is supported by previous findings that big male cats are more dominant and aggressive, leading to both greater reproductive success and increased risk of mortality.
Are they more loving?
Although these color-based behavioral associations may seem strange, they are found in other animals, such as rodents and birds.
This whole theory suggests that perhaps orange male cats, due to their dominant status and bold personalities, are more comfortable approaching humans, who often scare shy cats, thus appearing more affectionate.