Cats come in a wide range of colors, from plain black or white to gray, brown and orange. Orange tabbies have reddish hair and striped markings. These cats can be long or short haired, and can be male or female, despite the myth that only male felines can be orange, according to Sandra Toney of Petside.com. Orange cats are visually appealing, but their temperament is determined by more than just coat color.
People sometimes believe that cats of a certain color have a certain temperament, but those opinions are based more on perception than research-based fact. For example, orange tabby cats are visually appealing, so people are more likely to perceive them as having good temperaments because of their attractiveness. Black cats are just as likely to be friendly and loving, but people view them negatively because of their plain color and old superstitions, according to Kelly Kaczala of the Press website. Facial expressions are more visible on orange tabbies than dark cats, making them appear to have more personality.
The media supports the notion that orange tabby cats have desirable temperaments, with various well-known movie, television and comic strip characters. For example, Morris, the finicky but lovable cat food "spokescat" is an orange tabby, as is heroic Puss in Boots from the Shrek movie series. Heathcliff and Garfield are both popular orange tabbies that star in comic strips.
Genetics influence a cat's temperament, so an orange tabby cats is more likely to be like its parents, regardless of their color. Other physical factors also influence a kitten's temperament, according to the ASPCA. For example, kittens with malnourished mothers are developmentally delayed, have problems playing and tend to be more fearful and aggressive toward humans and other animals. Their coat color does not influence those traits, and their negative personality traits continue into adulthood even if they are fed good diets.
Kittens of all colors need early socialization to develop good temperaments. The ASPCA advises that young cats should be handled by a variety of people when they are between 4 and 12 weeks old to be properly socialized. Kittens that receive this handling are more receptive to strange people and objects. Cats with any coat color, including orange tabbies, are scared and shy if they are isolated from humans for the first seven months of their lives, and they are frightened or aggressive when restrained. Cats that are around humans and are treated kindly from kittenhood tend to be friendly and secure.