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Are all torbies and calicos crazy?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Hi, I just wanted to throw a light hearted question out there. Do any of you with calicos or torbies notice that they act a little crazier than other cats? I know my torbie and white Peeps is nuts! But of course that's why I love her so much.
post #2 of 18
Hi there buttercup429! I have two torties, and four other babies, I wouldn't say they're any crazier than the others (they're all pretty mental!) but they do have very different personalities! Merlot my big fluffy boy is definately a tad strange! You can have a full blown conversation with him, only answering with meows to things he wants/likes, for example,
mum = "Merle, do you want some ham?"
merle = "meow"
mum = "do you want a bath?"
merle = Silence (accompanied by a horrified stare!)
mum = "where's the ham Merle?"
merle = goes to the fridge and starts jumping saying " mew mew mew!!"

Cool eh? and hes such a sulker, if you push him off your lap he'll stalk off mumbling to himself! I have also noticed that he has a strange affinity for the washing line!(Don't ask why?!) So I guess you could be right, maybe they are a bit crazy! But thats why we love em!
post #3 of 18
Among my cats I have noticed some almost identical behavioral patterns among different color groups. Variations are more noticeable with the same color, but different body types. For instance, I have two calicos and one tortise-shell. One calico and the tortie have the same body shape and eye size. They are also similar in behavior and immunity to illness. One calico has a body shape (more like a very elegant Siamese) that is similar to another prevailing color here -- cats that are sable black with almost no or very little white on the underparts. These cats seem to know instinctively not to use their claws to jump into a lap (or out of it), they are self-contained, but very loving, but they like privacy when they want it and will simply walk off rather than lash out or dig in claws (as some of the predominantly white cats do). The fragile Siamese body-type golden tabbies take a very long time to let you touch their bellies or scratch them under the chin (or gently massaage the ear tips), but the heavily built burly golden tabbies enjoy from the beginning to have their stomachs stroked and exposed (but they will immediately claw a stranger who inadvertently touches their stomaches). The newest cat -- a stray who clearly had a good home once -- is a silver and charcoal to silver-gray 9-month old tabby with the long and elegant shape of the sable cats. He also knows not to jump up with his claws extended. He, and one of the sables, can also take a flying leap from the floor and, applying clawless foot pressure to my body as he uses his initial momentum, reach my shoulder, where he wraps his legs around my neck for balance. It is a shock the first time, but I know now to give him instant support under his buttocks so he doesn't have to dig into my clothing to keep from falling backwards. I have learned to expect this from the sable, but when a totally new, almost grown full tomcat did it to me, I nearly dropped the ball -- that is the cat -- and for one panicked moment I thought he might be rabid. But my arms moved automatically to give him support, and I have rarely had such a loving hug from any of my pride. He was frantic to find a safe haven somewhere, but the combination of instinct and intelligence he showed on recognizing me as that haven really showed what a very special cat he is. Considering that he was in a state of high trauma __ chased by dogs, attacked by a little body with stones, children yelling, and being thrust first into a cat carrier and then into the living room of my house, which at that moment was inhabited by the four dogs and five or six cats -- he might have been excused hysterical or hostile behavior. Instead, he took this flying leap from the floor in perfect trust that I was his friend. Very humbling as well as wonderful. I think he may be one of my special psychic cats that meditate with me and who always know when I am sad or sick.

So from my own observation of some 30 strays and ferels (at the moment there are 16 in-house cats plus the 4 dogs), I really do believe that behavior -- at least behavioral tendencies -- are genetically linked to color, body shape, and relative eye and ear size. Since all the cats I have cared for come from street mixtures, I assume that certain combinations of characteristics are linked to certain kinds of temperament. By the way, the aloofness or nervousness of predominantly white cats probably have to do with the link between poor eyesight and hearing (or outright blindness or deafness) in the pure white breeds. Many of our cats are related to the Turkish van and angora), the British common tabby in all its varieties, and the exotic Egyptian Mau (perhaps my spelling is off here -- it is a cat that is almost entirely spotted, and has a very elegant, sleek shape with a somewhat triangular-shaped face). These domesticated breeds -- legacies of our various occupying armies -- are sometimes mixed with the indiginous and wild Swamp Cat (a very large ferel) in the north of Israel and the smaller Desert Cat here in the Negev. But in spite of the gene pool, color and body shape seem to rule behavior and character.

Just notes from my observations... Catherine
post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 
That's exactly what I was noticing and that calico and torbie cats seem to have a very pronounced personality to them especially the ones with a small body shape and large round eyes with small rounded ears. They usually have very small almost delicate paws. Does anyone know the body type I'm talking about? I wonder where it comes from; like long lithe body types are Asian and the more stocky are usually European and so on.
post #5 of 18
My torbie certainly has a lot of character, more than any cat I've ever had (I've never had a calico or a totrie/torbie before). She's the Alpha cat around here and has a lot of guts. She's very opinionated and if needs be, lets you know with a bite or a scratch that she's the one to decide
post #6 of 18
My cats mostly have the same bloodlines. They are similar in shape and size BUT, I produce several colours. No question about it..... my calicos have the most outgoing temperment. They truly rule!!

There has to be something about the colour and temperment??!!
post #7 of 18
Our family have eight Tabbies. 3 are Brown Tabbies and 3 are Red Tabbies and 2 are Cream Tabbies. They are ALMOST all related. We started out with KC, brown. He was our baby and ruled our house for several years, then my Daugther moved in with her daugther and brought 3 kittens. Two were brothers and one was a little female she had resued. The boys are Frisky,Red, and Taz,brown. Flower is cream. As you can quess Flower had kittens (we were wanting one liter between her and Frisky,because we love red tabbies)Well we got Fluffy, who is red and has long fur. DC, who is cream and has markings just like his momma. Shadow is a little girl and a brown tabby like her daddy, Taz. There was another one but he didn't stay with us long. He could have been DC's twin.The family opted to keep them all, so we preceded to having them all fixed. Before everyone was done, Flower came up pregnant again, and this time had four more kittens. All of them were Orange(red)and white. I insisted we couldn't keep them all,so we found homes for three and kept little Pumpkin. They are all so different. Frisky is our alpa. Flower and her daughter are the hunters and not very vocal. Taz is the lover. DC is goofy. Fluffy can be a bully, or I should say he's like a bull in a china shop. Pumpkin is the baby and full of mischief. And last but not least is our old man KC who turned 13 this summer. He has learned to tolerate a lot. There is never a dull moment in our household. I'll have to go for now, but I'll be back. I have to tell you about Flowers two pregnancies and how she wanted me with her.
I thought I better tell you, I'm not Sherry, I'm her Mom,Debbie.. We are sharing this cat site. We're all cat lovers at our house. I get jealous of Flower sometimes, because she has latched on to John, my husband.Ha!ha! We think she feels secure with him, because she was an abused kitten. She was a wonderful Mother!!
post #8 of 18
Does anyone know of any decent books on the subject of temperament and color? Surely someone has researched this subject...? I think I will take a little time to surf different universities and see if anything comes out of the trees (other than primate studies).

When I was young, I liked dogs because they are just clever enough to love even a rotten owner, and one can feel good with such adoring slavish love. The relationship is usually uncomplicated (although I have known dogs that were the exception...). Perhaps we expect "dog" to behave in a certain manner, and they adapt to that. We always had a cat here and there, but I never saw them much -- they slept in the house, but roamed outside most of the time.

Now in old age, I have to admit that I never knew anything at all about cats. Perhaps maturity had to set in before I recognized the remarkable differences between these complex personalities. Every cat, even the most similar, have that "odd kick to their gallop" that makes them stand out as individuals. And most of the books on cat behavior are next to useless-- filled with the great common denominator of the "majority" of cat behaviors.

But consider that my cats come from eastern areas -- they have Turkish, Egyptian, wild desert, British, ancestry, and perhaps the blood from the odd purebred who got loose to join the gene pool. We have some Siamese influence here -- a bigger cat than the much smaller Turkish angora strain. But you folks from across the water are talking about similar color-linked temperament. It is an interesting track to follow...

post #9 of 18
With our 8 Tabbies I defintly see a temperment change with color. The orange, or red ones are the agressive. They talk more, demand things-like attention or food or anything else they want. The cream colored ones are more layed back, but they have their moments. The brown tabbies in our house are the more subtle ones. You can forget their around if your not careful. We don't keep them all in at one time, unless its an unusual circumstance, but the brown ones are the better overnight partners. I love them all! Someone actually ask me one time how I could remember all their names!!!! It would be like forgetting my childs name.
post #10 of 18
Ah, but I just picked up a 9-month old gray and white tabby tom who never stops talking. And of my two golden-red tabbies, one is almost cream-colored and the stripes are barely hinted at and the other is a strong, powerful male with beautiful clearly-deliniated stripes in a stunning red-gold. The female is small, small-boned, and compact, while the male is long, tall, thick-legged, and big-boned, and they both talk when spoken to, when the enter the house after being outside, or, in the case of the female, when she wants to tell me that the water dish is empty (I call her the water-cat because of that). The male is aggressive but totally sweet, and the female is shy and totally sweet. Different body shapes? They both exhibit no fear of water, come to think of it -- Neptune (the male) got his name from falling into everything wet he could find when he was younger -- the mop water (which was dangerous, since I mop with things like chlorine and amonia). He falls into the bathtub (where the washingmachine water goes) quite regularly, dashes through the sprinkler for fun, fell into the toilet twice when he was a kitten, and still likes to play in any water I am dumb enough to leave open for him. Kitty (she was named before I got her) doesn't mind water, and sometimes drinks from her paw, but her main talent is to come, day or night, to pester me to replenish the water dishes. She is not happy until I do both the outdoor and indoor ones.

My other tabbies of various combinations of gray, black, and white are occasional talkers -- they will always talk to me if I speak to them when the come in, as: Oh, hi, Yoda. Tired of teasing the dogs?
{Response: mrrup).

But this new cat, who is undiluted tabby, with dark charcoal, smoke-gray, and snow-white underparts talks and talks and talks, and gets all joyful when I talk back.

Go figure.

I think color and temperament cannot be the only links. I think that the original ancestral breeding is also important, and that could include all kinds of factors (body shape, bone size, hair length, tail length, size and set of eyes and ears, mouth size -- everything that differentiates one cat breed from another). I do wish someone had done some serious DNA tests on the subject, but I suppose at the moment the scientists are all too involved in proving that all Europeans came from 13 males back before the last great ice age...and that all human-kind regardless of color and shape are all intimately related at the level of DNA. Maybe we should organize our own research study!!!

post #11 of 18
It's hard to figure what or who decides the intellegence in a cat. Our oldest Tabby, KC. talks to us and can carry on a conversation. He will put his water dish in the middle of the kitchen floor if he needs water. He's a brown tabby and has been relativly a house cat since we got him. We had him declawed. Since the others have come into our lives he goes out now, but doesn't stray far. It has taken him five years to warm up to our Granddaughter. He would never hurt her, but he would hiss at her if she got near or bat at her. Now we have another Granddaughter 6 weeks old and he just sniffs her and walks away, like to say "Oh Well". The other two older tabbies, about 2 years old, are brothers. Frisky is red and he is a talker. He will talk to you and answer. He also mummbles to himself. Taz is brown and doesn't say much, but he is intellegent. He will set patiently while you eat not bothering you, but you know he wants a handout. I have a green stepstool in my kitchen that he sits on when I'm cooking. I call him my kitchen supervisor. I had an interesting thing happen the other night. I was asleep and was having quite a terrible nightmare. I must have cried out in my sleep and Taz nipped me on the toe and woke my up. This is usually what he does if he wants out during the night, but that night he didn't. It was like he knew something was wrong and he woke me up. Both Frisky and Taz like lots of love and to have their bellies rubbed, but they both won't sleep with me at the same time, so I have to rotate them. Their both shaped about the same, round face, sturdy body good Tabby coloring, but one is red and the other a very nice black or brown. I don't understand why they call a red tabby red when to me they are orange, and a brown tabby brown when to me he is black, gray and white. I'll also confess I didn't know until a couple of years ago that cats from the same liter can have more than one fatherAre your cats indoor only or indoor outdoor?
post #12 of 18
Sherry, I didn't know until just now that kittens from the same litter can have different fathers.
post #13 of 18
Nor did I!? How does that work then?!
post #14 of 18
I know my cat(calico) is alittle different then most cats i know. She lOVES my family(especially my mom)but when ppl come that aren't in her family try to pet her but if you ignore her she wont bug you, only when you try to pet her(you can also let her smell you, but after that you walk away and don't look back lol) We moved along time ago but before that she was a little but then when we moved she wasn't aloud outside anymore and that's when she turned mean
post #15 of 18
Both cats and dogs and their various wild relatives have a kind of multiple womb setup -- little areas like beads on a chain -- the chain being a long tube. Each little womb can be separately fertilized. this is why dogs have penises shaped in such a way that they can swell and plug the vagina so that they are "tied" for 10 or 15 minutes. This gives their sperm a better chance to fertilize the eggs in all the wombs instead of only a few. Cats are build similarly for the same reason. Nature drives all.

The tube is long by "sperm" standards, so the healthier and younger the male, the better chance his sperm has to make it to the end (and all wombs in between).

This is a very loose description. The whole thing is rather marvelous, really, and ensures multiple births from the healthiest and strongest males, and a variety of genetic mixtures in one litter. Nature is determined that the species has the best possible chance in a world where the mortality of strays and ferels (cats or dogs, come to that) is 50 to 80%.

Any good veterinarian handbook has a good diagram, and National Geographic, BBC Science, and the Discovery Channels all have programs on various animal reproduction processes. It is really worth trying to watch them when they come around. BBC had one the other day on big cats.

When I was a kid, my family raised cocker spaniels and boxers for sale -- one of the dispised "backyard" breeding kennels. When I was first married, I had a kennel where I raised Basenjis and German Shephards for show, obedience training, and breeding -- a somewhat more professional undertaking. A long, long time ago now. I was in my 20s then. But at least it taught me the differences between people and dogs (the dogs are more loyal, among other things...!).

Now you know everything you didn't want to know in as much detail!!! Sorry.

A final note -- if your purebred cat or dog gets out and breeds with an outsider, you may still have some beautiful purebreds in the litter along with the mongrels, but you cannot, repeat, cannot register the entire litter even if you are absolutely sure of the father of some of them. You will have to wait for another time. But for those of us who rescue strays and put food out for ferels, the variety is exciting and wonderful -- always a surprise in color or shape or character. Like people, each an individual.

post #16 of 18
Thread Starter 
Looking at a cats characteristics and body shape is like looking at that cats family tree. I am really interested in what body type evolved where and why. That would probably explain the different personalities showing up along with a certain color or body type.
post #17 of 18
So why don't we resolve to search out answers from books and even individuals at research centers and universities -- both on the internet and in our own neighborhoods -- who hopefully know more than we do? I think it is an endlessly fascinating subject, because there are endless factors to consider. What, after all, is "normal" behavior? what is abnormal? When do we have a crazy cat, and when is it only acting according to its hardwiring reaction programs? How do these events/factors tie in with physical characteristics?

Certainly breeders breed for psychological and physical factors -- witness the Ragdoll breed, among many others. In the Breeds information on TheCatSite I believe the very basic characteristics are listed for a number of purebred cat breeds. Thoroughbred breeding programs are very involved in genetics.

The various Cat Fancier groups might have information as well. and there is, after all, a Breeders form section here. Want to explore? Maybe we can find some answers. In any case, it might be fun.

post #18 of 18
Thread Starter 
Absolutely, I love everything (well almost) about my cat Peeps, so on that note learning what makes her the cat she is, is very fascinating. I have always been interested in coat color and breed characteristics but my Peeps really got me started. She is a mixed breed torbie and white which I thought was a very interesting pattern and like calicos only females are born with it. That makes it a definitely genetic trait. If you find any info. it would be great and likewise I will post any info. I find. I'm so glad other people are interested in this subject!
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