Animation writers often use a cat's coat color to determine its personality. When a white cat is paired with an orange, black or black-and-white cat, the white cat is usually female and the non-white cat is usually male. The monochrome type of pairing— black or black-and-white with white— is more common in cartoons made in The Golden Age of Animation. Sometimes, a cat's breed is used to determine its personality by making it a kind of voiced ethnic or nationality stereotype, especially if the name of the breed has a country in it. This has little to do with how the breed really acts, as anyone who has cats will attest. Breed stereotypes are rarely done with cats since breed variations aren't always as striking and well known compared to dogs.
Cat Coat Color, Marking, and Pattern Stereotypes:White: Usually all-white in fur color, can sometimes include extreme high grade white spotting cats with nonwhite patches restricted to the ears, the top of the head, and the tip of the tail at most. note :
- Generally good, particularly if paired against a black cat. Kind, nice, and refined. Often upper-class and rich. An alternate portrayal of a white cat is as a The Mentor. Can alternately be antisocial. Can also be shy or nervous. Usually female when paired with an orange male cat. Almost always have blue eyes in fiction, though the deafness associated with blue-eyed white cats is rarely mentioned.
- Heroic and humble. Usually male in fiction regardless of whether there's another cat present, but especially when paired with an all-white cat. Can also be Lovable Rogue types. Scrappy, wisecracking, comic releif and maybe a bit spirited, fiery, tricky, and clever. Also portrayed as irascible alley cats. Can be lazy or fat. Can be laid back, friendly, and/or affectionate, but can also have a bit of a temper. Female cats with this coat color tend to be more laid back than males with this coat color, but can alternately be flighty.
- Sometimes a cartoon cat would be made orange to make it obvious that it is a male character– like bows on girl characters.
- The usually male part is partially justified as orange cats are a little more likely to be male than female. note
- In Real Life, they're associated with witches and bad luck. note This carries over into fiction, where black cats are often evil, villainous, or unlucky. Also often magical or mysterious. Antisocial, less extreme personality. Alternately, they are stubborn and friendly at the same time, good natured, placid, companionable, and sociable, are said to be good hunters, and have a tendency to roam.
- Usually plays the "evil and villainous" black cat stereotypes.
- They tend to be quite unsuccessful, yet always brave and hopeful. Black and white cats with this stereotype are usually male. In other words, they're Idiot Hero wannabes. Can also be portrayed as the average Joes among cats. They are also said to be even tempered, placid, and can make real lap cats, though they can also be wanderers. Black and white cats with low grade white spotting (like tuxedo or mitted) can sometimes play the typical black cat stereotypes above. Kittens with a low grade variant of this color (like tuxedo or mitted) are often portrayed as nondescript. Female cats with this coloring are often portrayed as snarky. The black and white cat stereotype is completely different for kittens and female cats than for tomcats.
- Often older, wise, and/or a mentor. Can also be fat, mellow, peaceable, calm, and/or lazy. Can alternately be mischievous and a bit frantic. Can sometimes be mean and/or snarky, or just screw with people or obfuscate stupidity. Light grey cats can play all-white cat stereotypes as much as they can play the typical grey cat stereotypes.
- A female cat in female cat male cat romantic pairing that is not an all-white furred cat is most often this color.
- Aloof, bored, superior, and/or snarky. Alternately finicky. Usually hyperactive and kind of dumb, with ADD tendencies. Usually extremely friendly as well. Can also be laid back, calm, very affectionate, and more sociable, sometimes relaxed to the point of being lazy. Blotched or classic tabbies tend to be placid, comfortable homebodies while their striped or mackerel cousins tend to be more independent. Can also play the orange cat "heroic and/or humble" stereotype.
- Are usually female and sort of spunky but kind, nice, and refined (like white cats). Can alternately have "tortitude"; that is, be strong-willed, a bit hot-tempered, fiercely independent, feisty, unpredictable, and talkative. These traits seem stronger in torties than in calicos.
- The first part is Truth in Television; male cats can only be tortoiseshell or calico if they have an extra X chromosome (a.k.a. Klinefelter's Syndrome), have chimerism, or have mosaicism. note
- In picture books aimed at young children, male tortoiseshell cats are common. In interviews, the author's excuse tends to be "Yes, I know, but..."
- Often upper-class and rich. Usually Persian and have most or all the stereotypes associated with them. Almost always have sea green eyes. Often portrayed in the same or similar manner as white cats since silver chinchilla ones ones look superficially white all over.
- Tend to be extroverted, spirited, inquisitive, clever, talkative, and highly active. Generally, such cats have personality traits and stereotypes similar to those of the Siamese, though modified by the traits and stereotypes of the other breeds involved if they are involved.
- These are cats with a temperature sensitive form of partial albinism in which the cat has color expressed on the legs, feet, tail, face, and ears. note These markings are associated with cat breeds such as the Siamese, Ragdolls, Ragamuffins, Birmans, and various Siamese crossbreeds (including the Balinese, Burmese, Colourpoint Shorthair, Himalayan, Javanese, Ocicat, Oriental Shorthair and Longhair, Snowshoe, and Tonkinese).
Cat Breed Stereotypes:Persians/Himalayans:
- Generally seen as the showy, rich, snooty, upper-class type. Tend to be Right Hand Cats. Persians in fiction are almost always white or shaded/chinchilla-patterned, often with snow-themed names. In Real Life, they tend to be sweet, affectionate, and even-tempered, unlike their snooty Hollywood portrayal.
- Often portrayed as mean, sometimes even by cat standards. The wedgeheaded or "modern" Siamese are depicted as ill-tempered, bratty, aristocratic and showy, like the Persian. The Applehead or "traditional" Siamese are depicted more neutrally, looking more like typical cats, but may still be just as mean. Most writers are unaware that the Appleheaded Siamese exists at all, so the former will be used more often. In Real Life, both types are nothing like their Hollywood portrayal, being one of the most affectionate and energetic among the cat breeds. (If a bit noisy.)
- Not as cute as fluffy kitties, so they're not as nice. If the Right-Hand Cat isn't a Persian, it's this. When Cats Are Mean is invoked, Sphynx cats are often used, because the general public (or at least some small children) don't find hairless cats attractive, and therefore will not sympathize with them.note More positive portrayals will portray the Sphynx as Ugly Cute, energetic, and/or a Cloud Cuckoo Lander. Usually female. Often portrayed as not being born hairless, but losing their fur through accidents.
- Adorable, oafish, lovable fat cats.
- Tough survivors and skilled hunters, but gentle in personality. Usually male.
- They're known for their short, but thick hair. The colour is actually a distinct shade of grey, but they can appear as blue in animations or comics. They're known to be calm and very intelligent.
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Cat Coat Color, Marking, and Pattern
- Morris the Cat from the 9-Lives cat food commercials was a red tabby. He probably created the stereotype for them. Aloof, bored, superior, snarky, and finicky.
Anime & Manga
- Naota's cat in FLCL fits the old, fat and lazy grey cat stereotype.
- Bleach: Yoruichi transforms from a human woman into a black cat. Even by Bleach standards this is very weird magic. Shapeshifting isn't a normal ability and how she can do it has never been explained.
- Gatomon from Digimon Adventure follows the White Cat sterotype a little: Generally good, female, and often paired with an orange friend. Subverts it that's she not upper class or rich, and instead of an orange cat, she's paired up with an orange hamster/bat thing.
- Chi's Sweet Home: Chi fits the "friendly" and "hyperactive" tabby stereotypes. Kurono/Blackie is a black cat, but his personality seems to be a mix of the "orange" and "gray" stereotypes. Alice is orange and white, but plays the showy white cat stereotype more. Cocchi from the manga is very much a black-and-white sterotype: Idiot Hero wannabe and Small Name, Big Ego.
- Pokémon has the prim Delcatty, the obese Purugly, and the devious Purrloin.
- Sailor Moon has Luna, who subverts the usual black cat by being very much a good kitty; both she and Artemis are both examples of The Mentor so he fills that white cat stereotype but not really any others except possibly the 'rich' one as his 'owner' Minako Aino's family is shown living in a large house like Usagi's (Luna's 'owner') which in central Tokyo, and in the Azabu-Juuban Ward in particular means you are quite well off but as it's never played up (compared to the catless Ami Mizuno) he doesn't really fit that one. Their daughter, Diana, is grey and fits the mischievous stereotype.
- Mr. Hubert from Billy the Cat is a mentor white cat.
- Salem from Sabrina the Teenage Witch is traditionally a completely orange cat however due to the 90s show he is always black nowadays, usually with some sort of white markings. He's a sarcastic, somewhat mischievous cat who is actually a warlock cursed to live as a cat due to the crimes he did. He's Sabrina's familiar.
Films — Animation
- Gay Purr-ee: Jaune Tom (a yellow-orange male cat with orange stripes), Mewsette (an all-white female cat), and Meowrice (a villainous black and white tuxedo male cat).
- The Aristocats: Thomas O'Malley is a Lovable Rogue orange or cinnamon male cat and Duchess is an upper-class, all-white female cat. Also, Toulouse (an orange male kitten) and Marie (an all-white female kitten) fit orange cat and white cat stereotypes respectively. However, Berlioz (a grey male kitten) doesn't fit any of the grey or black cat stereotypes.
- Cats Don't Dance: Danny (an orange male cat) and Sawyer (a white female cat). Sawyer has orangey brown eyes unlike the white cat stereotype however.
- Oliver & Company: Oliver the cat is orange, and is one of the nicest characters in the movie.
- An American Tail: Tiger (orange) is the one good cat. In the first sequel his love interest is light grey.
- In the Shrek movies, Puss in Boots is a swashbuckling, wisecracking orange cat.
- In Puss in Boots: The Three Diablos, there is Gonzalo, a calico cat with a scrappy temper.
- Lucifer from Cinderella is dark grey and grey (or dark brown and beige/tan Depending on the Artist) with a black head and off-white muzzle, and fits both black and grey cat stereotypes by being evil, fat and lazy.
- Mittens from Bolt is a snarky black-and-white cat.
- In the film of Felidae, the wise Felicity is portrayed as an off-white cat with blue eyes. She's not deaf; she's blind. She's stated to be a Russian Blue, which is consistent with her behaviour.
- Cat City: Mr. Gatto, the high-class mafia boss, is a fat white Persian. Teufel, the dark grey cat, certainly means bad luck. Safranek, the ginger cat is the most humble and the least mean of the main cat characters.
Films — Live-Action
- Milo of The Adventures of Milo and Otis is an orange and white cat who is always getting into mischief. Also a male. The female cat who has his kittens is white.
- Throgmorton from The Lives Of Christopher Chant is a loveable rogue orange cat (although he starts out evil-tempered, bullying and anything but lovable). Bethi is a gentle white female, and the favorite cat of the Goddess.
- From Terry Pratchett's Discworld series:
- Granny Weatherwax's cat You is a pure white kitten, full of purity and innocence. Note that You's purity and innocence is of the same kind as her owner's. This is why when You comes around, Greebo hides.
- Nanny Ogg's cat Greebo, on the other hand, is grey, and is older, wiser, and pure malevolent evil. Greebo used to be young. Those days he was a satiny black, and pure malevolent evil on top of distilled sexy (for cats). The latter is actually still true, if his human form is any indication. Of course, he's also a Memetic Molester... he's said to be every one of a kitten (not You, who actually managed to intimidate him)'s paternal ancestors for ten generations. Yikes.
- Maurice in The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents is "a sort of mucky tabby", but considers dyeing his fur to become a "lucky black cat".
- The Worst Witch has a tabby cat ... the only not-black cat in the entire school, who is also terrified of her Flying Broomstick.
- Naturally, since Warrior Cats features an entirely feline cast of hundreds of characters, this trope will show up a lot. Some of the more prominent examples:
- White: Most white cats tend to be good, with the exception of Snowtuft, a Dark Forest cat, in the fourth series. Whitewing in particular tends to be gentle and kind. Whitestorm is one of the earliest stereotypical The Mentor characters. The Warriors series does make note of the fact that white cats with blue eyes often tend to be deaf; one character comments that one of her first litter was, and Fireheart is thankful that his nephew is not.
- Red/Orange/Ginger: For the "heroic and humble" type, there's the main character of the first series, Fireheart/Firestar, who is named for his bright orange fur. There's also his grandson, Lionblaze, one of the protagonists of the third and forth series. For the "spirited" type, Firestar's mate, Sandstorm, is known for her sharp tongue and temper. Their daughter, Squirrelflight, also has a sharp tongue (and is especially wisecracking as an apprentice), is explicitly compared to fire, and her warrior name reflects her flighty nature. A character named Red in the Super Edition SkyClan's Destiny is also a fiercely independent young female.
- Black/Dark-colored: If there's a villain, chances are it's a dark brown tabby male - Brokenstar, Tigerstar, Hawkfrost, Dodge (even a few other characters such as Thistleclaw were mistakenly referred to as dark brown once or twice) - and it wasn't until fans pointed out just how many of them there were that the authors added a female tortoiseshell villain. Other villainous dark-colored cats include Scourge (black) and Darkstripe (dark gray with black stripes). Some examples of stubborn black cats include Tall Shadow and her brother Moon Shadow from the prequel series.
- Black and white: There's not too many standouts with this fur color, so this apparently fits the "Average Joe" part of the stereotype. Tallstar (at least as seen in the main series, not his Super Edition) is an example of an even-tempered character.
- Gray/Blue: Bluestar and Yellowfang are old, wise mentors (and Yellowfang is snarky, too). Graystripe is mellow, mischevious, and a Big Eater.
- Tabby: A large percentage of the cast is tabby. The most common stereotype is the "aloof/snarky" one, with Jayfeather, Longtail, and Speckletail being some examples.
- Tortoiseshell: The spunky but kind stereotype tends to come up most; notably, Sorreltail. Most tortoiseshells are female, but two males do appear: Redtail and Sol.
- The shaded/chinchilla and colorpoint/lynxpoint fur patterns do not appear commonly, if at all.
- Inbali Iserles' Tygrine Cat series is also one with a great many feline characters:
- White: Etheleldra is a female mentor figure.
- Red, Orange, or Ginger: Mati, the Humble Hero, has a red coat. The stereotype is somewhat averted in that, being an Abyssinian, his appearance is regarded by other characters as highly unusual.
- Black: examples of both stereotypes exist— Hanratty is a villain, while his brother Pangur is stubborn but well-intentioned and mentions that he roamed far distances in the past.
- Black and white: Domino is a friendly "average Joe" who helps The Hero despite having no real skills.
- Tabby: Ria and Binjax are superior/snarky silver tabbies.
- Tortoiseshell: Jess is a sweet-tempered but brave and independent young female.
Live Action TV
- Salem the warlock-turned-cat in Sabrina the Teenage Witch is a snarky black cat familiar to the titular teenage witch, Sabrina.
- Interestingly, Salem from the Sabrina the Teenage Witch comic book is traditionally an orange cat (though the original oneshot had him as a black cat) but in the 90s was made into a black cat.
- Subverted with Garfield. He's orange, but even though he has heroic moments sometimes, he's snarky and lazy as opposed to humble. He does play the aloof and snarky tabby stereotypes straight, though.
- Heathcliff is an orange male cat.
- Krazy Kat is a black cat of Ambiguous Gender which seems very unlucky for being in love with Ignatz Mouse who trows bricks at him/her/it with perverse delight though he/she/it doesn't seem to mind.
- The UC Berkeley Newscenter article, Don't be so fast to judge a cat by its color, study warns talks about how cats in real life are judged by their fur color.
- The Pet Peoples Places article, Is Cat Coat Color Linked to Temperament? talks about how a cat's fur color is stereotypically associated with a certain personality.
- Catster's article, Are You a Racist When It Comes to Cats? 8 Stereotypes Based on Breed and Markings.
- The Journal of Cartoon Overanalyzations blogpost, Chromatic Sexism and Animated Felines.
- Kul World Daily Drivel's blogpost, Stereotypical Cats: An Introspective Look At Racism and Prejudice In America
- Cats on Film's blogpost, White Cat of Evil talks about the recent stereotype of white and chinchilla-patterned, usually longhaired cats being evil and/or a Right-Hand Cat.
- Why 2014 is The Year of The Ginger Cat talks about why the orange tabby is so common in live action movies the New Tens. It also talks about which kind of cats were common for live action works in a given time period. In the Sixties, the Siamese was in vogue and in the Seventies, Eighties, and Nineties, the Persian and Himalayan was in vogue.
- Cat Face is a male white, blue-eyed (though you can only tell if you look closely) floating cat with a French-ish accent; he's generally arrogant and bossy, generally always complaining or saying nonsense.
- You keep talking, but all I am hearing is silliness.
- RWBY's Blake is a heroic version of the trope. (In addition to her theme colour being black, she has black cat ears.) She's snarky and aloof, but not really mean, and is training as a demon hunter.
- I Can Has Cheezburger? has Ceiling Cat (the lolcat deity), who is white and dwells in the ceiling, and his counterpart, the soul-eating Basement Cat, who is black and lurks in the basement.
- Roast Beef of Achewood is colored gray in official materials, but plays with the stereotype in that he's depressed and pessimistic just as often as he is snarky.
- Heathcliff and the Catillac Cats: Heathcliff (an orange male cat, as in the comics) and Sonya (an all-white female cat). Averted with Cleo (a cream-colored female cat with long orange hair), however.
- The "black cats are bad luck" stereotype is subverted with the most famous fictional black cat, Felix. Indeed, his very name (Latin for "luck") alludes to it.
- Both of the female cats he is paired with have all-white fur.
- Bad Luck Blackie plays around with the idea of the unlucky black cat. The eponymous Blackie uses his bad luck to protect a whitish shaded silver kitten (gender undetermined) from a Bully Bulldog. In the end the bulldog neutralizes the bad luck by painting Blackie white, but the white kitty paints himself black and gives the dog his comeuppance.
- Sylvester from Looney Tunes is the codifier for the unsuccessful black and white cat stereotype.
- The Looney Tunes'' cartoon, "Hep Cat" shows a male black cat with a white muzzle and white paws and an all-white furred female cat.
- Inspector Gadget villain Dr. Claw has a grey Right-Hand Cat with black and white stripes and white paws who is usually shown as having as mean a streak as its owner.
- Scratchy from The Simpsons' Show Within a Show The Itchy & Scratchy Show plays the unlucky part of the black cat stereotype.
- Tom of Tom and Jerry, a grayish-blue cat with white patches, was sometimes shown as lazy or mean, and did sometimes torment Jerry for fun, but it depended on the episode.
- Fat Cat from Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, a gray-furred Big Bad, had the fat and mean part down.
- Pete from the Classic Disney Shorts is an evil, fat, black cat. Guess who's his archnemesis!
- Stimpy is a fire-engine red cat, and the nicest character on the show (if not particularly bright), and has a white or off-white front and Innocent Blue Eyes.
- The Jimmy Durante cat he's partly based on, in the Looney Tunes short "A Gruesome Twosome", is an aversion of this stereotype.
- The Fancy Feast cat food has a white Persian as a mascot.
Anime & Manga
Films — Animation
- The Aristocats features the rare example of colorful ethnic cat breed stereotypes, featuring a Russian cat (Billy Boss), a Siamese (Shun Gon), an English cat (Hit Cat), and an Italian cat (Peppo). However, in terms of outlook and personality, they were all pretty much beatniks/hippies, and they played the ethnic stereotypes up a lot more than the cat breed ones (Shun Gon, for example, had buck teeth, played the piano with chopsticks, and at one point slammed a cymbal onto his head like a coolie hat).
- Lady and the Tramp features two mean wedge-headed Siamese cats named Si and Am. They're twins. Get it?
- Tiger the Persian/Himalayan cat on Over the Hedge is snooty and standoffish. Bonus points for having the voice actor be of Persian (Iranian) descent.
- The 2006 stop-motion adaptation of Peter and the Wolf had the cat portrayed as an overweight persian whose attempts to catch the bird end in him in the frozen lake, cold and sopping wet. And then the bird poops on him.
Films — Live-Action
- Cats & Dogs
- Has a Russian Blue cat who not only has a Russian accent but also acts like a spy movie villain.
- Kitty Galore from the sequel is an evil Sphynx cat.
- Inverted in the James Bond films, where Big Bad Blofeld carries around a white persian cat wherever he goes.
- The James Bond Blofeld inversion is parodied in the Austin Powers films, where Dr. Evil originally also has a white Persian (but after a cryogenic accident it ends up hairless).
- Subverted in That Darn Cat!. "D.C.", a Siamese, is initially shown as very naughty, but is really an adventure-loving Anti-Hero.
- The Stuart Little movies have Snowball, a white Persian, who doesn't really fit either of those types exactly: he'd like to think he's high-class and refined, but really isn't, and personality-wise he's more of a grey (though he starts off as a villain before his Heel-Face Turn).
- The Siamese stereotype is subverted with Koko in The Cat Who... series, who, like real life Siamese, tends to be bright, friendly, inquisitive, and mouthy.
- The Siamese stereotype is also subverted with the eponymous Siamese Skippyjon Jones, who, like real life Siamese, is bright, friendly, and inquisitive.
- The "bratty, showy, and aristocratic" part of the Siamese stereotype is played straight in the Warrior Cats Super Edition Firestar's Quest. When trying to recruit cats to join the new SkyClan, he encounters two Siamese females who are disdainful of the idea of living wild.
"What, us?" Rose's eyes opened wide. "You're joking, of course."
"Us live in a cave? With no warm blanket?" Lily added. "No creamed chicken?"
"To chase mice and kill them?" Rose's tongue rasped delicately over one brown paw. "How vulgar!"
- Storm From the Shadows introduces Honorverse readers to Dicey, an enormous Maine Coon. (At least, Michelle Henke thinks he's a Maine Coon; he's of rather indeterminate origin.) Dicey was "adopted" (read: won at a game of cards) by Henke's steward, Chris Billingsley, hence his name. He fits the "tough survivor" breed stereotype perfectly, when he's not busy demanding affection from his chosen humans, Michelle herself first among them. He also has a penchant for stealing doughnuts.
- The Tygrine Cat has a mean Siamese and a snooty Persian as part of an All of the Other Reindeer scenario.
- The James Bond Blofeld inversion is also parodied, and then inverted again, in a The Powerpuff Girls episode, where the girls rescue a seemingly innocent white Persian from a mad scientist, only to discover that it's really the cat who was evil and the scientist was under his control.
- The Siamese cats in the pilot episode of Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers.
- Kat from Kid VS Kat is a mean Sphynx cat.
- An episode of American Dragon: Jake Long has Talking Animal Fu Dog face off against Yan Yan, a female hairless sphynx cat and longtime (as both have been fighting over a lucky coin during many famous periods in history such as the Ming Dynasty, 1793 France during the Revolution, 1917 during the Battle of Keilbergmelen in Germany, and even during the sinking of the Titanic) enemy who masqueraded as pet of Haley's arch-rival and Spoiled Brat Olivia Mears under the Unfortunate Name of Miss Tinkles during Show-and-tell.
- The short series of Cat22 cartoons played with this and dog stereotypes. 22 himself is a bad luck magnet and a black shorthaired cat; he's a secret agent, so mysterious is kind of a given, but he's polite to a fault and very loyal. One of his fellow agents is a Siamese that is a bit of klutz and The Girl Next Door. A rogue in the cat versus dog war is a hairless cat who just wants peace, and he's very kind and a Friend to All Living Things.