Tortoiseshell Cats – fun facts about the cat with ‘Tor-titude’

Tortoiseshell cats are beautiful creatures affectionally called “torties.” Best known as “the divas of the cat world,” a tortie hides surprising facts within its unique multicolor fur.

Torties are famously sassy, vocal felines with catitude. Their endless amount of energy can at times come across as being headstrong or attention-seeking from their humans.

Certainly, a cat with a big personality, torties are sweet, lovable felines with a feisty side that is sure to keep you on your toes.

  • fact 1: almost all tortoiseshell cats are females

Male tortoisehell cats are rare. LIke Calico cats, the female sex chromosome X also carries the genetic code for orange or black coat colors.

A female has two X chromosomes in each cell, XX. Males have only one X chromosome and a Y chromosome, XY.

In cats, the X chromosome contains instructions about coat coloring. Because female cats have two X chromosomes, they receive two sets of genes instructions for coat color in each cell. In tortoiseshell cats, these gene instructions are one gene for orange fur and one gene for black fur.

Therefore, because two X chromosomes with genes for different colors are needed, males cannot be torties. Because a male cat has an XY chromosome, he will only be orange or black—not both.

About 1 in 3,000 tortoiseshell cats is a male and has two X chromosomes and one Y chromosome, he would be sterile, have serious health issues and a shorter lifespan.

  • fact 2: they are named after the shells of tortoises

Tortoiseshell cats are known for their distinctive two-toned coat which resembles the shells of tortoises. They have coats that combine two colors other than white that are usually in large patches or mixed. Most torties have ginger and black coats variations in shades and patterns.

  • fact 3: they are feisty and sassy

Tortoiseshell + Attitude = Torti-tude. Torties are recognized as being the divas of the cat world for their strong-willed and fiercely independent nature.

Veterinarians from the University of California, reported that Tortoiseshell cats tend to challenge their humans more often than cats with other coat patterns.

  • fact 4: a good luck charm

Tortoiseshell cats have made lasting impressions in myths. In Scotland and Ireland, it is considered good luck when a male tortoiseshell cat enters a home. In Japan, bringing one of these cats onto a boat can give protection against storms and ghosts, according to Japanese fishermen.

The Khmers of Southeast Asia believe that tortoiseshell cats came from “the blood of a young goddess born of a lotus flower.” Even today, torties still hold a place in superstition. In the United States, torties are known as “money cats” and are believed to bring good luck.

  • fact 5: tortoiseshell cats are not a specific breed

The distinctive feature of a tortoiseshell cat is the patterned coat caused by simple genetics —not the breed. There is no tortoiseshell breed of cat.

However, tortoiseshell cats occur in a variety of breeds, including American Shorthair, British Shorthair, Persian, Cornish Rex, Ragamuffin, and Maine Coons.

Traditional tortoiseshell cats have black, red, and orange fur with brown mixed in. There are also dilute tortoiseshell cats with less intense coloring due to genetics and even chocolate tortoiseshell cats with much darker fur.

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