Tortoiseshell Cats: Fun Facts About Torties

What Is  A Tortoiseshell Cat?

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

Tortoiseshell cats are so named for their distinctive, two-toned coats. Tortoiseshell cats, or “torties” as they are affectionately known, have a coat that combines two colors other than white that are usually in large patches or closely mixed. Most torties have a ginger and black coat that may vary in shades and patterns. Tortoiseshell cats are by no means their own breed, but there are some unique attributes that make a tortie a tortie.

Torties Are Almost Always Female

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

You will rarely find a tortoiseshell kitty that is male. Much like calico cats, also known as tortoiseshell and white cats, tortie cats get their distinctive coloring from the “O” gene carried on the x chromosome. The “O” gene is in charge of the ginger color of cats. Since male cats have XY genetic makeup, he only needs to inherent one gene O to be a ginger cat.  Female cats have an XX genetic makeup, so they would need to inherent two gene O’s to be a ginger cat. If she only inherits one, she becomes a tortoiseshell cat. 

In rare instances, males will develop with an XXY genetic makeup. In this instance, they could be a tortoiseshell or calico cat. Male torties, however, are almost always sterile due to their genetic makeup.

Tortoiseshell Kitties Make An Appearance In Folklore

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

Cats are part of many cultures’ folklores, and tortoiseshell cats have a few standout appearances. In Southeast Asia, it was once told that the blood of a young goddess created the first tortie. In England, a tortoiseshell cat’s tail was believed to help cure one of warts if they rubbed it on the ailment. In Japan, tortoiseshell cats were once used to ward off ghosts.

Even today, torties still hold a place in superstition. In the United States, torties are known as “money cats” and are believed to bring in good luck. 

Tortoiseshell Cats Are Full Of Tortitude

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

Many tortie lovers may notice that tortoiseshell cats and calicos tend to have a bit of catitude. So many tortoiseshell humans have experience this sass and have even given it its own name: tortitude.

Tortitude is not just in the imaginations of a tortie or calico’s owner. Studies done by veterinarians from the University of California, Davis, have published research stating cats with calico and tortoiseshell coat patterns tend to challenge their humans more often than cats with other coat patterns. 

Tortoiseshell cats are also anecdotally highly energetic kitties. Most tortie owners will tell you that their cat has bursts of spastic and wild energy, even if it is just for a short span of time. And it will almost always be at the most inconvenient time. 

Tortie lovers know that their calico or tortoiseshell cat may have a bit of a ‘tude and demanding nature, but we can’t help but love them anyway.

Do you have a tortoiseshell cat? Does her personality reach tortitude levels? Let us know in the comments.