30 Things You Never Knew About The Tortoiseshell Cat

30 Things You Never Knew About The Tortoiseshell Cat

Are You The World’s Biggest Tortoiseshell Cat Fan?

Then You Are Going To Love Sharing These 30 Fascinating Tortoiseshell Cat Facts!

From Health To Personality, Color to Genetics. And Even Some Famous Tortoiseshell Cats From History!

We’ve Got Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Your Favorite Kitty.

Do you currently own a wonderful Tortoiseshell cat?

Have you always been a fan of this distinctive pattern?

Or perhaps you are looking for a new, fun, and loving companion?

Whatever the reason for your interest, there is one thing we can all agree on. Tortoiseshell cats are amazing.

The Wonderful World of Cats!

There are also countless mixes, as well as color variations.

It’s no surprise some people have a very difficult time trying to figure out exactly what kind of feline friend to choose.

That’s where the Tortoiseshell pattern comes in for a lot of potential owners.

If you are not looking for a specific purebred cat, but want a more unique kitty in your life, then why not choose one with an interesting color?

The tortoiseshell coloring is definitely one of the more intriguing options out there.

In fact, there are so many interesting things to learn about these cats, that we have compiled them together in a list!

So it’s time to check out 30 outstanding tortoiseshell cat facts.

Let’s start with that striking appearance…

1. Tortoiseshell vs Calico

The tortoiseshell calico and the tortoiseshell are two different types of cats.

Calico is the term used to describe a particolored or patched coloration that includes white.

White is the predominate color with black and orange patches intertwined with it.

The tortoiseshell appears with patches of orange and black as well, but the colors are more mixed and not distinctive patches.

2. Dilute tortoiseshells are Calico cats

The dilute tortoiseshell cat is another variation of the calico tortoiseshell.

Colors like gray, silver, and gold dominate the color pattern instead of white.

Blue and cream tortoiseshells are a common combination that you might see, and this type of feline is often called a blue tortoiseshell cat.

Blue, or course, does not really refer to blue, but a blue-gray color.

3. Tortoiseshells can have white patches

If you see a tortoiseshell cat with small patches of white, this is called a tortoiseshell and white cat.

tortoiseshell cat

This cat has far less white than a calico or a dilute feline, and the other patches of red, black, and cream will cover the majority of the body.

4. White Tortoiseshells are the official cat of Maryland!

The calico or white tortoiseshell cat is the official cat of Maryland. The state cat became official on October 1, 2001.

The feline shares the same color pattern as the oriole, the state’s official bird, so the calico was the obvious choice.

5. There is no individual Tortoiseshell cat breed

There is no tortoiseshell cat breed.

The tortoiseshell coloring is a variation seen in many different breeds.

This variation is caused by x-linked genes and is called a mosaic expression.

The term expression is used, because only one x-linked gene for hair color is expressed in each cell.

This results in the mixed or patched coloring, depending on which gene is left “on” in each cell.

6. Most Tortoiseshell cats are female

A heterozygous situation for certain x-linked genes is necessary to produce a tortoiseshell cat.

This means that the vast majority of the felines are female, since only females have two x chromosomes.

7. … But you can get males occasionally!

Are all tortoiseshell cats female?

No, there are actually some male tortoiseshell felines.

However, they are not very common.

tortoiseshell cat

Most people consider them quite rare actually.

Since the color pattern requires two x chromosomes, only male cats with an XX-Y gene mutation will appear tortoiseshell.

8. Male Tortoiseshell Cats are usually sterile

Male tortoiseshell cats are relatively healthy when compared to females.

However, the males are sterile due to the abnormal number and pattern of the chromosomes in the cellular DNA.

The specific genotype leads to abnormal and nonfunctional tissues in the testes.

9. This sterility can be seen in HUMANS!

The unique chromosomal pattern of the male tortoiseshell is sometimes seen in human men too.

The condition is called Klinefelter syndrome in humans and leads to a significant reduction in testosterone.

The lower testosterone levels often lead to a quiet, calm, and sensitive personality, and you may just see these same characteristics in your male feline.

So, a male tortoiseshell may be the gentle and loving companion you are looking for.

Of course, you have to find one first!

10. Fertile male Torties are rare, but they do exist!

Traditional male torties are sterile, but a relatively old study from the 1980s revealed that this is not always true.

Two fertile Burmese tortoiseshell tabby cats were located in the United States.

The cats did not have two X chromosomes, but a regular XY patterning seen in most male cats.

Researchers concluded that the tortoiseshell coloring was caused by the instability of certain genes linked to hair color.

In other words, the orange hair genes randomly turned off in some cells and produced the tortoiseshell appearance.

11. Tortoiseshell cat hair can vary in length

Tortoiseshell cats come in both long and short hair varieties.

long haired tortoiseshell cat

If you searched hard you could even find a tortoiseshell Persian cat or a tortoiseshell Siamese mix if you took a look at your local animal rescue facilities and or breeders.

12. Tortoiseshell cat color isn’t connected to health

If you are concerned about tortoiseshell cat health problems, then you should know that since the torties are not their own breed, there are no health issues associated directly with the cats.

However, you should be concerned about general health issues.

According to an extensive Finnish study, the most common feline ailments involve the mouth, kidneys, and skin.

13. Tortoiseshell cat lifespan depends upon breeding

You need to look at the average feline lifespan to determine the tortoiseshell cat lifespan.

According to a UK study that looked at the longevity and mortality of over 100,000 cats, the average lifespan was found to be 14 years.

Crossbred or mixed breed cats were found to live longer, so you do not have to go searching for a purebred if you want a lifelong companion.

14. Some people think Tortoiseshell cats are lucky!

In traditional folklore, the tortoiseshell cat was said to bring good luck.

For this reason, the cats are sometimes called “money cats” in the United States.

15. And others attribute them to the mystical!

Not only are torties considered good luck charms, but they may just ward off ghosts and evil spirits, according to Japanese culture.

tortoiseshell cat

In fact, the people of Japan sometimes kept these cats on their boats to keep themselves safe from harm while on the water.

16. One Tortie lived to 21 years old!

Marzipan, one of the most famous torties in the world, was a white tortoiseshell cat living in Melbourne, Australia.

This feline, who lived to be 21, enjoyed her life in the Astor Theatre and welcomed guests who arrived to watch movies in the cinema.

17. Another Tortoiseshell cat was a Station Master

Tama, a working cat in Japan is also a tortoiseshell tabby cat.

This impressive feline was the station master for the Kishi Station on the Kishigawa Line in Kinokawa, Wakayama.

This station master even wore her own hat and neck badge to signify her position.

18. Tortoiseshell cat personality varies

The tortoiseshell cat personality is quite varied and linked to the breed of the cat.

However, many people claim that the tortie has its own unique personality that is a bit on the demanding side.

For this reason, the personality is sometimes referred to as “tortitude.”

19. But there could be such a thing as a Tortie attitude!

Tortitude may actually be a real thing, according to a study conducted by the University of California, Davis.

black tortoiseshell cat names

According to the study, tortoiseshell and calico cat owners described their cats as stubborn and strong-willed in the vast majority of cases.

20. Tortoiseshells could be energetic

High energy levels may be associated with tortoiseshell cat behavior or tortitude. So, make sure that you have plenty of toys around to keep your feline active and happy.

21. The Tortoiseshell word could come from turtles, not tortoises…

Some people are confused by the term tortoiseshell, since the shell of a tortoise is often a dark brown or green color, with little color variation.

However, the hawksbill sea turtle shell is much more varied with tones of brown and orange.

These turtle shells are used to create tortoiseshell jewelry, and this is where the term comes from when referring to tortoiseshell hair color.

22. Mitt brushes are great for long haired Torties

Mitt brushes or grooming gloves are often suggested for a feisty long haired tortoiseshell cat.

These gloves can help you to brush your feline with gentle strokes, and he will not even know the difference.

23. A Tortoiseshell tabby is called a Torbie

A gray tortoiseshell cat or a tortoiseshell tabby cat (called a torbie) can sometimes have a unique color pattern called mackerel.

This unique name refers to the narrow and solid stripes that run vertically down the body of a tabby.

it makes the feline look like a tiger cat, but the term mackerel suggests the appearance of a fish skeleton.

So, if you see this sort of pattern on a tortie, then you have a mackerel torbie.

24. Tortoiseshell colors are genetic

If you want a specific tortoiseshell pattern, then you can breed for the pattern and color.

orange tortoiseshell cat names

Color combinations do depend on genetics, and they are not guaranteed, but you are much more like to see a tortoiseshell kitten if you breed with a tortoiseshell mother.

Black and red males increase the chances.

Red males will often produce felines with more of a red color, while black ones will often produce a black tortoiseshell cat.

25. Some Tortoiseshell cats appear to be one color

Some tortoiseshell cats look solid in color, even if the mother is a tortie. If you cannot tell what is a tortoiseshell cat, then inspect the back of your cat to look for hair color variation.

There are more hair follicles on the back of a feline than anywhere else, so it may be easier to see bits of orange, black, or white in this area.

26. Muted Tortoiseshells can be described as brindle

Felines, like the muted tortoiseshell cat, are sometimes referred to as brindle. Brindle is a brown, tawny, or a light hair color with streaks of other colors mixed in.

Since brindle is most often used to describe the color of a dog, tortoiseshell is a more apt description.

However, you might want to use the term brindle to describe the pattern of the different colors in your tortoiseshell.

27. Breed has more influence on personality than the Tortie color

If you are looking for a specific tortoiseshell cat personality, then investigate the different cat breeds.

For example, Ragdoll, Persian, and Siamese cats are typically quite affectionate.

You can then ask a breeder to let you know when a kitten is born with the distinct tortoiseshell coloring.

28. There is a Tortoiseshell butterfly!

The term tortoiseshell is not only used to describe jewelry and felines.

There is actually a tortoiseshell butterfly as well.

The Aglais urticae is called the small tortoiseshell and features orange and black wings with yellow and black stripes on the top.

A small bit or white is also seen on the tips of the wings.

29. Tortoiseshell cats can inspire amazing names

Tortoiseshell cats often have unique names like Isis, Nubia, or Nefertiti.

tortoiseshell kitten names

These traditional Egyptian names are perfect for the cats, because tortoiseshells can be traced back to the Egyptians.


Tortoiseshell cats are one of the most beautiful patterns around, and are simply wonderful cats!

Tortoiseshell Cats

Tortoiseshell cats are unique felines with brilliant color patterns, unique personalities, and a rich history.

If you are looking for that unique kitty in your life with a bit of attitude (or “tortitude”), then go ahead and find a tortie at your local animal shelter or breeder.

Do you have a tortie of your own that you love, or do you have a feline with a unique tortoiseshell color pattern? Let us know in the comments below.

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