10 Things You Didn’t Know About the Tortoiseshell Cat

Tortoiseshell Cat 2

Cats are one of the most popular and rewarding animals to have as a pet. Thousands of households around the world are happier and more loving because of a feline family member. Cats are known for having great personalities, which can range from devoted and playful to independent and standoffish. However, cats are also sought out as pets because they are beautiful animals.

There are many different breeds and colors of cats. One type of coloring is known as tortoiseshell, and cats with this type of coat are known as Tortoiseshell Cats. This is because the combination of colors in the coat resembles a tortoise shell. It is important to note that Tortoiseshell Cats are not a breed; the name refers only to the coloring of the cat’s hair.

These cats are found all over the world. Therefore, many people own Tortoiseshell Cats or know someone who does. However, there are several very interesting facts about these cats that most people are unaware of. The uniqueness of these cats extends far beyond their color. Many people do not know just how unique and special a Tortoiseshell Cat truly is. Here are ten of the most interesting facts about this particular type of cat.

10. There is more than one type of Tortoiseshell coat

While the colors of a Tortoiseshell Cat are typically described as a mixture of red and black, there are many variations that can occur. The red coloring can instead be orange or yellow. The black hair can be chocolate, blue, or tabby. This results in many unique and gorgeous coats that can all be classified as Tortoiseshell.

9. Their coats can have different patterns

Not only can the colors of the Tortoiseshell Cats vary between each individual cat, but the patterns of the colors can as well. In general, there are two main patterns: brindled and patched. Brindled patters give a more fluid appearance, as the colors are woven together. Patched patterns feature solid patches of the black or red hair. This also contributes to the beauty and diversity of the Tortoiseshell Cats.

8. Many breeds can have Tortoiseshell Cats

As stated above, tortoiseshell is not a breed. It simply refers to a uniquely-colored coat. As such, Tortoiseshell Cats can come in just about any size, and can be long or short haired. Breeds such as the Cornish Rex and Japanese Bobtail, among others, are known to frequently produce tortoiseshell coats.

The fact that this coloring can occur in many different breeds means that these cats can be found all over the world.

Tortoiseshell Cat 1

7. Many cultures feature Tortoiseshell Cats in their folklore

As these cats are present in many countries around the world, they are often mentioned in folklore. In Southeast Asia, it was believed in the past that the first Tortoiseshell Cat was created from the blood of a young goddess. In England, people believed that rubbing the tail of these cats could cure warts. Japanese fishermen used to bring these cats on their boats, as they believed it would provide them protection against ghosts.

6. They are believed to be good luck

Even today, these cats are prominent figures for the superstitious. Many people believe Tortoiseshell Cats to be good luck. In the United States, they are even referred to as “money cats.” Clearly, these cats have a much more important role in the lives of some owners than just being a pet.

5. They go by different names

The Tortoiseshell Cat has also been given several nicknames, depending on the location and particular color. For short, they are often known as “torties.” As well, for the type of Tortoiseshell Cat with tabby coloring, they are called “torbies.”

One unique type of tortoiseshell coloring is when there is also white hair. While a true tortoiseshell coloring is nearly entirely red and black, some cats have this coloring mixed with spots or patches of white. These cats are known as calico cats, or tortoiseshell-and-white.

Tortoiseshell Cat 3

4. There are famous Tortoiseshell Cats

One calico cat achieved worldwide fame for its occupation as the Station Master at a railway station in Japan. Tama was officially given the Station Master title in 2007 and was paid in cat food.

Her presence at the station helped to boost its popularity, which greatly contributed to the local economy. She was a much-beloved and celebrated feature of the station until her passing in 2015.

3. They are very active

Tortoiseshell Cats are not only defined by their color; they are also known as extremely energetic cats. With an abundance of energy, these playful cats are known to run and jump around the house. If considering the purchase of a Tortoiseshell Cat, it is important to ensure that the house is safe beforehand. As well, it can be dangerous for children to carry the cat, especially while still young, because it may jump free and hurt itself on hardwood or tile floors.

2. “Tortitude”

In addition to their high energy levels, many people have stated that these cats have much stronger personalities than other cats. Their demanding nature has led to the term “tortitude.” However, many owners have argued that the personality simply depends on the cat.

1. They are almost exclusively female

Approximately only 1 in 3000 Tortoiseshell Cats are male. The staggering prevalence of female Tortoiseshell Cats is due to genetics. The orange hair gene is passed along through the female chromosome (the X chromosome). With two X chromosomes, one is “inactivated” in every cell. This can result in both orange and another color being present. For male cats, with XY chromosomes, there is no inactivation. This results in the cat being either entirely orange or completely non-orange.

In rare cases, the male cat can have XXY chromosomes, which can result in the tortoiseshell coloring.


Cats come in a wide variety of breeds, colors, and personalities. One of the most unique types is the Tortoiseshell Cat. With a mixture of red and black hair, or variations of these, Tortoiseshell Cats bring beauty and companionship to families all around the world.

Although not scientifically proven, many people have noted that these cats have a particularly strong and stubborn personality. They have also been important figures in the folklore of many countries. These cats are important not just as pets, but also because they are genetically interesting, important superstitions, and present in many different countries.

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