You’ve heard the name…you’ve heard the rumors. So, what is a tortie, anyway? And what’s with the tortitude that comes along with it?
A ‘tortie,’ or ‘tortoiseshell’ cat is a feline with a particular coat pattern, not a particular breed of cat. Tortoiseshell markings combine black, orange and brown in patterns that range from brindled (a speckled pattern) to large patches of color. Dilute, or pastel torties, have lighter markings of grey and pale orange.
Wait a minute…how is a tortie different from a calico?
Torties often do not have have white fur. When they do, it is in small amounts on their paws, belly or chest. Calicos are MOSTLY white, and their black and orange markings appear as distinct patches.
Okay, now let’s hear about ‘tortitude’
‘Tortitude’ is the personality that comes along with a tortie – and torties have lots of it! Some tortie lovers describe their kitties as naughty…some would go as far as ‘spitfire.’ In fact, it is common for a tortie to rule the roost! But just like all kitties, torties can be friends with other pets – dogs and other cats – as long as they are properly introduced.
Torties also tend to bond very intensely with 1 chosen human in her household, meaning, SHE will choose the human. That relationship will be a passionate love affair that lasts her lifetime.
Why do you keep saying ‘she?’ Are you guys sexist?
Yes, we’re sexist. But it’s for good reason: torties are almost always female. Female cats, just like female humans, have two X genes; male cats have one X and one Y. Only the X gene can carry the trait for orange coloring, which can be dominant or recessive.
This O gene is special: when a dominant O is combined with a recessive O, it results in a tortie (or a calico). And since only females have two X genes, only females can have two O genes! (In very, very rare instances a male cat has an extra X gene that gives him the necessary second O. Because this is a genetic anomoly, these cats are sterile.)
Enough with the biology lesson! Where can someone find a tortie?
Torties can be found with animal rescues like Much Love, and at your local animal shelter. This cat is very special, but you don’t have to go to a pet store or a breeder to adopt one!