Tortoiseshell Cat Facts


Tortoiseshell Cats

All about Tortoiseshell Cats

Tortoiseshell is basically referred to the coat coloring present in female cats. The colors present on such cats are a different mix of patterns. The patterns are basically found in orange or cream, orange or chocolate or blue or black.  A typical tortoiseshell cat has brindled coats with the absence of white color on them. Cats having large amounts of red and black patches are known as Calico cats. Calico Cats are also referred to as tortoiseshell-and-white in the United Kingdom. It’s important to realize that Calico and Tortoiseshells are the same breeds of cat, however differing in the color combinations.


Calico Cats

The most striking and unique thing about Tortoiseshell cats is that they are exclusively female. The primary reason behind a cat being calico or tortoiseshell is the interaction between genetic and developmental factors. Throughout the history, the presence of a male tortoiseshell cat is rarely seen and that’s due to the result of some genetic mutation. Naturally, it’s impossible to find a male tortoiseshell cat. Tortoiseshell cats are totally independent and unpredictable and can go to any extent in order to protect their owner. The presence of a tortoiseshell cat can easily be felt as they are extremely talkative and let their presence know by the means of strong meowing or hissing. In comparison to the Tortoiseshells, Calicos are somewhat calm and not that much talkative. Calicos are also possessive about their owners, but not to the same extent as that of the Tortoiseshells. These cats have unique personalities like the ones mentioned above and this reputation for different personalities is known as “tortitude”. There is some variation in Calico cats also as some have light coloring and are known as torties. Torties have lighter shades of color present on their fur i.e. lilac or cream.

Calico and Torbie Cats

Alongside the different color combinations, the markings on the fur are not symmetrical at all and the dilution genes are the reason behind different coloring. The patterns are totally asymmetrical and sometimes tabby patterns of colors are found which are also known as “tortie-tabby” or “torbie”. Just above the nose, a split face pattern is found by virtue of which there is black color on one side and orange on the other. A tortoiseshell cat basically lacks white color, however, if a white color is found in decent amounts then the cat is known as a calico cat. Calico cats usually have several colors present on their fur; however, the most differentiating thing is the presence of a white streak on their belly. Alongside this streak of white color, calicos are famous for having loads of colors on their backs and their top side. Torbies are the complete opposite to calicos as a tabby tortoiseshell cat has black as their primary color rather than a mix of different colors. In earlier times a torbie was used to be known as a reverse tortie. However these days a tortoiseshell cat having black color as their primary color is only referred to as a tortie.

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There’s something of a great debate concerning the personalities & dispositions of tortoiseshell cats. Some swear they’re all impish, diva-like, haughty, naughty, over-the-top, and not always the brightest crayon in the box. Others attest that this just isn’t true, that merely sharing the same coloring doesn’t make all torties have the same personalities.

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The most striking thing about tortoiseshell cats is their difference in personality as compared to rest of the cats. This difference in personality is commonly referred to as “tortitude”. Like most of the cats tortoiseshell cats are short tempered and totally independent, however, they have a very contrasting behavior of being strong-willed and extremely possessive of their masters as compared to rest of the cats. A tortoiseshell cat is extremely vocal about the things they require and they let their needs know by meowing loudly. Similar traits are also found in calico cats and torbies; however, they don’t inhibit the same traits to such an extent.


Tortoiseshell Cat In Folklore

Tortoiseshell cats are not only different in their color combinations and patterns but are also regarded quite highly in comparison to rest of the cats. They are believed to bring good luck in folklore and are known by different names in different cultures. They are also referred to as Money Cats in the western world, while in Japan they are called as Maneki Nego. Not only they are regarded quite highly, but in the eastern world they are also considered sacred and are treated with utmost respect.

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My Name is Tortie!

Tortoiseshell cats (also called tri-color or tortie) are often confused with calico cats. The confusion is understandable. Calico cats are mostly white with black and bright orange spots. Tortie cats have the same colors, but very little or no white on them at all. The white fur on torties is usually seen on their paws, belly, and chest. Their brown, black, and orange colorings also blend together more than those of calicoes, giving torties a mottled appearance.

It’s also important to note that torties and calicoes are not breeds; they are just special colorings found in a number of breeds.


My Experience with a Tortie

I remember the first time I laid eyes on Cooper, and it was love at first sight. Well, on my end, anyway. She didn’t seem too pleased at the sight of anyone she didn’t know.

We got her when she was five months old from a pregnant woman in Midtown. My beautiful orange tabby, Surya, had just died suddenly of heartworms, and I was heartbroken. I needed a new friend. We took her home, and she was so scared that she wouldn’t come out of the cat taxi. We finally got her out, and she ran to a corner and stayed there all night, hissing if you walked within ten feet of her. The next morning, I found her in the bathroom sink, looking up at me, meowing. She loved me! From then on, she was absolutely fine. She played with us, let us pet her, and even slept under the covers with me. It took me a week to name her, but I finally settled on Cooper, named for my dream car. It turned out to be the perfect name for her: she’s cute, tiny, and fast, with lots of spunk.

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I have to admit she does have a bit of tortitude, but it doesn’t help that I spoil her. She can be very bi-polar at times. One minute she’s purring as you pet her; the next minute she’s biting your hand for no apparent reason. Even at five years old, she still acts like a playful kitten. She has a foot fetish; she bites & claws at toes and sleeps on & plays with shoes. Cooper’s also my own personal alarm clock. Here are just a few of the tactics she uses to wake me: scratching my head, biting my toes, meowing like there’s no tomorrow, and staring into my soul.

But she’s also the most loving cat I’ve ever had. She’s my little shadow, following me everywhere. She’s there when I wake up, and there when I go to bed. And she’s always there to keep my legs warm while I type, and of course to help me cook dinner.


The great thing about having a tortoiseshell cat is that you can be very creative about a name for it. Also, you can name it depending on the color and pattern of its coat. The names won’t change a great deal whether they are male or female since they are all cute in the same way. Also characteristics of Tortoiseshell and Calcio cats, they have many colors so naming them appropriately is important. After they are an adorable creature.

For your ease, we have compiled a list of 20 great ideas for tortoiseshell cat names. So you can either use the suggestions given below or you can hope to come up with something even cuter and appropriate for your cat!

Tortoiseshell Cat Names

Here are some great ideas that you could use to name your tortoiseshell cat:

  1. Truffles
  2. Tobacco
  3. Cloudy Tiger
  4. Tortie
  5. Mocha
  6. Latte
  7. Nutmeg
  8. Cinnamon
  9. Chocolate
  10. Marble
  11. Esmerelda
  12. Isis
  13. Cerise
  14. Sabrina
  15. Natasha
  16. Marmalade
  17. Natalia
  18. Callisto
  19. Cameo
  20. Amber

Good luck, do let us know what ideas you come up with to name your tortoiseshell cat.


So what do you say?

(If you have a story to tell about your experience with torties, share it here.)

Do all torties have “tortitude”?


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