A tortoiseshell cat sleeping and relaxing.
A tortoiseshell cat sleeping and relaxing. Photography ©piranka | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

7 Fascinating Facts About Tortoiseshell Cats

Are most tortoiseshell cats truly female? And where did the name tortoiseshell come from in the first place? Is ‘tortitude’ a real thing for tortie cats?
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What could former president of the United States Ronald Reagan and actress Lea Michele possibly have in common? They both added stray tortoiseshell cats to their families! President Reagan kept his two tortoiseshell cats, Cleo and Sara, at his California vacation ranch. It’s reported that Michele found her tortoiseshell cat, Sheila, on a Paramount studio lot. That’s the power of the “tortie” — one of the nicknames for tortoiseshell cats. So, what exactly are tortoiseshell cats, and what’s so special about tortoiseshell cats? Let’s find out!

A close up of a tortoiseshell cat.
Tortoiseshell does not refer to a cat breed. Photography ©Justin Davis | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

1. Tortoiseshell cats are not a breed of cat.

Tortoiseshell cats have a combination of two colors, usually black and red. There are variations of the black and red, too — black can be diluted variants of brown or grey and the red can be diluted to cream, gold or orange. Torties are called tortoiseshell because the coloring of their coats looks like tortoiseshell.

Tortoiseshell was a highly prized material used in manufacturing everything from jewelry to furniture until 1973. CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) banned the use of real tortoiseshell worldwide at that time since turtle and tortoise populations were being decimated. Synthetic tortoiseshell is still popular. “What does that have to do with cats?” … you may be wondering. Well, the color combination is rarer than most coat cat colorings.

2. Tortoiseshell cats are predominantly female; it’s in the genes.

The chromosome linked to coloring in cats is the X chromosome. Females have two X chromosomes, carrying the orange and black codes. Males have a tiny percent chance of displaying orange coat color. And to further confound things, female cat heterozygous display a combination of orange and black, aka tortoiseshell.

3. Piebald is not a reference to a hairless dessert.

While tortoiseshell cats are two colors, if white is present, the cat is now considered piebald. But you probably know them as “calico cats.” Although, outside the United States, this term is not popular.

Sephora and Diane Iannoccone.
Sephora shows off her tortitude with shelter volunteer Diane Iannoccone. Photography by Denise LeBeau.

4. What about tortoiseshell cats and the much ballyhooed “tortitude?”

In an article on tortoiseshell cat personality, Maeve Conner gleans some insights from cat behavior expert and star of Animal Planet’s My Cat From Hell, Jackson Galaxy. “Galaxy says he has not found tortoiseshell cats to be feistier than average, but he does believe they tend to be ‘more sensitive to the stimulus around them.’”

I’ve seen some real chutzpah from tortoiseshell cats. At my local shelter, North Fork Animal Welfare League, the cats live in cage-free enclosures, with a large population of all kinds of felines. Volunteer Diane Iannoccone spends almost every free moment at the shelter socializing cats. Many of the cats are scared when they first enter the facility. One cat named Sephora caught Diane’s eye. Sephora is a young tortoiseshell cat who was shy at first. Diane went out of her way to help the kitty come out of her, um, shell!

After two weeks, Sephora wasn’t only feeling more acclimated, but made sure she was the queen of the hill. She beat out dozens of other cats to proudly perch on Diane’s lap. And, happily, Sephora got adopted into a loving home shortly thereafter. It could have been her “Meow First” personality that won her that coveted spot. While this could help prove that tortitude is true — is there any science behind it?

Tortoiseshell cats are known for having tortitude.
Is tortitude in tortoiseshell cats really a thing? Photography ©piranka | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

5. The tortitude heard around the world!

In 2016, articles touting tortitude spread faster than unchecked fleas in a cattery. Reputable publications such as the Sacramento Bee and the Seattle Times were sharing the results of a study released by University of California, Davis. The study, from a behavior expert at the highly respected UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, was originally published in the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science. While the headlines were purporting “tortitude,” the reality is, “Researchers found no significant variations in aggression level associated with coat color at vets’ offices, despite common attitudes among veterinarians, technicians and shelter workers that some coat colors reflect cats with more peppery personalities.”

6. So, what are torbies?

Tortoiseshell coat coloring can mix it up in stunning ways when combined with tabby patterns. Yep, these types of tortoiseshell cats are called torbies.

A tortoiseshell cat getting or taking a treat.
Some myths and legends surround tortoiseshell cats. Photography ©piranka | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

7. Tortoiseshell cats are legendary!  

Cat expert and publisher of The Conscious Cat, Ingrid King, finds tortoiseshell cats so fascinating that she wrote a whole book about them. Tortitude: The BIG Book of Cats with a BIG Attitude features interesting tidbits. Ancient Celts believed it was good luck if a male tortoiseshell cat stayed in their home (with about 1 in 3,000 tortoiseshell cats being male, that’s some luck!). Japanese fishermen believed the males protected their ships from ghosts (again with the males!). It’s said that tortoiseshell cats bring money, have psychic abilities and see into the future. And if you dream about one, you’ll soon be in love (most likely with a tortie!).

Thumbnail: Photography ©piranka | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

This piece was originally published in 2018.

Read Next: The Fascinating Facts Behind Cat Colors

130 thoughts on “7 Fascinating Facts About Tortoiseshell Cats”

  1. Our “tortie” travelled 250 Km under the bonnet of a Nissan Quasqai and stayed there for over 60 hours! She really wanted to live with us! We called her Nissan. We brought her sister also a tortie (Hippy) to live with her and they have great fun together. Lovely cats!

  2. Kelley Crawford

    My little Tortie, Myrna, is super sweet, very vocal and definitely has torti-tude!
    She only does what she wants, when she wants.

  3. Dean Schoeppler

    My torby female was named Pumpkin by my kids. We adopted her from the shelter when she was a month old and has very unusual markings including stripes, leopard spots, and solid patches in white, orange. black and grey.
    She is very dog like as she is very bonded to humans and loves to play fetch with her toys.
    Also likes to rest by my face and lets me rub her paws and tummy.

    1. Elizabeth L Bobo

      My tortie is also called Pumpkin but we call her punkin! So loving but also feisty. We found her under the restaurant i worked at!! Everything you said about your cat is true of mine! Very dog like as well!!

  4. I have a tortie and her tabby calico mother. Her mother is the sweetest, most loving cat I’ve ever had But the tortie (Minx) is a real spit-fire. That’s how she got her name, Minx. Even at 13 years old, she has ‘tortitude’ coming out the whazoo!! I have a Boston Terrier mix who weighs about 30 pounds and Minx can just look at that dog and the dog will go to another room, anywhere to get away from the cat who is less than a quarter her size!! She’s a talker which seems to be a trait of torties. She’s also very demanding when SHE wants to be petted but it has to be on HER terms. If you try to pet here when she doesn’t want to be petted, you’d better have band-aids close by. She will bite you to let you know to leave her alone. Minx is just one in a long line of torties that I have had in the 50 plus years I’ve had cats. And every one of them had ‘tortietude’. The ‘experts’ can say that tortitude is not a real thing but with all the torties that I’ve had, it is a VERY real thing.

    1. Elizabeth Fischer

      Sounds so much like my tortie who is often aloof, and accepts affection only on her terms. She is often swishing her tail, and the only cat in my decades of cat guardianship who sleeps in the living room at night. She’s pretty hyper and anxious, although she did not show that when she climbed into my lap at the shelter. I was the first person to see her, and she was determined that the first person to show up would get her out of there. And l did. The irony? I am a professional cat sitter!

      1. Elizabeth Fischer

        Wow! Looks like I can’t edit my own post! What I didn’t say: my kitty never wakes me – no matter what weird time I am sleeping. She never scratches anything intentionally other than her post – and her favorite thing to do is to jump on my lap when I’m on the toilet – even in the middle of the night! Which is pretty funny!

    2. I have a tortie that weighs roughly 12 pounds. She’s lived with my wife since she was a kitten – the size they are when old enough to be on their own, she could literally fit on my wife’s palm when she was adopted (which is a weird story on it’s own, but not important) in 2000. My wife lived in L.A. at the time and moved to where we live now mid ’06. We moved in together mid ’07.

      I have two dogs that are mutts – a Border Collie mix we adopted in ’08 and anAustralian Cattle Dog mix we adopted about 18 months later.

      The cat was OK with the BoCo because he was quite underweight when we got him (less than 30 pounds) so he didn’t really pay attention to her and was all about food. He’d lay on the couch while she’d sit on the top of it and look out the window. They weren’t friends, but the dog was oblivious and the cat tolerated him. He’s at the right weight now (about 50 pounds) but they’re still on ok terms.

      Then we got the ACD. He’s big (60 pounds), pure muscle (he jumps UP our 6′ retaining wall so he doesn’t have to go around), and very, very, very projective – from anything the size of baby rabbits to my parents. For the 6 First 6 months or so he lived here, he’d see the cat as something to protect us from. One day she’d had enough. Our 12 pound cat beat the crap out of our 60 pound dog. He was literally bloody, we had to staunch his wounds and used neosporin to help him heal. Since then, he always stays at least two rooms away from the cat, and lays down when she’s anywhere close so she knows he’s not adopting a threatening posture. It is, in a word, hilarious to see this extraordinarily athletic dog avoid our chubby 12 pound cat. He 100% deserved it, but it’s still funny.

      Point is, I can easily imagine your 30 pound Boston Terrier wanting nothing to do with Minx. ????

  5. Domino’s mother was a feral Tortie and his father was a Siamese. Domino has the physical, emotional and personality traits of his father. His physical markings are seal points with the crossed blue eyes. He could sense the cancer in my husband and the fact my husband was dying. Domino didn’t want to be in the same bed with my husband as he was dying but he did want to sit in a chair next to the bed. Upon my husband’s death, Domino grieved by wanting to be alone, uncharacteristic of a predominately Siamese. Domino has now accepted the fact that his human daddy isn’t coming back and has started sleeping in the bed with me again. Domino has returned to sleeping on the sofa next to me when I watch TV. Domino’s appetite has returned to normal.

  6. My husband and I had one tortie among the dozen-and-a-half cats we’ve had over many years (we have six currently). She was a whiner, there’s no other way to say it. We gave her good care and attention, ust as our other cats; but no matter. She would meow for no discernible reason. A LOT. And her voice always sounded like she was complaining. She did exude that “don’t mess with me” attitude. She just did her thing, with or without us and the other cats. However, one of the adult male tabbies absolutely loved her. He came to related to her as if she were his mother. He was clearly heartbroken when she died, and sat by her body (like his own private wake) for a long time.

  7. We have a torbie cat. She’s more like a dog. We call her “cat dog.” She is also more hyper than the other cat, same litter, who is pure white a few black spots. Our torbie female is also very vocal. Always meowing, playing. She also responds to catnip, while the other one does not. She also prefers to sleep on our pillows, above our heads and constantly wakes us up and licks our faces. Her brother (or half bro, since we heard her mom was a tramp) is nothing like her. He’s super mellow, we call him lard A@@ cuz he’s always larding around. So sweet both of them. She, the torbie, is also the hunter, while her lazy bro watches her and yawns.

  8. My little miss tortie is very out going. She likes her harness and leash. And will sit next to me on the porch as we watch the morning unfold. She is an inside cat and will not set one paw outside till she has her harness on. Door open and all she just stands in the doorway. She is very adamit about her soft food in the morning and if she doesn’t get it she follows me EVERYWHERE till I give it to her. She’s very affectionate and intuitive. I have a teen who suffers from severe depression and when he is upset our sad she will sit on his back and purr to comfort him. . we love our little miss princess…

  9. I adore my tortie. As others say, sleeps with me every night, cuddled close, purrs, snores and talks in her sleep. She is indoor/outdoor. She startles easily and is only social with me, but will roll around for others. She follows me everywhere…in middle of night to the bathroom to sit and watch me, and once while visiting a neighbor, she walked into my neighbor’s living room looking for me.
    One thing I haven’t seen mentioned that I think is remarkable is her fur.
    It is soooo soft. Like Mink!! All the torties I have known have this mink fur. A friend even named her tortie Minky.

  10. I’m a little confused now..I have several cats that are black and gray tabby markings but have swirls instead of stripes on their sides. And they diffidently have tortitude. They are all very vocal and want attention.
    Are they torties or torbies or what? I have at least 3 males and 3 or 4 females in my feral colony.

  11. I had a tortie many years ago when I was married to my ex-wife. She and her 4 kittens were living under a school building. The kids would hang around and play with the kittens. School was going to start in a few days and one of the teachers told the kids that if the cats were still there they would call animal control. So we caught the mom cat and kittens and took them to a pet store that frequently had kittens in their window. They gladly took the kittens but would not take the mom, so we kept her. We named her Lady and we all loved her. I had to leave her behind, but my daughter kept her when she moved out and she had a long and happy life.

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  13. I understand what you mean about the advantage of sharing a personality trait with your Cat, a trait that’s normally is considered “difficult”.

    Because I used to have a Calico and she was so independent she was “cold”, it wasn’t until her later years during her aging that she at least allowed and wanted some attention from me.
    But, that suited me fine because I am aloof and require a lot of private time, SO WE WERE GOOD PARTNERS. I miss her very much, she died of Cancer January this year 2018.

  14. I have just found out today that my 5 week torttie is male when we thought he was female. So Poppy is now Dexter. Dexter s mum is a female torttie about 18 months old, she has been a superb mum and also produced a female ginger now called Poppy. From the time the kittens were born mum had insisted that at night the kittens came upstairs with us and the dogs, in the morning they all had to come downstairs with us. She is very vocal and chats away the the kittens and the Dexter the male kitten is just as vocal back.
    I am very excited to have a male torttie and looking forward the future with these beautiful cats.

  15. I just had to put my tortie, Gia, to sleep a few days ago. I picked her out when she was 4 1/2 weeks, brought her home at 8 weeks and spent 17 wonderful years with her. She was truly a unique personality. She never stopped purring if I was near her. She was a chunky girl, 16 lbs at one point, and I would lay my head on her and she would just purr. She was always with me if I was home, especially as we got older. Gia slept with me every night, right by my side, purring. She could take up the whole bed and good luck moving her ????. She was very protective. She would wake up from a deep sleep and growl if anyone came near my door, but then she would hide under the bed if there was ever a knock ????. She was shy and standoffish with people, but once she knew you, she would stay nearby. She loved having her belly rubbed. She was the best companion and I am so greatful that I got so many years with her. She made me a tortie lover for life.

    1. Katie,
      I have a tortie, Roxy, who is exactly the same way. She sleeps on me every night, is my shadow while I am awake. Lets us know when ever someone arrives at our house. She also does the same growl thing. She will go off and hide and if she likes you she’ll come out and see you.

  16. My daughter (12) and I have several cats, all of them were rescues including the female tortoiseshell doll (named Matilda, Mattie for short) that is our most recent addition to the family. At first, she was very feral, very shy and nervous, and very standoffish. It took almost a year of hard work to get her to come out of her … um, shell, so to speak. However, with a LOT of patience and love, she has now definitely bonded to us. In fact, she comes and sleeps with me at night, curled up right beside me, purring away. Usually I am petting/loving on her as I fall asleep and more times than not, when I wake up later, she is still there beside me and usually still purring! She can be a bit stubborn, but no more than our other cats, so I’d have to say that I haven’t noticed any tortitude. But I do know that I wouldn’t trade her for the world!

  17. Ive had my tortie cat for 5 years now. Her name is gypsy and she was feral when I got her. She lived inside for 6 months until she was spayed. It took her a long time to come around but when she did, it was great. She now goes outside as she pleases and will paw at the door like a dog to be let out. She comes home from roaming my property if i whistle. She cuddles with me and will follow me if i walk around outside. She will also sit by the pool and watch me swim. She is extremely vocal too! Gypsy is my bestfriend and im glad she chose me!!

  18. I miss my little girl more than anything. Definitely something about torties tat put them in a league of their own. Initially she was a gift to my younger brother which put her in the care of my parents for her first few years. She was particularly bonded to my father. At the time he went through a few nasty operations and she never left his side while he was recovering.

    She used to do this thing when she wanted attention. She would just lazily saunter up to you, bite you on your ankle, you would jump up and scream, look down and instead of seeing an angry cat ready to pounce she’d be sitting there with big wide innocent eyes, she’d give that little friendly rub/lift cats do and you’d melt. it used to crack me up.

    She was not happy when she came to live with me. It took months for her to adjust. Understandable going from a big house and having lots of people to just me in a one bedroom. A few months in she was sleeping on my dresser and did the little stretch/roll thing cats do..and she rolled off the dresser. I caught her. Dropped into my arms like a baby, looked up at me understanding what just happened, started purring and from that point on she was my best pal.

    Torites are like models or mean girls. You have to meet their standards or else they won’t let you in.

  19. My best friend recently gave me a male torrti we namehim Chester and he is amazing so cuddly loves to be right by my neck when trying to sleep. He purrs so much and follow so me around all the time he is also very playful . He came at a perfect time as I just found out my boyfriend has tongue cancer and this kitty has been my relief of stress. I couldn’t ask for a better kitty sure wish I could upload a picture of him he is absolutely beautiful!
    Couldn’t ask for a better kitty!

    #chester is his name

  20. Catherine Davino

    My gorgeous little Tigerlily was brought home by my daughter one night while visiting her fiancee’s family. She was under a car out the front and was starving, because they gave her some bread and she was gulping it down so quickly and making strange noises! Apparently my daughter said they haven’t seen cats in the area and as she was only a kitten, they looked atound for mum but couldn’t see her anywhere! My daughter said when she brought her home..your not taking her to the RSPCA are ypu mum?? Lol I said no..I’m keeping her. Tigerlily has such a feisty possessive personality. She lovvvveeees sleeping next to me whenever I go to bed or even on the lounge while I’m watching a movie or TV.
    The younger male cat is always a bit cautious when approaching me for cuddles when she’s present!! She is so different from the other cats I have or have had in the past! Such a strong personality, loyal and loving and very
    affectionate. ..but on her terms!! Visitors love her! She is my baby girl and brings so much joy into my life!

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  22. My 4 1/2 year old tortie, Genesis reminds me more of a dog than a cat. Ive had her since about 12 wks. She follows me everywhere, and as im told, waits in the window until I come home. Then runs to the door. When she hears someone knocking, she growls, literally, and runs to the door. When I was pregnant, she would lay in my lap and put her left paw on my belly..and leave it there. As if she was so proud she was going to be a “big sister”. 2+ years later, she is incredibly tolerant to my 2 yr old daughter. She has never scratched, bitten my daughter. When she has had enough, she gets up and runs away. Not to mention, she has slept with my EVERY night.. either at the foot of my bed, or by my head. She really was my first “child”, and is INCREDIBLY loyal.

  23. 4 1/2 year old tortoiseshell female, Bushie. 5.7 lbs (on the small side) and scared of everything. Noises, people, fast movements, just about anything. Took over a month for her to trust me and 3 months to bond with my larger outgoing 5 y/o male cat. Very affectionate tho. Loves to be petted and purrs frequently. Doesn’t show much “tortitude” but a cool cat none the less.

  24. We have a gorgeous little Tortie, she wondered into the yard and right up to my son. No fear. She’s been with us for 1 1/2 years now. She’s a real hoot and keeps us laughing at her antics. She’s really a good kitty and rules the roost over our other 4 cats. 2 are huge Maine Coons. Her name Piewhacket fits her.

  25. Patricia Gursky

    My daughter acquired her torti “Coco” in a very peculiar way. Her sister-in-law had taken her dog to her veterinarian who told her that a cat had been dropped off to be spayed and declawed but was never picked up. Now, he is stuck with the cat. She told him that she knew a good person that would take the cat so the vet put the cat in a carrier and the cat was brought to my daughter. My daughter was so thrilled at her arrival and picked her up from the carrier. The cat immediately slapped my daughter’s face with both paws. Then the torti proceeded to living room and beat up on my daughter’s tabby cat. Quite shocked, my daughter intended to bring her back to the vet after the weekend. That night, the cat jumped into the bed, snuggled up and started kneading my daughter’s arm lovingly. Well, Coco never lost her tortitude but she did become very loving and extremely protective of my daughter. Coco died of old age at 20 years in 2011 but will never be forgotten.

  26. Calle is my 4 year old female tortieshell. I adopted her from a no-kill vet. After I filled out the adoption papers I found out that I was getting a $20.00 discount on her adoption because she had been adopted out 2 times before but each time the new parents brought her back because they said they could do nothing with her! The day I went in to look for a companion she decided that I was her human. I was standing with my back against the cage that she lived in and had established her Queenhood. Anyway, she wouldn’t let any of the other cats near me and she proceeded to snag my butt. It was love at first snag! I brought her home and quickly understood why she had been returned twice before. It takes a person with a very patient attitude to be able to live with a tortie. Callie is my little cat with ADD, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve read that everyone else’s torties are shy around strangers. Not my Callie, if she could have her way, she would open the door and invite anyone that happened to be around into our house. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  27. I have what judges call a Selkirk want to be Calico… long curly Dark Red, Black and white hair. I fostered her stray pregnant mom… a short haired gray and white cat with a un known father. I tried showing her in HHP as she is beautiful.. she never growled or was aggressive at the cat shows in her cage or being carried up… But she did not handle easily for the JUDGES… She twisted and talked. She wa1s hard to hold as she has shorter legs and Is stout and heavy.. she has like a Persian shape. When on the table… she talked .,. Complaining non stop and could care less about toys or being still…. She is very sensitive. She responds to voice changes.. can not raise your voice to her… She will smack another cat if she think they are where she wants to be. It is her way or no way…

  28. I had a most beautiful and intelligent tortoiseshell tabby and white long-haired Norwegian Forest cat, called Ruby. She was absolutely the love of my life, and I of hers. When I came home from work, she would greet me at the door and turn somersaults of delight. She was very feisty, always up to something, and she rarely allowed anyone else, apart from me, to pet or hold her. She loved household appliances – the blender provided endless entertainment, while she adored the vacuum cleaner and would follow me around while I was vacuuming, waiting for the final moment when the power cord magically zipped back inside the cleaner. The printer, the cuckoo clock, even the computer mouse (which she used to move around the cursor on the screen) provided endless enjoyment. Ruby was an indoor cat, but two years ago she escaped outside and I lost her in extremely tragic circumstances. She was only four years old. I have had cats all my life but she was head and shoulders above all the rest and I am still devastated by her loss.

    1. Chris, my heart breaks for your loss. Very few pets leave such an impact in your life. They will always be missed an never forgotten.

    2. Chris, I am very very sorry for your loss and whatever the horrible circumstances were. Indeed, you have my condolences.

      I myself years ago owned a Tortoiseshell Cat who I loved deeply, and I was devastated at her death because of the circumstances.

      As, regards, your Cat slipping out the door remember that has happened to some other Cat owners, we learn as we go that with Cats even more then dogs this is just so more available to happen, unfortunately we have to be extremely vigilante, BUT WE ARE NOT PERFECT, LIFE CAN PRESENT IT’s OWN UNEXPECTED CHALLENGES.

      During the time I owned my Tortie, I also owned a Dog, BUT, when he was about a year old, he slipped out the door while my mother stood talking in the open doorway. It was not until several hours later, near the end of the day, that by pure luck we discovered his location, in a neighbors house down the street.

      From your comment it appears your Cat perhaps died and if so, indeed she is in the loving arms and comfort of God. If she is lost I pray God continues to comfort and protects her from all harm.

      And that God continues to comfort and give you peace.

      Sincerely,

  29. I have a male Calico who is also a “squitten” meaning his front legs bend inward at the elbow and he has 6 toes on every foot! His name is Roo and is a brilliant Calico with black orange and white. Roo lives primarily in my bedroom on the bed. There is a large pillow on the floor for him to land on should he choose to get down. Squittens tend to land on their face and break their teeth. He is a very fussy Calico and doesn’t like any other cat sleeping on his bed or using his litter box I’ve had Roo since he was 5 days old and of course thought he was a she- until I took her to be spayed! What a surprise that was for me and the vet!!!

    1. Wow! I can understand your Calico’s objection to other Cats coming into his “space”. His legs impairment certainly requires no interference from others.

      Great that you two are together. Truly so very glad he has a loving and patient owner such as yourself.

  30. My Tripod–born without a left foreleg–was a torbie, though vets kept putting “gray tabby” on her paperwork. She definitely had tortie tude. She didn’t let anything stop her. She was very shy around strangers–especially guys–and disliked new places. She had a very loud meow, which I think guaranteed her survival (she was born feral; I got her at 6 weeks). One night I was doing homework, and she wanted to play with me. So she got her colorful ribbon on a clear plastic rod toy and brought it to me, laying it where I would see it when I looked up. And then she looked at me like, “Whenever you get a minute, Mom, I’d like to play.” Alas, I couldn’t get a break, so she rather huffily went to bed. There were a few times I missed cleaning her box, and discovered–actually caught her in the act once or twice–she pooped on the rug in front of the litter box, then tore a strip of newspaper that was under it and used that to cover her poo! “Mom, will you PLEASE clean the box?” She lived to be 19; gone 8 years and I still miss her.

    1. Wow! She was a real individual type Cat, a true pleasure to have as a companion and so smart.

      Thank you for sharing your experience and so good to here of Tortitude in a pleasant enjoyable way, I was beginning to believe the word alluded to a negative.

  31. I’m confused about what my cat is. She has that mottled tortie coloring all over her body, but has white on her chest, paws, and a little on her belly. So what does that make her? I always thought she was a tortie.

    1. I’d say your cat is “tortie And white”. The white color in cats has a different genetic origin than black and red. We can find white marking with all the other colors, but in some breeds, it’s forbbiden.

    2. I also have a kitten that is a tortie with white and long hair. She is a hand full because she keeps my blinds broke in my house. She likes my dog ok. But is very pushy with him around my husband and I. Because she sometimes want share her attention with Jayden my Pekingese he is 6 years old. And she is Jax my tortie kitten 8 months old. She was giving to us from my daughter. Jax mommy is a Calio cat. We are not sure what the dad was. But he was a large cat with long hair. And my Jax is loving but she is also 10 hand full. I sometimes want to take her back. But than her loving on you warms your heart. Anyone have any suggestions on there behavior issues?

      1. The color markings of your Cat appear she’s a Calico.

        Also, your Cat being still a Kitten is displaying her youthful behavior that will simmer down and from my Cat experience definitely after a maximum period of 2years the excess energy that stimulates her to play with the blinds will be gone.

        However, perhaps the possessiveness about you and husband may continue, because that’s also a complement with her Tortie nature (Calico’s being a derivative of Tortoiseshell Cat), but also she may begin to have an affection toward the dog as she begins to recognize him as a part of the family whom she can also relate to because he is also more within her animal domain, regardless he’s a dog.

        I also used to have a dog and my Calico who was not loving toward me, nevertheless; soon showed inclusive interest in my dog and I always thought that was because I am a human whereas a dog is closer to her animal domain.

  32. I’ve had 2 Torties and love them both. Bella was a “one-person” cat, and so is Hermia! They love me, but couldn’t care less about my husband. Both are (were – Bella has been gone for 4 years) very sensitive and loving toward me! And they definitely have a tortitude!

  33. My beautiful fluffy Tortie definitely has the “tude” at times.
    I rescued her from a terrible situation a few years a go, and she was full of tude, at that time. Now she is the most loving cat, very talkative, and full of purrs.
    She loves to tease my little dog, and loves to be chased by the dog, lol. But my dog knows she has a Tude, so she doesn’t get to close for when, and or if the claws come out, lol.
    The tortitude is the same with my other cat (rescued them both from same place). Even though they have lived together all their lives, one day they are good to each other, the next day they are not, lol.

  34. I have had a Persian chocolate Tortie for 17 years and she is the love of my life. Has never given me a days trouble- except when it comes to being brushed. She absolutely hates it. She is independent, not clingy, and smarter than the average cat. Beautiful- and was never one to jump on furniture or scratch things to shreds..She absolutely understands everything I say to her. But yes, she is stubborn! I brought home two kittens hoping she would become maternal. Ha! fat chance! She was the queen and that’s how it stays. She’s not aggressive at all- and couldn’t care less about the others! Or the dog. Her meow is very soft. She speaks to me with her gorgeous glowing yellow eyes…

    1. Margaret Sullivan

      I too have a beautiful blue, white and tortie Persian. She came from a show home and is the most affectionate girl anyone could ever own. She sleeps in my bed at night and kneads me before sleep time .She has a heart murmer , fortunately it’s low grade. I love my gentle little girl more than anything, she’s excellent with the other cats, dogs and rabbits.

  35. Kim Johnson
    I have a dilute tortie who has a white tip on her tail & some white on her stomach with some stray white hairs. Unlike the article, I don’t call her a calico as I believe that a calico has a distinct white background & my cat’s coat is a mixture of blue & cream over most of her body. I call my cat a dilute tortie & white.

  36. I have a male calico :). He is orange white and black…. His name is Patch….. He is almost 3 years old and so sweet.

  37. I have two Torties, both female and both rescues. Both are standard dark tortie color and both are full of tortitude. Neither of them like to be picked up and held but rather prefer plenty of stroking on their clock. They are both social with the other cats, like to call out loud when in the mood to play and both are pretty demanding when they want to petted. I find them to be very shy around strangers and very intelligent as well.

  38. I have had 4 tortie’s over the past 30 years. I was hooked with the first one. Such exuberant personalities. My last tortie was a stray kitten, I took in the whole family Mama and 3 babies. She was very possesive of me and very vocal. She also loved to cuddle, of course on her terms. She gave her toys to the other cats if they were sick. She lived to 16. My current tortie has siamese torti colors and blue eyes. She has the cutest personality. Loves to drag a cord on a stick toy all over the house meowing at the same time. She brings me toys daily and loves to sit on a lap or sleep with her humans, of course with her head on the pillow. Tortoies have always been perfectly delightful. Very smart and in control.

  39. I have a tortie who was a rescue. Born feral, she escaped the Shelter rescue for a few days. It was April. It was raining. When the woman who had been feeding the mom and kittens saw her again, she called the Shelter who immediately sent a volunteer, Rocco. As he was walking up the sidewalk with the trap towards the house, this kitten walked up to him on the sidewalk! She didn’t like being wet. She was brought to a no-kill shelter. I came to that shelter that day. She stared at me. I came back the next morning and adopted her. Approximately 3 months old, she immediately explored my 5 room apartment and the 6 foot cat condo, deemed it appropriate and began her rule…earning the name Cleopatra. She is decidedly the queen, excuse me, Queen! She’ll be 8 soon and has capably ruled our home, protected it and me and the 3 additional rescue cats who have joined our family. Oh, also, she speaks in full sentences…often. :)

  40. I have 3 torties (two red/brown, and one black), 4 dilute torties, one torbie, and 4 calicos. The Torties are very sensitive to stimulus. They play and rough house hard, and love to be petted (but just a little bit). They all have their areas on their bodies that are off limits for petting or touching. I love torties and calicoes (piebald) because I do find them to have very loyal have distinct personalities.

  41. My tortie loves to talk, lets me know when she is displeased and has quite an attitude but I couldn’t stand to be without her. She’s my second tortie. The first one I owned lived to 21. She could be mean but she was one of the smartest and most loving cats I ever had. Torties are awesome!

  42. My cat Stimpy is called a tortie by my vet yet she has a cream and white mark on her chest and a large white patch on her tummy. What is this combination called?

    1. My tortie has this same coloring. She’s tortie on the top but has a white belly and cream and black on her chest. My vet says these are called Torties with white and are not true calicos. They reserve the name calico for cats with large color patches all over the body. My girl behaves very much like a “tortie”. Shy with stranger and very vocal, she’s a blast.

  43. I have a chocolate tortie shell e found her as a baby kitten at the animal shelter when I first saw her she was puring I fell in love with my new fur baby . she talk’s to me letting me no she need’s something she’s pretty darn smart just love her she’s a house cat.

  44. I have a beautiful tri color tortie British Shorthair. Truly she is the most unique kitty I have ever seen. My question is this–she snores and almost talks in her sleep. The orange cat gene she has makes for her being kind of chubby. I got her a special kitty condo, for a bigger cat, and she won’t use it!! What do you recommend to get her to be a bit more active??

    1. I would try getting a long tie (I use belts off of old robes) and rub cat nip on it. I walk through the house and my cats follow it, when I stop, the romp and roll around.

    2. Put a toy in it within her reach, a toy that has enclosed in it Catnip, that hopefully will entice her attention.

  45. I have a tort female. She was a feral. I was at a cookout and I had never seen so many cats at one time. They were all feral. Halfway into my meal I feel something crawling up my leg. Its a little ball of fur I could fit in my hand. I put her down SEVERAL times. She was determined to sit on my lap. As I got ready to leave I put her down. At this point I was standing up and here she comes again. Resigned in the fact she picked me I took her home. I have 2 full grown pit bulls. I took her to the vet the next day the vet guessed her to be 4 weeks old. I got mothers helper a bottle litter box the whole 9 yards. She refused to sleep anywhere except the crook of my arm. Recently my eldest dog was very sick. She took every toy she had laid them with Lola and proceeded to sleep with her. She had been fixed a couple years ago and could no longer sleep in the crook of my arm. She than chose 2 places. The crook of my leg and above my head. I bought 2 body pillows and a fleece blanket and put it above my pillows. If I’m sick she’s there all day. My boyfriend dropped one of my antibiotics a year ago when I had bronchitis. She attacked him. I have never had the pleasure of having this type of connection with a cat. She is now 6 and impresses me every day. She brings my boyfriend a pair of socks everyday and brings me some sort of my clothing and lays it beside the bed. She gets them out of the laundry room. These cats are truly a league of their one. I’m very blessed she chose me as her human.

    Much love
    KiKat and Laura xxxxoooo

  46. I have a tortie and she is more sensitive and she does have more attitude than any cat I’ve ever seen. Her mom’s second litter produced a male bobtail tortie. He got upper respiratory infection when he was 4weeks and didn’t make it. He was the only male tortie I’ve seen in my 30 years of cats owning me.

  47. I “own” a Torttie and she is one of the most stubborn cats I’ve ever known. She’s very vocal in the mornings when she expects to be fed. She barely likes to be petted…and when SHE decides to jump onto my lap, she’ll do so..
    Not when I want her to! Of course, I’m stubborn, too, so we get along just fine! LOL!!

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