This page includes tortie facts, tortie folklore, and links to some tortie sites I've found on the web. If you have anything to add to any section of this page, please email me!
Did you know that ...
- A tortoiseshell is a cat whose coloring is a flecked mixture of either black and red (sometimes with bits of white), or blue and cream (diluted black and red).
- The difference between a tortie and a calico is the pattern; torties have small flecks of colors mixed together, while calicos have large blocks and usually a large amount of white.
- Torties are almost always female. This is because the genes for color reside on the X chromosome, so for a cat to have multiple colors (i.e., black and orange), they must have two X chromosomes, therefore making them female. The few male torties are technically genetically defective and are sterile.
- Tortoiseshell is not a breed; it is a coloring. There are torties of virtually every breed of cat, both long- and short-haired.
- Torties almost always have copper or yellow eyes. (Except kittens, of course, like the one featured in this layout!)
- People often talk about the "tortie temperament," which says that torties tend to be very nervous and jumpy, sometimes have an 'attitude,' (commonly referred to as "tortietude")and are prone to hyperactivity. They are also very sweet and loving when calm, but are easily riled up and very high strung.
Torties have made their mark in history and folklore:
- The Celts believed that a tortoiseshell cat was good luck in a home. The English believed that torties could remove warts if you rubbed their tail on the wart during the month of May.
- In Scotland and Ireland, a stray tortoiseshell cat settling in one's home is a good omen.
- To dream of a tortoiseshell cat means luck in love.
- In Normandy, seeing a tortoiseshell cat foretold death by accident.
- Edgar Allen Poe was devoted to his tortoiseshell Catarina. She inspired his story "The Black Cat". She sat with his wife during her illness and frequently sat on his shoulder when he wrote. (Thanks, Mike, for submitting this tidbit!)