Interesting Astonishing Facts about Tortoiseshell Cats

Tortoiseshell cats are amazing companions; they are known for their beautiful colors, unique characteristics, and lovable personalities. They got their name from their bi-colored coats that resemble a tortoiseshell.


tortoiseshell cats
Lilly the family long haired tortoiseshell cat as a kitten

They are like human in many ways. They tend to get jealous if they see you cuddling other pets. That is perhaps why we bond so well with our Feline pals; they remind us of ourselves in a certain way. Are you are thinking of getting a cat and maybe wondering if a tortoiseshell cat is a good choice? Well, believe me, your life will full of fun if you choose tortoiseshell cats as your pets..

It is their patterns that attract so many potential owners. They come in many different colors and pattern; these cute cats have a lot of personalities, that you might find it as the right choice if you are not looking for a specific purebred breed, but instead want a unique kitty to share your life. In fact, there are many interesting things to know about these cats that I have compiled the following list; and hope these interesting facts will help you make the right choice.

13 Facts about Tortoiseshell Cats

1. Tortoiseshell is not a breed:

The unique characteristic of this cat is the patterned coat, not the breed. A tortoiseshell breed does not really exist. But, many breeds can display tortoiseshell markings, like American shorthair, Cornish Rex, British shorthair, Maine Coons, and Persian, and many others. While their coats are usually ginger and black, tortoiseshell can also have a hint of gold, cream, or orange. Their coat colors are either “bridled” or “patched”, which means the colors form big patches throughout the body.

2. The origin of its name:

These cats are not a particular breed and they are named after their distinct multicolor coat. The main color of tortoiseshell cats is black, red and orange fur mixed with brown. Also, there are diluted tortoiseshell with a less intense color because of genetics and even tan tortoiseshell with a much darker coat. Tortoiseshell cats belong to a variety of breeds. And both mixed and purebred’s breeds can produce a tortoiseshell coat with either short-haired or long-haired turtle.

3. Their Fur’s Intricacy:

In addition to their coat’s that must have special colors and be classified as chimera or mosaic, the tortoiseshell coat can also be classified as patched or bridled. If the tortoiseshell colors coat seems to be plaited together, it’s bridled. However if the colors appear in large part of the cat body, then it’s patched.

4. They are predominantly female;

It’s in the genes: The chromosome related to coloring in cats is the X chromosome. Female tortoiseshells have two X chromosomes that carry the black and orange codes. The male is very unlikely to display the orange coat color. To complicate things further, female feline heterozygous exhibit a mixture of orange and black, are also known as tortoiseshell.

5. Tortoiseshells have long Lifespan:

Since tortoiseshell cats belong to different breeds (and these may vary from one cat to another), their weight and lifespan vary. One of the oldest tortoiseshell cats was named Marzipan, lived to be 21 years old. Marzipan arrived as a kitten at the Astor Theater in Melbourne, Australia, where she became a favorite fixture. Her passing in 2013 from a “long illness” saddened Aussies.

6. Male Tortoiseshell cats are usually sterile:

The male tortoiseshell comes with XXY chromosomes, and are quite healthy in many ways. They can live a healthy and long life. But, the male tortoiseshell is sterile because of the abnormal pattern and number of genes in the cellular DNA. About 1 in 3000 male cats have this condition and their cells can undergo similar X-inactivation process as the female. XXY males are always sterile and are very rare.

7. Some Believe That Tortoiseshells are Mystical:

Tortoiseshells cats are not only considered as a good luck charm, but the Japanese culture also believes that they can ward off ghosts and evil spirits. In fact, the Japanese sometimes kept these cats on their boats to protect themselves while on the water. There is a long history of these cats being mentioned in folklore!

8. Tortoiseshell colors are genetic:

If you want a particular color and pattern of tortoiseshell, you can breed for that color and pattern. Their color combinations depending on their genetics. Although not 100 percent guaranteed, you are more likely to see a tortoiseshell kitten if breed with a tortoiseshell mother.

tortoiseshell cats

9. Tortoiseshell cat has a bad attitude:

It is believed that they have a bad attitude. This may have led to Japanese myths that tortoiseshell hunt ghosts. Nobody wants to believe that their feline pal is yowling and hissing at them, therefore they imagine that their cat annoying behavior is to scare away ghost. Tortoiseshells have been described as capricious, frisky and stubbornly independent. This may be one reason they don’t get on well with another male tomcat.

10. The Tortoiseshell Goddess:

There is a belief by some people in Southeast Asia that the first tortoiseshell had a divine origin. That she came from the blood of a goddess born of a lotus flower. This is one of the favorite stories about the origins of tortoiseshell cats.

11. White Tortoiseshells are Maryland’s official cat:

Yes! The white tortoiseshell or the calico cat is Maryland’s official cat. The cat became an official state cat on October 1, 2001. The cats share the same color pattern as the official bird of the state, oriole. Thus the Calico was the apparent choice.

12. Many see Tortoiseshells as a Love Charm:

Another myth about Tortoiseshells cats is that if you have a dream about tortoiseshell cat, you are predestined to be fortunate in love. Who knows? Perhaps it will work if you try!

13. Tortoiseshells can see the future:

One of the myths and my last in the list is the idea that tortoiseshells are able to see the future. Even better, they can transfer this gift to a child in the family. Although most of these myths may not be true, we don’t mind because we love our tortoiseshell cats.



Your Feedback Matters to me!!! I can’t answer if you don’t ask!! Any Questions?? Use the comments section below and I will respond.


Author: James Kelly

James Kelly is a network marketer and blogger who earns a living from affiliate programs and blogs 


23 thoughts on “Interesting Astonishing Facts about Tortoiseshell Cats”

  1. Hello Mr. Kelly,
    I hope you are well. You certainly know a great deal about Cats. Are the Cats on the website your personal Cats or are they images from the Web? The reason I asked is because if they are your Cats, then their images are a great testimony to how well you know how to take care of Cats because they appear to be very happy and content. I love all animals but, if I ever owned a Cat, now I know where to look to know how to take the best care of him/her. Thank you for all the research and work you have done. Great Job!

    1. Hi Deatrice,

      Many thanks for those kind comments. In answer to your question many of the pictures on my website are from cats that my wife and I have owned over the years as well as those that my adult children have in their homes. We are all cat lovers in my family!


  2. Informative post!
    I have always liked the tortoiseshell cat colors and I learned a lot about these cats from this post.
    Is Maryland the only state with an official state cat?
    I am curious if other state’s have a state cat or if this was only in Maryland.
    I have had a couple cats growing up that lived to 14 and 17 years old. The tortoiseshell cats seem to be able to live particularly long for cats.
    Thanks for sharing this information!

    1. Hi Jesse,

      Thanks for those comments. As far as I am aware the State of Maine also has a State cat with the Maine Coon. Great to hear that you had some of your cats living to the lifespan you mentioned. You obviously did a good job in looking after them!

      Best regards.


  3. You posted a lot of information about Tortoise Shell Cats that I have never heard before. Now that helps to explain my friend’s cat’s behavior! I always wondered why she hissed so much! And yes she does seem to have a bad attitude! She doesn’t get along well with the family pet dog, either.
    Thanks for the information.

    1. Hi Carolyn,

      These cats don’t usually like competition in a household from another pet. My daughter’s tortoise shell cat only has to see a neighbor’s cat passing by outside their house or in their garden to become temporarily mentally deranged!


  4. Great post and lots of information on the tortoise shell cats. My dads cat was a stray cat that kept on turning up at his door and in the end he took her in. She is just a spitting image of the tortoise shell cat so maybe she is of this kind. We are not sure how old she is but she has been with my dad now for over 10 years and still going strong which may link to what you said in your post about their life span. She has a very strange personality where she is very loving to myself and my dad but is nervous and scared of others so runs away. Thank you for this information.

    1. Hi Lee,

      Thank you for those comments and am pleased that you liked the article. We have two tortoise shell cats among family members and I agree with your comments about their personality traits!


  5. Dear Jim
    Thank you very much for your fantastic website. It is amazing that you show people where to start and what steps to take towards looking after their favourite pets. I hope more people will know about your website and follow your guidance.
    Kind regards,

  6. This was an interesting read, thank you!

    I had a gorgeous and really well-natured tortoiseshell cat as a child. My brother found her in a box in a field, and turned out she was pregnant. I’ve often wondered why her kittens weren’t tortoiseshell too, so you’ve answered that for me. One was jet black, one plain white, and two black and white. We ended up keeping them all in the family!

    I adore cats but my husband is allergic so haven’t owned one in a while. Is there a breed that causes less trouble for allergy sufferers?

    Thanks 🙂

    1. Hi Lee,

      Very pleased to hear that you liked the blog article and many thanks for those interesting comments. In answer to your question there are a few breeds of domestic cats that don’t shed nearly as much hair and dander as other breeds and rarely cause allergic reactions to their owners. To name a few you may consider the Cornish Rex or Russian Blue breeds. Best wishes. Jim

  7. I had a feeling that the name of this cat type sounded familiar, but never knew exactly what it was or that it is in fact a way of referring to many species!

    I find the Japanese message to be particularly interesting, as I have a great interest in the culture but have never heard of this! I guess the infamous Maneki Neko may well have been based on this kind of cat. Haha

    Thanks for sharing this fun post!

  8. What a great post. And the pictures are beautiful. I love cats. My wife and I have two of our own. Wonderful, furry little creatures. I will be looking into your website for information since I am a cat lover also.

    Thanks for sharing.

  9. Wow I didn’t know all that information (I remembered hearing long ago…I believe on a game called FooPets that their “Calico” were female only, there was a time in the beginning when they were first released that both genders were available but once they removed males people who already had them found theirs were sterile). Something I’m kinda wondering is if you want the pattern and breed a purebred with a tortoiseshell (considering their can be no tortoiseshell x tortoiseshell) will it still be considered “Purebred” or would the kittens be considered mix?

    1. Hi Kristina,

      Thanks for those interesting points you made. The pictures on my blog post are from my son and daughter’s cats both of which are females. There is no ‘tortoiseshell breed. The term ‘tortoiseshell’ only relates to the type of coats a number of cat breeds have. These breeds include American Shorthair, British Shorthair, Persian, Cornish Rex, Ragamuffin, Calico and Maine Coons, many of which are certainly pure breeds.


  10. Hi James – We love your article about tortoiseshell cats. Thank you for sharing all these facts and information about them. Now we know that the white tortoiseshell or the calico cat is Maryland’s official cat. Very interesting.

    We do not have a cat on our own, but our daughter and sister both have (with the latter having a few). We always appreciate how human-like their cats behave when we visit them.

  11. I love cats, in fact my cat is a rescue from a shelter. His name is Miracle due to the fact he died and they declared him dead. When they came back with a box so the shelter could put him in a grave. They picked him up and he moved his leg. I have had him now almost 2 years. He is a tuxedo cat and spoiled rotten. I want to thank you for the wonderful article and I will keep in mind these products. Look forward to your next post.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *