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A Fun Guide to Tortoiseshell Cats

If you are looking for a cat with a coat that is a rich tapestry of colors and a personality to match - meet the tortoiseshell cat.
This breed of cat even has a rich history and according to Tortoiseshell Cats, a site in the UK:
Black cats have always been regarded as lucky, but stories about torties in particular go back to ancient times when the Celts believed that tortoiseshell cats brought good luck to their homes. It is still regarded as good luck in both Scotland and Ireland if a stray tortie settles in your home, and we certainly believe that any home with a tortie is a lucky one!

These are a beautifully painted, loving, and attention-seeking cat whose very history claims that they are a sign of luck.

But if you are wondering where they get their distinct look...

This is Where it Gets Confusing

As beautiful as the tortoiseshell cats are, it can be difficult to pinpoint certain things about them since there is not an individual tortoiseshell cat breed. In fact, the tortoiseshell coloring is what is found in a variety of breeds and is caused (or gifted) by x-linked genes. The name for this is the beautiful phrase, mosaic expression.

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The other unique thing about the tortoiseshell cat is that most are females. It is only females who have two X chromosomes and you must have a heterozygous situation for certain x-linked genes in order for a tortoiseshell cat to be possible.
There are males of course, but not only are they rare but they are usually sterile. However, since this cat is created due to chromosomes, not breeding - there isn't a chance that they'll die out due to not having males.
So, if you have a tortoiseshell cat as a companion, you should know that this is one very unique and special kitty. No wonder they are considered good luck.

What About Lifespan, Health, and Characteristics?

Tortoiseshell Cat Photo
This is a harder question to answer since this is not a specific breed. A typical cat's lifespan is around 15 years and as far as health considerations, keep your tortoiseshell cat healthier by regular vet visits and keeping it indoors with plenty of good food, fresh water, and interactive toys.


This was mentioned earlier and tortitude is one thing that tortoiseshell cats have in spades. This is indicative of their distinct personality. While they may not be a specific breed, they certainly have a lot of charisma.
The tortoiseshell cat is very much the attention seeker. They will demand attention from their owners by wanting cuddles and petting. In fact, you may find that they are quite possessive but not in a strange ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend way, thank goodness. More like wanting to be around you constantly and in this case, that is a good thing.
The tortoiseshell cat even loves attention from strangers so while you'll get their full attention, they may just surprise you by attaching themselves to anyone who comes into your home - including the cable guy! But don't worry, that is just a brief distraction; it's you that they love - really!

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