Conscious Cat

August 17, 2009 13,808 Comments

“Tortitude” – The Unique Personality of Tortoiseshell Cats

Posted by Ingrid

tortitude tortoiseshell cat personality

Tortoiseshell cats are named for their distinctive coloring – a combination of patches of black, brown, amber, red, cinnamon and chocolate.  The size of the patches varies from a fine speckled pattern to large areas of color.  The term “tortoiseshell” is used for cats with brindled coats that have few or no white markings.  Cats of this coloring with larger areas of white fur are called calicos. Sometimes, these colors present in lighter versions such as lilac or cream.  Torties with this lighter coloring are called dilute torties.  Occasionally, the typical tortoiseshell colors are also seen in a tabby (striped) pattern, and these cats are sometimes referred to as “torbies.”

Tortoiseshell cats are almost exclusively female.  Tortoiseshell and calico coats are the result of the interaction between genetic and developmental factors.  The occasional and very rare male tortoiseshell cat is the result of a genetic mutation.

In addition to their distinctive coloring, torties also have a reputation for unique personalities, sometimes referred to as “tortitude.”  They tend to be strong-willed, a bit hot-tempered, and they can be very possessive of their human.  Other words used to describe torties are fiercely independent, feisty and unpredictable.  They’re usually very talkative and make their presence and needs known with anything from a hiss to a meow to a strong purr.  These traits are stronger in tortoiseshell cats than in calicos – it seems as though these traits are somewhat diluted with the addition of more white to the color scheme.

As of the writing of this post, I share my life with Amber*, and those of you who’ve followed this blog for a while have gotten to know her in her Amber’s Mewsings posts.  You will soon be able to read all about Buckley in Buckley’s Story – Lessons from a Feline Master TeacherThe photo above shows Buckley in the front, Amber behind her.

Prior to Amber and Buckley, there was another tortie in my life.  Virginia was the first office cat at the animal hospital I managed.  She was my introduction to torties, and my love affair with this particular type of cat began with her.  She, too, had the “tortitude” I so love about these particular cats.

Do you have a tortie or calico in your life?  Does she have “tortitude?”

*Sadly, Amber passed away on May 13, 2010, after a sudden, brief illness.  I now share my life with Allegra and Ruby, two tortoiseshell cats who have their own columns here on The Conscious Cat, titled Allegra’s World and Ruby’s Reflections.

Photo ©Ingrid King, all rights reserved

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13,808 Responses to ““Tortitude” – The Unique Personality of Tortoiseshell Cats”

  1. Melissa Robitille says:

    We are fortunate enough to be loved by a male tortiseshell cat, who definitely has ‘tortitude’. He has taken it upon himself to be the guardian of the household, and nanny of my little boy – no stricter bedtime monitor in the world! While my fiance doesn’t seem to mind letting our feisty tortie wrestle with him (apparently not minding the shredded hands), I have informed our beloved kitty that “Mom” doesn’t play rough – and I still wouldn’t want his personality any other way.

  2. Jay says:

    Welcome Melissa, I am also the caretaker of a Male Tortie. His name is Diver and he has NO Tortitude. There are getting to be quite a few male torties on Ingrid’s blog and I am interested in knowing how they differ than their female sisters. Are they big, gentle or aggressive, playful etc. My Diver loves everyone – even my Tortie Stirfry who hates all cats. He has huge paws and is going to be a big boy. Please tell us more about your guy. What is his name ?

  3. Jay says:

    Melissa, read Ingrid’s article on play aggression and under it is an article she posted written by our friend on here Harry Shubin – Petting Aggression. The cat shown is Stirfry. I think she gets a bad rap – but that is only by every cat who has met her. But she is my little girl and I love her – and she loves me.

    http://consciouscat.net/2012/02/08/petting-aggression-in-cats-biting-the-hand-that-loves/

    • Ingrid says:

      Actually, what Melissa is describing sounds like play aggression, Jay, that’s why I provided the link to that article. While some of the remedies are the same, it’s a different cause.

      • Jay says:

        Ingrid, I knew that – You/Harry/Bernadette all have told us to play with items and not hands. I did not do that with Stir, but then – it probably would not have mattered. But then – I did not have experts to explain what a Tortie was when I 1st took her in. All I knew was I had a very aggressive Anti-Social cat that a Vet explained was a Tortie. Then I found you and this wonderful blog. :)

  4. Bernie says:

    Melissa, your male Tortie sounds great. Jay and Ingrid are giving very good advice. Now if for some reason you would part with your male Tortie, Jay would walk over fire stones to get him. LOL

    • Jay says:

      Always have room for another cat and Torties are extra special. And Diver would love another male to play with. Female can be hard to get along with. Stir and Styx especially.

  5. Jay says:

    Kim, way to go on rescuing that little kitten. You will find out Torties are special and live life to the fullest. Play hard and love hard. Torri sound like a wonderful cat and maybe she will be one of those few Torties that have Tortitude to the MAX.
    Bernie’s Steeler, Glen’s Kasey, Harry’s Brooke and my Stirfry are examples of that. TOP CAT in the house and don’t let you forget it.

  6. Jackie says:

    We have a 4 month female calico kitten. She definitely does have tortitude. She is very feisty! We all adore her and she is so much a part of the family already.

    • Ingrid says:

      There’s some debate as to whether calicos might have even more tortitude than torties, Jackie. Some say the addition of white enhances the tortitude effect! :-)

  7. Jay says:

    At 1:19 on 8/27/14 Tabatha became an Angel. She went to play with Punky and Liberty and become a mommy for little T-me.

  8. Jay says:

    Ingrid, Tabatha had been sleeping in the basement for the last 2 days. I would see her there in the morning. Nothing unusual as she would come to the downstairs door to go out and eat grass. I had not let her out in the last couple days as I was busy and did not want to forget about her and accidently leave her out as I did a month ago. Well, I did not see her last night as I emptied the kitty litter but did look for her to maake sure she was not in the 2 rooms with doors. Well today at 11 am I saw her in the kitchen at the water bowl. I picked her up to give her kisses and noticed she had lost weight. She had a smell about her that was the same as when my Bishon – Samatha did before she crossed the Bridge. I took her back to the bedroom and put her on the bed. Kissed her and told her she was loved. She was purring. About 30 min later I took her outside on the deck and laid down with her. She cried when I moved her but settled down and purred for me. Bernie called and I told her Tabby was going. Bernie said goodbye to her and I spent the next 45 min with her. She got up one but settled down. After a while she struggled and cried out. A painfull cry and her legs straightened out and kicked. I held her and kissed and and told her she would see her Pumpkin and Liberty playing together and little T-me who needed a Mom. Tabby purred and slowly settled down. Her eyes were a bright green. After a couple minutes she relaxed and I saw her cat eyes had gone. Kissed her and brought her inside. Called the Vet and they said to bring her her in to be cremated. I did. She is now happy and playing with jewelery – she had expensive taste in diamonds and gold. I will miss my gentle Tortie w white.

    • Glen says:

      Jay, I am very sorry to hear about this.

      She was a special cat and I know she will be greatly missed.

    • Bernie says:

      Jay’a Tabatha was a beautiful, gentle, loving tortie with white. She loved to take my watch and diamond bracelet and play with and then lay on them. I would let her have them until I would need them. Jay told me she was a momma to Pumpkin after Stirfry gave up motherhood and she raised Punky in her image. Gentle, loving and beautiful soul. She was always on the table and first to be petted. I loved her and she showered me with her kitty love. I will miss her too. The one thing is and Tabby Cat will have forever is she was looking into Jay loving eyes as she crossed over the Rainbow Bridge, so it is Jay’s loving eyes she will forever see. Rest well, baby, you are loved and will always be missed. Pumpkin, Liberty are there to be with you and a little baby T-Me is there for you to be his momma there. Steeler let me know she is watching over you all with her thunderstorms today. So farewell beautiful baby. We will look for you in the brightest angels star in the skies.

    • Ingrid says:

      I’m glad you were with her at the end, Jay. It’s hard when they pass so suddenly, and without knowing what was wrong.

  9. Ann says:

    My tortie is Dani. She is 4.5 years old, we rescued each other. I, her from certain…and she has rescued me from loneliness. We have been together a week now, however our bond seems much longer. She is the sweetest, obedient, most beautiful cat ever. Until reading this site, I did not know of a tortie’s rep. Unless she cuts loose, she is the most serene cat I have been around. I thank God for guiding me to the Humane Society.

    • Ingrid says:

      Dani sounds like a wonderful girl, Ann. I think it’s true for many of us that our cats have rescued us, and not the other way around.

    • Jay says:

      Ann, you will learn how special Torties are. They love with their whole heart and will claim their human as their own. You have been blessed with Dani and her with you. Rescuing is such a wonderful thing. It works both ways :)

      • AndyEugene says:

        So true. Ours came to us as an older abandoned cat. She clearly told us as if she were speaking English that she was a good cat, she needed a home, or would die. I am being literal: she is that good at communicating. She is a classic black/gold and she owns us and the house.

  10. Glen says:

    I had some entertainment a couple of days ago.

    A moth got into the house and was fluttering around, getting Gigi’s attention.

    The sight of a large, 16 pound long haired torti, with short, solid legs ponderously, but energetically, trying to catch a moth was quite amusing.

    • Jay says:

      It is so much fun to watch them stalk and jump after a moth. Diver watches tries also. Same with Arian. And I dread Frankie trying to jump as my floor might give way.

  11. jodie says:

    I have a female she got so beautiful old gold eyes she loves attention in cuddles and loves play fighting she different!! She got a cheeky personality, ,, when I talk to her she looks in listens to me she 26 week she so unique she sneeks up every morning for lots of cuddles in when I stare at her she makes a cutie nosie n runs to me she loves getting picked up to she so adorable I love her to bits so spoilt to

    • Jay says:

      Welcome Jodie, enjoy you little girl for a long time. Spoil her and tell her every day how much you love her.

      • jodie says:

        I sEnt you some pictures she so intelligent and understands me iv never had a cat b4 always dogs im so attached to her n love her .. she crys all night till I let her in the bedroom so she can lie with me. She gets alott of attention and spoilt rotten fed well n has her milk in the morning in little snacks . I really want another one just took me few months to beg my bf for a cat he adores her to I wud love another one she only 28 weeks old maybe when she bit older..

        • jodie says:

          What do you mean as soul cat.

          • Ingrid says:

            A soul cat is the feline version of a soul mate.

          • Jay says:

            Jodie, I have had 6 indoor cats and who knows how many Ferals I feed. Stir was the 1st feral I took in. She at 1st did not trust me and hated the other cat (Tabatha ) and my Bichon Samantha. But she learned to trust me and love me. She knew I would protect her and over the many years we had a special connection. Others on here had that 1 “Special” cat that connected with them. Not that my others aren’t loved and spoiled. For me it was Stirfry.

  12. Jay says:

    I have devastating news to report.
    My soul cat has crossed the Bridge.
    I could not find Stirfry when I came home tonight.
    I looked under the couch where she had been the last week.
    Went down stairs and found her next to the wall near the basement door. She was cold but not stiff. Must have passed away in the last hour.
    I am heartbroken.
    There will be storms tonight and our 3 wild Torties will be together now as never would have been in life.
    Goodbye Stirfry. I loved you so much.

    • Glen says:

      Jay

      I am very sad to read this, I know what is is like to loose a soul cat.

      They sure are unique, a special companion; it is hard to describe the bond one has with them.

      It may not help much right now but I know you gave her the best of homes that she might have otherwise never had.

    • Bernadette says:

      Jay, not Stirfry! That’s too much, not only two cats in one week but Stirfry herself! I am so sorry.

    • Bernhie says:

      Jay, my heart is broken even more. Your beautiful Stirfry has become your guardian angel. She is not gone forever from you, she is your guardian angel for the rest of you life. I too, loved her and I too know the pain you are feeling. So hold her close and tell her to make this skies rumble and the lightning strike.

      Beautiful baby. You went to be with Punky and Tabatha. I guess they needed you. I will forever hold you in my heart. Fly little angel. We will look for in the stars You will be the brightess star in the heavens.

    • Ingrid says:

      Oh Jay. My heart is breaking for you. Losing a cat so suddenly is always devastating, but when it’s a soul cat like Stirfry – there just aren’t words. I will always be glad that she brought you to this site, and this community. She will never be forgotten.

    • Harry says:

      I said this on Jay’s Facebook page, but it bears repeating – Stir took a little piece of all of us when she left.

      And then, there was one. RIP, Buckley, Amber, Steeler, Kasey and Stirfry.

      • Bernadette says:

        And Cookie and Kelly.

        I still have my Stirfry sign.

        • Harry says:

          I would say, “nice torties excluded” but… the truth is I just forgot :(

        • Jay says:

          Thank you Bernadette and Harry.
          Stir was in a very select class. We have typical Torties (my Styx, Glen’s Gigi, Bernie’s DJ and Justice. We have our oh so gentle Torties – Cookie & Kelly, My Diver, Piper and so many others. And then the very rare type – Torties with 100% Tortitude. Stirfry brought me to this wonderful group. I learned she was not alone – Steeler, Kasey and Brooke. Love hard and play hard. Don’t back down. She will be my forever cat.

          • I’m so sorry Jay. RIP Stirfry.

          • Bernie says:

            Jay,

            Stirfry, Steeler, Kasey and Brooke are making a lot of rumbling around here. They are marching together. Tell them Bernie’s says to cool it on the strong lightning. OK. Thunder and Fierce Lightning Strikes here now.‏

            Bernadette the rainbows followed. But those storms were a real waker upper this afternoon.

          • Bernie says:

            Tortieshell kittens. This post is to tell you about 4 torties, who were the
            epitome of Tortitude in their lifetimes. So Jay and I are sharing this with you.
            Steeler was my Tortie, she passed on April 30, 2012. That evening there were horrible lightning and thunder storms. I always said from then on when it is a thunder storm it is Steeler causing a rumble.

            Now there are my Steeler, Jay Davenport’s Stirfry, Glen’s Kasey and the Shubin’s Brooke all the terroristic and warrior Torties in the heavens. So Stirfry joined this elite group of Torties yesterday. Today, we had horrible thunder and lighting storms. Those 4 got together and let us know Stir had arrived. There are also some very gentle loving Torties there Bernadette E. Kazmarski’s Torties, Cookie and Kelly. They are the ones that brought the rainbow after the storm.
            We hear you all and your rainbow was there for you Stir. We will all meet at that rainbow bridge one day.

          • Bernie says:

            I cannot just post this without adding the two very gentle Torties who are also at the Rainbow Bridge. Ingrid King’s Amber and Buckley brought the sunshine after the storms for Stirfry

            It was through Ingrid King’s losses of Amber and Buckley that brought Jay, Bernadette, Harry, Glen, and myself to know each other from this site.

            We have all came here and here we became a family and today we remain family, a family in mourning for the loss of Jay’s soul cat Stirfry.

            Ingrid our family is hurting again and to often. But thank you for giving us this place to come to be together.

          • Ingrid says:

            There has been too much loss lately, Bernie. My heart goes out to everyone. I’m glad that this site has provided a place to offer support, and hopefully, eventually, healing.

          • Bernie says:

            Hey everyone on the posts I have posted I made a unforgivable mistake. Harry Shubin’s Brooke is not at the rainbow bridge. She is very much at home with Harry and his family. I truly regret this. Harry and family I am so sorry for my stupid mistake.

    • Gail N says:

      Jay, I’m so sorry to hear this. This has been a bad year for kitties, it seems. Several months ago, Nicky became suddenly ill and left for the bridge, and just a little over a week ago, my little Max left as well.

  13. Erin says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about your loss Jay . There are no words for devastating situations like this. May you find some comfort knowing you have an extra guardian angel watching over you now. RIP Stirfry :(

    • Jay says:

      Thank you Erin, Stirfry will always be my Guardian Angel.

      Stir was known all over the world and she will be missed.
      Her attitude was saved by pictures and video’s. I will always treasure them.

      And Bernadette painted a wonderful painting of me with her and my other critters. Me holding Stirfry and me holding Steeler. I thank her for that and thank Bernie for having it done.

      • Bernie says:

        Jay that painting was to show you what a wonderful man you really are. Surrounded by all your little ones at that time will be forever there for you to enjoy. Bernadette captured the love of your little ones in your eyes. I was only the messenger.

  14. Jay says:

    Today at work we had some rain and at 7 pm I was told there was a rainbow outside. I was just able to see the last of it. Right away I thought of Bernadette and what she said. Cookie & Kelly, T-me, Liberty, Pumpkin, Tabatha, Amber, Buckley and all or gentle cats greeted Stirfry. Before that there was heavy rain with Thunder and Lightning at Bernie’s. That was Steeler and Kasey saying hello the way Warrior Torties greet an equal.

    My neighbor above me posted the rainbow on his FB page. I shared it.

    Stirfry never did anything halfway. She went all out.

  15. Jay says:

    I was talking to my Mom, she asked about Stirfry. I told her that her and Tabatha would be sent out today (Thursday) to be cremated. She asked if they would be in the same urn. Can you imagine that… Stirfry did NOT get along with any cat and Tabatha would have said HELL NO !!!!!!!.

  16. Jay says:

    Happy Birthday Harry.
    Have a wonderful day. Can’t wait to see what your cats got you.

  17. Jay says:

    I took Styx to the vet today. She has fleas (as do all my cats) and flea meds did not seem to be working. They said she was dehydrated (eyes sunken in) and had lost weight ( from 9 lbs. 4 oz. down to 8 lbs. 6 oz. ) They gave me Vectra for all my cats as they said Frontline has not been working recently. Gave her a shot to boost her appetite. She was good at the vets and came out of her carrier, sat on the scale then on my lap till they came in to check on her.

    • Ingrid says:

      I’m sorry to hear Styx is not doing well. That’s a lot of weight loss. As for the fleas, there are alternatives to the chemical products. They may require a bit more effort, but they’re much safer. I would be especially hesitant using the topical products in a cat with a compromised immune system. Here’s more information on controlling fleas without chemicals: http://consciouscat.net/2010/07/26/how-to-control-fleas-without-chemicals/

      • Jay says:

        I am also using Diatomaceous earth that Bernie gave me. Took a while to find a duster to spray it. Found at Ace Hardware for $16. My Dad had those but we never kept them.

        • Bernadette says:

          Jay, I hope Styx is okay, did the vet tell you what might be the cause? She’s not that old, and dehydration doesn’t happen without a reason.

          I’m also not sure what you mean by spraying the diatomaceous earth. You don’t spray it in the air, that won’t do anything at all and it can actually be irritating to breathe. It’s not like flea spray. You sprinkle it on the floor where the fleas live, then vacuum it back up, just like I’d described to you and Bernie and it describes on the bag. Get a measuring cup and sprinkle it on the floor, if anything use a flour sifter or put it in an empty parmesan cheese or baby powder container so you can sprinkle it.

          Also, you need to vacuum every day, especially if you have carpets, to sweep up the live fleas and especially the flea eggs. Throw away the sweeper bag.

          Let us know how Styx is doing.

          • Jay says:

            They are going to do a stool sample for parasites and worms. She has an appitite and does drink. Bernie wanted them to do a blood sample check for Hyperthyroidism. Maybe it’s just fleas ?
            But after losing 2 cats I don’t want to risk Styx.
            As for the diatomaceous earth Bernadette – I use a sprayer to get it on the rug/couch/behind things. Not spraying in the air but close to the ground. Vacuum with a Dyson and clean the filter after. Spraying bug killer on what’s dumped out.

            Gail – I bought a flea trap like what you mentioned. A light above it (clear – a night light bulb) with the sticky paper under it. Yes – it does work. Lots of fleas on it

            Might try the table salt. How much should I use and will it affect the cats paws? If it was sugar I have plenty of that.

          • Gail N says:

            Jay, I just take the large container of salt and sprinkle it liberally on the carpet and leave it for a day or two, then vacuum it up. The cats don’t seem to have any problem with it.

      • Gail N says:

        I’ve tried diatomaceous earth previously, which worked to some extent, but what I’ve found that seems to be even better (and cheaper) is regular table salt. The salt dries out and kills both adult fleas and the eggs.

        I’ve also picked up flea traps (Happy Jack Flea Beacon is one type) that has a plastic trap with a yellow sticky paper and a nightlight bulb. The fleas are attracted to the bright color, the heat and the light, and it works very well.

        Prior to finding the flea traps, I would use yellow or white salad plates with water and dish soap and set them up in out of the way areas with a small light over them. They worked as well, but tended to be messy and you have to check them often to make sure that the water hasn’t evaporated.

  18. meril-jean price says:

    I found marvella flea infested, skin and bones, looked like a pencil with a tennis ball hanging off her spine. off to the vet, cleaned her up, got her on some good food, love and a velvet pillow. a week later came bisquit, bob, uncle inky and so on. one of her best tricks was staring at a spot on the floor with such intensity and for such a long time that the other cats would come to see what was up. once she had a good interested audience staring at the spot, she’d flip her tail up and leave–i swear with a smile and a jaunty little walk–gotcha! she seemed to be saying.
    One other thing she did, just once in 22 years, was this: I brought a new friend home. Marvy came out of a deep couch sleep, jumped to the floor, started advancing slow and low like a big predator. got to about three feet from the woman and puffed up her fur huge and started to hiss, snarl and howl. the lady got scared and needless to say, i took my cat’s advice and never saw her again.
    i had breast surgery once and she spent the whole healing time curled around my feet. years later i broke a toe and she spent my whole healing time snuggled between my neck and shoulder. what a cat!

    • Ingrid says:

      I’m sorry, I’m just now seeing this, Meril-Jean. Marvella sounds like a wonderful companion – and a healer kitty, too! I’ve always felt that cats are great judges of character, and I would bet you did the right thing by not seeing that friend again after Marvella had such a strong reaction to her.

    • Jay says:

      Welcome meril-jean, tell us more about Marvella and her exploits.
      I have been busy and just catching up on CC.

  19. Cass says:

    I’d alwyas wanted a torti as I’m a fan of the Black cat as well as the pumpkin variety. WEll boy oh boy did I walk into trouble with my Temperynce…. Shes a fiesty, hard headed little girl who is loving and sweet when she demands it…lol Its a whole new experience inthe cat world with her…but I wouldnt rrade her for the world!!! we have amorning routine with my twin boys and her ( they get the morning energie out before school playing) and her and I have our time when I go to bed…. She loves the twins but really favors the youngest one..lol I’m excited to she her blossominto afiesty little lady watch her grow…just not too fast!!!!

  20. Scott says:

    We have a stray torti that has decided that our yard is its new home..lol I have been reading that the female does not have any white markings… Is this true?

    • Ingrid says:

      Most tortoiseshell and tricolor cats are female, Scott. According to a study by the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Missouri, only 1 in 3000 tortoiseshell cats is male. The addition of white does not have anything to do with gender.

    • Jay says:

      Scott, I have had 4 Torties. My 1st – Tabatha was listed as a Calico but she was a Tortie with white paws and chest. But from the top you would never know. Harry had said one time that he thought the white tamed the Tortitude, Maybe – Tabby was a gentle cat. My Stirfry was Tortie that had a few white hairs on her chest. I think she was trying to reject them and there was no backing down and she was in a select group on here. Brooke, Steeler and Kasey were our fearsome foursome. Total Tortitude and feared and respected by all other cats ( and most humans). My male Tortie Diver has no idea what Tortitude is.

  21. Glen says:

    Sometimes I speculate on Gigi’s past; its an academic exercise because I have no way of getting an answer.

    She had her vet examination, which went well; she also behaved very well (oddly enough, Kasey, the “Warrior Queen” was also well behaved at the vet).

    Unlike Kasey was, Gigi, the large, long hair torti with white is a very placid and gentle cat who tolerates other animals very well. She doesn’t strikeout at you with claws or teeth, even when she is really wound up, playing.

    We don’t know anything about her first 8 months but I find it hard to think she was born feral, given her temperament; I would be interested to hear if anyone has any gentle cats that were borne feral.

    She was found when she was estimated at approx. 8 months of age in Feb. 2008. She had had a litter of kittens outside under a discarded couch, they did not survive due to the cold.

    A couple took her in and she became a pampered pet for 4 and a bit years until the wife passed away, starting the events leading up to us adopting her in March 2013.

    I guess it is possible but due to her nature, I am not sure she was born and grew fr 8 months as a feral. Perhaps she was someone’s cute little fluff-ball that got loose, or worse, discarded when she grew a bit bigger.

    Sometimes I can’t help but wonder what the initial part of her life was like.

    Today, she is a friendly, happy cat that can be surprisingly playful,given size, age, build and rather prim and proper appearance.

    • Gail N says:

      Glen, I adopted a feral cat, Muggsy, a number of years ago, and he, like Gigi was very gentle. He showed up in our yard one day looking much the worse for wear, and I started feeding him on the front porch.

      It took me over a year before I could even touch him, and, actually, the first physical contact I had with him was after I had lost one of my “soul cats” and was feeling very depressed. I had gone out to the front porch to feed Muggsy, and I sat down on the steps while he was eating, feeling extremely sad over the loss of Allie. Somehow, this feral cat knew that I was sad, and he came and sat beside me and leaned into me. This was the first physical contact I had with him and we just sat there together for quite awhile.

      After this, he did allow some occasional petting and got to the point where he would come into the house to “visit” in the evening and then go back outside. I finally determined that Muggsy deserved a forever home, and one evening after his “visit” I grabbed him and, after a quite a bit of struggle (but no biting or scratching on his part) I got him into a dog crate and the next morning he was at the vet’s getting neutered and having all vaccinations taken care of. The vet estimated that he was about six years old at the time.

      He came home with me, and after several months of living in a downstairs bedroom to get used to being an indoor cat, he joined my crew and lived with us for about twelve more years.

      So, yes, a feral CAN be gentle.

      • Ingrid says:

        What a wonderful story, Gail. I love how Muggsy somehow sensed you were sad. His story is a testament to the fact that with enough love and patience, feral cats can be rehabbed and live happy lives as “pet cats.”

    • Bernie says:

      Glen, I rescued Freedom 2 years ago. She had been a feral and estimated to be about 8 at the time so most likely 10 now. She is a gentle and loving lithe one with me. Now she does interact with the youngsters, like running like the wind. Then she is done with them. Most times she is like, just open the door and put those kids out. I think she would love to be an only cat. But yes she is gentle. As for vet visits, now that is a real chore to get her into the carrier. Once at the vet, she is an angel. What is it about vets. Guess the kittens can sense they care.

    • Ingrid says:

      I feel the same way about both of my girls, Glen. I wish they could tell us what their lives were like before we adopted them.

      • Glen says:

        Thanks, those are interesting comments, but it does open up the speculation ;)

        Sounds like her having a feral start is also quite possible.

        Kasey was different, she was raised around people (who sometimes did not treat her well), in an industrial type setting. However, I could always tell somehow she wanted to be a pet cat; as most know here, she got her wish and lived here, wanting for nothing, for the last 5 years of her life.

        She fit perfectly into the house cat role immediately after she was brought here; except for that bit about liking to challenge and attack the other animals. ;)

    • Margaret says:

      Hi Glen … my second cat (Cheeky … “because she was”) … was a feral who adopted me. She had a couple of litters of kittens and we contacted the NZ RSPCA and had her desexed. When they brought her back to us (they picked up and delivered as she was a feral) they told us she would never be a pet, but would probably hang around for food. Little did they know – she ended up being really affectionate with me and my family, but never trusted strangers.

      • Glen says:

        I sometimes think that Gigi was not allowed to sit on people in her former home.

        She wants to come and visit but it is like she is not sure what to do.

        She will stand on your lap with her front legs while sitting on the chair arm with te back end; it seems pretty awkward. Then she finally settles down on the wide arm of my easy chair.

        When you are lying down, she acts like she isn’t sure what to do, rather than curl up beside you, she walks on you, the stands or sits.

        Last Sat. morning I was moving slow and was lying down watching TV. She decided she needed to visit.

        Rather than walking over to see me, she unexpectedly “launched” fro a standing jump, sailing about 4 feet through the air, landing solidly on me with all fours. The airborne arrival of 16 pounds of long haired torti makes quite an impression.

        • Bernadette says:

          Glen, we humans are a little “jiggly” under a kitty’s paws and they are often uncertain of being able to balance, even on pretty solid, stable lap. Gigi likely has hair between her toes that slips under her paw pads sometimes, which would also throw off her balance because it reduces her touch and is a little slippery. But she was obviously certain she could subdue you with a big leap!

        • Ingrid says:

          “The airborne arrival of 16 pounds of long haired torti makes quite an impression.” Especially if it lands on your bladder… The issue of whether cats like laps or not is always fascinating to me. Some cats never want to be lap cats, others are total lap cats, and some learn later in life. Allegra rarely sat on my lap for the first couple of years after I adopted her. It’s only been over the past year that she likes to have regular lap time. Ruby, on the other hand, is a “velcro kitty” who would just as soon be glued to my lap at all times, but as she is maturing, she is becoming a little more independent. Two cats and only one lap sometimes leads to a little sibling rivalry, though :-)

        • Bernadette says:

          My household for years has been telling me to get a bigger lap! For years I have regularly had three on my lap, and that was even before the five black cats–and that was also three tri-colors, my two torties and dilute calico Cookie, Kelly and Peaches! All three girls would pile on my lap, but they’d have to shuffle now and then. At several points since the Five have been here I’ve had four of them on my lap, in part because three could pile up, and then Mimi can balance on top of them–a 40-lb. pile of cats on my lap, and no one to take the photo! But I’ve also had ones who were just passing through and never really settled down. I’ve never taken “lap cat” as a measure of a cat’s affection or socialization.

        • Jay says:

          Glen, I certainly hope Taz saw that and decided to replicate it. 22 lbs. of orange cat will make an impression. Can’t wait to hear about that. :)

    • Jay says:

      Glen as you know – my Frankie was a feral barn cat that loved attention and even though it took a while to touch him, he never bit or scratched. Yes a feral can be domesticated. Stirfry was a Feral and never was domesticated. She just taught me to accept her as she was. No idea where she was born or came from. But she learned to trust me.

  22. Margaret says:

    Miss Gracie has just returned from a post-cattery visit to the vet. Despite being apparently well behaved at the cattery and reasonably sociable, she has developed a UTI (I think these are normally stress-induced for her). She has had a check-up, some antibiotics and some meds to take for the next 10 days. I guess she’s making sure I don’t plan any more long trips any time soon!

  23. Glen says:

    Orange boy report;

    Taz had his annual vet exam yesterday. The vet said he is in great shape for a 16 year old senior cat.

    Tim is just over 2 years old, now. He is a smaller cat at just under 10 pounds. I don’t know how many of you have cats like this but he is not showing many signs of mentally maturing.

    He is a smart little cat but it is like he chooses to use his intelligence for unconventional activities.

    His level and type of activity is more like a 3 month old kitten than a 2+ year old. He has elevated “the zooms” to the “frantics” and plays constantly with unusual items after seeming to sit an analyze them for a while before going after them.

    Gigi plays with him but does grow tired of the tyape and duration on activities. At that point, she seeks relief on top of one of the cat trees.

    • Jay says:

      Great news on Taz. Orange kitties are so cute. Frankie is 3 and plays like a kitten. Mental capacity is equivalent to a rock. His smarts is tracking down food. He is good at that.

  24. Jay says:

    Congratulations to OUR Petties winners !!!!!!
    Ingrid won Best Overall Pet Blog and Bernadette won Best Blog Post.
    What a way to wake up and start the day.
    Way to go to you both from Bernie and I….

  25. Linda says:

    Hi, I;m new to the site. I an heartbroken as I had to put my Pookie to rest yesterday. I feel like a piece of me is gone. She was my baby for 14 years! She was my healer, consoler and listener for all of those 14 years. She got sick when we had to put her friend, my Keeshond Sammie, to rest due to an autoimmune disorder. She mourned Sammie terribly, she was never able to come back from that. Well now she has crossed the bridge to see Sammie but she has left me so empty. I have 2 other cats , Savanah and Ginger who also are missing her. They have been on my lap for the last 2 days and I know thay are trying to console me. My heart right now is broken. Please tell me this will get easier. I can’t bear this empty feeling.

    • Ingrid says:

      I’m so sorry, Linda. Losing a cat is devastating, and I think you put it perfectly: they take a piece of our hearts with them when they leave. I’m glad you have Savanah and Ginger to comfort you. You may want to take a look around the pet loss section on this site, perhaps you will find some comfort from some of the articles: http://consciouscat.net/category/pet-loss/

    • Jay says:

      So sorry Linda. I lost 2 Torties a month ago and Stirfry was my soul cat. I know how you feel. Just know that you have an angel watching over you now. Every time it rains with thunder and lightning I know that Steeler, Kasey and Stirfry are playing and watching over us.

    • Margaret says:

      Linda, I’m so sorry for your loss. Our cats are such a big part of our lives that when one of them leaves it is devastating. Be kind to yourself while you are grieving. Soon, comforting memories will come to you and you will smile when you remember Pookie. Take care, Marg.

  26. Glen says:

    Jay has mentioned Kasey, she was my soul cat.

    I lost her in May of 2013, I had known her since she was about a year old in 1999/2000 and rescued her in 2008.

    It has taken me a while to come to terms with losing her and even these days, while spending to many hours driving, alone, for work, I can still become upset about it.

    However, as time has passed, I am able to talk or write about her and remember the good times when she was here.

    • Jay says:

      Glen, when I first got on CC and learned about Brooke, Kasey and Steeler I knew I had found a great group Kasey and Steeler had the same Attitude as my Stirfry. No back up and totally dedication to their human of choice. And no one get in their way. I was devastated when we lost each one. They all belonged to the group and were all loved. I to think of Stir when alone and no other cat will ever replace her. I love all my others but I understood Stirfry and she understood me. She trusted me and her coming up to rub against me and purr as a feral cat was special.

    • Ingrid says:

      Losing a soul cat like Kasey, and Stirfry, is one of the hardest things any of us will ever have to go through. The pain lessons over time, but I don’t think the hole they leave in our hearts every quite heals.

      • Gail N says:

        You’re right, Ingrid…that hole never does heal totally. It’s been over twenty years since Ted, the first of my soul cats, died, and it still hurts from time to time.

        I’ve been fortunate, I guess, in that there have been several special cats that have come into my life, but each time one of them leaves for the Bridge, there is yet another hole created that never quite heals.

  27. Margaret says:

    Hey guys – while Mum and I were in Scotland, we stayed with my mum’s brother and sister-in-law (a fantastic couple in their 70’s who get about like youngsters). On the first day, my aunt said “we have a cat who visits here most days … I think he belongs to someone but I give him some treats”. Sure enough, next morning “Cat” (as my aunt called him) turns up for his daily treats and a chat (my aunt was a little scared to pet him). I went out to him, started talking to him, and next thing he’s rubbing round my legs and being very friendly, so much to my aunt’s horror, I picked him up. “He’s such a pet” … I said. “He’s not coming in!” … she said. Flash forward three weeks, cat now comes daily for his treats (sometimes up to four times a day), has an afternoon nap on my lap on a chair outside, and is sleeping outside the kitchen window on a garden kneeling pad. Our last supermarket shop before we left Scotland included a large box of food for “Eddie” (My uncle looks like Martin Craine in “Frasier” … and he temporarily had a walking stick … so he had to be “Eddie” like Eddie the dog!). My aunt is still saying “He’s not coming in …” but I think (hope) Eddie will wear her down …

  28. AndyEugene says:

    Our Tortoise Shell Cat hunted a mouse last night. After bringing down the beast with her mighty claws, she displayed her Tortitude and howled differently than usual. At first we thought she was sick and then we noticed she was toying with her food. She finally crunched her mouse and left the tail for us. No cat is as Spooky as a black/gold Tortoise Shell, they are the best cat of them all.

    • Jay says:

      Torties are born killers – I was told that by Stirfry. Diver never got that notice. He does not know he is not supposed to be gentle and playful.

      • Ingrid says:

        There are plenty of gentle and playful torties out there. Even though torties are, without a doubt, unique, they, like cats of other colors, are all individuals.

        • Harry says:

          I think Brooke is getting a bad rap here. She’s playful, gentle, affectionate, and loves people. She sits on my lap, curled up and purring, often. She’s just very intense about what she does, be it
          playing, sleeping, or bopping other cats (whom she likes a lot less than people). In fact, during a recent visit from award-winning writer Ingrid King, Brooke chose to ignore the entire morning, sleeping curled up on a chair by the edge of the action. She stirred once to re-curl in a different direction :)

      • Bernadette says:

        My veterinarian looked at two torties and one calico to examine and told her assistant to “get the gloves” because they were going to examine not one but three tri-color cats and they’d be lucky if the came away with their faces. I laughed at the idea, Cookie purred and wanted to nose tap with her, Kelly was quietly obedient and purring, and Peaches wiggled a lot and purred. However, mice in the basement were another story.

  29. Jay says:

    Today is Bernie’s birthday.
    Happy 29th !!!!!!!!

  30. Bernie says:

    Hey all you folks. Thanks for the Birthday Wishes. Being 29 again and having cake with Jack Benny was rather intriguing. :)

  31. yonacab says:

    i have just gotten a tortie and that’s her name she is a lover and yes vocal i love it. she is just 2 months old but she loves belly rubs and head rubbed. i think she is going to be an awesome kitty.

  32. Jay says:

    Welcome yonacab , I know she will be an awesome kitty.

  33. Jay says:

    I was up to see Bernie over the weekend. Had a great time. Justice is doing well and getting very friendly. DJ is as cute as ever and Freedom is very regal. The same look as Arianrhod but the attitude of a Tortie.
    Monday we took a trip to Carnegie – a suburb of Pittsburgh. We went to visit a friend and Artist Bernadette Kazmarski. We got to see her 5 famous black cats and even 2 black fosters. And she had a surprise for Bernie. A wonderful painting of Steeler. I know it will be treasured. I love the one of my critters received years ago and it hangs on my walls along with Ansel Adams. Had lunch at a Diner down the road and a dreadful trip out of the city. Rain and rush hour traffic are not my favorite things to do.

    • Bernadette says:

      It was great to see you guys, and I’m so glad we kept the surprise for Bernie! I’m so glad I had the chance to sketch the famous Steeler. Sorry for the bad weather, but I’m sure the luck of seven black cats followed you all the way home!

      • Bernie says:

        Jay has never been in Pgh traffic at rush hour. It was not that bad ( :) ) I drove how bad could it have been. We had a wonderful time and the seven black cats did follow us home. What great conversation we had on that drive.

  34. Bernie says:

    Seeing Bernadette again was a delightful and fun time. She is so full of love and laughter in addition to that, she is the most multi talented artist/writer, graphic designer and foster rescuer I have ever met or could ever hope to meet.

    She and Jay kept this surprise from me for some time. When Bernadette handed me that painting, I could only stop breathing and then eventually say “That’s my Steeler”. I am not often overwhelmed like that, but this is a moment in time that I will forever hold dear. The painting of Steeler is so lifelike, it is a treasure beyond all I have. I will not show it for awhile. Bernadette will do her story on this beautiful painting and Steeler. She deserves that total recognition for her writings. I will only show it after that. In the meantime, I see my precious Steeler looking at me thru those beautiful eyes of a portrait. Thank you Jay and Thank you my friend, Bernadette.
    I love you both.

    • Bernadette says:

      My pleasure to be a part of it, Bernie. I’ve loved a cat like that too.

    • Ingrid says:

      I can’t wait to see the painting. What a wonderful gift.

      • Bernie says:

        My dear friend, in time, in time. You were also a big part of Steeler’s legend. But in time, you will also have to wait.

    • Jay says:

      I was taking a video of Bernie when she saw the painting. She thought she was looking at just a painting that Bernadette had just finished. Then she stared. She just stuttered and said “That’s my Steeler” Then she was speachless for a minute. Bernie Speachless !!!!!!!!

      Copies are available upon request :)

      You have had a rough year and deserved to have the sun shine down upon you. So glad Bernadette could do it and that you treasure it so much.
      Steeler was that special. We all loved her.

      • Margaret says:

        Bernie, I have to agree with Jay’s words … you have had the kind of year that none of us would ever want to go through … and for you to receive such a beautiful reminder of Steeler will hopefully take just a little bit of your pain away. I can’t wait to see it! Take care, my friend … xox

        • Bernie says:

          Marg It will be shown only after Bernadette has the opportunity to do what she does best. Her article will be a keepsake. After that, even if it takes her months, I will then post the portrait. Steeler always was a comfort to me and I do love looking at this portrait. Thank you for you very king words.

      • Bernie says:

        Jay don’t you dare sell those copies :) I love you

        • Jay says:

          Copies will NOT be sold. However, they will be given away for free.

          A deal might be worked out. Mabe a cute Tortie cat named DJ ?

          • Bernie says:

            Jay is walking on thin ice.

            Dajudge says as long as you have Diver she does not want him to be her brother. He took her windowsill and she holds a Tortie grudge against him. :)

          • Jay says:

            And we all know how Torties can hold a grudge.

  35. Jay says:

    Success today. I went out a little after noon and saw the black cat on the deck. Went in and got some tuna that I had saved for her. Before I gave it to her I talked for a minute then set it down. She let me give her a head rub and ear scratch. 1st time I was able to touch her for more than a second where I just touched her head. Progress should improve now.

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