“Tortitude” – The Unique Personality of Tortoiseshell Cats: Fact or Fiction?

tortoiseshell cats

Five years ago, I wrote a post titled Tortitude: The Unique Personality of Tortoiseshell Cats. The post describes some of the unique traits that many of these beautifully colored cats seem to share: 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.

The post gets 200-300 views every single day, and has generated close to 14,000 comments to date. It’s become a place for people to share stories about the torties in their lives.

As someone who has been owned by four torties at this point, not counting my first office cat at the animal hospital I managed, who was also a tortie, I feel that I’m somewhat of an expert on these special cats. And while Virginia, Amber, Buckley, Allegra and Ruby all had or have some degree of tortitude, their personalities were and are also  very different. This appears to be true for the torties whose guardians have commented on the post as well.

torties

What is a tortoiseshell cat?

Contrary to what some people think, tortoiseshell cats are not a breed. They are named for their distinctive coloring – a combination of patches of black, brown, amber, red, cinnamon and chocolate. The size of the patches can range from a speckled pattern to large splotches of color. Tortoiseshell cats have have very few or no white markings, as opposed to calicos, who are tri-colored cats with larger areas of white fur. Sometimes, the colors are more muted. These torties are known as dilute torties. Very dark torties with a lot of black in their fur are often affectionately called “chocolate torties.” Occasionally, the typical tortoiseshell colors are also seen in a tabby (striped) pattern; these cats are referred to as “torbies.” Tortoiseshell markings appear in many different breeds.

The unique genetics of tortoiseshell cats

In addition to their unique personalities, torties also have unique genetics. The vast majority of tortoiseshell cats are female, because two X chromosomes are required to produce black, gold and orange coloring. Male cats only have one X and one Y chromosome, so technically it’s genetically almost impossible for a male to inherit the tortoiseshell coloring. A male tortoiseshell has an extra X chromosome, making it an XXY. According to a study by the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Missouri, only 1 in 3000 tortoiseshell cats is male.

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Are tortoiseshell cats really different from other cats?

Speaking from personal experience, it appears that no two tortoiseshell cats display the exact same amount of tortitude. Virginia had definitely read the book on tortitude. The first time I met her, during my interview for the hospital manager position, she greeted me by walking over to me, looking up at me, and then digging her claws into my legs to use them as a scratching post.  Amber was the “anti-tortie” – she was a gentle, calm, almost shy cat, but she was a bit headstrong. Buckley’s tortitude manifested in her exuberance. She loved everything and everybody. Allegra is highly sensitive to the world around her, and often quick to react to something that she perceives as a threat. Ruby is the most high-spirited cat I’ve ever had. Of all my cats, she is the one with the highest dose of tortitude.

tortoiseshell cat

The experts weigh in on tortitude

I decided to check with some other experts to get their thoughts on tortitude. “I often tell clients that torties are the redheads of the cat world,” says feline veterinarian Dr. Fern Crist, who practices at Just Cats Clinic in Reston, VA. “They are beautiful, but short-tempered and quick to wrath. Of course they are not all like that, any more than every redhead is – but I always approach a tortie with a tad more circumspection than any other coat color.” While Crist takes a cautious approach to her tortie patients, she adds “I’ve always thought that the price you pay in tortitude, you get back tenfold in love.”

“There is no evidence that there is a link between color gene and personality,” says Dr. Elizabeth Colleran, a former president of the American Association of Feline Practitioners and owner of two cat hospitals, Chico Hospital for Cats in Chico, CA and the Cat Hospital of Portland in Portland, OR. “It is true though, that almost all tortoiseshell cats are females, and some people perceive females as being more headstrong than male cats. However, the real determination of personality is naturally a combination of genetics and environment.”

Jackson Galaxy has worked with his share of tortoiseshell cats in his decades of helping cats with behavioral challenges. “In my experience, tortitude is a very real thing,” says Jackson. “And now that there is a a study correlating coat pattern with behavior, our characterizations have been validated. Of course, anyone who knows me, knows I try not to talk about cats in generalities.” Jackson feels that torties and calicos are more energetically sensitive. “I think that’s part of the reason why their personalities are always on full display,” he says. “I’ve always said that cats are energetic sponges. Torties, however, just seem to soak up more, which is why they’ve got so much to say.”

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Tortoiseshell cats are special

Those of us who love torties embrace their unique personalities. It is important to remember that every cat, regardless of coat color, is an individual. Not every tortie will exhibit the traits attributed to these beautifully colored cats, but the majority seem to live up to their reputation. As far as I’m concerned, tortitude is real. And while torties may, at times, seem like they have split personalities, going from purring away in your lap to suddenly racing around the house like a crazy kitten, those of us who love them wouldn’t want them any other way.

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977 Comments on “Tortitude” – The Unique Personality of Tortoiseshell Cats: Fact or Fiction?

  1. Priscilla Leake
    June 23, 2017 at 11:41 am (7 hours ago)

    Last year I got my first kitten after a friend found a litter out in a storm.

    Having never been a cat person before, I didn’t really know what to expect and was largely out of my element with this cat owner business. Like any new pet owner/mom, I freshened up on some articles, YouTube videos, and took little kitty Cleo to the vet within the first couple of weeks to make sure she was healthy.

    It was only then I realized what I’d signed myself up for.

    A brilliant, loud, snarky, high-tortitude tortoiseshell with kitten-energy levels and excessive sass.

    The vet laughed in my face and I went home feeling happy Cleo was healthy, but wondering if I was equipped for what I assumed was a “high-maintenance” type of cat.

    I still don’t really know the answer?

    She is beyond sassy.
    She is very vocal.
    She has more personality in her tiny paw than a number of humans I’ve met.

    I’m convinced she is smarter and loves more deeply than any other pet I’ve ever seen. Within the first few weeks of me having her, Cleo learned how to sit for treats. She was only a month or two old at the time.

    Her limitless curiosity drove her to go outside and explore (a trait which she refuses to let go of no matter how much I would prefer she be indoor only).

    Though she is not always outwardly affectionate and won’t purr loudly or rub on strangers – she loves to be around people and will always be in the same room with a group. I find myself loving how “human-esque” these tortitude behaviors make her. She always talks to you when you come into a room – a formal greeting (with different inflections depending on how long you’ve been gone and how frustrated she is with you as a result). She is rambunctious and knocks things around when she feels attention-starved. But she is affectionate and makes it very clear that she has more capacity for love than other cats I’ve met. Basically, I wouldn’t have picked a tortitude cat by my own devices… But I absolutely wouldn’t want a regular cat now that I’ve learned/fallen in love with the tortitude way.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      June 23, 2017 at 5:06 pm (1 hour ago)

      She sounds wonderful, Priscilla – and she sure sounds like she’s got tortitude and then some!

      Reply
    • Don
      June 23, 2017 at 5:25 pm (1 hour ago)

      I have a one year toryie named Moriah who us anabsolutely lunatic. She has abundant energy goes avpbso,utely nuts when I come home. Likes to be chased around and chase me in return. She is addicted to the laser pointer. She very loving to everone but is very sassy and will hiss when you try to discipline her. She is very vocal, makes the weirdest gutterel sounds when playing eating or grooming purrs really loud. she has no fear of water if you can believe that. I have raised cats for 40 years I have never seen anything like Moriah.

      Reply
  2. Eva Neuman
    June 20, 2017 at 11:29 pm (3 days ago)

    Thank you for all the info on the tortis. I learned al lot about tortitude.

    Reply
  3. Fedy
    June 13, 2017 at 8:58 am (1 week ago)

    My Luna is a 2 years old Tortise. I’ve had her for only 6 months, but we are allready unseparable.
    She’s my very first cat and one of the most ADAPTABLE cats I’ve ever met in my life: for a while because of personal issues I had to travel back and forth from the town i live currently to my hometown (and I’m gonna go back definitely in a couple of months) and she allways came with me as I couldn’t leave her to anyone.
    The result? She’s super sociable, she loves to explore whenever we go, and she got very calm while we travel. To be honest, I’m super shocked xD
    She’s also very loving, in winter she allways sleeps over me, and now in summer near my bed or near my legs, just to be sure we’re in the same room. Even if I’m using the ‘ignoring her’ in the morning when she starts mewing, it’s becoming difficoult: she’s SO demanding, sometimes she doesn’t even want food, just to be stroked. She has a very distinct ‘voice’, sometimes seems like she talks more than mewling. She’s NOT afraid of the vacuum, but she is afraid of the mop and the soap bubbles for some reason, and I laugh my ass off when I have to clean the house xD
    My conclusions? She has LOTS of tortitude, more on the ‘possessive on their owner’ side. I really hope she lives for many years to come, she’s the best cat I could ask for : )

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      June 13, 2017 at 10:52 am (1 week ago)

      What a wonderful tortie girl you have, Fedy! I love that she’s become such an easy traveler.

      Reply
      • Don
        June 17, 2017 at 9:47 pm (6 days ago)

        I have the most wonderful Torti by the name of Moriah. I need some advice she us one year old, and for the past several days has barely moved her bowels. I called my vet and they won’t give any advice only to bring her in and I just had major surgery and stripped for cash at the moment can anyone give some advice.

        Reply
        • Ingrid
          June 19, 2017 at 5:03 am (5 days ago)

          Since you left that comment Friday night, I’m not sure how long she’s gone without a bowel movement by now – hopefully, you took her to the vet. You can try giving some canned pumpkin (plain pumpkin, not the pie filling) with her meals – it helps some cats, but if she has no bowel movement at all for more than a couple of days, she needs veterinary attention immediately.

          Reply
    • Noah
      June 23, 2017 at 11:44 am (7 hours ago)

      Haha that’s funny I have the same cat my first cat as well she is 8 week old tortoise shell and her name is Luna as well

      Reply
  4. Kirsten
    June 11, 2017 at 11:45 pm (2 weeks ago)

    We adopted our dilute tortie, Bowie, about 3 months ago. She’s about 6 months old and has the funniest personality I’ve ever seen in a cat. I swear she is part human! She doesn’t meow, persay – she YOWLS. When we first got her, she yowled night and day, and hated – I mean hated – being touched/stroked – she recoiled from our touch, she only wanted love on her terms. She’s warmed up quite a bit since then, but still reserves early morning and late nights for her cuddle-up sessions, where she head-butts me and purrs like a motorboat for about an hour, then curls into my arm to sleep (divine!). By far the funniest trait she’s got right now is her abhorrence of my iphone. If she’s around me and I pick up my phone, she will jump up and paw at it, try to bite it, headbutt it, etc. It’s the weirdest thing! She’s a smart cookie, for sure, and beautiful to boot. I love her and our tabby dearly, and they couldn’t be more different. Thankfully, they adore eachother. When they aren’t playfully wrestling, they are just laying with their arms around eachother, or grooming eachother – swoon! Cats are the best.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      June 12, 2017 at 5:09 am (2 weeks ago)

      That’s too funny about your iPhone, Kristen! It’s like she knows that it’s competition for your attention!

      Reply
  5. Mary Simons
    June 9, 2017 at 11:57 pm (2 weeks ago)

    My daughter & I each adopted Torties in Oct. – hers is a Persian,mine a Himalayan. We got them from a purebred rescue group who rescued them from Egypt. They are the sweetest cats ever. Mine was thought to be a Blue Point, but her speckled brown & tan legs & dots of orange here & there turned out to be a Tortie. They are only 18 mos. old, so we still see a lot of kitten antics – absolutely delightful.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      June 10, 2017 at 5:32 am (2 weeks ago)

      Oh my goodness, I bet they’re both stunning. Feel free to post photos on our Facebook page, we’d love to see them!

      Reply
  6. Andy Crofts
    June 4, 2017 at 12:25 pm (3 weeks ago)

    I was owned by a ‘tortie’ once. I had difficulty deciding which of us was human or cat.
    When my wife went to Saudi Arabia for 2 years, she’d creep under the blanket, her head on the pillow, and a paw on my shoulder.
    Early Sunday mornings, she’d walk with me to the shop, and sit outside while I bought my cigarettes and the Sunday Times. Then walk back. If there was someone walking their dog, she’d jump onto my shoulder like a pirate’s parrot.
    One day she was out and injured her leg. She came back to our bedroom, woke me up (usually by biting that bit between the nostrils!), turned around so I could see the damage. Fortunately, the vet. fixed it quickly.
    Miishievious, but never naughty.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      June 5, 2017 at 5:10 am (3 weeks ago)

      What a character! She sounds amazing.

      Reply
  7. Yvette
    June 3, 2017 at 5:00 pm (3 weeks ago)

    We just rescued our first 3 mo old torti named peaches. And omg we are so in love. She is so playful, loving, energetic, talkative, feisty, definitely fearless and all around crazy!!!! She really fits in lol. She does bite and she likes to crawl up people’s legs but we are trying to correct the behavior and I feel like this will stop as she gets older. I really hate to say it cause I’ve loved all my animals…… But….. I think she’s my favorite she’s awesome. Even since the day we brought her home not one potty accident. Whoa lol.

    Reply
      • Mike
        June 6, 2017 at 7:14 am (2 weeks ago)

        Spicy, the toritude I live with, is the most gentle higher intelligence. She was the only positive distillate of a human relationship of mine, and she’s never betrayed or done anything but try to help me find my higher self. I’d never bonded like this with any animal before, but it is a real trip.

        Reply
        • Ingrid
          June 6, 2017 at 7:58 am (2 weeks ago)

          Spicy is such a perfect name for a tortie. She sounds like she’s your soul cat.

          Reply
  8. Cindy
    June 3, 2017 at 2:55 pm (3 weeks ago)

    My Tortie is Missy who just appeared at our house one day. She is just over a year and is the prankster. I use to hide just barely out of sight then peek around saying boo. Now she hides and when you least expect it jumps out and meows. She used to be very affectionate but over the last few weeks she just seems to want to be left alone. I’m not sure what has changed with the exception of a new male cat who seems to come by. They don’t fight and she seems to like him. My husband and I joke she is a teenager and don’t have time for us.

    Reply
  9. Mary Fallon
    June 1, 2017 at 10:29 am (3 weeks ago)

    My tortie of 17 years just passed yesterday. Her name was Patches, we are absolutely heartbroken. I never researched her breed and I’m enjoying all the info and comments. I knew that she was special, the way that she talked to us just like a person. She gave us so much love, always ready to comfort us with her purring as soon as we held her or were near her.
    We got a new bed a few years ago that was quite high. She was unable to jump up on it which was disturbing for both of us as she purred me to sleep every night. We found a basket that she loved and she then slept downstairs but she cried every night when I went upstairs to bed,this broke my heart.
    She was our baby and could never be replaced but if I ever got another cat it would definitely be a tortie.The loyalty and beautiful personality is like no other(and I’ve had other cats)

    Reply
    • Leah
      June 1, 2017 at 3:29 pm (3 weeks ago)

      I am so sorry for your loss. I have a tortie girl for ya! She’s a hell raiser and is worse than a 2 year old!!! Be careful what ya wish for as mine…well…little Miss Josie Outlaw….will do things just to do it!!! Grrrrrrrrrr!

      Reply
    • Ingrid
      June 3, 2017 at 5:27 am (3 weeks ago)

      I’m so sorry, Mary.

      Reply
  10. Falon
    May 29, 2017 at 3:44 pm (4 weeks ago)

    I just had a torti who had to babies and they are chocolate tortis as well. They are about 9 weeks old and one is a boy hes also long hair so cute. I did not know how rare they are to have boys i was gonna get rid of him but now im second guessing myself lol. I just wanted to share my story to all you cat lovers out there!

    Reply
  11. DRoy
    May 23, 2017 at 10:40 pm (1 month ago)

    The torti stories are great!
    Our torti, Meeko, came from several hours away. She followed my daughter home (she lived in a big city). My daughter took her in, had her fixed & shots. Meeko seemed mostly happy, until one day, she got out of my daughters’ apartment, went down into the basement, and caught a mouse! My daughter concluded that Meeko would rather be outside. So…we took her. We live in the country. After spending days exploring, Meeko decided we were her humans, and stayed. She is a great hunter, and gets along with the other cats…except when our Nebelung kitten tries to play! (the “kitten” is a year old, we are told Nebelungs aren’t grown up until 2 years old).
    Anyway, Meeko is a very nice, loving cat, but don’t get on the wrong side of her…she can be fierce!

    Reply
  12. katie
    May 17, 2017 at 10:55 pm (1 month ago)

    I have a female torti who is about 3 years old. When I first got her, even though I knew she couldn’t possibly be a feral cat– we use to joke around that she was feral just because she was so full of energy. She ran like a horse, she was so loud going up and down the stairs. She would sit with me when she felt like it, but it really took her to be about 1 to really start wanting to sit and cuddle and stay still for more than a couple of minutes. She is such a sweet heart. She knows her name. She didn’t seem to mind car rides. If you look at her and just randomly talk to her she will talk back– she talks a lot. She is very persistent. She is kind of possessive- of me and I think the house. If she sees someone out the window she might growl at them. Once in a blue moon she will growl or hiss at me if she isn’t happy- but she won’t normally do anything. Sometimes she get’s too playful and will bite me… but that’s rare. I would say she hardly ever does that. She loves to sleep with me, and seems to sleep with me for a little while every night. She loves going under the covers and luckily she doesn’t bite my feet because I know I move around a lot. When it’s time to go to work in the morning sometimes she will block the door and we will play the back and forth game… eventually, she lets me leave. Sometimes I can just throw her a toy to distract her. She talks to me all the time. I talk to to her a lot too. I won’t lie, the first year I got her… I was very.. what have I gotten into with her- she was so energetic… and she acted like she was feral, just by how fast she ran around. She has turned into such an amazing cat. I also love, how when I get home– she always rolls on her back, kinda like a dog, and wants her tummy pet. She is very attentive. I can tell she is very smart.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      May 18, 2017 at 5:19 am (1 month ago)

      She sounds wonderful, Katie. What you said about her first year reminds me a little bit about my Allegra – I had never had a “wild” kitten like her before. It took a couple of years for her to mellow out a little.

      Reply
      • Jerry
        May 18, 2017 at 8:38 am (1 month ago)

        My Honey Bunny is at least 10 now and I’m still waiting for that “mellow out.”
        Feral for around 1.5 years before TNR rescue seems to negate that so far.
        Reverse Torbies are the best. Very smart, hard to have, but so worth it.
        My most loyal animal partner ever.

        Reply
  13. EIRA
    May 9, 2017 at 4:47 am (2 months ago)

    After 40 years of cat ownership I have to say I have never found a more gentle and relaxed cat as my current toirtoishell Maggie. She is quiet and affectionate and extremely gentle. She can be persistent when she wants attention but she’s sweet with young children and other cats. I also had another tortoishell call Mali for 19 years. Mali was independent and did not seek attention but she was very gentle and motherly in her nature.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      May 9, 2017 at 5:17 am (2 months ago)

      Maggie sounds like a wonderful girl!

      Reply
      • Julie
        June 16, 2017 at 2:28 pm (1 week ago)

        Awe, your Maggie, sounds just like my Moxie Girl. She is the sweetest most gentle kitty! She is only 1 years old,
        we adopted her from the shelter when she was just a kitten. She can have her crazy moments. But she is the sweetest. Very independent and greets everyone with leg rubs. She also loves to get our attention when she wants something! Could even be as simple as just a neck rub. But she lets you know when she wants something! I’m just learning about her and I love it! She is the easiest and most gentle cat I have had, other than my Main Coon.

        Reply
  14. Kimberly
    May 7, 2017 at 2:17 pm (2 months ago)

    My 8 month old tortie, lylah, is an absolute pistol. She is very independent and only lets me touch her when she wants it, and if she doesn’t want to be touched she makes it very clear that she dosent like it. She is also very vocal when i leave her in a room alone and screams until I come let her out or join her. She thinks all food is hers and steals some every chance she gets, even the dog’s food. She is very dominant with my other animals and makes sure everyone else is in their place. Also, she is extremely smart and picks up on things very quickly. Although, she is also very skittish and doesn’t like new people coming in the house or near her, she ends up being curious and comes out to see who is here but as soon as they make a wrong move she is gone. When I took her to the vet to get her spayed I was afraid she was going to be very temperamental and try to attack the vet when he touched her, because she doesn’t even like me touching her, but instead she was absolutely frozen in fear. Even though she is a brat most the time I love her to death and she is extremely playful and entertaining, definitely a strong personality.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      May 7, 2017 at 4:43 pm (2 months ago)

      “Brat” is a word I often hear when people describe their torties 🙂 Iylah sounds like a real character!

      Reply
    • Kaia
      May 9, 2017 at 12:26 am (2 months ago)

      That’s so interesting! My kitty, Faelen, who is a long haired tortie, sounds very similar to Lylah. She’ll will let you touch her on her own terms only and makes it very clear when that is. I took her to the vet today for a check up and her rabies booster and she acts the exact same way…totally freezes up when she’s there and she tried to bury herself into me…if I have a jacket on, she tries to crawl into it! She acts all tough at home and picks on her sister, but she’s actually really quite timid in the “real world”..lol.

      Reply
  15. Alextzanda Floyd
    April 25, 2017 at 1:24 pm (2 months ago)

    Well despite any thing I love the furry lunatic…

    Reply
    • Don
      April 25, 2017 at 5:56 pm (2 months ago)

      My one year old Moriah is a piece of work. She is hot tempered. But more than makes up for it with her funny behavior and her I LOVE EVERYBODY personality. This cat will actually jump in the shiwer with me. She goes bananas when I take out the laser pointer.

      Reply
    • Jeanine
      May 2, 2017 at 10:07 pm (2 months ago)

      My “Shelly” is a 5 year old Tortoiseshell kitty. She was rescued at 2 weeks old by my son-in-law and has been staying with us, and grandma, ever since. Grandma can no longer take care of her, she would love to find a new home for kitty. Shelly has all her claws and has always lived indoors. She fits the unique personality of a Tortoiseshell: strong-willed, hot-tempered, independent and feisty. Please let me know if you are interested in giving a new home to this little cutie

      Reply
  16. Sarah
    April 16, 2017 at 9:28 am (2 months ago)

    I have two cats, Rosie and Dill Pickles. Rosie is a big fluffy black cat of 6 years, and Dill is coming up on a year and is a chocolate torti. We got Dill from an old roommate of mine who found her abandoned in a Starbucks parking lot. She was probably about 4 weeks old, 0.9lbs. Now she runs my house! Rosie is very polite, has a quiet and raspy meow, and is just a very well behaved cat all around. Dill, on the other hand, steals socks from my boyfriend’s drawer and leaves them in her water bowl. She gets up onto any surface no matter the height (like the top of my fridge) and messes with everything. I love her so much but boy is she a handful. She chews up any paper left out, digs in trash cans (all of which now have been switched out for ones with locking lids), and has destroyed two wallets and countless cords for iPhones, etc…She also loves to do the bait and switch of the cat world: she lays on her back and shows me her belly and then immediately clamps down with teeth and claws if I dare to give her a pet. Aside from her belly, she loves being pet! She was spayed in January and her behavior has not changed! She is still a baby though! We have a petcube (pet camera with a motion activated laser game) and she’s so smart she’s figured out where the laser comes from and goes right to the source rather than chase it on the ground. I do feel bad because she bullies Rosie quite a bit. Rosie is pretty patient and sometimes they play, but many times Rosie just runs and gets up on the highest perch to get away from Dill. Regardless of her insanity (I’ve only hit the tip of the iceberg describing it here), we love Dill and Rosie so so so much!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      April 16, 2017 at 3:01 pm (2 months ago)

      Dill sounds like quite a character!

      Reply
    • Leah
      April 16, 2017 at 4:09 pm (2 months ago)

      Hi Sarah,

      I too have the tortitude, although I tuned myself in with Josie Outlaw who just turned a year old on April 7th. I’ve noticed that she wants to be close, even if that means being on the kitchen counter, bathroom counters, etc. She gets into anything and everything and I have stopped running when I hear loud crashes as it’s already done and she doesn’t understand what she has done in the first place.

      What I have noticed is that she is highly intelligent and needs more interaction than what I can give her even with my other 2 cats and 4 dogs. She needed something to stimulate her brain and keep her out of trouble. (This will never happen!) I got her interactive toys and it has helped tremendously! She plays with them at all hours of the day and night and it has helped stimulate her and has kept her away from trouble! Go to chewy.com and type in interactive cat toys and you will see a racetrack and other things. I hope that this will help as it has helped me immensely. She is so much happier and so am I!

      Reply
    • Rae Ann
      April 17, 2017 at 8:46 pm (2 months ago)

      Sarah,
      Sounds like your Dill and my Skittles have the same tortitude personalities! My Skittles is a black tortie and she is the smartest cat I have ever had. She also likes to tip trash cans over and tear anything up she can get her paws on, including my husband’s arms when he is sitting in his recliner! She gets into and onto everything she can reach. If I open a drawer, she crawls in it. If I put an empty tissue box on the floor, she will squeeze herself into it. I have purchased many interactive toys for her, but she soon becomes bored with them. The only one she still likes is the feather wand toy, which she will chase and leap high into the air for until she is literally panting! If I’m cooking something, she will jump up onto my shoulder to see what I’m cooking, and see if it’s worth begging for a taste. Even with all of her tortitude and quirks, I love her very much. She makes me laugh every day, and I wouldn’t give her up for the world.

      Reply
    • Don
      April 21, 2017 at 9:37 pm (2 months ago)

      Hi I have a chocolate tortoise who just turne one. Her name is Moriah, my fiance said I should of named her Terror. She is high energ, plays constantly. Her davorite game is chase me and tear up daddys papers. She is high spirited and constantly tries to get outside I have had to replace my blinds in my bedroom several times. She is very strong willed when she gets a mind to do something she is going to no matter what I do. She is very vocal and purrs really loud. I have been raising cats for 40 years and Moriah is the most active cat I have ever had. She likes to lick me constantly, and every night when I go to bed she curls up beside me. Even though I have her on a weight control formula she is still 13 pounds. Is that unusual for a tortouseshell?

      Reply
      • Ingrid
        April 22, 2017 at 5:30 am (2 months ago)

        Moriah certainly sounds like she’s all tortie! And no, the weight issue is not unique to tortoiseshell cats, unfortunately, more than 50% of America’s cats are overweight. And weight control formulas usually don’t work, or even make the problem worse. Here’s how to help your cat lose weight: http://consciouscat.net/2015/08/31/weight-loss-tips-for-cats/

        Reply
        • Gillowgirl
          April 22, 2017 at 1:45 pm (2 months ago)

          My girlie Gypsy was laid back but full of playfulness and mischief. Two and a half weeks ago she had a trauma injury to her head. Emergency vet said probably a car tho she never normally went out of the front garden. She is more subdued now and not as playful and mischievous. I do miss it. It was so much fun. She’s recovered very well but I want the real full of fun Gypsy.

          Reply
          • Ingrid
            April 22, 2017 at 2:30 pm (2 months ago)

            I’m so sorry about Gypsy’s accident. Best wishes for a complete recovery and may she gain back her tortitude!

  17. Gizmo
    April 11, 2017 at 1:13 pm (2 months ago)

    where are you based out of because on of those cats looks exactly like my cat which i lost back in 2013

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      April 11, 2017 at 1:16 pm (2 months ago)

      I’m so sorry about your lost kitty, Gizmo. I’m in Northern Virginia. Both of my cats have been with me since 2010 and 2011 and were rescued as kittens.

      Reply
      • Gizmo
        April 12, 2017 at 8:44 am (2 months ago)

        thank you

        Reply
  18. Neil Barker
    April 1, 2017 at 4:33 am (3 months ago)

    Describes my Amber to a tee, she is a calico tortie based on your description. Great article and what a lifetime journey of love and discovery you have been been on.

    Reply
  19. Gillowgirl
    March 30, 2017 at 2:11 pm (3 months ago)

    Last August I adopted Rosie, a calico who was a year old and Gypsy her tortie daughter, 5 or 6 months old. I love them both dearly. Rosie is very gentle and silent apart from purring. She’s been such a patient mum. Gypsy is homeloving but full of mischief. She is a almost a silent cat like her mum, she has a quiet squeak occasionally but when awake all she wants to do is play. If I play with her mum Gypsy charges in. She robs her mum of treats and isn’t satisfied with her own food dish, she has to try and “rob” her mum. There are spats now but they do love each other. Rosie will lie on my legs and gently chew my toes. Gypsy doesn’t like my lap but will indulge me and let me scoop her up and snuggle my face into her. She never gets tired of playing even tho she’s no longer a kitten and if she’s on my bed I daren’t even twitch and she’s diving on the covers. She is a bit slow upstairs lol. She still hasn’t worked out how to get in and out of a door left ajar and has shredded the carpets by the doors. I love both my girlies so much and equally but there’s something about Gypsy.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      March 30, 2017 at 2:24 pm (3 months ago)

      They sound like quite the pair!

      Reply
      • Gillowgirl
        March 30, 2017 at 5:28 pm (3 months ago)

        Oh they are. They give me plenty of exercise throwing polystyrene balls outside for them to chase. Gypsy the Tortie especially likes me to throw screwed up paper down the hall and she runs so fast that she slides sideways. She carries a small model dog around by its head for some reason…a present to me from grand daughter. Rosie catches mice and Gypsy takes them to play with. Never harming them. It’s such fun having them

        Reply
  20. Leah
    March 28, 2017 at 8:25 am (3 months ago)

    Ingrid,

    I’ve written in previously that I got Josie Outlaw from the local humane society and that she is different. I have been finding out how different and trying to figure her out, I think I might have it. She is definitely a rebel and does everything that she is not supposed to….then their are those moments that make you smile and you try to understand better!

    She is coming up on a year on April 7th, 2017 and since having her right before Thanksgiving to now….she makes things crash, has an infatuation with rubber bands and goes into my range bag to get every single one. She will take her nail and a tooth and stretch them. It’s the funniest thing I’ve ever seen! She has to be right next to you doing whatever and follows you more so than her canine friends. When I’m done in that location, all I have to do is say…Ok, Josie lets go..and she’s right there with me constantly following me.

    She is definitely a rebel and I named her right. In the middle of the night I hear loud crashes and have stopped getting up to find out what they are…to just find Josie looking at me like…”what….I didn’t do anything!!!!” She is a cuddler, although on her own time and when it is her time, she wants to be held close with tons of kisses. She has for the past few weeks been snuggling in bed, which is nice…she is definitely feeling extremely comfortable.

    Josie plays with all 4 dogs, although her and Pixie Prissy Pants are besties. Them two are for the most part inseparable. The way that they play has me in continues laughter and I wouldn’t want it any other way! She has even gotten Charles Dickens whom has the personality of….it’s another family member…it’s another cat as he is just a chilled little guy, she has him playing with her and it is just so funny to watch!

    Although on Sunday, it wasn’t so good and I was in hysteria. My husband was doing the yard work for most of the day and she somehow slipped outside with him. I think he left the garage door open and she slipped out. I thought she was cat napping on my bed and when I went to go find her, she was gone. She always comes running when I call her, more so than the dogs. I panicked and was outside for hours calling her in the dark.

    We live in the country and my mind went to the worst. I put my pillow case on the front door step, then her kennel she came home from the shelter and after another 20 minute yelling spree outside I came in and was just crying my eyes out. My husband was trying to console me, although I’ve never lost a baby in my life and I wasn’t planning on it now. I went in my bedroom and sat there for a few minutes and told him I was going to get her kitty box and put it on the front porch for her scent. Pixie, Prissy Pants, her bestie went to the front door and was scratching on it. I opened it up and there she was….I saw her silhouette. I screamed for my husband to come get the fuzzies and for him to shut the front door so I can sit on the step and call her. She came right to me and now she is grounded for life!!!!

    Even though we have 2 other kitties and 4 American Eskimo dogs, she livens up this house with her antics like no other. She scared the living day lights out of me and I gave the husband and Josie got a what for!!! She is not an outdoor baby and never will be.

    The husband doesn’t care too much for her antics, although I caught him last night holding her and telling her that we love her so much that she just can’t go outside, ever. It was cute and now I think he realizes even he loves her more without realizing how much she does mean to all of us that live in this large house. I don’t know how she knew where she lived, or how she got here, but I would of been devastated if she didn’t come back and the wildlife got her. I thank God every day for my little Outlaw cuz that is what she is!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      March 28, 2017 at 1:28 pm (3 months ago)

      Oh my goodness, what an awful experience that must have been – every cat guardian’s worst nightmare. I’m so glad she returned to you!

      Reply
      • Leah
        March 28, 2017 at 11:10 pm (3 months ago)

        You and me both. I couldn’t ever imagine life without her. Even though I have 4 Eskies and 2 other cats, she brings life in this house. The Eskies all adore her and she is puuurfect with the other 2 cats, its just a match made from heaven. My heart would have been lost as we are truly bonded together.

        Reply
  21. Mo D.
    March 18, 2017 at 5:44 pm (3 months ago)

    My tortie came to my attention as a stray, or so I thought. I found her, very thin and meowing, when I was out for a walk one day. Her front paws were very small, unlike her back feet. Later I discovered she belonged to a neighbor several residences away and I asked him about her. He told me he had to put her outside because she attacked his other animals constantly. I asked if he would give over custody to me and he readily agreed.

    Once inside my home I discovered her small front paws were due to declawing. Imagine, the man had put outside a declawed (but spayed) kitty unable to defend herself in an area with many cats roaming around! My vet said she was malnourished but otherwise in good health.

    I’ve had her for about five years now. Her only downside is that she bites. Other than that she is loving and friendly to visitors and family. They just have to be warned that she may give them a tortitude nip on occasion. She’s quite a character.

    Reply
  22. Dan the Tortified
    March 18, 2017 at 11:56 am (3 months ago)

    I am glad to read about tortie personality traits finally. Have had a tortie (Jewel)or or she owns me,and her all black brother (Lucian) for two years now. Her brother is fat, a little skittish but affectionate and happy. However, my little Jewel seems to own the house and all that dwell in its walls. I have three dogs (one is a 200 pound great dane)who for quite awhile gave her a wide berth but are fine now. She wasn’t aggressive, just wanted to play with them. She shied away from most human contact for the first few months but since she seems to attached to me like a lost puppy. She follows me all over the house and when I stop she does, she want s to be picked up but has to be put back down. Its kind of hard not to pick her up when she runs in front of you and rolls over and begs.Or if I am sitting at my desk or (online, paper work)in the bathroom(toilet shower ect, dont matter), she is there. Hell when its time to go bed she follows and half the time she stops on the stairs and asks me to carry her but then she will only stay for attention briefly then stations herself on one of several perches within sight all night except if she thinks I am awake. Then she comes, stairs me in the face then goes back to her perch. All this stuff she does is a little off for any cat but the one thing she does the we just dont understand and that is when your tortitude must come into play, (or she is just bat crap crazy), she for no reason, will come to attention then run at full speed all , and I do me all around the house growling, snarling and talking a mile a minute. When she does this(like every other day) no one or no thing dares go near. It can last twenty seconds or ten minutes and if it wasn’t so damn funny it might be scary. From what I have read today I think most of you know exactly what I am talking about too. TORTITUDE, I guess we have been tortified. I have had lots of cats and loved them all b, but she is just different.

    Reply
  23. Bobj
    March 10, 2017 at 9:06 pm (3 months ago)

    You’re full of it! Listen to yourself.

    Reply
    • Brittany
      March 14, 2017 at 3:22 pm (3 months ago)

      My boyfriend brought home a stray gray kitten last September, a coworker found them abandoned in a box on the side of the road, so him and a few others brought them home. Well, this kitten was very different. She ended up not being solid gray, but had lighter patches throughout, and a cream colored spot running from her chin to her tummy, looking like she spilled milk. I had never seen a gray cat with splotches like her so I did some research, she looked like a tortie but I’d never seen one in gray…but sure enough, they do come in gray and cream. So we’ve got a dilute tortie, and she is a handful. She meows for attention, makes chirping and trilling sounds when running full speed through the house, she loves her two big brother ginger tabbies. Her personality is vastly different of my two big boys though, but she’s quite entertaining.

      Reply
  24. carol
    March 8, 2017 at 1:57 pm (4 months ago)

    I was given a stray tortie that I bottled fed for weeks, she was maybe 10 days old when I took her in she was so tiny and sweet, now she is about 4-5 months old and is mean she bites scratches and only will let you hold her when she is sleepy she will crawl in my lap and purr and let you love on her.I love her but when anyone comes over or other dogs are around she is vicious biting and scratching everyone even me she gets along with my 2 small dogs they play together, will she out grow this I plan to have her spayed very soon and thinking of declawing her she is destroying the house .

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      March 8, 2017 at 5:35 pm (4 months ago)

      Please do not declaw your cat, Carol. Declawing is an inhumane procedure that is banned in 25 countries around the world. It involves amputating each toe at the first joint, and not only causes tremendous pain after the procedure, but can actually make any existing behavior issues worse. For more information about declawing and why it should never be done, please visit The Paw Project http://www.pawproject.org/

      It sounds like your kitten is just being a kitten, with a lot of energy, and she needs appropriate ways to burn it off. Try structured play sessions, two or three times a day, 10 to 15 minutes each. Use interactive wand toys. Really get her tired out so she can burn off some excess energy. Make sure she has plenty of stimulation even when you can’t play with her: perches to look out the windows, toys, various scratching posts, etc.

      Reply
      • Leah
        March 28, 2017 at 8:47 am (3 months ago)

        I do agree with Ingrid about NOT getting her declawed. She will calm down a bit after spaying, although she is a Tortie with a unique personality. If it makes you feel any better, I bought brand new living room furniture a month a go and she has every bit of it torn up and it looks like it’s 5 years old. This is how it is. Understanding her and activities will make life better! I, myself have several interactive toys for Josie Outlaw along with taking the time to play is big in their world! Do as much research on your special friend and try to understand her more and I bet you two will have a loving relationship. Jut remember….pets are like children…they are for life! :0)

        Reply
    • Bobj
      March 10, 2017 at 9:10 pm (3 months ago)

      I have adopted several senior declawed cats that were declawed as kittens. I assure you declawing as soon as possible at the kitten stage has absolutely no effect on the cat later in life and makes for a great non damaging cat to furniture walls car seats etc.

      Reply
      • kaia
        March 10, 2017 at 9:25 pm (3 months ago)

        How can you say it has no effects on the cat? You are amputating half of each toe! To put it in perspective, that is like you cutting off each finger at the middle joint. Explain to me how that is not a)traumatic and b)barbaric AND c) extremely painful? It’s a multiple amputation. This is a procedure that should not even been allowed to take place. If you love your pet, I would seriously think twice before doing this. You are putting your furniture before the wellbeing of an animal…

        Reply
      • Ingrid
        March 12, 2017 at 7:29 am (3 months ago)

        There are very few areas where things are black and white, but declawing is one of them. I applaud you for adopting these senior cats – someone else already put them through the trauma of this horrific surgery, and they needed a home. But to consider putting a cat who is already part of your family through amputation surgery because you’re worried about carpets and furniture – it’s simply inconceivable to me.

        I’m not going to continue to discuss this topic, and I will delete future comments about this topic on this post.

        Reply
    • Ben
      March 13, 2017 at 7:06 pm (3 months ago)

      Kittens who don’t have play partners can have ‘aggressive play’ where they never learned how to play properly from their siblings/mother. She doesn’t know she is being naughty because no other cat ever told her.

      If that is her behavior, declaw could make it worse. Then her only tool is her teeth, and the underlying issue isn’t fixed.

      What I would do is enforce good play when interacting with her – if she is naughty and scratches or bites too aggressively, hiss loudly at her and/or snatch her by the scruff immediately (but briefly) .
      Afterward continue continue what you were doing, but be prepared to do the exact same thing again. You have to train your kitty, and taking away her fingers will not fix that.

      Reply
    • Gillowgirl
      March 30, 2017 at 5:12 pm (3 months ago)

      My vet was horrified when he wrongly thought I wanted mine declawing, explaining it could have physical and psychological effects. He trimmed their claws and explained how to do it.

      Reply
  25. kaia
    March 6, 2017 at 10:11 pm (4 months ago)

    I have 2 torties (they have me, really)…the older, and my first, is a lovely long haired forest pixie named Faelen and she is a total character. She is very talkative and has various dialects. She also climbs trees like a monkey.
    My other sweetie is actually Faelen’s niece! Her sister had a litter a year after I took Faelen home and it was the most unique litter I had ever seen! Mom is a short haired tortie and her litter had 1 short haired tortie female, a seal color point siamese female, a flame tabby point siamese male and a tortie point siamese female! I just stood there in awe when I first saw them and started waxing lyrical about how amazing this litter was …. no one else seemed to have a clue what I was talking about, nor did they seem to care (farm cat litter, by the way!) I immediately called dibs on the tortie point female….her name is Sora…she is beautiful.. blue eyes and all…and the sweetest, most affectionate kitty I have ever had in my life. They are both incredibly smart and communicative. Sora loves deer…they visit my cabin in the forest daily and she plays with the fawns. It’s hilarious and very heart warming.

    Reply
    • Liz
      March 12, 2017 at 5:22 pm (3 months ago)

      Female cats can be impregnated by more than one male so it’s not too surprising that a roaming farm cat might have kittens with different “daddies”.

      Reply
    • Liz
      March 12, 2017 at 5:43 pm (3 months ago)

      I’ve had my first torbie for about 16 months now. I got her form a shelter and they knew nothing about her past. She has a clipped ear so presumably she’s been feral at one time. Anyway she is full of sass and vinegar. Not having had a torbie before I thought all of her behavior and schizophrenic issues had to do with having been abandoned. I may have to rethink what causes her to be so antisocial. The vet I took her to said she was the most aggressive cat she had ever seen and she wouldn’t examine her. I took her to a different vet and the only way she would examine her was to anthetize (?) her first.

      Reply
      • Doug & Janete Massey
        May 2, 2017 at 1:13 pm (2 months ago)

        We took our anti-social Tortie for shots and the Vet sprayed some kind of Pheremone on the mat and calmed her down. She said you can buy a liquid and put in a container like glade and plug it in. Cover the whole house Doug

        Reply
  26. Bill
    March 3, 2017 at 11:14 pm (4 months ago)

    Liddi is my tortie. Got her from a county kennel at five weeks. Now almost a year she is the love of my life. I’d go to war over her. She has all of the attributes of tortitude and then some. When she wants attention she’s loving and rolls over on her back and lets me scratch that beautiful underbelly coat. If I ignore her she lets me know by giving m a tortie bite. Nothing like her.

    Reply
    • Liz Gardner
      March 4, 2017 at 7:28 am (4 months ago)

      Oh Bill its so lovely to read about your love affair with Liddi – she sounds gorgeous but then all torties are. I’ve got two torties in my life Fifi and Candy – we are a ‘menage a trois’ so to speak – my others cats look on in amazement 🙂

      Reply
    • Leah
      March 28, 2017 at 8:56 am (3 months ago)

      Oh, I so know that love affair! Having Josie Outlaw now for 5 months and learning everything about her and her little antics, I wouldn’t want her any different! I understand the feelings…”I’d go to war over her” as I would for Josie Outlaw and all of my other babies. Once they are in your life, it is forever and I wouldn’t have it any other way!!!!!

      Reply
  27. Clara
    March 2, 2017 at 2:24 am (4 months ago)

    I lived out in country setting and had strsy cats around. I would feed, catch and fix ones I could. I caught a tortie gave her the name of Scatster because she scat away from me. I managed to get her fixed and returned her to her area. She would visit my back door and knock on it from off the railing. She refused to ever want in house and I had been feeding her for about 3 yrs when I sold my house. I was lucky to have a buyer that liked cats and I told her of Scatster. Scatster still runs the neighborhood my daughter lives across from my old house and she will tell me she say her. Scatster is 6 yrs old most likely Maine Coon she is a large hairy girl. I have her brother a very clingy ginger tabby named Goldey who loves to sleep a top my head and cuddle. I wanted to bring Scatster with but she just refused to leave her area. I also have 4 others that have been rescued and fixed. No breeders for me too many animals that need a home.

    Reply
  28. Amber
    February 25, 2017 at 10:12 pm (4 months ago)

    We adopted a tortoiseshell (Callie – 5 yrs old) and a tuxedo (Louisa – 3 yrs old) last March. Oh my goodness! Didn’t know the excitement we were in for with these two! Callie is the best of the tortie personality – except when she’s scratching the walls & door frames. We’ve learned to deal with that while trying to change her behavior. But, really, she’s the sweetest cat – LOVES everyone who walks in our home. My sister-in-law came over a few weeks after we brought the girls home. She sat down in a chair to change her shoes and Callie jumped up in her lap, turned around, and laid down. My SIL just sat there, stunned! Cal just seems to want everyone to be loved.
    The moment we brought the girls in, though, Callie exerted her dominance over Louisa. Lou spent the first few weeks hiding whenever Callie was around (all the time!). She has since learned to stand her ground and will occasionally instigate a fun little chase around the house.
    I could go on and on about my preciouses…

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      February 26, 2017 at 6:10 am (4 months ago)

      They both sound wonderful, Amber!

      Reply
  29. Hilda
    February 25, 2017 at 2:03 pm (4 months ago)

    A few weeks ago I was blessed to be able to rescue a tiny, malnourished, on the brink of death Tortie from 2 shepherds here at the ranch where I live. She is exactly as you describe her. Needless to say, my life has been blessed by this, my new loving, beautiful friend and companion

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      February 25, 2017 at 5:02 pm (4 months ago)

      Welcome to the wonderful world of tortitude, Hilda!

      Reply
  30. Daisy Bright
    February 24, 2017 at 1:13 am (4 months ago)

    Much as I adore my tortoiseshell, as I have all my cats, the notion that there is such a thing as “tortitude” is an excellent example of confirmation bias.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      February 24, 2017 at 6:05 am (4 months ago)

      Which is why I constantly stress, both on this website and in my book, that while there are commonalities for most torties, each cat is an individual.

      Reply
    • Bobj
      February 27, 2017 at 9:28 am (4 months ago)

      As a current first time tortie owner and former of at least 10 other breeds I completely disagree. Even when visiting shelters It’s obvious all torties have that similar unique personality. I believe it’s genetic just like different groups of people tend to have similar basic personalities.

      Reply
  31. Taylor
    February 22, 2017 at 6:31 am (4 months ago)

    I was so blessed to get the sweetest baby Tortise Shell cat after I met these women who had both their queens give birth at the same time. It was overwhelming for them for sure (the one I picked was the only one without a name). She has been a delight since we brought her him. Her name is CleoCatra and she loves my older queen, Chairman Meow (who took time getting used to how rambunctious the kitten was) and will sleep next to my English pointer. She loves everyone and isn’t scared of strangers. In fact, she is so snuggely with people, that we had people begging us to not get her fixed so they could adopt her babies. She comes when you call her, is ridiculously smart (i.e. opened a large velcro closed box that had Christmas ornaments in it, flipped the very large flap, unraveled the tissue paper til she found the ornaments she needed.) The vet said she is due any day now with 3- possibly 4 kittens and I am hoping they are as sweet and original as she is. Plus the Tom is a ragdoll cat so the kittens should look like ewoks. I’ve had a lot of cats growing up and this breed is definitely my favorite. Though I may be Bias

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      February 22, 2017 at 10:35 am (4 months ago)

      I love both of your cats’ names, Taylor!

      Reply
  32. Crystal
    February 18, 2017 at 1:03 am (4 months ago)

    I am the human of a 14 year old torti, Jade. She has a very unique personality for sure! She doesn’t like anyone but me, and will only tolerate certain people. She is very vocal and can be very demanding when she wants to be. But, to me, she is the sweetest little girl and I love her so very much! I have 3 other cats (a gray 6 toed tabby, a tuxedo, & a Maine coon), but Jade will always be my baby girl and the one that sleeps and snuggles with me. She’s my baby!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      February 18, 2017 at 5:58 am (4 months ago)

      Jade sounds like she’s got tortitude and then some, Crystal!

      Reply

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