“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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1,271 Comments on “Tortitude” – The Unique Personality of Tortoiseshell Cats: Fact or Fiction?

  1. Mike
    March 24, 2019 at 4:14 am (3 hours ago)

    I’m not very educated on cat breeds. So for my wife’s 29th birthday I promised I’d get her a cat or a kitten, whatever she wanted. So I’m feeling good, my basketball team had just won it’s 1st championship under me, I tell my wife “get whatever one you want, baby!” We stop at the Humane Society with the hopes of finding a cute baby kitten. So we’re looking and looking, BOOM! We see a dark colored cat, poor thing stuffed in a little kennel. My wife does her cute “sad” face and goes awww “Lila? I want to see her.” So they lead us to a room and Lila comes in, I was baffled looking at her, like “omg does this poor cat eat?” She was so skinny and long! Looked like Slinky Dog from “Toy Story” with fur and unique coloring. I’m very standoffish at this point like “my wife wants this cat, not me. But cute!” She’s just rubbing her face on anything hard in the room, chair, tables, my leg, my wife’s leg. I’m thinking “aw she’s lovable!” Few weeks later I get out of work, we have a new friend in the house. Lila! First thing I noticed was after she stopped shaking and adapting to her new surroundings was her personality, she could be hot and cold. Ha! Few weeks went by, i had a bad night at work and it’s so weird it’s like she could sense I was not in a happy mood, all of a sudden..*cat roar* I feel claws and teeth digging into my hamstring! HA! I grabbed her, threw her off and I was like WTF just happened? Calmed her down, told my wife “if this happens again, she’s history!” But..as time went on, I knew like any other animal you have to give them their space, show them affection but don’t smother them with it. Over time though she’s become my little furry best friend. I have about 1,000 different names for her. One night I was watching film and a former basketball player named Jon Koncak’s name came over the TV and my kitty was spazzing around the house and trilling A LOT! I go “Jesus, you sound like a coon cat! Raccoon like!” So I turned and pointed and said “KONCAK!” HAHAAHA! To this day, all of my friends even family members call her Koncak hahahaha! I will say this though, I fell in love with her on the day I found out a family member whom I’m close with had cancer, I covered my face crying and I was alone and I heard a trill, uncover my face and she’s right there, rubbing her face onto my hands and face. She has NEVER done that! Only time ever. But..I love my little fuzz ball! She’ll be 4 in September, I’m very grateful for this cat coming into my life. Many years ahead of us! She went from somewhat feral to a loving house cat. 🙂 I’ have 1,000 more stories but I don’t want to sound too crazy but I’m proud to say I’m the crazy cat man. 🙂

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      March 24, 2019 at 5:34 am (1 hour ago)

      What a special little girl! And full of tortitude from the sounds of it 🙂

      Reply
  2. Ellen
    March 6, 2019 at 4:21 pm (3 weeks ago)

    I’ve had my tortie since she was 6 weeks old, and 6 years later she is still the character and trouble on four feet. I have 4 cats, and she’s about half their size but she definitely rules the roost. Even my former feral cat who outweighs her literally twice over doesn’t mess with her too much. She’s very Jekyll and Hyde as others have said. One minute she’s rolling around purring and the next you’ve got scratches all over you. But we just love her to pieces–what a character!

    Reply
  3. Kristi
    March 3, 2019 at 11:07 am (3 weeks ago)

    Hi. First time poster. Adopted a tortoise kitten (6 months old) in November 2018. Have had a pet since high school. My moms kept 3 cats locked in a room, which I HATED! Seemed so cruel.

    Back to my cat, I let your room in the apartment, but she randomly will scratch rugs, chairs, curtains… or go to scratching post. No rhythm or reason. Will sometimes play with toys.

    She is spayed. Do I need to keep her entertained more to stop her scratching furniture. Sprays and pheromones are not working. Thanks

    Reply
  4. Dar Covert
    February 24, 2019 at 9:20 pm (4 weeks ago)

    I have a 5 year old tortie. I got Missy when she was 4 months old. Missy was not introduced to people so when I got her, she was a terrified little kitten. My vet told me that Missy was part feral and very much a tortie. Missy sure does have tortitude. She can be so sweet but the next minute she is unpredictable. If I pick her up she gets angry, she must come on her own terms. I love her so very much and would not trade her for the world.

    Reply
  5. Vicky
    February 5, 2019 at 1:55 pm (2 months ago)

    Yes Tortitude is definitely real. I have 3 torties and all 3 have completely different personalities. Cali our oldest (11) is sweet, and fearless, Sassy (10) is a super sweet loving cat gets along with everyone including the dog, Torti (almost 2) well she has not only read the book but has added her own chapter on how to exhibit the famous Totitude. She can be sweet one minute and attacking you the next. She steals the dishrags, the strainer, and anything else from the sink. She hides them along with magnets from the fridge and socks under the fish aquarium. Oh the joys of the tortitude.

    Reply
  6. Alexsandra Hamilton
    February 3, 2019 at 5:28 pm (2 months ago)

    We were taking two of our 6 cats to the vet for their annual checkups, and the vet tech was holding this 5-week old tortie in her lap. She looked at us and said, “You guys need another cat,” and the rest is history. NIne years later, Spitfire causes more trouble than all the other cats combined. She loves to rip paper to shreds, chew pieces of my burrow’s tail cactus, leaving the little leaves all over like cookie crumbs. I can’t have any silk flower arrangements in the house, as they get totally destroyed, piece by piece. Unlike the other cats, who gratefully lap up any and all human attention, “Spitz” makes her displeasure known immediately. If she’s comfortable on a chair, you don’t dare move her… she hisses and snarls, and out come the claws. She doesn’t get along with any of the other cats (although, she tends to curl around my two dogs). But just like Jekyll and Hyde, she has her good side. When my husband towels off after a shower, she’s right there, waiting for him to “rub her down” with the wet towel. She absolutely shrieks with joy. When she wants to hop up on the counter to get to her food bowl, she will first come find you, meow slightly, and beckon you to follow, so that once she jumps up and starts eating, you can scratch her back. And when we all watch TV, she will go to the middle recliner, and no matter who is sitting there, she will curl up on their ankles. But only the middle chair, as it’s the one with the best viewing angle. Just don’t try to move your legs once she’s there. My poor husband, who really didn’t want another cat to begin with, is now her biggest fan. He alone can pick her up in his arms, and she’ll dangle her right paw out in front, and squeeze her eyes half-closed, purring. She can drive us both nuts, but we adore her.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      February 4, 2019 at 6:16 am (2 months ago)

      Spitfire is such a great name for a tortie!

      Reply
    • Meg
      February 26, 2019 at 2:16 pm (4 weeks ago)

      My tortie (or torbie) is same. Once she is comfortable wherever she is sitting if you dare move or even worse, move her, she attacks. And she holds a grudge too and will get back at you another time if she misses the opportunity. She smart enough too to know which area of your body is unprotected by clothing and goes for that. Def a one person cat and did not like to share the attention with other cat. Very jealous and possessive. She gets into everything too. One time she somehow managed to remove the screwed on caps from the spice has and smelled like garlic and cumin for days. I also left the front door open once but with a latched security gate and somehow she was able to reach her paw underneath the small opening at bottom of gate and pin a bird that was outside and drag it back in under the gate. I still have no idea how she was able to do that. Poor bird-so basically she has to be supervised Ike a toddler but she is a very loyal, devoted and loving kitty when not using her tortitude

      Reply
  7. John
    February 2, 2019 at 8:59 pm (2 months ago)

    I had a beautiful tortie named Guinness, because she looked like a pint of Guinness with nice patches of black, red, and white in her face. She was a one man cat, who hated everyone else, but totally loved me. Unfortunately, she developed cancer in her palatte. After a year and losing half of her weight, I had to make the difficult decision to end her life to avoid further suffering. RIP Guinness.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      February 3, 2019 at 9:15 am (2 months ago)

      I’m so sorry about Guinness, John.

      Reply
    • Betty Silvas
      February 3, 2019 at 7:08 pm (2 months ago)

      I’m so sorry about the loss of your wonderful cat. It is such a difficult thing to make that decision but it shows just how much you considered her suffering as opposed to your own feelings. God bless you. Your kitty will wait to join you on the rainbow bridge.

      Reply
    • Nicole
      February 6, 2019 at 2:22 pm (2 months ago)

      My condolences John. When my 17 year old cat became ill, I rescued a tortie kitten and I named her Brownie to keep him company. He passed away a year later and while she’s a regular terror, she was sweet and gentle to him in his last days.

      Reply
  8. Daniel Lewis
    January 28, 2019 at 8:56 am (2 months ago)

    I have a torby (tortie/tabby), and well, she is downright mean. Got her about two years ago, she wandered out of nowhere when I was in west Texas, and has been with me ever since. She has followed me all over the country, living with me in my van when necessary, and sleeps by my side. We play rough, but it is play, but if anyone else touches her, she attacks. She hates females especially, of all species, when they are around me. She has been known to knock the cell phone out of my hand, and gets jealous when I am on the phone . She likes to ride around on the dashboard of my vehicle if I let her, most of the time though I put her in a carrier in the passengers seat, and she likes road trips, as long as she can watch me driving. She hates not being around me pretty much constantly, even an hour of separation sets her off. I can carry her around like she is a baby, but she wont let anyone else even touch her.

    Reply
    • Liz
      January 28, 2019 at 10:19 pm (2 months ago)

      Oh Daniel you lucky guy she obviously absolutely adores you and I’m jealous. I had a tortie for 18 years who used to behave just like your girl – I lost her three years ago and still cry for her – I miss her so much you just cannot even being to imagine – so make the most of every second of the time that you have with her she is precious beyond words 🙂

      Reply
    • Karl Wright
      February 17, 2019 at 12:31 pm (1 month ago)

      My tabby is also mean. the wife named her pepper. You could be scratching her head and next thing she hissing at you. How do you others handle this?

      Reply
  9. Meg
    January 12, 2019 at 1:21 am (2 months ago)

    Oh and another thing is that since she is high strung and anxious I thought she would lick off her fur and vomit frequently from stress but turns out she is extremely allergic to a lot of stuff and scored the highest on allergy testing (poor thing) so does anyone know if that is common with this breed? Thankfully her beautiful coat is back and no more vomiting thanks to treatment. I’m so glad I finally discovered the uniqueness of torties as before that I was encouraged by one person to get rid of her for being too difficult and temperamental (which I would never do under any circumstance) but I just always assumed she had a split personality. She is so fun and funny and also crazy and quick tempered but I love her exactly the way she is 🙂

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      January 12, 2019 at 6:19 am (2 months ago)

      “Split personality” is a good way to describe torties, isn’t it? I’m glad you are able to appreciate your girl’s uniqueness and love her for it! Allergies aren’t more common in torties than they are in cats with other colors.

      Reply
    • Beverly
      February 5, 2019 at 5:45 pm (2 months ago)

      We have a 7 yr old Tortie, Miss Callie, who is just like that. Very high strung & is constantly licking off her fur.

      Reply
      • cb
        March 19, 2019 at 9:01 pm (4 days ago)

        Miss Daisy licked herself a nice Brazilian one summer til we took her to the vet – it turned out that she’d been in pain from dental issues, trying to work on that and distract herself….. keep an eye out!

        Reply
  10. Meg
    January 12, 2019 at 1:06 am (2 months ago)

    We rescued our cat from the pound at 5 weeks old and were never told her breed and had no idea what she was. What we quickly realized was how different she was from our gentle Russian blue kitty. This newly rescued kitten took over the
    household like nobody’s business the second she walked in the door and hasn’t stopped. Very head strong, defiant, assertive, won’t back down for anything and in fact will chase you if she’s mad enough, goes from lovingly purring on your lap to suddenly hissing at you or biting or swatting you for no reason, can go from 0-60 in a milli second, can be so gentle and loving to scaring the heck out of you like a wild cougar, seats at you or attacks you depending on her vantage point any time you walk by her, talks up a storm more than any cat I’ve ever known, is extremely attached to us that leaving her alone for a day causes major stress and anxiety, most vets won’t treat her because she is so scary and aggressive with them-even scares us enough that we leave the room-as she morphs into a mountain lion the second we enter the vet and now they insist on sedating her every time. The list goes on. I have never had a cat anything like her. She’s so unique and difficult but special and loving and I wouldn’t trade her for the world. It wasn’t until one vet finally told us oh she’s got tortitude and owns you because of the kind of cat she is-a diluted torbie! Once I read up on that it all made sense and described her perfectly. The only thing I didn’t see was she is overly sensitive to noise. I can’t sing or talk on speakerphone or she gets mad and attacks me even if she’s asleep. She will wake up and attack me if I play music on my iPhone. Crazy. Like they say she can be cuddling and loving and purring so loudly on me and in a split second gets wild eyed and wants to kill me, especially if she’s comfortable next to me and I dare move and disturb her. If she was 300 lbs she def would have done that by now haha.

    Reply
    • Betty
      January 12, 2019 at 10:05 pm (2 months ago)

      She sounds like a wonderful kitty. Torties are so full of life and personality that nothing can hold them back. I am so happy that you accept and enjoy her unique little self. Torties give you such love.

      Reply
  11. Chris
    January 3, 2019 at 5:21 am (3 months ago)

    Great article. It helped understand some of the personality traits of one of our cats. We have two a year and a half old Tabby named Marcus and a Year and one month old named Bella who we thought was a tabby like her big bro but it seems she may be what you referred to as a “torbie”. Kinda wondered a bit if she was a tortie when the orange fur pattern started to appear as she grew up. But now that i have read this article i have a better understanding. She def has the tortitude going on. Full on daddys girl and vocal at times. Not full on meowing but a sort of questioning and curious hmm? Kind of noise. It is difficult to explain what it sounds like really.

    Reply
  12. Betty
    December 27, 2018 at 6:48 pm (3 months ago)

    Every cat, like every person, has its own personality. But Torties have unique personalities. They seem to be able to know their owners feelings on a higher level than other cats. I lost my little girl, Rusty, last September and lost part of my heart with her passing. She was the most loving and lively cat I have ever had. I will always love her and hope she will be waiting for me on the Rainbow Bridge. Torties are awesome!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      December 28, 2018 at 6:29 am (3 months ago)

      I’m so sorry about Rusty, Betty. They do take a piece of our hearts with them.

      Reply
      • Betty
        January 3, 2019 at 11:55 am (3 months ago)

        Thank you so much. I still miss her sweet little presence every day.

        Reply
  13. Holly Ulatoski
    December 26, 2018 at 2:16 pm (3 months ago)

    My tortis are totally different. I have 5 cats, two of them are tortis. MiYim is 10 years old, I have to admit she is my favorite. Why? MiYim is so silly and makes me laugh everyday, she knows when I am playing or teasing her and would play with me. She is wonderful with other cats, even female cats. She is great friends with another torti cat, Mimosa. They are best friends. They sleep together and groom each other. She is totally different from MiYim, Mimosa is not affectionate with people. She is just loving and sweet. I still love them so much! <3

    Reply
  14. Jeff jensen
    December 2, 2018 at 8:44 pm (4 months ago)

    Yep know the tortitude.. My wife and I have 15 cats 3 are torties
    Gidgit, maakins, and alee-roo.. And each one has its own tortitude,
    Got mainecoons also and cali’s..but most keep there distance from the torties… Except tank my 22 lb mainecoon.. He could careless about them..he’ll get waped by one just looks at them..if he could talk he’d probably say really. That’s all ya got… Then he just walks off..lol
    But all are furbabies. Are just wonderful… My wife has a crazy gift
    She can hold a cat for a bit and if there is something wrong with it she can almost to a tee tell what’s its problems are… Freaks are vet out.. Lol
    Catitude on peeps…….

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      December 3, 2018 at 6:27 am (4 months ago)

      Your description of Tank’s reaction to your torties made me laugh out loud!

      Reply
  15. Peter C
    November 24, 2018 at 9:59 am (4 months ago)

    Porschie-girl was the best tortie you ever hope to have. I had the most amazing 14 years with her since the day my wife brought her home to me on my birthday as a gift. She would go to work with me about once a month. She was the hit of the drive though when I got coffee. She was unseperable from me. She waited for me outside the shower and jumped on my lap the second I sat down. She slept next to me with her head if the pillow next to me (under the blankets). Her tortietude was her possession of me. I am heartbroken over her loss… I am not ready for another as I am convinced I had the best kitten in the world and I couldn’t love another. I had always told my wife if Porsche goes before me to just kill me and burry us together… But when the time came she refused and has been consoling me daily now for 2 weeks… I hope everyone finds a tortie as perfect as mine!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      November 24, 2018 at 10:26 am (4 months ago)

      I’m so sorry for your loss, Peter. Porschie-girl (what a great name!) sounds like she was your soul cat. It always hurts to lose a cat, but when these special, one-of-a-kind cats leave us, it’s devastating.

      Reply
    • Rod
      November 24, 2018 at 10:54 am (4 months ago)

      Hi Peter C,

      I’m so sorry to hear of the loss of your furrbaby Porsche. Believe me, I know and understand how painful and real this kind of loss is. I suspect many on this site understand and sympathize with you as well.
      I don’t know if you are familiar with The Rainbow Bridge but it has brought comfort to me in the past (on more than one occasion). Got to: https://www.rainbowsbridge.com/Poem.htm I hope you are a Christian. If so, you know that what we call “death” is only a transformation. Porsche-girl is safe and well and you will be reunited again (in God’s good time).
      One other thing I want to add: grieving over a loss is normal, even for a man (despite what some in society think or say). So go ahead and grieve. Then heal. After a reasonable time has passed and the healing is progressing well, Please, please, please take a little trip to the nearest animal shelter (‘dog’ pound, or whatever else they call it in your area). Go in and ask to the the kittens and cats. I’ll bet you will find a new love of our life there. When you do……ADOPT. You will not only be finding a new furrbaby companion but you will ALSO be SAVING A LIFE!
      God bless you in your loss and sorrow.

      Reply
    • Liz
      November 24, 2018 at 11:36 am (4 months ago)

      Oh Peter

      I so know how you feel. I lost my tortie almost three years ago now – she was with me for 18 years and still think about her every day and still want to cry she is/was the love of my live and no-one has ever touched me the way she did. She is buried outside my bedroom window and every few days I pray that she will just be allowed to come back to me for a few minutes – miss her dreadfully and will never love anyone human or cat the way I loved her

      Reply
  16. Rod
    November 23, 2018 at 4:45 pm (4 months ago)

    Oh my gosh! Tortitude really IS real! I’ve had many cats in my 63 years of life ranging from Siamese to Calico (and a couple of Tuxedos in there too) but I just acquired my first Tortie just a little over a month ago. She was a stray that “found” me. I already had 3 cats (my wife does NOT like cats) so adding another to the household really wasn’t a good idea. But Princess (yes, that’s her name; I call her my Little Princess) just started showing up in the backyard. After about a month of chasing her off, I couldn’t resist and tried to coax her to me……and she came right to me. After sitting on the patio and petting her on my lap for two nights, well, my wife was just going to have to get used to a new member of the family. Anyway, Princess is 1/2 the size of the other 3 but she rules the roost. ALL THREE of the other cats are afraid of her. Why? TORTITUDE! And she is surely a Daddy’s girl too. If she’s awake, she has to either be in my lap or within touching distance on my desk. And purr? Oh yes. As long as she is getting my attention she purrs and purrs – loudly. One other unique thing about my little Princess is she loves for me to rub her tummy. I’ve never, ever had a cat that would let you do that but she loves it.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      November 24, 2018 at 6:32 am (4 months ago)

      Welcome to the wonderful world of tortitude, Rod! Princess sounds wonderful!

      Reply
    • Emily Sullivan
      January 7, 2019 at 3:48 pm (3 months ago)

      I know when cats find us… they make us feel the most bonded to them because of the special/unique connection… that being said, I admin a Facebook group for missing and found pets, and I just am hoping you looked for humans who might be missing that Princess of yours… I lost the only nice cat who has ever owned me, and I looked and searched and did everything possible short of taking out a full page ad in the newspaper… if someone kept my girl without looking to see if anyone was missing her… I just have no words for the devastation I still feel by not having closure. I learned a lot because of my loss. If you need any tips on where/how to look, I’d be happy to guide you!

      Reply
      • Rod
        January 7, 2019 at 5:07 pm (3 months ago)

        I did look and I keep up with all the local lost and found pets in our area. The first thing I did after she chose me was to have her checked for a chip (she wasn’t chipped….but she is now!) I also checked with a neighbor who is the former Humane Society President and now operates a local cat sanctuary and she highly encouraged me to take Princess in. My vet says she thinks Princess was “thrown out” by a human who wasn’t prepared to be responsible for the costs, sacrifices and inconveniences of pet ownership. If you knew the area I live in, you would understand. People down here on the border are terrible pet parents.

        Reply
  17. Tortoiseshell Cats
    November 11, 2018 at 12:40 pm (4 months ago)

    I just want to say that i liked when you said “regardless of coat color, is an individual” You are absolutely right, so we need to treat our cats the same way.

    Reply
  18. Juana
    October 31, 2018 at 5:55 pm (5 months ago)

    Can Torties change color? My little princess found us about 2 months ago, when we first met she was true definition of a tortie, black, amber and yellow mixture everywhere except some white spot in her nose, her front paws and specks in her belly. But over the last month more white fur has come in, she looks ashen, her beautifl colors are still noticible but look a little muted. Wondering if you know of this happening to other kittens?

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      November 1, 2018 at 5:28 am (5 months ago)

      It sounds like she’s a dilute tortie. Some breeds change color as the kitten grows up. Typically this happens in Siamese and Persian cats. Maybe she has some of that lineage in her background? Color changes can be an indicator of a health issue if they’re accompanied by other symptoms.

      Reply
  19. Nancy
    October 18, 2018 at 12:57 pm (5 months ago)

    Tortitude is definitely a real thing. We have a Tortoiseshell cat, Amber and who is 2. Her personality is unlike that of any other cat I’ve had perviously. She is had strong for sure and doesn’t seem to like my husband much, which is terrible because she is supposed to be his cat, but is attached to me which drives my 17 year old Tabby crazy. She is playful with me and our other cat, but doesn’t care for others. We love her and her unique personality.

    Reply
  20. Sarah
    October 13, 2018 at 12:36 am (5 months ago)

    Hmm, I don’t know if our tortie has any Tortitude! She’s 4 now. Her tabby sister is 8 and ginger brother is 17ish. And they are WAY more dominant. But our tortie girl is special. We adopted her when she was 2.5 pounds because she both growled, hissed and purred like an insane little thing when we were introduced. She CAN be very skittish. Doesn’t like loud noises. Growls at the mailman like a dog while running to hide. She doesn’t come out for any short term visitors though overnight guests sometimes catch a glimpse of her spying.

    The truth is, she’s not exactly smart….at all. She learned the basic rules easy enough. Pee, eat, sleep here and respond to her name, but she’s just not quick thinking. She has two modes of passing her day. Loving everything and scared to death but still loving everything. She is the sweetest and the most loving and the one that doesn’t bear a grudge. Within two days of meeting our fluffy orange ginger guy (who was NOT pleased at a new kitten) she started staring at him in wonder. SO FLOOFY. Then she followed. Then she got closer…and closer. Sometimes, they even snuggle if he doesn’t care enough. He is her golden God and she loves nothing more than to throw herself at his feet and wriggle and purr. And if she’s lucky, he’ll lick her head before biting it and smacking her away. It makes her feel so special.

    So Tortitude? I don’t know if she has it. Though I definitely believe in differences between cat coat colors. Our ginger is SUCH a ginger and we hold him like a baby. Our tabby is headstrong, judgey, calm and calculating to get her way. But maybe our tortie ended up a little touched in the head, though I wouldn’t change her at all!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      October 13, 2018 at 5:35 am (5 months ago)

      Your tortie girl sounds very sweet!

      Reply
  21. Leslie
    October 12, 2018 at 4:33 pm (5 months ago)

    Thank you so much for this article it describes my little girl so much! My torties name is Juniper but goes by Juni. I got her as a 6 month old kitten as a gift from a friend. The moment we met each other it was love at first sight. As soon as our eyes met she yelled her greeting demanding attention. She follows me everywhere and we talk to each other for hours. She is my little princess she likes most everyone but despises my mom. Everytime my mom picks her up she screams and tries to push her away to be let down. She doesn’t do that with anyone else just her. She loves to chase my other two cats around and catch bugs midair, she is such a beautiful little blessing I couldn’t imagine my life now not having a tortie they are so purrrfect.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      October 13, 2018 at 5:37 am (5 months ago)

      She sounds wonderful, Leslie!

      Reply
  22. Kneegloc
    September 16, 2018 at 10:46 am (6 months ago)

    Hi! I found your research very interesting. A few months ago, I took in a tortie kitten, maybe almost a year old, who was a stray that a friend took in, but couldn’t keep… It’s been a wild ride every since! She was affectionate from the start, rubbing her face on my short beard, licking me, jumping on my back, but now she kicked it up a notch, and is always where I am… She sits on my lap every chance she gets, when she’s not running around chasing who-knows-what… lol She’s very vocal, meowing at me all the time, except when she’s calm in my arms, or sleeping next to me in my bed… She follows me to the bathroom and drinks water from the sink when I’m there… She also appears at the edge of the tub when I’m taking a shower, meowing at me, as if I’m taking too much time in there… lol I’ve never seen her hiss! And, when I run the vacuum, instead of running away and hiding, she takes a stance a few feet away and just watches me… She’s such a golden-eyed treasure… Just thought I’d share… Thanks!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      September 16, 2018 at 5:01 pm (6 months ago)

      Sounds like she’s got tortitude and then some!

      Reply
      • Kneegloc
        February 26, 2019 at 2:44 pm (4 weeks ago)

        Yeah, and then some! Now, instead of watching me shower, she sits between the liner and the outer curtain and, when I’m done, and move the curtains back, she’s sitting there at my feet, meowing at me! I say, “What? Did I disturb you?” and she meows some more. Then, when I step out, she likes to dry my ankles off by licking them. lol She still has this thing about jumping on my back, when I’m bent-over… Ouch! But, she also likes to attack me, with love, when I’m least expecting it! She jumps up in my lap and reaches her paws out, and touches my chest and face with her little paws… She’s like putty in my arms, sometimes, forgetting that, if I shift one way or another, she might fall… Oh, well… I love her and she loves me… lol

        Reply
        • Betty
          February 26, 2019 at 7:45 pm (4 weeks ago)

          ❤️that melts my heart!

          Reply
  23. Janet
    September 13, 2018 at 11:27 pm (6 months ago)

    My 15 year old male fdr died and I was heartbroken I also have a 14 year old 20 pounder teddy. My granddaughters and I went to a cat cafe and they fell in love with a little chocolate tortie. I succumbed and she exudes tortitude. She is smart learned her name in 2 weeks loves everyone,especially me. It is impossible to clip her nails so I have to burrito her. The 20 pounder lets her have her way and stopped hissing at her in 4 days. The vet said she never saw one so active and my cat sitter who has ten cats said she is something else. Tortitude lives at my house

    Reply
  24. Linda Rettstatt
    September 2, 2018 at 8:47 pm (7 months ago)

    I just adopted an 8 year old Tortie. I’ve had for just a little over 24 hours. So far, she’s let me brush her a few times. And now she’s under the bed going on 5 hours. I guess I’ll learn her personality gradually, once she decides to come out again. For now, I’m giving her food, water, and plenty of space.

    Reply
    • Sarah
      October 13, 2018 at 12:27 am (5 months ago)

      You have a scared kitty out of her comfort zone.We have a now 17 year old ginger cat with diabetes. When we first got him at 11, after a happy first home with a family who started having children to which he just never adjusted to, he found himself with us (a happily childless couple who loves cats) and a 2 year old cat that decided she suddenly wanted to be the only child. He was heartbroken about his family and antagonized by our cat and hit under the bed for so long we later realized he peed himself under there. And all we could do was sneak him treats and say his name while rubbing his nose. The more comfortable he got, the more his personality came out. Holy crap, he has SO much personality! It took about 2 months for him to really start coming out. Today, he’s a 17 year old super cute nightmare of assertiveness and personality that still plays daily, demands chest cuddles and regularly wakes up my husband two hours early for work by smacking him on the head over…and over…and over. So don’t worry for a second….there’s a personality in there just WAITING TO BURST OUT to annoy you one second and make you melt with cuteness the next!

      Reply
  25. Cindy
    August 31, 2018 at 9:02 am (7 months ago)

    I have a tortie cat. Her name is Abby and she is a beautiful cat. I adopted her from a cat rescue group. She was found outdoors hiding under a porch. Whoever owned her beore had her declawed(all four paws). When I saw her picture on the website and read her story, I had to meet her. She was shy during that meeting. I felt that I could give her the understanding love and attention that a Tortie cat needs so I adopted her. She is a very moody 2year old girl but when she is in her loving mood it makes up for all the warning meows, growls and hisses. She does not like being picked up at all, and doesn’t like her belly touched. If you try she will swat you. I have had her for 8 months now and I think she finally realizes she is home! She recently started resting her front paws on my shoulder and rubbing her face against mine and then waits for a kiss on the head. I love my Abby and I am very happy that I adopted her. She is my baby attitude and all!

    Reply
    • Bob
      August 31, 2018 at 6:19 pm (7 months ago)

      Hi Cindy I enjoyed your story as it is a lot like mine. I adopted my Hanukkah from a shelter a few months after she was found half Frozen on a doorstep. The girls at the shelter worked hard to save her and named her after the day she was found on Hanukkah. I was looking for a senior cat. She was 9 estimated at the time.Also had been declawed but front only. You are probably in for a true long time friend as mine is now 17 yrs old!. I have had about 15 cats mostly short term seniors I adopt and spoil until the end. Hanukkah is in my top 3 of all for sure. She has that little kitten but adult quality about her. I never planned on a tortie but definitely agree they are different from other breeds in their personality. I best describe it as the way many people from India or Newfoundland have their own defined sense of humour. It is like a more intense and exaggerated personality. I enjoy every minute with her and she spends hours happily right next to or on top of me. Since I’ve been through so many cats I realize I’ll only have her a little while longer-a few years I hope. So my message is I hope you get the most you can out of your time with Abby like I am with mine. Life is so much better with a good cat!

      Reply
  26. Deborah
    August 15, 2018 at 5:55 pm (7 months ago)

    Our beautiful Mercedes was a birthday gift from one of my good friends. That May our other cat got taken by foxes we believe and I had a hole in my heart. My friend couldn’t stand seeing me hurt, saw an ad for free cats and thought she’d surprise me. The woman we got her from was having surgery and could not take care of her 9 cats after so she wanted to find loving homes for them. She took excellent care of them. All spade, neutered, shots up to date. That December I brought home two cats!!! My friend didn’t think one was enough and she picked them out. Well, once we got home, Mercedes tortitude was on full display!!!! As soon as we let them both out of the kennels, Mercedes promptly chased Jill downstairs and would not let her come up!! Mercy! The poor kitty! We put a litter box, food and water bowl downstairs, but then I caught Mercedes laying at the top of the stairs waiting for Jill to come out for one of them just to chase her back into the corner. We would try to get to Jill to pet her and finally succeeded, but in the end had to get rid of her. We gave her to the gal who got her for me as a gift. My husband wanted to get rid of Mercedes because she used to make him so mad, she wasn’t a lap cat and she had been so mean to Jill. But the lady had a dog smaller than Mercedes and we knew she’d probably kill it as she had dented the metal strip on our screen an inch trying to get out to fight a cat in our yard! I’m glad we kept my boo boo kitty!! She will get sassy if you pet her in the wrong places at the wrong times. When she’s frappy and lays on her back, it’s not an invitation to pet her belly. It’s a claw trap! In the mornings when she does it, she loves a belly rub!! She absolutely hates my singing (I’m hearing impaired). If I’m sitting, she’ll sit on my lap hoping that will shut me up. When that doesn’t do it, she puts her paw over my mouth. When that doesn’t work, she puts her mouth up to mine and meow, meow, meow, meow. And if I’m still singing she’ll bite my cheek (nicely). If I’m standing or walking, she’ll chase me around biting my ankles!!!! She’s quite a trip. When we would go out of town, we would mostly ask this one friend to come over and feed her. Well, Mercedes would hiss at her every time. My friend finally nicknamed her Princess Hissy Whiskers! Ha! Fits her tortitude to a T! Yes, your highness! She hisses at the nicest people. If you’re a little ornery, then she may not hiss at you. My friend who has four cats came over. Mercedes hissed at her. Mary said, “Oh no you don’t!”, hissed back at her and chased her into our bedroom. Three minutes later Mercedes emerges and rubs all over Mary like her best friend!!!! Hahaha!! It was hilarious! Mary was able to pick her up and lay her on her lap, rub her belly for a long time at night!!! These were things I was lucky if I could do them and my husband couldn’t do them at all!!! All kidding aside. My baby kitty means so much to me!! She has been here for me during the last year and a half to confi comfort me when I would cry she would come sniff me and put her paw on me. It’s been a tough period getting used too a condition that keeps me home and indoors most of the time. She entertains me, comforts me, keeps me busy, sits right I the middle of what I need to do . She’s my baby girl!! Never a dull moment with her!! A couple of years ago we had to have all but 8 of her teeth pulled. She had a feline disease where her immune system attacks the bacteria in her gums and rots her teeth. The procedure was very expensive, but when my husband mentioned putting her down, I couldn’t take it. I broke down in the vets office crying for an hour and a half. I didn’t want to part with my baby girl (even though she was already 10)! I know someday I will, but I’m so blessed to have her now. God knew I’d need a companion for this time in my life, an angel and He sent one with fur and tortitude!!! I know this is long and this is just a snippet of my baby’s tude!

    Reply
    • Rae
      August 17, 2018 at 12:38 am (7 months ago)

      Deborah,
      I was so happy to hear that someone else could love a cat with so much tortitude! I have a tortie named Skittles with much the same tortitude as your Mercedes. She is the love of my life, next to my husband of course! LOL. My husband absolutely hates her. She will surprise attack his feet, scratching and biting. She hisses, growls, bites and scratches him if he tries to pet her. She even attacks my grandson. She is a holy terror, except to me. She doesn’t attack me and she will roll over and let me scratch her tummy. She follows me everywhere talking to me and insisting that I scratch under her chin. I am disabled also, and confined to the house most of the time. I am blessed to have her as a companion.

      Reply
    • Betty
      September 19, 2018 at 10:25 pm (6 months ago)

      Deborah, I hope your cat lives a long, long time. She is blessed to have you as her Mommy. The pure and unconditional love we get from our furry friends is one of the best things life has to offer. God bless you.

      Reply
  27. Mary
    August 12, 2018 at 7:50 pm (7 months ago)

    Our torti Cassie is 18 years old. She prefers our 2 big dogs to the other 4 cats.since she is thin I Offer food 5 z or more a day she eats trial and error whatever she wants. She is a cat that hOlds her own in any situation . She loves to cuddle at night on her terms of course ! A dear girl 18 years I would do anything to make her senior years pleasant. When we adopted her she was from the Humane Society she developed upper respiratory
    Disease and we hand fed her and medicated her on the hour the vet gave her a 50 50 she made it with flying colors the dear we are happy she is still part of our animal family.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      August 13, 2018 at 5:46 am (7 months ago)

      “She is a cat that holds her own in any situation” – now that’s a perfect description of tortitude!

      Reply
  28. mmgriffiths@cogeco.ca
    July 28, 2018 at 2:36 pm (8 months ago)

    My torty cat, TESSA, has been with us (my old guy diabetic cat) for 8 months now… the first two months she was in complete hiding between a bedspread and the closet. She didn’t know how to play and was terrified by any toy I offered to her. I think there’s been a breakthrough as I was sitting on my sofa this morning and decided to run the light play device in front of her and she pounced on it! That’s an absolute first. She look like a joyful young cat should look. I suspect it’s all upward and onward from here. I’m glad that I was able to offer her a relatively quiet home because I think she is extremely sensitive as many say their torty’s are. She often moves in a very skittish fashion and I’ve taken to calling her Twinkle Toes. The end of her tail has a white tip she will flick it with distain and dance out of the room.

    Reply
    • Sherry burton
      August 11, 2018 at 7:25 am (7 months ago)

      I’ve had cats all my life but I had never met a “tortie” until one arrived at my patio door in 5 degree weather hungry and cold. She has a beautiful white tipped tail and classic markings. A few weeks later we found she was pregnant but the vet said this was her first litter because she was young. we decided to let her stay with us and have loved every minute of her unique personality. During her pregnancy she scoped out places and would use a unique voice and behavior to get me to follow her around.i thought she was looking for a safe place to have her kittens so I looked around with her. She kept going to a hallway closet but she would go in and come back out “talking” to me again in a different voice. I removed all the clutter in the bottom of the closet and placed soft blankets inside. She stopped looking after this and eventually had her 2 kittens in the closet we cleaned out. The funny thing is that she was aloof most of the time until she wanted food, attention or a nice comfy place to lay. She used her meowing noises to let me know what she wanted. One of her kittens was another tortoise shell which we kept in our home. She was loving, had the loudest purr, and possessive over me and only lays in my lap. 12 years later they are in great health and we still have both of them but their personalities have changed some over time. The original cat, Gabby, has taken over my lap and will not let her daughter come near me. When she is not on my lap, Hannah, uses it but leaves when her mom comes back. We know they will not be with us forever, so I don’t know what I will do without them.

      Reply
      • Ingrid
        August 11, 2018 at 9:46 am (7 months ago)

        Thank you for sharing your tortie love story, Sherry!

        Reply
  29. DDWA
    July 16, 2018 at 10:33 pm (8 months ago)

    Wow! Had no idea. I adopted my girl, Lavender, from the local shelter, where she had been surrendered for euthanasia…well, I just could NOT let that be. I
    was told there had been a 2-yr old in her previous home, and Lavender had
    nearly no fur, plus scabs on her back half when surrendered, likely due to stress. She is still quick to run & hide, but is better here, her fur is coming back, she is nothing but LOVED, although she does strike if touched in a wrong spot, or when she isn’t ready. She’s here just about 6 weeks now, I will not EVER abandon her, and I have hopes she’ll settle, except for some Tortitude.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      July 17, 2018 at 5:50 am (8 months ago)

      Thank you for giving this girl another chance at happiness!

      Reply

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