tortoiseshell cat

Conscious Cat Sunday: the colors of autumn

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Fall has definitely arrived in my part of the world. While I enjoy the beautiful colors of autumn all around me, it’s not my favorite season – mostly because of what comes after. I don’t like cold weather, and I definitely don’t like snow. But this year, I’m determined to embrace autumn and enjoy the season for what it is, rather than viewing it just as a precursor to winter. After all, that’s what living in the moment is all about. I’m making a point this year to really notice the gradual changing of the leaves, and to appreciate nature’s beauty, rather than anticipate the inevitable journey toward falling leaves and winter.

Autum is a season of harvest and a celebration of abundance. It’s a good time to take stock of all you’ve accomplished this year, and take some time to really appreciate your own growth. It’s a season of contradictions: warm, almost summer like days alternate with chilly days and nights. It’s a reflection that our lives aren’t always predictable, that life can be messy, and that joy and sorrow are both part of life.

Ultimately, autum is about the inevitability of change.Continue Reading

Review and giveaway: Julia’s Cats: Julia Child’s Life in the Company of Cats

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A life without a cat is a life without sunshine. – Julia Child

I didn’t know Julia Child was a cat lover until I received Minette’s Feast: The Delicious Story of Julia Child and Her Cat from the publisher. I was utterly charmed by this beautifully illustrated book aimed at children ages 3 and up.

Julia’s Cats: Julia Child’s Life in the Company of Cats by Patricia Barey and Therese Burson brings this little known aspect of Julia Child’s life to light in an engaging and entertaining way. If you weren’t already a fan of Julia Child, you will be after reading this book.

From the book’s prologue: “A reporter once asked Julia Child what she might whip up for her creator when she got to heaven. Julia wasn’t a religious person – she believed heaven was right here on earth, in her own cozy kitchen, hovering over a skillet sizzling with shallots and butter, then sitting down to share a meal with people she loved, a cat wrapped around her ankles, meowing for treats.”

I was, of course, particularly delighted that Julia Child’s introduction to cats began with a tortoiseshell catContinue Reading

Starving tortoiseshell cat is drawn to campfire and finds love

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Guest post by Josephia T. Liem

There’s a beautiful monastery by the hills of a conservatory forest in West Java, Indonesia and I had an opportunity to stay there during a religious outing last December. The best part was dinner because, at that time, various indigenous animals from nearby conservatory would go down to the smell of our food and peer at us. Two wild dogs even came round the camp fire and naturally, got a fair share of a healthy meal.

My attention was rather drawn into a quiet, almost invisible presence near my group; a tortoise-shell cat who sat silently as she stared toward us. Whenever someone left the circle, one of the dogs would follow, and the cat would run away, so I think she must have been afraid of the dogs. However, that night I put a plate of rice, chicken (from my group mate) and scrambled egg just outside my room, where she previously sat, and went to sleep.

She Came Back

The next day I woke up rather early, wondering how she was doing,Continue Reading

Liberty and Justice: a tale of loss, faith, and kittens

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If you’ve read The Conscious Cat for a little while, you may remember reading about Steeler. Steeler was a tortie who belonged to my friend Bernie. Steeler had come into Bernie’s life during a time when she really needed a little angel. Her husband had become severely debilitated by Alzheimer’s, and after Bernie took in the the little stray cat sporting the colors of her favorite football team, she quickly won both of their hearts. Miraculously, Bernie’s husband, who didn’t respond to anyone else at that stage, not even to Bernie, still responded to Steeler’s presence.

After her husband was hospitalized, Steeler became a great comfort to Bernie. Sadly, fate wasn’t done providing challenges for Bernie. Bernie’s husband succumbed to his illness last December. A few weeks later, Bernie’s son Eric lost his battle with lung cancer. And four months after that, Steeler passed away after dealing with multiple health issues.

It takes a strong person to go on after so much loss in such a short period of time. Continue Reading

Lucky tortoiseshell kitten gets chance at a happy life

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Every rescue story is special, because every rescue saves a life. Some rescue stories, usually the ones involving disasters or tragedies, are reported by the big media outlets. But for every sensational rescue, there are hundreds of quiet rescues that happen every day. One such story came to me last week from Sue, who heard about me and my love for tortoiseshell cats from Caren Gittleman, who writes Cat Chat With Caren and Cody.

One cold Sunday in February, Sue and her 11-year-old son were headed to church. They took a side road with lots of fields and brush along the way. Sue just happened to glance to her left, and thought she saw a kitten hobbling by the roadside. She knew she had to turn around and check. That split decision changed Sue’s and her son’s lives.

The little tortoiseshell kitten Sue had seen out of the corner of her eye was still in the same spot. Continue Reading

Tortoiseshell cats show limits of cloning

tortoiseshell cat coloring

Cloning pets is a relatively new, and very expensive, procedure. It not only raises ethical questions about whether pets should be cloned when there are thousands of adoptable pets in shelters and at risk of being killed, but the few pet owners who have had their pets cloned have come to realize that while the cloned pet may look like their favorite departed pet, his or her personality may be completely different from the original.

While I won’t even try to understand the science and mechanics involved with cloning, I do have a basic understanding of genetics, and I really know tortoiseshell cats. Those of us who love cats with this distinctive coloring also know that they are very unique when it comes to their personalities, often known as “tortitude.” And now scientists are finding that tortoiseshell cats also show the limits of cloning.Continue Reading

Rare male tortoiseshell cat is looking for a home

male tortoiseshell cat

Those of us who love tortoiseshell cats already know that they’re unique when it comes to their personalities, also known as tortitude. They 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.

Given the rarety of male torties, I’m always excited when I hear of one. Continue Reading

A tribute to Cookie

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When a friend’s cat passes away, my heart hurts for my friend. When I lose one of my feline Reiki clients, my heart hurts for the cat’s guardian, and for the lost connection. When I connect with an animal during a Reiki session, I connect with the essence of that animal, and even though I never get to meet many of my remote Reiki clients in person, I form a strong attachment to them over the time that I work with them.

Cookie was both: a friend’s cat, and a Reiki client. She was also a tortie. Cookie belonged to animal artist Bernadette Kazmarski. Early this morning, at the ripe old age of 19 years, Cookie passed away after a long and steady, but gentle decline. As Bernadette writes in her beautiful tribute My Little Sunflower, “her green eyes looked directly into mine; we held each others’ gaze for a minute or more as she lifted her petite paw and laid it on the back of my hand, comforting me, saying goodbye. Then she shifted her position and her gaze and drifted from consciousness.”Continue Reading

2012 Conscious Cat Wall Calendar

 

Conscious Cat calendar cover

Allegra, Ruby and I are excited to introduce the 2012 Conscious Cat Wall Calendar!

After getting comments throughout the year about how much you enjoy seeing photos of Allegra and Ruby, we decided to bring you a collection of some of the best ones in a gorgeous, full color wall calendar. The calendar also features Amber and Buckley.

Tortie lovers, to my knowledge, this is the only calendar on the market that exclusively features tortoiseshell cats!Continue Reading

A tortie kitten named Ingrid

Ingrid the tortoiseshell cat

It’s not every day that someone names a kitten after you! I’m honored that Cheryl, a Conscious Cat reader and volunteer for Forever Home Feline Ranch in Springfield, IL, named this sweet little tortie after me.

Little Ingrid was a stray who was found wandering the streets of Springfield, IL. The folks from Forever Home Feline Ranch bailed her out of their local animal control shelter, and she is now safe with them. Ingrid would love to find her forever home and a family to love. She is very sweet and playful. She loves to be held and gives occaional love bites (she is, after all, a tortie!).Continue Reading

Meet Doodlebug, a rare male tortie

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It’s no secret that I love torties. From my first office cat Virginia, to Amber, Buckley, Allegra and Ruby, there’s just something about these cats’  particular coloring, and their unique personalities, that has always appealed to me.

Tortoiseshell cats are named for their coat color, which is a mottled or brindled combination of brown, black, tan, gold, orange, and sometimes cream and blue. Those of us who fancy torties know that they have unique personalities, often referred to as “tortitude.”

They 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.

Given all that, it’s no wonder that I was excited when I came across one of these rare male torties.

Doodlebug belongs to Sharon, one of our readers. He is 16 months old and is the son of Sharon’s other tortie, Callie. The fact that he was a he came as quite a surprise to Sharon. She actually called him Chloe for the first couple of months of his life, and she was caught rather off guard when she took him for his first vet visit. I asked what the vet’s reaction was when he realized that he had one of these rare male torties as a patient. “He was actually pretty matter of fact,” reports Sharon. “He told me that he would change the gender notation in the record, and that I might want to find another name.”

Male torties are believed to be sterile. Doodlebug is currently unneutered, but, says Sharon, “that will change the first time he sprays something.” He’s an indoor cat with limited access to an enclosed yard, and her other three cats are spayed. Doodlebug has shown no interest in roaming, spraying, or mounting the other cats. The vet has given him a clean bill of health.

As for tortitude, Doodlebug appears to be more laid back than the average tortie. He is very mellow, and likes to spend hours drowsing next to Sharon while she is on the computer or watching tv. He can be a bit possessive when one of the other cats takes over “his” side of the chair, but he’s very gentle about nudging them out of his territory. Eating is another favorite past time. In addition to his regular diet of dry cat food, he enjoys sampling the regional cuisine, including fried catfish and crawfish. He also loves chicken and sausage gumbo and will happily eat even the okra in it.

Because of their genetic rarity, some people mistakenly believe that male tortoiseshell cats are worth a lot of money. In reality, they’re only worth as much as any other cat who is loved and valued by their owners, and as we all know, there is no price tag on love.

Doodlebug is unaware of his newfound fame and remains unavailable for comment.

Photo of Doodlebug used with Sharon’s permission

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Tortitude: the unique personality of tortoiseshell cats