The tortoiseshell cat gets its name from its complex colorations. Found in mosaic or chimera, regular or dilute combinations, this cat is so named due to the similarity in color to a once-popular manufacturing material called tortoiseshell. Because the term tortoiseshell, or “tortie” as their fans affectionately dubbed them, refers to the coat, the tortoiseshell cat is not actually a breed.


Tortoiseshells come in a fascinating mix of black hues with browns, oranges and reds sprinkled throughout. But it’s not just their coats that are complex. The tortie has been rumored to be the keeper of feisty “tortitude”—but is it true? We’ll let you be the judge.


This supposed tortitude is only one of many legends surrounding these beautiful felines. From the Celts to the Japanese, the tortoiseshell cat has a history as intricate as their coats! One rumor is untrue, however…some torties are in fact male.

  • Playfulnesslevel 4 in 5

  • Activity Levellevel 4 in 5

  • Friendliness to Other Petslevel 3 in 5

  • Friendliness to Childrenlevel 3 in 5

  • Grooming Requirementslevel 3 in 5

  • Vocalitylevel 4 in 5

  • Need for attentionlevel 4 in 5

  • Affection towards ownerslevel 3 in 5

  • Docilitylevel 2 in 5

  • Intelligencelevel 4 in 5

  • Independencelevel 4 in 5

  • Hardinesslevel 4 in 5

Disclaimer: While the characteristics mentioned here may frequently represent this breed, cats are individuals whose personalities and appearances will vary. Please consult the adoption organization for details on a specific pet.

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