Tortoiseshell Cats

The colors of autumn


Tortoiseshell cats are named after the yellow-and-brown mottled shells of certain turtles and tortoises. This pattern was thought to be so beautiful that stylish combs for women's hair were made from the shells.

The coats of tortoiseshell cats contain a flecked mixture of black, orange, cream or blue, and sometimes splotches of white.

Tortie markings are generally asymmetrical. Their colors are reminiscent of autumn foliage and have been described as cinnamon, ginger, chestnut, orange, chocolate, caramel, apricot, fawn, indigo, lavender and cream. No wonder cat fanciers love Torties!

Due to a complex genetic factor that requires two X chromosomes, Torties are almost always female. Male Torties are sterile, so don't bother to neuter them!

Tortoiseshell is not a breed of cat, but rather a pattern that can be found in virtually every breed of cat. In North America, the terms "calimanco" or "clouded tiger" are also used to refer to Torties.

Some people claim Torties have an attitude -- a Tortietude -- meaning they have a unique temperament. Others say they are especially intelligent. Having been owned by two different Tortie girls, I have only noticed that mine were very sweet, gentle and highly adaptable. They got along great with other cats and dogs and moved numerous times to new places without missing a beat. And they lived very long, loving lives.

Interesting tidbits about Torties abound. The Celts believed a Tortie was good luck in a home. The English believed Torties could remove warts if you rubbed their tail on warts in the month of May. Those English! The famous American author Edgar Allen Poe was devoted to his Tortie "Catarina" and she frequently sat on his shoulder as he wrote.

This all leads up to the fact that there are some wonderful Torties at Payson Humane Society. If you love autumn colors and kitties, too, please do come take a peek at our clouded tigers. The shelter is located at 812 S. McLane Road, just south of Main Street.

You can look at all our adoptable animals on these Web sites:


Pearla is a charming 5-month-old spayed female Tortie kitten. She and her brother Petey, a Tuxedo kitty, are together at our shelter. Pearla's face is half sunshine and half midnight, one side being golden, the other dark, which makes for quite the conversation piece. She is a quiet, well-balanced kitty and she takes everything in her stride. Pearla is a pearl of a girl!


Checkers is an especially pretty 2-year-old spayed female long-haired Tortoiseshell kitty. She has unusual bright orange facial markings. Checkers is very sociable and open to human contact. She would love to have someone brush her lovely soft coat to bring out its highlights. This little lover girl is ready to be your lap warmer and constant companion!


Lacy and Satin are adorable 3-month-old spayed female long-haired Tortoiseshell kitten sisters. They are both very inquisitive and vivacious and love being part of whatever is going on. If you are looking for a very cute pair of kittens, these two would love to fill your needs. You will no doubt be smitten by these kittens!


Maxie is a heavenly 5-year-old spayed female Tortie who wears a long, to-die-for silver and black fur coat. She is used to a quiet home with no children. Maxie lost her previous home because of a divorce. She was trained to stay off of the furniture and is good about using her litter box. Because she has been declawed, she needs to be an inside only cat. Maxie loves affection and gives copious amounts in return. She is a real little angel.

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