You can recognize a tortoiseshell cat by its distinctive coat pattern and color scheme. Similar to a calico cat, its fur incorporates white, black and orange colors. Unlike a calico cat, the colors are captured on its body as in a painter’s palette. That is, while calico cats have different colored spots over their entire body, generally with a predominance of white, the tortoiseshell has a more dispersed pattern, with a predominance of black. Surely you have ever seen one of them. How is this breed of cat? We tell you everything in the following lines.

What is a tortoiseshell cat?

A cat’s coat is determined by its genes, including its color, length, and texture. A tortoiseshell cat has a coat in the color combination of black, white, and orange. It is a tricolor pattern determined by the genetic data of the sex chromosomes.

The reason they are called tortoiseshell is that their fur resembles the distinctive pattern and coloration of the hawksbill turtle.

With tortoiseshell cats, you won’t see two with the same pattern. Like a snowflake or a fingerprint, each cat has a different coat pattern.

Characteristics of the tortoiseshell cat

The coat of tortoiseshell cats has a black background color predominant, with mixtures of orange and white distributed throughout the coat. They are intermixed and can achieve different coat patterns. Many of these cats have an orange spot or a kind of “flame” on their head. The coat of tortoiseshell cats should be black, white and orange, but it may include certain other shades such as blue, gray, cinnamon, etc.

Even if a cat has different shades of black or orange in the same coat, it cannot be considered tortoiseshell. These are just two color variations, not three. Tortoiseshell cats’ eyes are copper or dark orange. The pads of the paws and nose can be pink, mottled or black, depending on the distribution and dominance of each color in the individual cat’s coat.

What breed is the tortoiseshell cat?

Like calico cats, many humans refer to tortoiseshell cats as a distinct breed. However, this is not the case. Carey is simply the word used to describe the color of the cat’s coat. It would be similar to determining a black cat as an individual breed. The characteristics of black cats are determined by the genetics and experience of the individual, not by the color of their fur. The same goes for tortoiseshell cats.

Despite the fact that many, but not all, cat breeds can have a tortoiseshell coat pattern, many distinguish them as distinct. The behavior and appearance of the cat will be determined by other factors. However, there is something in common between cats with their coat type, which is discussed in the next section.

Is it true that tortoiseshell cats are female?

While it is not true to say that all tortoiseshell cats are female, the vast majority are. The reason for this stems from Klinefelter syndrome. This is a genetic condition that results from the transmission of sex chromosomes.

The white color of the fur of cats is independent of the sex chromosomes, given by the S gene. The colors of black and orange cat fur are related to the X chromosome. Since females have XX chromosomes, they can be tricolor because they can have black on one X and orange on the other X. Since male chromosomes are genetically XY, this means that it is almost impossible for them to present black and orange with white.

This is a similar explanation for why most orange tabby cats are male. Although orange tabby cats may be female, the vast majority will be male.

In tortoiseshell cats, they can be male due to something known as Klinefelter syndrome. This causes cats to present the XXY chromosomes, the double X chromosome that allows them to have a tricolor coat pattern. However, this is a genetic abnormality that has certain effects on the cat, including infertility.

Tortoiseshell cat breeds

It is possible to find tortoiseshell cats in practically all the feline breeds that we know. Since they are not a breed in and of themselves, they can occur in breeds such as the Persian, Mancoon, British Shorthair, Cornish Rex, and many more. However, they are also common in mixed breed cats, as these cats can come in almost any combination of coat colors. There are also tortoiseshell cats with short, semi-long or long hair.

Do you have a tortoiseshell cat at home? Did you know these peculiarities about the fur of tortoiseshell cats? Leave us your comments!