Tortoiseshell color cats and its three varieties


Unusual, bright, funny - this is how you can characterize tortoiseshell cats. It is noteworthy that it is impossible to find two identical "turtles", the coloring of these cats takes the most bizarre forms, sometimes reaching the grotesque. It may therefore be considered that they bring happiness - after all, the owners of a tortoiseshell cat possess a unique and unique animal.

Tortie color

Contrary to popular belief, a tortoise cat is not a breed, but a type of color.

Turtle color is called coloring when black and red (red) colors are mixed at random and their derivatives are silver and cream, ashy and sand.

There are two types of tortoise color:

Scaly turtles. A distinctive feature of this color is that the black and red color as it were superimposed on each other, and therefore do not have clear boundaries. Usually one color dominates, the second one is much smaller, 50/50 colors are very rare. This color is more common in Siberian, Persian, as well as in domestic cats.

Patchwork coloring. From the name it is already clear that the combination of black and red in such cats resembles a patchwork. Areas of red and black are located asymmetrically, however, they are clearly pronounced. This color is found, for example, in the British, Scots and Devon Rex.

Genetics of tortoise cats

The black o gene and the red (red) O gene are located only on the X chromosome.

The cat has two X chromosomes (XX). The cat can be oo - red, OO - black, and oO or Oo - tortoise.

In cats, one X chromosome and one Y chromosome (XY). Therefore, the cat can be either o - red, or O - black. A cat born of a “turtle” must have an extra X chromosome (XXY), which is pathological. Only 1 out of 3 thousand tortoises are a cat.

The nature of cats tortoise color

According to popular belief, they have a number of unique character traits: they are distinguished by a strong will, a little hot on their heads, and may be too jealous of their owner. They are also credited with independence, irritability and unpredictability.

Usually they are very sociable and let you know about their needs in different ways: they hiss, meow or purr loudly, like all cats, but they do it much more actively and more than their fellows.

In addition, "turtles" unusually playful creatures. They love not easy to run for a bow or a toy, this is not enough for them. Throw the handle off the table on the floor, jump out of the ambush that's not all the pranks of such a pussy.

Omens and superstitions

Practically all over the world, luck and protection at home are associated with tortoise color.

In Japan, there is a cult of such cats and there are legends that Japanese sailors are willing to pay any money for a tortoise-colored cat.

People believe that tortoiseshell cats are considered a symbol of luck and grace. And in our country "at random" they always try to take a tortoise cat.

Having decided to start such a color miracle in the house, you will receive not only protection and luck, according to signs, but also a devoted friend.

What is a tortoise color and how to define it

The tortoiseshell cat is distinguished by its coat of black and ginger colors. Whereas, there is little or no white blotches. Shades mix chaotically, forming a complex and unique pattern. It is impossible to find identical individuals, this is how to find people with identical fingerprints.

The coloring of motley cats is often compared to a smoldering fire or rust spots that do not have a system. Very often they draw a parallel and kinship between tricolor cats. The latter are covered with black, white and red stripes and spots.

Tortoiseshell color is not inherited, but is obtained by mutation

But the difference is still there. And it lies in the fact that the spots have clear boundaries, and the wool of different shades does not mix. There is another version of the muted three-colored color, where blue plays the role of black, and cream in the role of red.

Cat Breeds with a Tortie Shade

The following breeds of cats can boast of colorful colors:

  • American raccoon cat,
  • Angora cat,
  • british
  • Fold Scot,
  • Kimry cat,
  • Norwegian,
  • Siberian cat,
  • sphinx,
  • Japanese short-tailed cat,
  • Cornish Rex
  • Persian cat.

Varieties of variegated colors

First of all, I would like to note that a tortoise cat is not a breed, but a type of animal hair color. It consists of three colors: black and red, which predominate all over the body, and small bright patches (cream or ashy).

The tortie subspecies consists in alternating arrangement of black and ginger flowers, which at first glance resembles fish scales. Most often, one of the dominant shades. It is impossible to find identical singularities in nature, since the borders of the spots and the arrangement of “scales” are chaotic and have no symmetry.

The Calico subspecies is distinguished by a “patchwork” position of black and red spots. But here the boundaries of colors are more pronounced than in tortie. The drawing remains erratic. This color is more common in the British and Scots.


Tortoise with white

We have already said that the appearance of white spots is not evidence of a tortoiseshell, but of a tricolor animal. But there is a small nuance. If white blotches are almost imperceptible, and they appear on the lower part of the animal's body, and the top corresponds to the turtle coloring, then this subspecies is called tortie with white.

In this case, the pattern consists in the fact that inside spots can appear blotches of another shade. The tones of this color may vary. If we are talking about black, then it is not necessarily coal color. Chocolate or brown tint may dominate. Light blotches acquire a milky and even silver shade. And red turns into a purple-red and even yellowish ebb.

Tortoise with white

Causes of color in cats

An interesting fact is that the tricolor color is unique to cats.

The main reason for this is mutation at the genetic level, where the ability to reproduce is suppressed. Since the animal’s chromosomes are randomly arranged, it is impossible to arrange them to obtain the desired shade.

Talk of a remarkable pattern of cats in this case is inappropriate. After all, the reason for the whole process of mutation. Therefore, the cat is not considered thoroughbred and does not participate in exhibitions and competitions.

In the tortoise color both dark and red color can dominate.

The tortoiseshell cat is not a breed, but a special color of a pet, common to many breeds. The reason for this color is fully considered a mutation at the genetic level. Therefore, to predict the appearance of an interesting kitten is difficult.

How did tortoiseshell cats appear?

In nature, such an unusual and harmonious combination of shades of wool is found only in cats. Cats cannot genetically get a tricolor because they do not have enough chromosomes for this.

Tortoiseshell cats are animals that have spots on a different pigment base. Pheomelanin gives wool reddish shades, and eumelanin gives black. For dilution of saturation of the shade is responsible gene dilutor. Well, white spots - a complete lack of pigmentation, which is typical for all pets.

By mixing different genes, animals manage to get a unique tricolor coloring. Tricolor cats are not a separate species - it is a coat color that occurs in animals of various breeds.

Therefore, the appearance in the progeny of a tortoise-colored cat will be quite difficult to predict, but breeders in a certain way can increase the chances of obtaining animals with such color. But there can be no guarantees here - it all depends on the luck and sex of the future offspring.

The gene responsible for the black dye of the coat is designated as “o”, the ginger gene is designated as “O”. They are located exclusively on the X chromosome.

The genetic set of cats includes two X chromosomes.

Thus, the cat may have a color:

  • oo - red,
  • OO - black,
  • oo or oo - tortoise.

A genetic set of cats has one X and Y chromosomes. Therefore, cats can have either black or red color. If the cat has a tortoise coloring, then in its genetic code there is an extra X chromosome. This pathology occurs 1 time for 3 thousand individuals.

Variety of colors

There are several varieties of tortoiseshell cats that differ significantly in appearance. For ease of classification, breeders have divided this color into several subspecies: calico and tortie.

Calico - also known as patchwork color, different large areas of different colors. Cats with this coloring is also called a lamellar or chintz turtle.

Multicolored spots have clearly defined borders throughout the body. The tricolor British cats and Scots in this color are distinguished by the special beauty - due to the short plush wool, different colors look especially expressive.

Tortie - known as scaly color. Wool of cats with such coloring looks like chaotic specks of black and red shade of small size, resembling fish scales.


The boundaries of such spots are usually indistinct, and the location is completely random, so each animal has its own unique color, which is unlikely to be repeated another time.

Separately, breeders isolated turtle color with white spots. In addition to black and red wool, such cats are also white. Sometimes you can meet animals with the coloring “turtle bicolor”: the lower part of the cat has a white wool, and the upper part has the usual tortoiseshell.

Turtle color can rightly be considered one of the most diverse.

Each of the spots may have a solid or patterned color, and the basic shades may differ in small semitones. Black can look brown or chocolate, red can have copper or lemon shades, and white can look milky or beige.

Breeders claim that turtle cats have a unique character. They are characterized by violent temper, strong will and a developed sense of possessiveness towards the owner. Tortoiseshell cats are unpredictable in their behavior, irritable and independent.

For such pets is characterized by sociability, which can manifest itself in many different ways: cats actively meow, hiss or purr loudly.

Also, “turtles” are called playful pets. Running around for a toy will not be enough for them. They will trap you from an ambush, hunt your legs and drop items from tables and shelves.

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Why do cats appear tortoiseshell

As you know, tricolor is normal only cats. Tortoise cats are extremely rare, but such individuals are born due to a rare genetic mutation, and are usually not capable of reproduction. Therefore, having met on the street a tricolor mustached, you can be sure - in front of you is a cat.

In order to understand in detail where the tortoiseshell cats come from, whose photos are so popular on the Internet, it is worth remembering the school course of genetics

As is known, the sex of the animal is determined by the established combination of chromosomes X and Y, where XX is the cat, and here XY is the cat. The so-called red and black coat color is determined by genes that are located in the sex chromosomes. Chromosome Y is significantly smaller than X, and besides, it does not contain the genes responsible for producing black (o) or red (O) coat color.

If we consider the cat XY genotype, it becomes obvious that Y does not have any information about color, but X contains the gene for black (o) or red (O) colors. Thus, if there is a gene O in the chromosome of a cat, then its color will be red, but if it is, then the cat will definitely be black.

Let us turn to the cats: in the presence of two X chromosomes carrying the genetic code of color, the possible variations in the final color of the hair become much larger. Options available in this situation are presented below:

  • XO in combination with XO will give completely red color,
  • Xo with the second Xo will give a completely black color,
  • XO in a company with Xo give the probability of both black and red color at the same time, which gives so rare and beautiful, tortoiseshell color of a cat.

Since the chromosomes are arranged in a chaotic manner, and are not amenable to any ordering, a special receipt of a tortoise color is practically impossible - such a color is obtained randomly, and it is almost impossible to derive it by selection.

What breed tortoiseshell cats are?

Here we come to the question that worries many: what breed can be attributed to turtles? And here the breeders unanimously declare that there is no connection between the breed of the animal and its tortoise color. Simply put - tortoise-colored cat breeds can be absolutely any, ranging from the Persian cat, and ending with the British and Scots.

Also an interesting feature is that if a cat of any breed was born in a tortoiseshell color, then you cannot say that it is purebred. Since this color appears as a result of mutations, such animals are not called purebred, although they are allowed to compete and reproduce.

It is also impossible to specifically get a tortoiseshell color of a cat of any breed, such individuals are born completely by chance, and it is not possible to increase the chances of this event.

Cat and Cat Tortoiseshell Types

In the world there are several types of tortoise-colored cats, which differ in appearance, sometimes very much. To avoid confusion, breeders conditionally divided all turtles into two subspecies: tortie (tortie) and calico (calico).

Tortie is the so-called scaly color. To imagine such a color, it is enough to mentally color the cat in a chaotic alternation of red and black small spots, like fish scales. The blurred fuzzy borders of the specks and the completely random arrangement of “scales” become the reason why it is almost impossible to meet two identical tortie cats - they are all unique in their color.

Kaliko is a patchwork color, that is, areas of different colors are much larger in size than those of a tortie. This color is sometimes referred to as calico turtles, or lamellar. The spots in this case have clearer boundaries, and are well distinguishable throughout the cat's body. The Scots and the British tricolor cat look especially beautiful in this type of color - plush short hair will not leave indifferent any lover of the cat.

Tricolor cats and their mystical significance

In different countries, cats are treated differently, and only tricolor cats are revered everywhere. Because of their rarity, people at all times attributed to them certain mystical abilities - from the attraction of money to the ability to exorcise evil spirits from home. In ancient Russia, such cats were even called rich, but this nickname did not come from the word wealth, but from God, that is, it is a cat endowed with god by some specific capabilities.

In the US, it is believed that the tricolor mustache dweller in the house will surely bring wealth and good fortune to its owner, and also practically guarantees a good high-paying job. Even to dream of a tortoiseshell cat - to great luck.

In the UK, three flowers are planted mainly in order to protect the house from evil spirits. The British sincerely believe that such cats bring comfort and peace to the house, and also become a true friend to their owner, unlike cats of other colors, who love only their home, and not the person.

In Japan, since ancient times, tricolor tortoiseshell cats are honored, and in the culture of Japan there even exists a special statuette in the form of a tricolor cat. However, in order to acquire the correct statuette, it is better to go to the land of the rising sun yourself - every spot, every little thing, and even the pose of the cat, and the angle of inclination of the head matter. To get exactly the image of a tortoiseshell cat that you need, it will be best to turn to experts of Eastern culture.

There is a belief among sailors: if a three-flower lives on a ship, there will be no severe storms. And if the ship is already in trouble, and one of the sailors dreams of a tricolor-colored cat, the storm will soon subside. Therefore, the tortoise color of cats, whose photos drove with them almost every ship captain in the olden days, is so valued in the fleet.

Here, in fact, is all that can be briefly told about the features of tortoiseshell cats. В остальном же – это удивительно ласковые и нежные создания, ничем не отличающиеся от своих сородичей других окрасов.