Introduction: Cat adoption in general is an honorable and exciting activity. If you adopt from a high-kill shelter you've literally saved a life. If you adopt from a no-kill shelter you've freed up space for more kitten and cat rescues. Tortoiseshell cat adoption is even more special. Here's why you should consider a or multiple tortoiseshell (tortie for short) cats for your next addition to the family.
It's sad when cat adopters eye the kittens before any other cat because "Kittens are cute!" Any experienced cat owner knows that all kittens grow out of that big eyed, top heavy stage and become cats with unique quirks and problems. Cuteness and other physical appeal should never factor in.
The tortoiseshell cat is unique from a purely aesthetic standpoint because it will remain lovely in all stages of its life. With their tri-colored splotches and patches of fur and stunning green or gold eyes, your tortie will resemble a beautiful, artistic fall day.
It is tragic when a tortoiseshell lover learns that her favorite type of cat isn't well-liked by most potential adopters. Did you know that besides older cats, cats with special needs, and black cats, tortoiseshell cats are less likely to be adopted in the first place or more likely to be returned to the shelter? Did you also know that employees at the animal shelter have to warn people that the tortoiseshell they're interested in is "quirky"? Of all the warnings a potential adopter can receive, this is the saddest. It's almost like the shelter employees are trying to sabotage tortoiseshell adoptions.
Ignore what you're told about the tortoiseshell cat being quirky and give her (tortoiseshell cats are usually female) a chance.
Believe it or not, there are even worse stereotypes about tortoiseshell cats. Some tortoiseshell owners report that their torties are one-person cats and outright hate everyone else. Some former tortoiseshell owners send their torties back to the animal shelter because they're vicious. Families who try to resocialize feral tortoiseshell cats for pure domestication wonder why it takes longer for the torties to grasp that humans are their friends.
Is there anything to back up these claims? There's the theory that because of tortoiseshell cat genetics (basically, whatever it is that causes them to be tri-color, predominantly black, and usually female) they are meant to be more tempermental and independent than other colors ofcats. It's an interesting theory that tortie lovers and haters should know about, but it does a diservice to all the good torties of the world. Any cat can be mean or independent if they're not socialized well. I'd love to know how many feral cats of other colors take a long time to warm up to domestication because right now the information is anecdotal rather than scientifically confirmed. One-person cats exist in every type of cat. My mom has a tuxedo cat that adores her while our tortie catspends most of her day with me.
What's wrong with being quirky? Don't people like other types of cats for their quirkiness? Since when did being quirky equal having a negative characteristic?
Tortoiseshell cats are quirky. Granted, I have to use anecdotal evidence to give legitimacy to my claim because as of this point there's no scientific studies on the topic of tortie behavior. In spite of that, I will stand by this declaration.
Let me tell you about Susie, the tortie I had when I was about four years old. This cat was clearly influenced by her canine siblings. She loved waiting for her human family to come home and she was always at the door. She was a love bug, maybe a little too much. Her form of reciprocating our attention to her was licking our faces, hands, and toes. If one of us was sick, she'd rest in the middle of our stomach until we had to shift or until we felt better.
Our current tortoiseshell is Sunshine, also a quirky tortie. This beauty is officially an adult cat but she is just as capable of jumping off walls and doing backflips as she was at six months old. She isn't the lapcat Susie was, but she follows us around and will rest herself against our legs. The most interesting thing about Sunny is that she's sensitive to changes in her environment and will alert us through twills, chirps, and growls. I feel like if we were in any immediate danger, she would warn us.
Non-tortoiseshell cat lovers are quick to accept all of the bad and none of the good, according to articles and blog posts about torties. This works against the cats because no matter how great they are, anything they do wrong is a strike against torties as a whole.
I admit that the only two torties I've known closely have been my own but the things that made Susie so special and currently makes Sunshine so special seem consistently positive. Susie may have been quirky for her doglike characteristics, but didn't she sound like a sweetheart? Sunshine's enthusiasm for gymnastics and sensitivity to environmental change keeps my family amused on the lighter end and secure on the darker end. Her vibrance and protectiveness is much more than her being a "crazy" tortie. Are animals capable of higher conscious thoughts? Science is out on that, but I believe these actions are a tortie's way of saying "I like you."
Tortoiseshell cats make just as great pets as any other type of cat. You just have to let them in.
select one here...