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10 Types of Tortoiseshell Cats (With Pictures)

Rachel Giordano

By Rachel Giordano

tortoiseshell persian cat on the grass

When you hear the term “tortoiseshell cat,” you may believe these cats are a breed of their own, when in fact, they are not a breed at all. Rather, the word “tortoiseshell” refers to a distinctive color-patterned coat. The bi-colored coats look like the shell of a tortoise, hence the name, and their appearance is similar to a Calico.

Torties, as they’re affectionately called, can be seen in quite a few cat breeds, which we’ll list in this post.


Facts About Tortoiseshell Cats

Torties often come with “tortitudes,” meaning they can be sassy and vocal; however, they love their owners, and the feeling is mutual. Interestingly, tortoiseshell cats are almost exclusively female, and if you do find a male, the male will be sterile due to an extra X chromosome.

Color combinations are often black and orange, and some have red, ginger, or chocolate mixed into the coat. One way to differentiate a tortie from a Calico is Calicos typically have white mixed in with the fur, whereas a tortie will not.

Torties can have long or short hair, and there are quite a few breeds that sport the tortie coat. Let’s take a look at specific breeds that can be considered a “tortoiseshell cat.”

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The 10 Types of Tortoiseshell Cats

1. American Shorthair

tortoishell american shorthair
Photo Credit: Anna Krivitskaya, Shutterstock

Tortoiseshell American Shorthair cats are black with shades of red over the entire body. These cats are easygoing, good-natured, and make excellent family companions. These cats form bonds with every family member, and they love to play; however, they do not demand your attention.

2. British Shorthair

Tortoiseshell British Shorthair
Photo Credit: Tommy Larey, Shutterstock

The British Shorthair is friendly and docile. They have dense, short coats and come in many color varieties apart from the tortoiseshell pattern, including white, blue-grey, tabby, cream, lilac, red, calico, cinnamon, and fawn. It takes time for these cats to trust you, but once they do, they’ll love your attention—you’ll also have a faithful feline for life.

3. Persian

Tortoiseshell Persian smoly cat
Photo Credit: Dmitrii Kash, Shutterstock

The Persian cat is a longhaired breed distinguishable by a short muzzle and rounded face. They are among the most popular cat breeds to own and have luxurious coats. They sport a majestic and elegant attitude and have awesome personalities. Other colors you’ll find are smoke, cream, tabby, black, chocolate, lilac, and blue.

4. Cornish Rex

tortoiseshell Cornish Rex
Photo Credit: natalean, Shutterstock

The Cornish Rex is loveable, social, and playful with high energy levels. They are a smaller cat breed yet have large ears that make them distinguishable. They are attentive, and inquisitive, and their coats are short with tight curls, which is another distinguishable trait. They come in many color variations and patterns in addition to the tortoiseshell pattern, such as tabby and calico.

5. Maine Coon

tortoiseshell maine coon cat
Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

The Maine Coon is a large domestic cat with a unique, human-like face that comes from selective breeding over the years. They are playful, independent, and energetic and may or may not demand your attention, depending on their current mood. They have a gentle nature and love to vocalize. Nicknamed “gentle giants,” these cats have a few color variations, consisting of tortoiseshell, tabby, shaded, bi-color, calico, white, cream, red, blue, and black.

6. Domestic Longhair

Image Credit: PublicDomainPictures, Pixabay

The Domestic Longhair is known for its hunting capabilities and is excellent to have around if you have a rodent problem. The fur can grow an impressive 6 inches, and you’ll find them in almost every color, as well as mixed shades. They are independent yet affectionate, and they do well with other pets in the home.

7. Manx

The Manx has an interesting feature: they have a shorter tail due to a naturally occurring mutation, and some are even tailless. They can have short or long hair that is dense and double-layered. While you can find them in almost any color or pattern, tabby, orange, and tortoiseshell are the most common.

8. Ragamuffin

tortoiseshel ragamuffin cat
Image Credit: Mabel Amber, Pixabay

Ragamuffins have long, fluffy, silky hair and rather large bodies. They are affectionate and love to cuddle with their owners. They love attention and do well with children, making them ideal family pets. They are similar to dogs in terms of personality, and they are clever and friendly. The Ragamuffin comes in various colors and patterns: tortoiseshell, blue, brown tabby with white, and mink.

9. Japanese Bobtail

Tortoise Japanese bobtail domestic cat looks into camera lens
Image Credit: Tetiana Chernykova, Shutterstock

The Japanese Bobtail is a relatively rare cat breed with a short tail commonly referred to as a “pom.” They can have either long or short hair, and they are small and affectionate. They come in many colors and patterns in addition to the tortoiseshell, and they make excellent family pets due to their friendly and playful nature. However, they do not do well being left alone for long periods of time because they become attached to their owners.

10. Scottish Fold

scottish fold tortoiseshell
Image Credit: Denys-R, Shutterstock

Scottish Fold cats are known for their round faces, large eyes, short legs, and folded ears (however, some may never develop folded ears). These cats are intelligent, friendly, and make an excellent addition to any household. They come in either longhair or shorthair: the longhair coat is fluffy and thick, while the shorthair coat is dense and plush. Additional colors are red, cream, black, blue, white, and tabby.



Quite a few cat breeds come with a tortoiseshell pattern, and the breed you desire will depend on the type of temperament you’re searching for in a kitty companion. All the cats listed in this post make excellent family additions, and you can’t go wrong with any of them.

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Featured Image Credit: andres felipe Aristizabal, Pixabay

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