It’s always sad when a friend’s cat dies. My heart hurts for what I know they’re about to go through as they mourn their loss. We’ve all been there, and even though everyone grieves in their own unique way, we all know how hard it is. Late last week, Janiss Garza, the human behind Sparkle Cat, Featuring Summer, Therapy Cat and Kitty on the Go, had to make the sad decision to let Binga go.Continue Reading
Help Me Celebrate Tortitude: The BIG Book About Cats With a BIG Attitude
Tortitude: The BIG Book About Cats With a BIG Attitude, which is currently a #1 Bestseller on Amazon, is now already available in select stores. To celebrate, I’m hosting a launch party on February 13, and if you’re in the Washington DC area, I hope you’ll join me!Continue Reading
Tortitude: The BIG Book About Cats With a BIG Attitude in Stores Today
Today is a very big day for Allegra, Ruby and me: today is the official launch day for Tortitude: The BIG Book About Cats With a BIG Attitude! This means that the book will be in stores today.
The book is currently an Amazon Bestseller, and we hope it will do really well in stores, too. Please tell all your cat loving friends about the book. If you don’t see it in your local bookstore, you can ask the store to order it for you. And of course, the book is available from Amazon and other online retailers.Continue Reading
“Tortitude” – The Unique Personality of Tortoiseshell Cats: Fact or Fiction?
Last updated August 2019
In August of 2009, I wrote a post titled Tortitude: The Unique Personality of Tortoiseshell Cats. The post describes some of the unique traits that many of these beautifully colored cats seem to share: they tend to be strong-willed, a bit hot-tempered, and they can be very possessive of their human. Other words used to describe torties are fiercely independent, feisty and unpredictable. They’re usually very talkative and make their presence and needs known with anything from a hiss to a meow to a strong purr.Continue Reading
Sunday Purrs: the colors of autumn
Fall has definitely arrived in my part of the world. While I enjoy the beautiful colors of autumn all around me, it’s not my favorite season – mostly because of what comes after. I don’t like cold weather, and I definitely don’t like snow. But this year, I’m determined to embrace autumn and enjoy the season for what it is, rather than viewing it just as a precursor to winter. After all, that’s what living in the moment is all about. I’m making a point this year to really notice the gradual changing of the leaves, and to appreciate nature’s beauty, rather than anticipate the inevitable journey toward falling leaves and winter.
Autum is a season of harvest and a celebration of abundance. It’s a good time to take stock of all you’ve accomplished this year, and take some time to really appreciate your own growth. It’s a season of contradictions: warm, almost summer like days alternate with chilly days and nights. It’s a reflection that our lives aren’t always predictable, that life can be messy, and that joy and sorrow are both part of life.
Ultimately, autum is about the inevitability of change.Continue Reading
Torties, Friendship, and a Very Special Book Signing
This has to be one of the more unique post titles I’ve ever come up with – but what transpired earlier this week was one of the most unique, and special, experiences of my life. Let me explain.
It all began on August 17, 2009, when I wrote a post titled Tortitude – the Unique Personality of Tortoiseshell Cats. It rapidly became one of the most popular posts on this blog. When you google “tortoiseshell cat,” “tortie cat,” “tortitude” and any number of other combination of these terms, the post pops up in the first three results on Google’s results page. Readers started leaving comments sharing stories about their torties. It rapidly became so much more than just a blog post. With more than 3500 comments to date, it has turned into a real community of tortie lovers. (Editor’s note: as of April 2012, the post had more than 9500 comments.)
About a year ago, a core group of tortie lovers began to post almost daily, and what started as an exchange of tortie stories turned into online friendships. We not only continued to share tortie stories (and anyone owned by one of these cats knows there’s always plenty of new material!), but we supported each other through life’s ups and downs.
There is Harry in Virginia, who, along with his wife Julie and daughter Rachel, volunteers and saves untold feline lives with Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation, and his tortie Brooke. There is Bernie in Western Pennsylvania, who had never had a cat in her life until a determined tortie named Steeler decided that she wanted to live with her. There is Jay in Eastern Pennsylvania, who taught his tortie Stirfry to trust humans again. There is Bernadette in Western Pennsylvania, whose two senior torties Kelly and Cookie grace some of her artwork. And there are many more: Glen in Canada, who rescued his tortie Kasey from a rough life outside a mechanical plant. Shannah in New York and her tortie Emma. Michael in Arizona and his tortie Honey. The list goes on and on.
With two exceptions, none of us had ever met in person. I had met Bernadette at the Cat Writers Association conference in November of 2009, and I had met Harry and his family at the National Capital Cat Show in Chantilly, VA in September of 2010. I had never met any of the others, and I never really expected to. Then Bernie, Jay and Bernadette decided that they would make the trip down from PA to come to my book signing at the Stray Cat Café, to benefit Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation, on April 10. As Bernadette put it in her write-up of the event, “On Sunday I took off for Falls Church, Virginia with a person I’d never met before to get together with a bunch of other people I’d met on the internet. Sounds like the sort of thing they tell you not to do, but I happened to know that each of these persons, including myself, owned at least one tortoiseshell cat, so I knew the worst we’d do is talk about what our cats did in the litterbox or deposited on the floor.”
Finally, we would all meet in person, after talking to each other on the blog for over a year. When Bernie, Jay and Bernadette arrived at the Stray Cat Café, it was like being reunited with old friends. The evening flew by. Harry and his wife Julie graciously invited us to their home for brunch the following morning so we could continue our gathering before the PA contingent headed home again. We spent a delightful spring day on Harry’s screened in porch, enjoying a delicious brunch, with five of his seven cats, including the lovely Brooke who started it all, hanging out with us.
This day will forever remain in my heart as one of life’s special memories. The time went by much too fast, and we all reluctantly said our good-byes.
All of us continue to marvel at how all of this came about. We couldn’t come from more diverse backgrounds. Our interests vary widely. Our love for our torties brought us together.
This day will forever remain in my heart as one of life’s special memories. The time went by much too fast, and we all reluctantly said our good-byes and sent the PA contingent on their way home.
Friendships can start in the most unexpected ways if you open yourself to the possibilities. In our case, we have Brooke, Steeler, Stirfry, Kelly, Cookie, Amber, Buckley, Allegra and all the others to thank for opening our hearts, and our lives, to new friends. I, for one, will be forever grateful for these wonderful cats, and the wonderful new friends they’ve brought into my life.
Photos, top to bottom:
Amber and Buckley, photo by Ingrid King
Julie, Ingrid and Harry, photo by Bernadette Kazmarski
Bernadette Kazmarski with me, photo by Renee Austin
Jay and Bernie, photo by Bernadette Kazmarski
“Tortitude” – The Unique Personality of Tortoiseshell Cats
Tortoiseshell cats are named for their distinctive coloring – a combination of patches of black, brown, amber, red, cinnamon and chocolate. The size of the patches varies from a fine speckled pattern to large areas of color. The term “tortoiseshell” is used for cats with brindled coats that have few or no white markings. Cats of this coloring with larger areas of white fur are called calicos. Sometimes, these colors present in lighter versions such as lilac or cream. Torties with this lighter coloring are called dilute torties. Occasionally, the typical tortoiseshell colors are also seen in a tabby (striped) pattern, and these cats are sometimes referred to as “torbies.”
Tortoiseshell cats are almost exclusively female. Tortoiseshell and calico coats are the result of the interaction between genetic and developmental factors. The occasional and very rare male tortoiseshell cat is the result of a genetic mutation.
In addition to their distinctive coloring, torties also have a reputation for unique personalities, sometimes referred to as “tortitude.” They tend to be strong-willed, a bit hot-tempered, and they can be very possessive of their human. Other words used to describe torties are fiercely independent, feisty and unpredictable. They’re usually very talkative and make their presence and needs known with anything from a hiss to a meow to a strong purr. These traits are stronger in tortoiseshell cats than in calicos – it seems as though these traits are somewhat diluted with the addition of more white to the color scheme.
As of the writing of this post, I share my life with Amber*, and those of you who’ve followed this blog for a while have gotten to know her in her Amber’s Mewsings posts. You will soon be able to read all about Buckley in Buckley’s Story – Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher. The photo above shows Buckley in the front, Amber behind her.
Prior to Amber and Buckley, there was another tortie in my life. Virginia was the first office cat at the animal hospital I managed. She was my introduction to torties, and my love affair with this particular type of cat began with her. She, too, had the “tortitude” I so love about these particular cats.
Do you have a tortie or calico in your life? Does she have “tortitude?”
*Sadly, Amber passed away on May 13, 2010, after a sudden, brief illness. I now share my life with Allegra and Ruby, two tortoiseshell cats who have their own columns here on The Conscious Cat, titled Allegra’s World and Ruby’s Reflections.
Photo ©Ingrid King, all rights reserved