Tortoiseshell cat folklore

Tortoiseshell cats make more than good pets, they have a very rich history and a place in folklore in many different cultures.

Although we know that the beautiful tortoiseshell pattern comes from the result of a complex genetical pattern that is only found in female cats, the Khymers of South East Asia believed that the first tortoiseshell arose from the menstrual blood of a goddess born of a lotus flower.

Black cats have always been regarded as lucky, but stories about torties in particular go back to ancient times when the Celts believed that tortoiseshell cats brought good luck to their homes. It is still regarded as good luck in both Scotland and Ireland if a stray tortie settles in your home, and we certainly believe that any home with a tortie is a lucky one!

Male tortoiseshell cats are very rare (only about 1 in 3000 tortoiseshell cats are male), and perhaps this is why Japanese fishermen tried to carry a male tortoiseshell on board their ships to protect them from ghosts and from storms out at sea.

There is also an English old wives tale that you can cure warts if you rub them with the tail of a male tortoiseshell cat during the month of May. We are not so sure about that one!

One legend states that all current tortoiseshell cats are descendants of a black cat that hosted the sun while it walked on the earth. As the sun had to leave the body of the cat suddenly, it left behind some of its golden rays in the cat’s fur. The full legend is in the video below.

Perhaps our favourite story about torties is that if you are lucky enough for a tortoiseshell cat to appear in your dream then you will enjoy good fortune in love.

Let us know if you know any other stories about torties in folklore or if they are a lucky charm for you and your family.

5 thoughts on “Tortoiseshell cat folklore”

  1. Amber is a Torti shell cat that came into my life four years ago. Last year, it was rough
    with Amber as she had a growth that was inside of her and had to go for
    surgery to have the growth removed. And she had to wear an Elizabethan collar
    that she had to wear for seven weeks as she had to heal inside and outside. Since,
    then she been doing well; even though she likes to get in trouble sometimes. All in
    all, she’s been doing good.

    • I’m glad Amber is okay! My cat clover whom came from a random shed outside of our house, had a parasite that was eating a hole in her chest! It looked awful and smelled awful. We had to give her treatment for 2 weeks- and everything healed up quite well! She loves to get into trouble as well, it’s just in their blood.

  2. My tortie’s name is Princess Phoebe Petunia Poopski and she is a beauty. My son brought her to me during the beginning of the pandemic. She was feral and very scared. My son left, moving to another state, my 19 year old dog died, and I was left alone with this crazy little cat, who was hiding under the house, and who screamed when she saw me. I just kept moving her food bowl closer and closer to the house, until one day I looked down, and she was standing next to the bed, looking so uncertain. I reached down and gently picked her up, and she started to purr. Now we’re so close, and I love her so much.

  3. I recently adopted a mother/daughter Tortie pair. Mom (Tempest) is very vocal and loving, constantly rubbing on me and wanting to sit on my lap. The kitten (Stormy) is still deciding whether to accept me as a minion. She hisses at the dogs and gets into everything. They’ve added so much to my life.

  4. My Torties name is Tiki and she is so lovable glued to me most of the time that I am home. She is indoors only and has a comfy pillow to lay on at a large window to watch the world go by. There is a time each night where she gets really frisky. Runs around jumping up and off furniture with her tail all bushy. She is approx. 4 yrs old and most of the time acts like a kitten. She came into my life when I really needed a fuzzy friend and I haven’t regretted it since. Hope she lives a long time


Leave a Comment