The Tortoiseshell-and-white Cat

This is a more common mixture of colouring than the tortoiseshell pure

and simple without white, and seems to be widely spread over different

parts of the world. It is the opinion of some that this colour and the

pure tortoiseshell is the original domestic cat, and that the other

varieties of marking and colours are but deviations produced by

crossing with wild varieties. My brother, John Jenner Weir, F.L.S.,

F.Z.S., holds somewhat to this opinion; but, to me, it is rather

difficult to arrive at this conclusion. In fact, I can scarcely

realise the ground on which the theory is based--at the same time, I

do not mean to ignore it entirely. And yet, if this be so, from what

starting-point was the original domestic cat derived, and by what

means were the rich and varied markings obtained? I am fully aware

that by selection cats with large patches of colour may be obtained;

still, there remain the peculiar markings of the tortoiseshell. Nor is

this by any means an uncommon colour, not only in this country, but in

many others, and there also appears to be a peculiar fixedness of

this, especially in the female, but why it is not so in the male I am

at a loss to understand, the males almost invariably coming either

red-tabby or red-tabby-and-white. One would suppose that black or

white would be equally likely; but, as far as my observations take me,

this is not so, though I have seen both pure white, yellow, red, and

black in litters of kittens, but this might be different were the he

parent tortoiseshell.

Some years ago I was out with a shooting party not far from

Snowdon, in Wales, when turning past a large rock I came on a

sheltered nook, and there in a nest made of dry grasses laid six

tortoiseshell-and-white kittens about eight to ten days old. I was

much surprised at this, as I did not know of any house near,

therefore these must have been the offspring of some cat or cats

that were leading a roving or wild life, and yet it had no effect

as to the deviation of the colour. I left them there, and without

observing the sex. I was afterwards sorry, as it is just possible,

though scarcely probable, that one or more of the six, being all

of the same colour, might have proved to be a male. As I left the

neighbourhood a few days after I saw no more of them, nor have I

since heard of any being there; so conclude they in some way were


I have observed in the breed of tortoiseshell or

tortoise-shell-and-white that the hair is of a coarser texture than

the ordinary domestic cat, and that the tail is generally thicker,

especially at the base, though some few are thin-tailed; yet I prefer

the thick and tapering form. Some are very much so, and of a good

length; the legs are generally somewhat short; I do not ever remember

seeing a really long-legged tortoiseshell, though when this is so if

not too long it adds much to its grace of action. I give a drawing of

what I consider to be a GOOD tortoiseshell-and-white tom or he-cat. It

will be observed that there is more white on the chest, belly, and

hind legs than is allowable in the black-and-white cat. This I deem

necessary for artistic beauty, when the colour is laid on in

patches, although it should be even, clear, and distinct in its

outline; the larger space of white adds brilliancy to the red, yellow,

and black colouring. The face is one of the parts which should have

some uniformity of colour, and yet not so, but a mere balancing of

colour; that is to say, that there should be a relief in black, with

the yellow and red on each side, and so in the body and tail. The nose

should be white, the eyes orange, and the whole colouring rich and

varied without the least Tabbyness, either brown or gray or an

approach to it, such being highly detrimental to its beauty.

I have received a welcome letter from Mr. Herbert Young, of James

Street, Harrogate, informing me of the existence of what is said to be

a tortoiseshell tom or he-cat somewhere in Yorkshire, and the price is

fifty guineas; but he, unfortunately, has forgotten the exact address.

He also kindly favours me with the further information of a

tortoiseshell-and-white he-cat. He describes it as "splendid," and

"extra good in colour," and it is at present in the vicinity of

Harrogate. And still further, Mr. Herbert Young says, "I am breeding

from a dark colour cat and two tortoiseshell females," and he hopes,

by careful selection, to succeed in "breeding the other colour out."

This, I deem, is by no means an unlikely thing to happen, and, by

careful management, may not take very long to accomplish; but much

depends on the ancestry, or rather the pedigree of both sides. I for

one most heartily wish Mr. Herbert Young success, and it will be most

gratifying should he arrive at the height of his expectations. Failing

the producing of the desired colour in the he-cats by the legitimate

method of tortoiseshell with tortoiseshell, I would advise the trial

of some whole colours, such as solid black and white. This may

prove a better way than the other, as we pigeon fanciers go an

apparently roundabout way often to obtain what we want to attain in

colour, and yet there is almost a certainty in the method.

As regards the tortoiseshell cat, there is a distinct variety known to

us cat fanciers as the tortoiseshell-tabby. This must not be

confounded with the true variety, as it consists only of a variegation

in colour of the yellow, the red, and the dark tabby, and is more in

lines than patches, or patches of lines or spots. These are by no

means ugly, and a well-marked, richly-coloured specimen is really very

handsome. They may also be intermixed with white, and should be marked

the same as the true tortoiseshell; but in competition with the real

tortoiseshell they would stand no chance whatever, and ought in my

opinion to be disqualified as being wrong class, and be put in that

for "any other colour."

The Tortoiseshell Cat The White-and-black Cat facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail