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Little Tortoiseshell Cat Book: 02/15/07

Little Tortoiseshell Cat Book

As anyone who is close to me or who reads this site knows I have a calico (Caligula) and tend to stick with orange, black and white in my design choices for this site. For the eleven years that I've had Caligula I've been fascinated with books about or featuring calicos and torties.

A calico cat has white, orange and black patterns (usually a white stomach with the orange and black on the back, tail, head and legs). Calico comes from the prints against solid colors manufactured in Calcutta. Tortoiseshells don't have significant blocks of white and their mottling looks like the color and texture of a tortoise.

The book mistakenly says that some calicos and torties are sterile males. While there are rare calico or tortie patterned cats who appear to be male, they are more precisely chimeras. They have more than the usual paring of sex chromosomes (XXY or even more). As the coloring for black and orange is carried on the X chromosome only, it takes two X chromosomes to make a tortie. White isn't a sex related trait; it's more of an added bonus. For more information see: Cats Are Not Peas.

So that brings me to this slim volume that I read for a BookCrossing ring (originated in Britain). This book is more of a quick introduction to all things calico, including the history, art, and how various cat breeds display the tortie/calico coloration. Of all the sections, I enjoyed the breed sections most as that was the bit I knew the least about. Most books that cover specific cat breeds ignore or gloss over tortie coloration as a "freak" or "undesirable" result.

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