Tortoiseshell is a cat coat coloring named for its similarity to tortoiseshell material. Like calicoes, tortoiseshell cats are almost exclusively female. Male tortoiseshells are rare and are usually sterile.
Tortoiseshell cats, or torties, combine two colors other than white, either closely mixed or in larger patches. The colors are often described as red and black, but the "red" patches can instead be orange, yellow, or cream, and the "black" can instead be chocolate, gray, tabby, or blue. Tortoiseshell cats with the tabby pattern as one of their colors are sometimes referred to as torbies or torbie cats.
"Tortoiseshell" is typically reserved for particolored cats with relatively small or no white markings. Those that are predominantly white with tortoiseshell patches are described as tricolor, tortoiseshellandwhite (in the United Kingdom), or calico (in Canada and the United States).
Cats with a tortoiseshell pattern and small blotches of white are sometimes referred to as "tortico," a portmanteau of "tortie" and "calico."
Tortie cats with a predominantly white undercoat are often referred to as "caliby," a portmanteau of "calico" and "tabby."
Tortoiseshell markings appear in many different breeds, as well as in nonpurebred domestic cats. This pattern is especially preferred in the Japanese Bobtail breed, and exists in the Cornish Rex group.
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