Tortoiseshell cats are not general favourites. They are not attractive looking cats, and make but a poor show in the pen. It is seldom that a true type of tortoise-shell is seen or exhibited, and perhaps this fact may account in some measure for the breed being neglected.
It has often been remarked, however, that this v a r ie t y is favoured by the sterner sex, and our p ro f e s s i o nal men judges will frequently pick out a tortoiseshell in an "any other colour" class, and give it a mark of distinction. Certainly any specimen approaching perfection should be encouraged.
There are splashed and sable tortoise-shells, and also many tortoiseshell tabbies; but these are not the genuine type. Real tortoise-shells may be called more correctly tricolour cats, for they should have three distinct colours-black, orange, and yellow. There should be no streaks, stripes, or tabby markings, but the
Mrs A. E. Hersey's famous tortoiseshell Persian cat. Vectis Gipsy Queen, a typical example of what this variety should be colours should be in distinct patches solid in colour, and well broken up over the body, head, and legs. The brighter colours of red and yellow may predominate over the black. A very common fault is for tortoiseshells to be too dark. A brindled effect is undesirable, and a white spot on the throat is a great blemish. A blaze, as it is called, up the face, is considered a beauty; this should be of orange or yellow, and be continued in a straight line up one side of the nose. This blaze is a very distinctive feature of the breed, and one which a judge will look for in a good show specimen.
It is incorrect for the tail to be ringed with the colours.
Tortoiseshells never attain any great size, and may be considered quite the smallest breed in Persian cats.
A Sex Peculiarity
There is, however, one peculiarity of this variety which causes it to stand out from all others-that is, the interesting fact that tor-toiseshell toms are almost unknown. Amongst short-haired tortoiseshell cats a male is very rarely found, but a long-haired specimen has never yet been seen or exhibited. Several experiments have been tried to obtain tortoiseshell toms, but it remains for some skilful and scientific breeder to solve the problem of how to produce males of this variety.
Darwin's theory that the orange torn and tortoiseshell queen were originally the male and female of the same variety is borne out by the fact that until recently orange females were also rare. Of late years, however, a number of these have been bred; therefore, if the Darwinian theory is correct, it seems hard to believe that the tortoiseshell torn must be regarded as unattainable.
As there is, apparently, no limit to the possibilities of modern science, this rara avis -if the term is permissible-may yet grace the show-pen.
A tortoiseshell queen is most valuable for breeding purposes, as she can be mated with a black, cream, orange, or blue. Any of these crosses will produce good results. One litter may consist of a black, a cream, an
Mrs. Slingsby's beautiful tortoiseshell-and-white Persian Champion Rosette of Thorpe. It is a curious fact that specimens of this breed are invariably females orange, and a blue. The owner of such a varied litter should have something to suit all would-be purchasers.
It is only of late years that special classes for tortoiseshells have been given; formerly they had to be shown in the "any other colour" class, always an unsatisfactory arrangement for the enthusiastic specialist breeder, and one that tends to discourage the cautious novice.
There are not many breeders of these cats. Mrs. T. B. Meson has always been faithful to tortoiseshells, and her Royal Queenie is quite one of the best specimens on the show-bench of to-day.
These fascinating cats cannot be said to have made any headway in the fancy. Perhaps the difficulty of selecting suitable mates for the queens that will perpetuate the breed may be one reason for the neglect of this showy variety. As is the case with tortoiseshells, so with tortoiseshell-and-whites-they are all females.
The old-fashioned name for this breed was " chintz " cats. The four colours should be about equally distributed-a slight preponderance of white being allowable, but some specimens are really white-and-tor-toiseshell. The colours should be in distinct patches, with no white hairs sprinkled amongst them, nor any " tabbiness " of either brown or grey. The nose should be white, with a balancing of patches on the head and face. If these are badly placed and unevenly distributed the effect is displeasing, and even grotesque, and spoils the expression of the face. There is no doubt that these cats are extremely showy in the pen, where the darker varieties are at a disadvantage.
Mrs. Slingsby is very partial to the breed, and generally possesses a long and a short haired specimen of these patchwork cats. It is, however, doubtful if ever tortoiseshell-and-whites will be taken up to any appreciable extent in the cat fancy. This, from a fancier's point of view, is regrettable, since it often results in the degeneration, if not the total extinction, of an interesting type, as has been exemplified in the case of more than one breed of dogs.