Sunday, June 12, 2011


If Samson is a Prince, then Dear Prudence, his suspected mom, is surely Queen. When, on rare occasions, this elusive yet regal tortie, walks through the colony, all the cats back away in what appears to be both reverence and awe. (I swear, they look like they are bowing!) Dear Prudence, who is graying around her muzzle and walks with a touch of stiffness in her gait, still commands the deepest respect. Dear Prudence does not sleep in a feral shelter. Instead, she's content to live under a large shed with a roly-poly raccoon named--what else? Rocky! Delilah, Samson, and the other cats occasionally receive an audience with the Queen.

Tortoiseshell cats or torties, as they are fondly called, come in varied coat color combinations, as well as having exotic facial markings. They can have patches of orange, cream, cinnamon, dark brown, gray, black, or blue. Underlying the color patches is usually a distinctive tabby pattern. Often, they have an orange streak or patch on their heads which acts as a kind of symmetrical dividing line in their coloration. Here's a shot of my friend Donna's feral cat "Honey" with her son Roger. Honey has a lovely mahogony and black coat with caramel patches. Torties often have ginger or red kittens.


An interesting fact: only one in three thousand tortoiseshell cats are male. This is the result of having an extra X chromosome (XXY). As in humans, these cats are always sterile because of the imbalance in sex chromosomes. Some male calico or tortoiseshell cats may be chimeras. Chimeras are formed from four parent cells (two fertilized eggs or early embryos fused together).

As far as personality goes, torties are often described as having “tortitude.” They are known to be curious and playful companions. Call it tortitude or call it attitude, Dear Prudence, Queen of Stone Ledge, possesses both!

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