Difference between a tortoiseshell cat and a calico

What is the difference between a Tortoiseshell Cat and a Calico?

This is a common question among tortoiseshell cat owners. A classic tortoiseshell cat will have a mainly black coat, with patches and flecks of orange and white mixed in a brindled type pattern. This pattern creates a lovely coat that really makes tortoiseshell cats stand out and look very beautiful!

The brindled pattern tends to develop over time, so your fluffy tortoiseshell kitten will probably be quite dark and mainly black when you bring her into the house. It is really fun to see the colours come out as she grows up, and the pattern will probably be all over her body, legs and head. Sometimes you can really see how torties are related to their big cat cousins when the orange and white stripes develop close together!

The main difference of a calico or a ‘tortoiseshell and white cat’ is that calicos will have a white coat with patches of orange and black. The patches are usually separate, and quite distinctive.

This is the very general difference between a tortoiseshell cat and a calico. However, there are very many variations of both cats, including a blue tortoiseshell cat. Some cats end up being a bit of a mixture with some tortie coloured body parts and some calico. There are also variations on a calico such as a ‘dilute calico’, which will have grey and pale orange patches on a white coat (so a similar pattern, but the colours are diluted)

A tortoiseshell cat makes a great pet, whether it is a brindled tortie or a calico and they will all some some signs of tortitude! Check out our image gallery for some great pictures of tortoiseshell cats!

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