How Big do Tortoiseshell Cats Get?

This is a common question often asked by owners of tortoiseshell cats. We know that 'torties' have plenty of tortitude, but how large can you expect your tortoiseshell cat to be when she is fully grown?

There are a few things that it is useful to understand when considering how big tortoiseshell cats will grow.

How big do tortoiseshell cats get?

The size depends partly on the breed

The first of these is that tortoiseshell cats are not a breed.

The name tortoiseshell comes from the cats’ resemblance to the partly coloured shell of the tortoise. Tortoiseshell cats have a combination of 2 colours other than white.

The most common combination is black and red but the “black” can be chocolate, grey or blue and the “red” can be orange, yellow or cream. This combination of 2 colours other than white can occur in a variety of breeds such as: American shorthair, Angora, British shorthair, Cornish Rex, Japanese Bobtail, Maine Coons, Persian, Ragamuffin.

So the size of the cat will depend partly on the breed.

Tortoiseshell Cats are ladies

Another important factor in how big tortoiseshell cats get is that torties are almost always female.

As in humans the sex of a cat is determined by its chromosomes. To be female it must have 2X chromosomes. To be male it must have an X and a Y.

In cats the colour gene is carried in the X chromosome. The different distinctive colours arise from genetic mutation within the two chromosomes. Male tortoiseshell cats are extremely rare because they can only carry the colour gene in their one X chromosome. Male torties that have been identified have XXY chromosomes and are normally sterile.

As in all mammals the male is usually larger than the female so as tortie cats are female they are on the smaller side of the domestic cat family.

On average domestic cats weigh 5.5-10 pounds or 2.5-4.5 kilos.

The average height of a domestic cat is 8-10inches or 20-25cms


Tortoiseshell cats are well known for their beautiful coats and for their famous attitude or tortitude. However, they are not well known for their size.

This is partly because most torties are female, and as with most species the females tend to be slightly smaller than the males. And as tortoiseshell cats are not a specific breed, the size is also determined by the breed of the cat.

Do you have a particularly large or small tortie? Let us know in the comments below.

2 thoughts on “How Big do Tortoiseshell Cats Get?”

  1. Her name is Tortuga. She was born in BajaSur, Mexico and weighs 17 pounds. She is 4 years old and while she is fat, she has no problem moving around quickly.


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