It is often said that cats are synonymous with order, beauty and exoticism. Among them there is a type of female cats that stand out: tortoiseshell cats.
The hawksbill cat is one of the felines that most reflects the legend of cats. It is a type of cat surrounded by a mysterious halo and full of magic. Its three mixed colors (black, orange and white) make this cat look even more mystical if possible.
Hawksbill sea turtles (tortoiseshell) have very similar colors on their shells, which is why these kittens are also called turtle cats.
Let’s clarify something, tortoiseshell cats are not a specific breed of cat, they are a colorature that can occur in almost all breeds that have the three colors present.
What are tortoiseshell cats like? Important features:
Tortoiseshell cats usually combine (spot type) a dark, a light and a reddish color in their coat. In addition, they usually present a broader spot in some area of the face, mainly on the forehead in the shape of a flame.
Despite being twins, two hawksbill cats never have the same color distribution, hawksbill kittens are all different and unrepeatable. This is because they all have a chromosome alteration.
For genetic reasons, female cats can show black and orange in their fur, but males can only show one of them. This is the reason why almost 100% of these cats are hawksbill females. Hawksbill males are caused by much greater genetic alterations (Klinefelter syndrome) that tend to produce much more sterility.
Types of tortoiseshell cats
Tortoiseshell cats can simply be differentiated by the color that is most abundant in their tricolor coat. Namely:
- Orange through shades that can reach pink.
- Black through shades that reach gray.
- White. These types of cats are called calico, caricó or Spanish cats.
- Brindle tricolor, which is the rarest alteration to see.
Why does this happen?
The answer is that black and orange are transmitted by the X chromosome (that is, the mother’s), while males also have a Y chromosome.
For the combination of black and orange to occur, there must be two X chromosomes, that is, a female or an XXY male. Cats that are genetically XXY are rare and sterile.
Character and Behavior of hawksbill cats
As we have already mentioned, turtle cats can appear in any breed, since they are a genetic alteration. So this cat is just like any other of its breed. In fact, the differentiation with the rest of its species will only be seen by us.
To know the character of the hawksbill cat in question, it is best to find out the character of the predominant breed in the cat. As we say, it is simply a tricolor cat, which does not influence its behavior.
Having a genetic alteration does not cause any disease in hawksbill cats except for possible sterility, mainly in males.
Is it possible to find a tricolor male?
Approximately only 1 in 3,000 tricolor will be male, and only 1 in 10,000 will be a fertile male, although in the absence of reliable data, these figures are simple approximations. Males can be tricolor for several different reasons:
- Genetic abnormalities: If a cat has three sex chromosomes and these are XXY, it may happen that he is a tricolor cat. Most often, these males are sterile. Even if they are fertile, they will not produce more tricolor males, unless the abnormality and the precise genetic combination are reproduced.
- Somatic mutation: which produces black spots in orange cats, by processes similar to birthmarks or moles on people’s skin.
- Chimeras: Whether the embryos that are fused are both male (XY / XY), one male and one female (XY / XX), it may happen that the cat has the phenotype of a tricolor male.
- Hermaphroditism: these are cats that are genetically female (XX), but develop external characteristics of males due to hormonal imbalances during fetal development.
The legend about hawksbill cats
Throughout history, hawksbill cats have been considered good luck animals:
- For the Irish, hawksbill cats were responsible for warding off evil spirits.
- A hawksbill cat on the ship ensured a good journey on the ships of ancient Japan.
- For Tibet, they are the perfect fusion of Ying and yang.
While these kitties are beautiful, mysterious and good luck, it seems that people see them as dirty or ugly. Most shelters report that Tortoise or Tortoise cats are the ones they least want to adopt, the last to be taken of all litters.