Maybe you’ve been spending your time researching mythological creatures. Maybe you uttered “What makes cats mysterious and meowgical,” while your FBI agent was recording everything you say (those iPhones). Whatever the case might be, you stumbled upon a lilac tortoiseshell cat.
And, you haven’t been the same since. “What are these mythical creatures?” you thought to yourself, wondering whether you found yourself on the wrong side of the internet once more.
But, lilac torties aren’t a thing of dreams. They’re as real as they can be with the fluffiest of furs and the deepest of eyes. And, they’re as rare as you might have guessed yourself.
Dear God, how come you didn’t know there was a cat somewhere out there with fur that resembles every color of the Provence lavender fields? And, how come you were completely out of touch with the fact that there was a cat somewhere out there purrfectly embodying your wildest dreams?
Don’t be hard on yourself, though – lilac torties are pretty much the rarest out of the bunch. You’re not the only one who didn’t know they existed.
As a matter of fact, most humans read the words “lilac” and “cat” and assume you’re talking about a unicorn or a mermaid. They’re more familiar with those considering they’ve known about them since they were children.
But, lilac tortoiseshell cats aren’t necessarily… lilac. When you take a closer look at them, you might notice they’re sporting blue and cream colors that have been ever-so-neatly assembled in a tortoiseshell pattern.
Blue and cream don’t make lilac (thanks to the color theory). But when they’re splattered over a fluffy kitty they do give off a lilac hue under certain lights and angles. Oh, and there’s more where that came from! Keep on reading, why don’t you?
Kitty patterns – Why lilac tortoiseshell cats look the way they look?
Now, understanding the terms such as “sable,” “calico,” or “mackerel” doesn’t come easy to most humans who haven’t spent the past couple of months researching cat coats and colors. But, cats can possess fluff that’s black, white, chocolate, or even lavender and patterns that are striped, blotched, or ticked.
So, for you to be able to grasp what a lilac tortoiseshell cat looks like, you might need to take a quick glance at the world of pawsibilities (at least when we’re talking about different hair trends cats can sport).
And, we may or may not have thrown a couple of recommendations on what your other kitty cat should look like. Trust me, there’s always another kitty cat.
1. Cat coat colors
First things first, cats can possess different colors of fluff at once. But, the colors you typically think of are white, black, grey, brown, and orange. And, those are the colors you probably observe on different tabby cats roaming around your neighborhood.
However, we can’t overlook the world of colors and shades other cats (the rare ones) sport every day without you noticing. We’re talking about colors such as chocolate, cinnamon, red, blue, lilac, cream, and fawn.
Sure, you wouldn’t feed cinnamon to your favorite fluffer. But, would you consider fostering a cinnamon curly kitten? Of course, you would!
On the other hand, a lot of these colors are what we like to refer to as dilute colors. So, most cats assume one (or two) of the basic colors such as black, white, brown, and red. But, some cats come to be as a cross between two breeds and they get stuck with dilute colors of the fur (not that we’re angry about that).
So, the black fur color becomes blue, brown fur becomes fawn, and red fur becomes cream. And, chocolate becomes lilac because the shade of lilac we’re talking about resembles a combination between cream and grey.
Oh, and on the off chance that you do have a cinnamon-curly kitten – how does it feel to live my dream?!
2. Cat coat patterns
Now that we’ve gone over the lilac part of the lilac tortoiseshell cat, we can move on to patterns. And boy, do we have a lot to say about different spotting, striping, and blotching of the fluff you can observe when you go outside and take a walk literally anywhere.
Humans (with or without pets) tend to think that there aren’t any “odd-looking” cats wherever they live. They think breeders are the only ones who have access to the lilac torties, the smokes, and the tuxedos of the world.
But, they would be happy to learn they can find a lot of them roaming around the neighborhood. And, so can you.
With that rant out of the way, there are 6 patterns you can observe anywhere you go – tabby, solid, bi-color, tri-color or calico, tortoiseshell, and colorpoint.
First things first, tabby’s the most common cat pattern out there characterized by the “m” symbol on the forehead. And, tabby comes in different forms known as mackerel, classic, spotted, and ticked.
On the other hand, a solid pattern means that the cat’s fluff comes in only one color. Obviously, a bi-color pattern means that the fluff comes in two colors (with white being the main color). And, a tri-color pattern (or calico) means that the fluff comes in three colors (typically black, red, and white).
But, a tortoiseshell pattern typically means that the fluff comes in a variation of red and black colors. They can be basic or diluted and splattered or neatly organized.
Last but not least, a colorpoint pattern means that the color of the fluff depends on the temperature of the body. Colder areas of the body are darker while the warmer areas of the body are lighter (typically white).
What makes lilac tortoiseshell cats the talk of the town?
What have we learned? Firstly, the lilac color of the fur appears because the chocolate color has been diluted down the line. And, the lilac color appears grey, blue, or cream, depending on the lighting.
Secondly, the tortoiseshell pattern means that the diluted lilac, grey, blue, or cream colors appear sporadically throughout the body.
But, that’s not the only thing that matters when we’re talking about these frisky felines. What are lilac tortoiseshell cats? What do they look like and what do they need for a happy and healthy life? And, do genetics have anything to do with the fact that they’re lilac or tortoiseshell?
Keep on reading because we’re bringing you everything you need to know (and more)!
Argh, figuring out the difference between shades of black and red and patterns that look like tortoiseshell but aren’t (calico, we’re looking at you), can be exhausting. But, when we’re talking about the appearance of a lilac tortoiseshell cat, we can only focus on a couple of factors.
First things first, there’s a big difference between a lilac tortie and a lilac torbie. Bear with me – a lilac torties’s a cat that possesses diluted shades of black and red.
So, the lilac color comes from the fact that the shades are diluted. And, the tortoiseshell comes from the fact that the most prominent shades are black and red.
On the other hand, a lilac torbie (a term we haven’t mentioned before) possesses diluted shades of black and red. But, they’re arranged in the pattern of a tabby cat. And, a torbie’s a shorter term for a tabby tortoiseshell cat, of course.
Oh, and you don’t even want to hear about calicos which possess a bunch of colors and white. So, a lilac tortoiseshell cat can be pretty much any cat that possesses appropriate shades, colors, and patterns of her fluff. Oh, the more you know!
Oh, a friend of mine used to foster a tortoiseshell cat (she wasn’t lilac, but bear with me). Trust me, the two of them became best buddies before he could even appreciate the quirks of the tortie.
Now, some pet parents might think that there’s nothing different about a tortie. That is assuming that the color of the fluff shouldn’t affect the temperament.
But, there’s always a but when we’re talking about a feline that looks like she came out of a chimney moments ago. She would bounce off the walls at 3 a.m. because she was hungry and she needed to get my friend’s attention.
She would chatter a lot and she would try to get my friend to have a conversation with her every single day.
Now, a lilac tortoiseshell cat might appear to be a mythical creature of sorts. But, there aren’t necessarily myths and legends casting light on her purrsonality, her temperament, or anything related to the way she should typically behave.
Considering that a bunch of breeds could create a lilac tortoiseshell patterned cat, you could be stuck with a bunch of purrsonalities. But, you might want to keep an eye on “fortitude” (more on that later on).
Oh, you have nothing to worry about! The genes that make for the lilac color and the tortoiseshell pattern don’t affect anything else. Whether you’re overthinking the nutritional or grooming needs of your tortie, we’re here to reassure you.
Make sure you feed your lilac tortie with foods that are nutritious, delicious, and appropriate for the age (kittens and adults don’t have the same requirements).
Cats are obligate carnivores which means they require a bunch of meat, animal protein, and animal-sourced nutrients to survive and thrive. Cats don’t require fruits, veggies, and whole grains – and neither does your tortie.
But, you don’t have to be a nutritionist to be able to provide your fluffer with everything she needs. Most commercially available cat food and cat treats contain protein, fat, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Other than that, make sure you groom your cat’s fluff as often as you need to, depending on the breed. When you’re taking care of a Norwegian Forest cat, you might need to brush her fluff every day.
But, when you’re dealing with a short-haired Maine Coon or a British Shorthair, you might need to brush her fluff once a week. Whatever the case might be, make sure you’re taking care of your tortie’s needs depending on her breed and not the color of her fluff.
Now, a cat’s health depends on a bunch of factors – genetics, nutrition, environment, care, and many more. So, we can’t necessarily say whether lilac tortoiseshell cats have health problems you should keep an eye out for.
But, breeds that typically sport the lilac tortoiseshell coat tend to be healthy and happy for the most part. How does that work?
Let’s say you have a lilac tortoiseshell Bengal. Bengals are typically active and adventurous family cats. They spend most of the day playing, munching on delicious foods, and causing trouble when nobody’s looking.
They don’t have health problems other than pretty popular anesthetic allergies they might or might not experience. So, a lilac tortoiseshell Bengal will probably have the traits of a regular Bengal – only with prettier fluff.
First things first, genetics are responsible for health problems your lilac tortie might deal with. Depending on the breed, you might notice she’s more susceptible to problems with her eyes, her heart, or even her bones.
But, genetics are also responsible for the color and the pattern of her fluff.
Buckle up because we’re about to go scientific over here! Starting with the lilac color, the main culprit seems to be a gene some of you might know as MLPH or melanophilin gene.
Now, the MLPH gene produces a type of protein that’s a part of pigment production. And, the pigment that typically gets produced looks black or red.
But, sometimes the MLPH gene can be recessive which means the pigment that gets created looks diluted. Black becomes blue or grey and red becomes cream.
So, that’s how lilac tortoiseshell cats get the mystical color of the fluff – a genetic flaw, to be exact.
And, as for the tortoiseshell pattern, torties have two different colors of fur because they have two different types of cells that are responsible for the pattern… kind of. But, that would take a whole seminar’s worth of scientific information to explain.
Whatever the reason might be, we agree that lilac tortoiseshell cats are one of a kind! That’s why we’re bringing you a couple of things you probably didn’t know about them.
8 things you probably didn’t know about lilac tortoiseshell cats
1. Lilac tortoiseshell cats aren’t a breed
Maybe you know somebody who has a lilac tortoiseshell cat. Maybe you were watching TikToks and you caught a glimpse of the most purrfect paws you’ve ever seen (and you noticed the caption says “lilac tortoiseshell cat”).
Whatever the case might be, there are reasons why you might have been at sea about whether a tortie’s a cat breed.
But, to clarify the confusion, lilac tortoiseshells aren’t a cat breed. As we’ve mentioned a million times throughout the article, lilac tortoiseshell describes the color and the pattern of the fluff a particular cat breed might possess.
And, there are a bunch of cat breeds you can choose from when you’re looking for a lilac tortie.
2. And, a bunch of breeds have lilac tortoiseshell cats
Oh, there’s hardly a coat combination that’s more eye-catching and thought-provoking than a tortoiseshell. And, when you cross one of the most attractive patterns with one of the most mystifying shades, you get the lilac tortoiseshell cat.
But, you never know what you’re getting because lilac torties look different depending on the breed.
Now, a Maine Coon tortie would have the fluffiest of furs with the most sought-after cream, blue, and lilac shades. But, an American Shorthair would have the most gorgeous eyes you’ve ever seen, surrounded by short strokes of rosette patterned fluff.
And, some of the other breeds that can have lilac torties are Cornish Rex, Persian, Ragdoll, Bengal, and Japenese Bobtail.
3. Lilac torties are almost always female (girl power for the win!)
Oh, we’re going back to that seminar we mentioned beforehand! Lilac torties are almost always female because the color of the coat’s always determined by the X chromosome. And, while females have the XX chromosomes, males have the XY chromosomes.
Now, torties have black and red colors of the fluff (and lilac torties have diluted shades). But, the gene that’s responsible for the black color can be found on the X chromosome.
And, the gene that’s responsible for the red color can be found on the second X chromosome. So, a cat would need to have two X chromosomes to have both of these colors.
And, as you might have guessed, only females have that ability. Honestly, there’s something even better about these frisky felines knowing they’re female. Who wouldn’t want to hang out with another strong, unfettered woman?
4. Lilac torties don’t have a distinctive personality
A cat’s temperament doesn’t depend on physical appearance! And, that’s why lilac torties don’t have distinctive purrsonalities you can point fingers at.
“Oh, my tortie tends to act out whenever she’s home alone!” or “But, my tortie’s aggressive whenever we have guests!” might be something you would argue.
But, a cat’s temperament almost always depends on the breed or the environment. Maybe she’s acting out because she hasn’t been properly trained and she doesn’t know what’s wrong and right.
Maybe she’s aggressive because she wasn’t properly socialized when she was a kitten. Whatever the case might be, there’s no evidence that a tortie’s pattern affects her behavior.
5. And, tortitude might not be a real thing
Tortitude seems to be a fun play on words painting a picture of the attitude torties (supposedly) possess. And, there are plenty of pet parents who would swear on everything they have that torties behave a certain way when nobody’s looking – they’re aggressive, stubborn, and possessive.
As a matter of fact, these claims have gone as far as to get professionals interested and intrigued enough to do research. But, they couldn’t find anything that proves there’s a connection between a tortie’s appearance and behavior.
Other than the fact that most lilac torties are females, of course. And, most females are more aggressive than males because of hormones. So, tortitude might be a real thing when you change your perspective.
6. Lilac tortoiseshell cats are rare
My family and friends have been fostering kittens for a really long time and we’ve stumbled upon torties from time to time. Of course, these little blotchy beasts have been the talk of the town. They’re absolutely adorable and out of the ordinary!
But, we’ve only had the pleasure of fostering torties with black and red fluff because that’s the most common combination. And, never have we ever had the opportunity to even observe a lilac tortoiseshell which speaks for the whole “the rarest out of the bunch” thing we have going on.
So, when you’re planning on getting your hands on one of these mythical creatures, you might want to hold your horses – or at least prepare to be patient.
7. But, they aren’t rare among folklore stories, myths, and legends
Oh, these bad boys aren’t rare among folklore stories, myths, and legends which proves my point (from the beginning of the article). Come on; you can’t have a purple cat and claim she’s not a mythical creature. So, what are these stories that can’t get enough of the tortie’s charms?
Firstly, a bunch of humans think that torties symbolize good fortune. Irish and Scottish cultures used to keep torties around the house because they were thought to bring prosperity to the family. Oh, and the Americans used to refer to them as “money cats” for that same reason.
On the other hand, the English believed that rubbing a tortie’s tail on warts, growths, and swellings would help heal them. And, we can’t forget about the Japanese who believed bringing a tortie on the boat with them would protect them from bad weather.
Whether you believe these myths or not, you can’t argue that lilac tortoiseshell cats are a force to be reckoned with.