page title icon Dilute Tortoiseshell Cats – Everything You Should Know

by Andrew Guerra Last Updated December 1, 2023

Tortoiseshell cats, also known as “torties” are unique cats that are known not only for their coat pattern that resembles the shell of a turtle but also their wittiness, curiosity, and strong-willed personality.

However, there is a variation of this color combination that is also unique and looks no less charming. This color is called “dilute tortie”, and it features a combination of yellow and blue colors.

If you are considering the option of becoming a dilute tortie parent, then read on! We will cover the following questions: how rare these cats are, how difficult it is to get a dilute tortie male, and tips and tricks on how to take care of your lovely muted tortoiseshell cat and make its life as long and happy as possible.

Editor’s Note

The Earliest Records of Dilute Tortoiseshell Cats in History

It’s unclear where the diluted tortoiseshell marks came from. People in the past, particularly those in South East Asia, thought these cats were divinely created. They said that Torties were created from a goddess’ blood that was born of a lotus blossom. Although the distinct coat pattern and color have existed since the beginning of time, their origin was not discovered until the twenty-first century. Geneticist Leonard Doncaster established that genetic mutations are the cause of Torties.

What Is a Dilute Tortie Cat?

A dilute tortie cat, a.k.a dilute tortoiseshell, is a cat with a diluted tortoiseshell coat pattern. Diluted tortie is a coat color found in many breeds. It is necessary to understand the difference between tortoiseshell and diluted tortoiseshells.

Standard tortoiseshell cats have a mixture of orange and black fur, while diluted turtles have a mixture of two shades: blue and yellow.

Dilute Tortie Coat

Tortoiseshell cats have a unique two-tone color scheme, which is based on a specific genetic background.

Before talking about coat genetics, it is important to understand that there are two sex chromosomes: the Y chromosome and the X chromosome. Females have two X chromosomes, while males have one X chromosome and one Y chromosome.

In addition to gender, the X chromosome is also responsible for the color of a cat’s coat. There are different variations of tortie colors: blue, grey, cinnamon, fawn, silver, lilac tortie, as well as dilute orange cats and tortie tabby cats.

Tortie Coat Genes

Since the X chromosome affects a cat’s coat color, female cats have two separate instructions for obtaining coat color, and male tortoiseshell cats only have one X chromosome, so they only have one instruction for one color.

Dilute Coat Genes

The genetics of diluted tortoiseshell cats are slightly more complex than the genetics of tortoiseshell cats. The melanophilin gene is responsible for the ability to produce a black or orange color, but sometimes it mutates through a recessive gene, and in this case, the color changes and becomes blurred.

So, orange turns yellow, and black turns blue. For kittens to be born with this mutation, both parents must carry this trait.

Editor’s Note

Dilute tortie long hair cats

Most cat breeds can exhibit diluted tortie markings. These cat breeds include those with lengthy fur. Maine Coon dilute torties are particularly eye-catching due to their greater size and unusual long coats.

Taking Care of Your Dilute Tortie

Taking Care of Your Dilute Tortie

A gene that affects a cat’s color does not affect its health and does not mean that the cat will have special grooming needs. He needs to be cared for in the same way as other cats. Below we will share some tips for different aspects of a cat’s life.

Cat Health

There is no evidence that dilute tortoiseshell cats are more susceptible to diseases than cats of other colors. In general, dilute tortie kittens are quite healthy. Tortoiseshell cat health problems include obesity, problems with joints, cardiovascular system issues. However, these diseases are in no way related to color.


Tortoiseshell cats, like other cats, are carnivores, so they need a diet with an adequate amount of protein. The diet should be complete and balanced. Highly digestible protein is considered to be digestible 85% and above; the main sources of protein are:

  • the most highly digestible egg and milk protein (up to 99%);
  • muscle meat is a highly digestible protein;
  • by-products have an average digestibility.

Never give your cats toxic foods, these include: chocolate, avocado (contains ingredients that can cause vomiting and diarrhea), raisins and grapes cause kidney problems, onions and garlic with prolonged consumption cause hemolytic anemia, yeast dough leads to problems with the gastrointestinal tract, and the liver can lead to excess vitamin A.

Also, to avoid obesity, do not overfeed your cat. It is better to consult a veterinarian who will give recommendations regarding the nutrition of the cat, taking into account his characteristics (breed, age, level of activity, the presence of health problems). It is believed that veterinarians recommend feeding an adult indoor cat ¼ of an 8oz. cup of dry cat food a day.

You can feed your cat dry food or wet food, or choose mixed feeding. Mixed feeding is the most difficult option, so if you choose this type, then make sure that the diet is well tolerated by the animals and does not cause intestinal reactions. Besides, remember to ensure your cat has constant access to fresh water.


Cats need to be taken care of regularly: you need to comb them out, monitor the condition of the claws, mouth, ears, and eyes.

Depending on the breed, the cat may need frequent brushing (for instance, long-haired tortoiseshell cats shed frequently – meet cat breeds that don’t shed), or less frequent brushing. You should bathe your cat very rarely and only if you notice debris and dirt in the coat, or if the cat smells unpleasant.


As they are small in size, they need plenty of exercise to stay fit and active. Depending on the age of your dilute tortie, it may be best to keep them indoors where they can get plenty of running around and playing time.

Dilute Tortie Cat Personality

A tortoiseshell cat personality is known as “tortitude”. It means that they have cocky nature, independence, extraordinary devotion to the owner, as well as friendliness.

They are patient with children, not aggressive or vindictive. In addition, these cats are extremely intelligent and perceptive, they are happy to communicate with owners and other family members. However, sometimes a tortoise shell cats behavior can be possessive.

Dilute Tortie Patterns and Those that Are not

Patched dilute tortie

The patched dilute tortie pattern is created by a combination of the agouti gene, which produces a striped or mottled coloration, and the dilution gene, which lightens an animal’s coat color. Together, these two genes produce a unique coat pattern on cats with a mix of lighter and darker patches.

Brindled dilute tortie

This type of dilute tortie pattern is characterized by a mix of light and dark colors that create a brindled effect. The coloring can be either warm (orange, red, and cream) or cool (blue and gray). Usually, the patches are more blended than in other dilute torties, but there can still be distinct color boundaries. The brindling gives the cat a unique and striking look.

Mosaic dilute tortie

A mosaic cat is another name for a tortoiseshell cat. Since cats with colorful coats are referred to as mosaics, patterns like tortoiseshell and calico can adopt the name as well.

A chimera cat is not a tortie!

A chimera cat is not a tortie pattern, although it is often confused with one. A chimera cat is a genetic mutation that causes the fur to be marked in different colors. While tortie cats have two colors of hair that are evenly distributed throughout their coat, chimeras will typically have one color concentrated on the head and another concentrated on the body.

Bi-color is not another term for tortie

Although bi-color and tortie cats may have similar markings, they are two distinct patterns. A bi-color cat is a cat with mostly white fur that has patches of another color, typically black or red. On the other hand, a tortie is created from a combination of two colors (usually black and red) that blend together to create an uneven mottled effect. Dilute torties have fur that is lighter in color and may appear almost gray.

Unique Facts About Dilute Tortie Cats

Unique Facts About Dilute Tortie Cats

Learn about interesting facts that make dilute tortie cats unique and a great choice for both families and singles.

Dilute Tortie Cats Are Almost Always Female

The X chromosome is responsible for coat color, female cats have two X chromosomes, which offer two separate instructions for the color of the cat, while male cats have only one X chromosome, so the birth of a healthy male kitten of this color is impossible. An exception is the presence of a genetic abnormality.

Male Dilute Torties Are Rare But Exist

Dilute tortie males are very rare and tend to be born infertile or have serious health problems. In rare cases, males of this color are born healthy and prone to reproduction.

The reason behind this coat color lies in genetic abnormality, which means that a male cat has two X-chromosomes and one Y-chromosome, that is why he acquires this coat color.

Many Breeds Can Have Dilute Tortie Coats

Dilute torbie is not a cat breed, but a cat color that occurs in different breeds. The most popular breeds that feature a dilute tortie color are Maine Coon, Cornish Rex, and American Shorthair. These felines can be both short-haired and long-haired.

Dilute Torties are Different From Calicos

For laymen, torties and calico are similar cats because similar colors prevail in their fur, but in fact, these felines are completely different. First of all, let’s talk about the color difference.

Dilute tortie cats have two colors: yellow and blue, while calico cats have three colors: black, white, and orange. Secondly, the difference lies in the gender of the cats. Tortoiseshell males are hard to find, but still, it is possible, while calico cats are almost non-existent.

Here are the main Difference Between Tortoiseshell vs. Calico Cats

They Have A Lot of Folklore Surrounding Them

Dilute tortie cats are considered lucky talismans in many cultures. For instance, in Ireland, male tortie cats are considered to bring good luck after entering a house. Americans believe that torbie cats attract wealth.

In Japan, these cats are known as protectors of fishermen from ghosts and storms. In Southeast Asia, it is believed that these cats appeared from the blood of a young goddess.


How Rare Are Dilute Tortoiseshell Cats?

Tortoiseshell cats are quite rare, and diluted tortoiseshell is a very rare color. Finding a purebred cat with a diluted tortoiseshell color is an incredible success.

Besides, most of these cats are female, and males are incredibly rare. Roughly 1 in every 3,000 Tortie cats are male. However, very often they die, have persistent health problems, or are born infertile.

Since a prolific male is required to breed purebred, diluted tortoiseshell kittens, healthy diluted male cats are extremely rare and very expensive. There is a good chance that you will get a non-purebred cat with a similar pattern, so you need to be extremely careful when choosing a kitten.

Are Tortoiseshell Cats Friendly?

Dilute torties are friendly and get along well with other animals, but, like any cats, they can have a difficult temperament.

They are very picky and choose one person to whom they show their affection, they are strong-willed, independent, unpredictable, and assertive. Sometimes they can be hot-tempered and possessive towards their favorite person.

Can a Dilute Tortie Have White?

The tortoiseshell cat has a combination of two colors: black and orange. Diluted tortoiseshell cats have two colors: blue and yellow (cream). These cats have no white color at all.

How Much Is A Dilute Tortie Cat Worth?

Tortoiseshell cats are a rather rare color, and cats of this color are quite expensive. In general, the dilute tortoiseshell cat price ranges from $1000 to $2000, and the cost depends on many factors: breeding methods, age, the reputation of the breeder, conditions of keeping kittens, as well as the pedigree of the cats.

In addition, tortoiseshell specimens are predominantly female, so a male of this color will cost more than $2,000, as they are unusually rare. Some breeders, out of inexperience, consider a diluted tortie cat to be defective, so they set the price lower than for other cats.

If you want to become a parent of a tortoiseshell cat and his pedigree does not matter, then you can visit a rescue service or an animal shelter and purchase a kitten at a reduced cost.

Editor’s Note

Adopting a Dilute Tortoiseshell Cat

There are various adoption alternatives. A variety of cats, including dilute torties, are available for adoption at several animal shelters and rescue groups.

It’s critical to think about the time and financial commitment required before adopting a cat. Before taking a dilute tortie home, make sure you have the resources to meet their demands since they require ongoing care and attention.

It’s crucial to spend time getting to know a dilute tortoiseshell cat personality and habits before adopting one. Since many cats at shelters have experienced hardship in the past, it could take them some time to become used to their new home and family.

How Long Do Dilute Tortie Cats Live?

On average, the tortoiseshell cat lifespan makes up to 10-15 years, but with proper care and attention, these cats can live up to 20 years. Life expectancy is influenced by the habitat of cats.

So, domestic cats live longer because they are not exposed to the risks that await them on the street: various diseases that they can get infected with, dangerous objects, dangerous insects, poisonous plants, and predators that can threaten their lives.

However, even domestic cats require proper care – it is necessary to vaccinate cats, regularly visit a veterinarian, and take the necessary tests. It is recommended to visit the veterinarian once a year, however, if the cat has a chronic illness or is elderly, then it will be necessary to visit the veterinarian more often.

If you want your cat to spend time outside, then you will need to create the necessary conditions. Tortoiseshell cats can walk on a harness, but this depends on the nature of the cat. An alternative way is a playpen for cats.

The space for the cat is fenced off with special fences that protect him from the dangers of the outside world, and a play space for the cat is arranged inside. Thus, the cat can walk and breathe fresh air without being exposed to health-hazardous conditions.

Are Dilute Tortoiseshell Cats Hypoallergenic?

These cats are not hypoallergenic, since the color of the cat does not affect this trait. Allergy to cats is triggered by the Fel d1 protein, which is produced by the cat and is found in his saliva and skin cells.

If cats produce less protein, then there is less chance of developing a cat allergy. However, if you are not allergic to cat hair, it can occur if the cat bites you. People with mild cat allergies can develop a tolerance for cats, but people with severe allergies won’t be able to do this.

Are Tortie Cats More Affectionate?

Tortoiseshell cats are brave, strong-willed, and independent. They are friendly and happy to meet new people and are not afraid of communication, which is why they are mistakenly considered more affectionate than other cats.

However, there is no scientific evidence for this. In any case, it all depends on the nature of the cat and his upbringing.


Thus, we have shared all the information you need if you want to become a pet parent. Dilute torties will definitely win your heart not only due to their unique appearance but also due to their outgoing, friendly, and assertive personality.