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Excerpts from the 1958 CFA Yearbook, Part 5

Red Tabbies and Tortoiseshells, Part 2

by Julia M. Hunter

Part 1 of this article, discussing Red Tabbies, was published in the April 15, 2024  issue of

Tortoiseshells are a most interesting variety of cat. Not much can be said about their breeding as, generally, they are produced by intelligent cross-breeding. The tortie is a patched cat and not one in which the three different colored hairs intermingle. The ideal colored one is best described as – a black painted fence with splotches of red and yellow or cream colored paint that look as if someone had carelessly hurled these colors at it. One of the three colors should predominate – preferably the black, and a number of patches of the other two. Brightness and density of color are most important. Many fail in the red and look brownish. There should be the same distinct colors on the head, ears, tail and legs. While the “blaze” – one half of the nose black, the other half either cream or red – is to be desired, today’s Torties with Blue in their immediate backgrounds, have lost this lovely and distinguishing characteristic. Also, the black in their coats has a smoky tinge, and not a dense black color. At the same time, this has tended to improve the type tremendously. The Pointed head and big ears of the olden days are gone and their type now corresponds with the other broad, round-headed colors.

The whole color scheme is most attractive. The colors should be bright and distinct and too much black is a bad fault – one or more solid black legs and feet is most undesirable, as is “brindling”, the intermingling of the hairs of the three different colors. Torties may be mated to males of any solid color, except white, and will always provide the breeder with a “rainbow” of different colored kittens. The variety may be used for experimental work in color breedings, and is very interesting to breeders who are interested in the subject of “color inheritance”. No wonder they are such a favorite color amongst fanciers.

Strange to say, there are no fertile males. Occasionally a male of this color is born, but never seems able to reproduce. There is a story, probably an “old wives tale”, that the Tortoiseshell was Queen Victoria’s favorite colored cat, and that many, many years ago the sum of one hundred pounds was deposited in the Bank of England to be given to the first person to breed a male of this color who could sire kittens. And, as yet, no one has claimed it.

The Tortie has always been a great favorite in England and is found in most every Cattery. They are wonderful, strong mothers and make excellent brood queens. To mention a few of the beautiful English ones being shown prior to the nineteen thirties – CH Devonshire Duchess and CH Chintz, owned by Mrs. C. Yeates; CH Polly Ebony owned by Miss French; CH Soame’s Flamette bred and owned by Mrs. E. Soame; CH Ginger-Belle of Barnsley owned by Mrs. Adams; and Capt. St. Barbe’s CH Anne Goodcat.

It was not until the late nineteen twenties that this useful and most attractive cat was granted Championship status in this country. We have been told that until this time, most of the breeders destroyed these kittens at birth, and so there were not many shown prior to our entry into the Fancy. Our first show cat was a Tortie – Rockridge Pantys Frances – who won a Championship in about a year. Bred to Trigo, she produced many lovely Torties and, at that time, it became our ambition to produce a Tortie nice enough to go “Best in Show”. Needless to say, we never did – only Opposite Sex in a Tabby and Tortie Specialty Show. However, we filled up the classes to such an extent that I was called “The Tortie Lady” in this part of the country, and we really feel that we had a great deal to do with making the Tortie popular at last.

From this time on, many Fanciers began to put their Torties in the shows also. Mrs. Warfel Smith had some lovely ones; Mrs. Elsie Collins bred the famous CH Jada Jing Jing, one of the first to come from a blue background. Jada bred to Trigo gave me my nicest Tortie, CH Rockridge Ja-Jing, who lived to be sixteen years of age and died in 1952. Some of our other Torties were Strolla, Miss Dignity, Highfalutin, Solar Blaze – all Champions and all daughters of Trigo. Miss Mary Fogarty of Washington, DC, had CH Crickmere Fairy Faye, and there were many others.

Then came Mrs. Barbara Cobb with her beautiful Blessing, Mizpah, and Twice Blessed, all with the Plumfield prefix and all Champions. Mrs. Molly Brennan bred Victory Belle, who was born on V-J Day and had a perfect large V in red on her top head – a great winner and champion, and is still alive, we believe. Mrs. Nikki Horner has bred and shown consistenly nice ones, CH Shawnee Masquerade being her best one at present.

Classes for Tortoiseshells are very will filled in today’s Shows. This, naturally, always gives us a little extra thrill.


  Mrs. Julia M. Hunter

Mrs. Julia M. Hunter was a noted breeder and CFA judge.

She bred Persians, Siamese, Abyssinians, and Domestic (American) Shorthairs with her Rockridge Cattery. She also had the distinction of being the first Fancier in the United States to own a Grand Champion, GC Eastbury Trigo, a red tabby male.

She was a judge for UCCA in 1934-35, a CFF judge in 1936, and a CFA judge starting in 1941. She was a CFA Board Member from 1939-1964, and was also the founder of Westchester Cat Club.

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“One cat just leads to another.”
*Ernest Hemingway (American Writer)