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The Premier Online Magazine
devoted to Persian & Exotic Shorthair Cats

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The Premier Online Magazine devoted
to Persian & Exotic Shorthair Cats

Close this search box.

The Tortie Saga Begins


I have a wonderful Black Smoke male from Palmetto cattery. In the fall of 2005, I hoped to find a Tortie female to breed him to. I did a Google search and found a Tortie available, contacted the cattery who emailed me back promising a *breeder* female. Please notice the *breeder* notation… it is highly important.

I drove nine hours to pick up this *breeder* quality Tortie. She seemed nice enough, quality wise. She was in a carrier in the kitchen… I was never allowed in the cattery. Her owner explained that this was due to the fact that she could not allow her husband to be exposed to the cats, due to his illness.

The Tortie seemed fine, although skittish. She liked to be petted, although she darted into her carrier at any quick movement. I mistakenly assumed this was because she was out of her element. I paid in cash — the owner insisted on that.

When we got our *breeder* Tortie home, she appeared to be a wild animal. You cannot touch her, pet her or go near her. For two months she has hidden behind the dresser in our guest room. I tried to coax the *breeder* from behind the dresser. She clawed me so badly I was on antibiotics for 3 weeks.

Her former owner suggested the Tortie doesn’t like men, so my niece came over to tempt the kitty out. The cat jumped over my niece’s head and hid behind the dresser.

As a last resort, I tried to let her meet my other (normal) cats… she hissed, clawed and attacked. In desperation, I wrote to my friendly cat list asking for any suggestions to tame this wild child… and so The Tortie Saga began — a series of emails to a public cat list following the progress of my kitty with too much attitude.

The Tortie Saga: Part One

As I relax over a glass, bottle, or case of wine tonight, recovering from a day of herding Torties, I thought perhaps all would like an update on how it goes since I posted regarding my “wild” Tortie.

I received many emails recommending that the Tortie be caged. I also received many emails that the Tortie should be drugged. I even received an email that the Tortie should be taught to “roll her joints tighter”. I have no idea what that meant, but thanks for your input.

I don’t own a cage, so I ordered one from a company called:

It arrived and I set it up this morning. The commotion of setting up the cage made the Tortie a bit uneasy. She spent two hours inside a clock I have hanging on the wall. The clock is about the size of small shoe. The Tortie is the size of a very large shoe box. But somehow she fit inside.

OK…got the cage set up. Tortie looks out from behind the dresser, hisses at me, then goes over to check out the cage. I am 3 feet away from the cage door, innocently and quietly typing an email to a friend that read:

dRae rkIs,

Ohdiwj! dfijsi,dfkiwjo wsiojdfosijiod! Baet wiksdhif! uPal

I’m being cool, right? Tortie goes INTO cage!!!!!!!!!!!

I turn my head to look at Tortie to make sure she is in cage! Tortie gone. She will not be fooled that easily.

Fast forward 2 hours. Tortie climbs into cage to investigate. I fling myself on the floor, shove my feet against the door and pray for strength. Tortie flings herself against the sides of the cage, attacks the door and finally collapses, exhausted, on the floor of the cage a few minutes later. I climb up off the floor hating myself, but knowing this is the best chance she will have of living a normal (?) life. Except for one thing. Tortie is in the cage… but the food and water are not. Oh, so quietly, I approach the cage with both. She hisses, spits and otherwise acts unladylike, but I get them in the cage.

It’s now about five hours later. She is laying quietly on the floor of the cage. I talk to her and she gives me the look. The one that says, “Just try to touch me and you WILL die.” I just give her one look back that says, “I feel for you… and one day I WILL PET YOU.”

The Tortie Saga: Part Two

Before we begin, my thanks to those who have responded with encouragement, suggestions and sympathy while I trudge down the path toward Tortoiseshell enlightenment. With your help, I may soon achieve Tortie nirvana. Let us have yet another glass of wine and find out where the “Tale of the Tortie” (subtitled “Blood, Sweat and Tears, but mostly blood”) will take us.

As dawn comes up at our farm… oh, wait. That’s not right. I got up at ten o’clock this morning because I had to try that new bottle of Chablis a fan of the Tortie Saga sent me. But I digress.

In the past, breakfast in the kingdom of The Tortie (my office) consisted of gathering up several items: The Tortie’s breakfast, clean bowls for dry food and water, towels to wipe up the blood stains and a cell phone in case I needed to call 911. Since I caged The Tortie I don’t need the cell phone. We’re in close enough proximity that I’d never have the chance to call for help. She knows it, I know it, we are at peace with this knowledge.

In the days before the cage I would simply place the food dish on the floor and, using my foot (my mama didn’t raise any fools), I’d slide it to the end of the dresser behind which The Tortie resided. Then I’d run from the room screaming like a little girl. In those days, The Tortie didn’t have to see me, I didn’t have to see The Tortie. It was like an ancient ritual… I was a pilgrim at the temple. I brought my offering and left it at the altar of The Tortie, hoping to live one more day.

Oh, how life has changed. In this new day and age, with The Tortie in a cage, we must come together FACE TO FACE. (The Tortie and I both shudder). For the last few days I have approached the cage, cautiously opened the door and tended to The Tortie’s needs. Every day I am met with hisses, bared teeth and a tail that would be pretty… IF it had Christmas ornaments hanging from it. And so it goes…

Ah, but The Tortie is nothing if not unpredictable! This A.M. I began the ritual, slowly opening the door of the cage to feed and clean. The Tortie arose from her doughnut bed and……… stretched and yawned, then began to eat breakfast while I cleaned up her bathroom facilities! No claws, no fangs, not even a hiss!!!

Progress??? Maybe she’ll never be a lap-cat. As a matter of fact, that just brings up reminders of Lorena Bobbit, but we are getting somewhere. I don’t picture us dancing in the meadow hand in paw quite yet. On the other hand, since The Tortie is safely caged I did let my other two cats in the room to be introduced. That was on Monday… if anyone sees a black smoke boy and a black smoke and white female hitchhiking, please tell them it’s OK to come home.

The Tortie Saga: Part Three

Greetings to the fans of The Tortie! I had promised to post a report over the weekend, but I have been brought to my knees. No, not by The Tortie, but by a bad sinus infection. Email me to send sympathy and CASH.

Despite this grave and possibly terminal illness, I was determined to follow through with my decision to attempt to pet The Tortie. (Since I feel like I’ll die from this infection, what did I have to lose?) So, I began the process of gathering the materials I felt I would need to accomplish my goal:

  1. Food… I figured if she was presented with a hearty breakfast, she was less likely to view me as a meal.
  2. Protective clothing… I estimate her fangs and claws to be about 1/2 inch long. This is a fairly precise estimate, as I’ve seen them quite often.
  3. The lid from a metal garbage can… Hey, it *looks* like a shield and she might buy it!
  4. Rope… Not to hog tie The Tortie! To tie off any bleeding limbs.

As pre-arranged, I had paramedics standing by. I cautiously approached the cage. OK, I admit I had tears in my eyes, my knees were shaking and I had wet myself a little. I showed The Tortie the plate of food to divert her attention from the hand that was moving to unlatch the cage door. She sat completely still as I opened the door and placed the dish in the corner of the cage.

I became completely still as she approached the dish and began to eat. Seeming to be completely relaxed as she devoured her meaty treat, I ever so quietly reached out to scratch her ears. And that’s when it happened! She turned in a flash and before I could get my hand out of the cage, she whipped around, began to meow LOUDLY, and shoved her rear-end in my face. Apparently, The Tortie is in the mood for a hunk of burning love… but not the kind I had in mind!

And so this chapter closes, but with no real ending. Sure, I got to pet The Tortie… ANYBODY could pet The Tortie right now! Heck, The Tortie is even able to accomplish some amazing physical contortions and pet Herself! Sorry to disappoint…more news to come!

The Tortie Saga: Part Four

The family dog initiated formal correspondence:

Dear Paul,

During recent regularly scheduled surveillance around the perimeter of our operations compound, I have become increasingly concerned regarding a seemingly unfriendly and, I suspect, dangerous threat to the security of our base. On several occasions, I have personally witnessed an unidentified feline object (UFO) peeking from the window near the eastern section of the main feline secured area. When I attempted to approach this individual for further questioning, she quickly retreated and was blatantly uncooperative. Per our standard operating procedures I set up an immediate around-the-clock watch on the suspected interloper. The following incidents were observed over the course of the last twenty four hour period ending at zero three hundred hours:

  • This individual appears to be a young female; long black hair with red patches throughout.
  • There is evidence of a mental disorder, as the individual was seen alternately hissing at her water dish, then making sexual advances toward the vacuum cleaner.
  • She is totally devoid of any respect for authority. In response to my demands that she identify herself, she displayed her anal area and simply walked away without any recognition of my rank and seniority. I am gravely concerned for the physical well-being of all concerned.
  • This individual displays a deep inability to control her terrorist mentality. I sense a willingness, even eagerness, to disrupt the status-quo and perhaps even create revolt, if not chaos.

I will await your orders. However, if I could obtain access to the room in which this individual is hiding out I am positive I could have the situation under control promptly.

Billy Bob, the Dog
Chief of Security, Imagine Cattery

Today I received this follow-up:

Dear Paul,

Thanks for granting permission for me to personally investigate regarding the potential terror threat on the base.

Unfortunately, the doctors are requiring that I undergo a minimum of six months of physical therapy to regain the use of my limbs and another twelve months of psychiatric therapy before returning to my post. They have assured me that when I stop whining and wetting myself when shown a picture of The Tortie I can return to work.

Billy Bob, the Dog
Former Chief of Security, Imagine Cattery

And so the Tortie Saga continues…

More articles following the (mis) adventures of the author and his recalcitrant tortoiseshell Persian include:

About The Author:

Paul Sandel caught the cat show bug in 1973 at a young age. Shortly after that he saw a Black Smoke Persian at a show and was hooked. He states, “I was so excited when I finally purchased my first smoke, I felt the urge to lie back against the headboard and have a cigarette. Unfortunately, I was only 13.”

Paul stayed with the fancy into adulthood, eventually becoming an ACFA judge. He was forced to retire from cats to care for his mother when she became ill with Alzheimer’s disease.

Late last year, Paul was able to return to the show hall and is currently working on rebuilding the Smoke Persian breeding program of Imagine cattery. He remains under 24 hour psychiatric monitoring.

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“There are few things in life more heartwarming than to be welcomed by a cat.”
*Tay Hohoff (American literary editor)