Monday, February 8, 2016

A Love Affair with Torties

It’s a pleasure and a delight to welcome my friend, fellow blogger, cat expert and author Ingrid King to Thoughts in Progress today to talk about one of the joys in her life – tortoiseshell cats.

Ingrid has just released a new book, TORTITUDE: The Big Book of Cats with a Big Attitude. It’s a fascinating book I review here last Wednesday.

Please join me in giving Ingrid a warm welcome as she joins us to talk about her “Love Affair with Tortoiseshell Cats.” Welcome, Ingrid.

I’ve been owned by tortoiseshell cats, affectionately known as “torties” by those of us who love these beautifully colored cats, for the past two decades. There’s just something about these cats with their unique personalities, often referred to as “tortitude,” that appeals to me. Maybe it’s because I can identify with their strong sense of independence. Maybe it’s because they seem to live by their own rules. Whatever it is, I’m a tortie lover for life.

It all started with Virginia, a high-spirited cat who I first met during an interview for the hospital manager position at a Virginia animal hospital. Partway through the interview, a beautiful tortoiseshell cat walked into the office.  Virginia proceeded to walk over to me, looked up at me, and then dug her claws into my legs and used them as a scratching post. At the time, I wondered whether that was part of the interview – a test, perhaps, to see how I would react?  I certainly ended up using a similar technique many times when I interviewed potential staff members – seeing how they reacted to my office cat sometimes told me more about how they would be with animals than anything they actually said during the interview. In hindsight, I realized that, of course, this was the moment Virginia marked me as her own. For four years, she made my office my home away from home.  When her miscellaneous health problems caught up with her, we let her go on a sunny April morning. I held her on my lap in the office, surrounded by all the people who had been a part of her world, as she took her last breath.

After Virginia came Amber. Amber and her five kittens were brought to the Middleburg Animal Hospital by a client who had found the little family in her barn.  Despite being emaciated and scrawny-looking, Amber’s eventual beauty was evident even then.  She was a dark Tortoiseshell color, with an amber-colored heart-shaped spot on top of her head, which became the reason for her name.  Her kittens found new homes in fairly rapid succession. 

However, nobody was interested in the beautiful mommy cat.  She spent her days in the big adoption cage in the hospital’s waiting area, but with the constant inflow of homeless kittens that is typical for spring and summer, nobody wanted to adopt an adult cat.  I had recently lost my almost sixteen-year-old soul mate cat Feebee, and the grief over his loss was still very fresh.  I did not think I was ready for another cat, but coming home to an empty house was becoming increasingly difficult.

One weekend, I decided to take Amber home, “just for the weekend”.  She never left my house again until her passing in 2010 after a sudden, brief illness. Amber was a wise old soul in a feline body, and the inspiration for The Conscious Cat.

Buckley came into my life in the spring of 2005. After Virginia died in 2002, my office at the animal hospital felt empty, but the right cat to succeed Virginia in the very important position of office cat had not come along – until that spring day, when I walked into the kennel area of the hospital and saw a cute little tortie in one of the cages all the way in the back. It was love at first sight for me. After that first encounter, I knew that she would become my new office cat.

A year later, I left my job at the animal hospital to start my own business. Initially, I thought I could live without Buckley, but eventually, I missed her too much, and a couple of months later, Buckley came home with me, and shared Amber’s and my life for the next two years, before she passed away from complications related to her heart disease. Buckley changed my life in ways I never could have imagined and inspired my first book, Buckley’s Story: Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher.

I currently share my life with Allegra and Ruby, two young tortoiseshell cats who came to me at seven and nine months of age, about a year apart. You can follow some of their adventures on The Conscious Cat ( and on our Facebook page ( They both have tortitude in spades.

Ingrid, thanks for joining us today and sharing your love of torties with us. Having been owned by a tortie myself, I can say they are amazing creatures and will forever have a place in your heart once you’ve been around one.

Now for those who aren’t familiar with Ingrid, here’s a bit of background on her.

Author Ingrid King with Ruby
Ingrid King is the author of five books, including the new Tortitude: The BIG Book About Cats With a BIG Attitude. Tortitude is available from Amazon now, and will be in stores February 5.

For more information about Ingrid, please visit

Thanks so much for stopping by today during Ingrid’s visit. Have you ever had any interaction with a tortie? Be sure to drop by Ingrid’s website for loads of information about cats, even if you aren’t owned by a tortie.


  1. Sounds like tortoiseshell cats just always found a way into your life. They were meant to be!

  2. I've not been around torties, but my sister had one, Tempe, and she says there is no other cat like them--personality wise. They are pretty and unique too.

  3. Ruby is a pretty kitty. A house is so empty without a cat, so I understand why you would keep bringing them home.

  4. What a pleasure to see Ingrid here, Mason! And I love the title of this book - fantastic! Thanks, both.

  5. I hadn't heard of that nickname before.

  6. They wind their paws deep into your heartstrings don't they? And take a piece of you with them when they go. And the pain is a small price for the beauty and the joy.

  7. Ingrid, thanks again for joining us today and sharing your love of torties. They are amazing creatures that will hold you captivate forever. Wishing you much success with your new release.

    Hi, all! Thanks for stopping by.

  8. What a great title for a book - purr-fect!


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.