A recent shift in the Single-Wide offered the opportunity to spend time with a couple of cats who are fairly new to us. Little Cat and Menjosie are a bonded pair who came in to us as a result of allergies and dog-stresses at home. Menjosie is a chonky little torby with beautiful green eyes; she is outgoing and happy to interact with visitors. She is deeply attached to her companion, Little Cat, who is a calico. Little Cat is still wary until she trusts you, when she can be very chatty!
The rules around tortoiseshells (torties) and calicos ensure that they are practically always female – the genetics binding colour and gender are very strong. Rarely, you will find a male, and they are usually infertile. A similar genetic linking was thought to tie orange cats (almost always orange tabbies) to gender; it used to be thought that something like 90% of them are male, but the proportion is probably less extreme, and we certainly have our share of orange girls at the Sanctuary. Torties and calicos are basically the same colour combination – but in torties, the primary fur colour is black, and in calicos it’s white.
Our SingleWide torties (except Blaze) and calicos all have dilute colouring. Dilute is a gene that affects the cat’s hair by causing the pigmentation to be patchy, giving the illusion of a lighter coat colour. Black colouring becomes grey, red colouring becomes anything from peach to cream. Little Cat is a calico with plenty of white fur, but her coloured fur is a lovely grey/peach mixture. Even torby Menjosie has some of the dilute colouring, and you can see that her fur beyond the tips is mostly pale.
The two of them are in one of the SingleWide cages, with the door wide open. Cats tend to be territorial, and one of the problems of caging is that they end up claiming the space – so it’s frustrating for them when they have to be turned out in order to accommodate another cat needing the cage. So far Menjosie and Little Cat have remained home-bodies – they don’t want to explore further. But they are getting visitors.
Noelle and Marie are former occupants of the same cage, and now the door is open, they are wanting to be in “their” space again. There are no territorial battles, but there are frequent visits. They are another bonded pair – mother and daughter, in this case. They too came to us after stresses at home caused inappropriate use (or lack) of the litter-box, and they’re still stressed enough that it’s still a problem, which probably means they’ll not get adopted out.
The two of them were evicted from the cage about a year ago, and have moved to several other areas, but they now seem to have settled at ground level either in Pandora’s cage (Pandora is an extremely grumpy senior girl who prefers the shelf or the cat-tree.) or in a two-tier sleeping cave in Menjosie and Little Cat’s cage.
They too are dilutes – Noelle is calico, with clear white base-fur; Marie is dilute tortie, with minimal white and a strong suggestion of the split-face pattern common in torties, though given her colouring, it’s not as clear as it appears in Blaze, for instance. Both are shy, but willing to be coaxed for petting and attention.
Of course, after visiting with this quartet, I also needed to climb a ladder, and visit with Flash, who prefers to live quietly on the cage-top. This sweet girl came to us with old injuries from a dog, and she rarely ventures down to floor level, but feels that she has everything she needs on the top floor. She has her favourite humans who know where she hangs out, and she enjoys a little loving. These gentle girls are all lacking in “tortietude” (perhaps the dilute gene affects that too!), and appreciate a visitor who will interact with them at their own pace.