• Thu. Apr 25th, 2024

Tortoiseshell Persian Cat: Facts, Origin & History (with Pictures)


Apr 2, 2023
tortoiseshell persian cat outdoor


tortoiseshell persian cat outdoor

Persian cats are believed to be one of the oldest cat breeds and are also one of the most beautiful and colorful felines in the world. Tortoiseshell Persian cats aren’t a separate breed but simply a coat color description. In this article, we’ll talk about the origin and history of these popular cats, along with some unique facts. Finally, you’ll learn what sharing your home with a pet tortoiseshell Persian is like.

Breed Overview


Tortoiseshell (black or chocolate, with red patches)

Suitable for

Quiet households, seniors, families with older children


Calm, quiet, playful, friendly, affectionate

Tortoiseshell Persians fall into the color category Particolor, along with blue-cream and lilac-cream. Traditional tortoiseshell color is black with red patches, but you can also find Persians with chocolate as the base color instead. Because of the genetics required to display the tortoiseshell color, these Persians are almost always female cats. They typically have copper-colored eyes.


Tortoiseshell Persian Cat Breed Characteristics



High-energy cat will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy cats require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a cat to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.



Easy-to-train cats are more willing and skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Cats that are harder to train are usually more stubborn and will require a bit more patience and practice.



Some cat breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every cat will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.



Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds’ potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.



Some cat breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other animals. More social cats have a tendency to rub up on strangers for scratches, while less social cats shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your cat and expose them to lots of different situations.

The Earliest Records of Tortoiseshell Persian Cat in History

Descriptions of cats resembling modern Persians can be found in hieroglyphics as far back as 1684 B.C. While it is thought that the breed originated from Iran, which used to be called Persia, its early history remains a bit of a mystery. Other possible ancestors of modern tortoiseshell Persians may include long-haired cats from Russia, China, and Burma (now Myanmar.) We also don’t know precisely when Tortoiseshell Persians first emerged, but it was likely after the breed was first brought to Europe in the 14th century.

In Europe, breeders introduced other bloodlines, including Turkish Angora cats, to refine and develop the modern Persian breed.  By the 1800s, Persians more closely resembled the cats we know today, including many color variations and flattened faces.

tortoiseshell persian cat on the grass
Image Credit: andres felipe Aristizabal, Pixabay

How Tortoiseshell Persian Cat Gained Popularity

Longhaired cats like the Persian were popular in Europe almost as soon as they arrived. However, the popularity of Persians, in particular, grew rapidly during the reign of Queen Victoria of England in the late 1800s. She and other royal and influential people in England became fans of the Persians.

With this celebrity endorsement, the Persian fandom rapidly expanded. They first arrived in the United States around 1900, where they quickly became one of the most popular breeds. Today, Persians consistently rank in the top 10 most popular purebred cats worldwide. There’s no way to know how popular Tortoiseshell Persians are, but the breed itself is a global favorite.


Formal Recognition of Tortoiseshell Persian Cat

Persian cats (we don’t know if there were Tortoiseshell kitties among them) participated in the first modern cat show. Held in England in 1871, this show was one of the first times the fully developed Persian breed was formally recognized. In America, the Persian breed received formal recognition as soon as there was an organization to provide it.

The Cat Fancier’s Association (CFA) was organized in 1906, and Persians were included among their original registered breeds. Official breed standard recognizes Tortoiseshell Persians as an acceptable color variation, so we can assume the first of these flashy felines was likely registered in the early 1900s.

tortoiseshell persian cat on wooden table
Image Credit: Dmitrii Kash, Shutterstock


The Top 3 Unique Facts About the Tortoiseshell Persian Cat

1. They were known by a different name until the 1960s

The official breed name for Persians in the United States was “Longhairs” until the 1960s. They are still known as Longhairs or Persian Longhairs across the pond in the United Kingdom.

2. Besides Particolor, Persians are divided into six other color categories.

We already talked about, Particolor, the official color division Tortoiseshell Persians fall into. This breed also has six officially recognized color divisions, making it one of the most diverse purebred kitties. These other divisions are:

  • Solid
  • Silver and Golden
  • Smoke and Shaded
  • Tabby
  • Bicolor
  • Himalayan

3. They are double-coated cats.

The gorgeous, fluffy coat of the Tortoiseshell Persian is one of its most recognizable physical traits. To produce that characteristic look, Tortoiseshell Persians grow a double coat. On top is a long, silky overcoat, with a shorter, thicker undercoat beneath. As you might guess, it takes some work to maintain that coat, which we’ll discuss in the next section.

Tortoiseshell persian kitten
Image Credit: Vasiliy Koval, Shutterstock


Does Tortoiseshell Persian Cat Make a Good Pet?

Tortoiseshell Persian cats make excellent pets, but they’re not suitable for every household, and they are more high maintenance than other cat breeds. Typically well-behaved and quiet, Persians are affectionate and love to spend time with their people.

Persians are gentle, sweet, and calm by nature and prefer to live in a similar environment. While many can adapt to family life, they usually don’t enjoy noisy, rambunctious small children or encountering multiple strangers due to a family’s active social calendar. They also don’t like being left alone frequently.

Because of their intense coat, tortoiseshell Persians require daily brushing to prevent mats and tangles. Their long hair also tends to get messy quickly when using the litterbox, requiring frequent cleanups.

Persians are prone to numerous health issues, including breathing problems from their flat faces. They may also suffer from inherited eye, kidney, and heart trouble. Because they aren’t very active cats, tortoiseshell Persians are prone to obesity and need a carefully controlled diet and encouragement to exercise.



As we’ve learned, tortoiseshell Persians are one of the world’s oldest, most well-known, and most beloved cat breeds. While many cat owners worldwide have fallen for this breed, it’s vital to ensure a Tortoiseshell Persian is a good fit for your lifestyle before doing the same. Because they are prone to many inherited medical issues, carefully researching a Persian breeder is essential. Before you buy a kitten, ensure the breeder has performed all recommended health screenings on the parents and is willing to answer questions about any medical problems in the bloodline.

Featured Image Credit: Dmitrii Kash, Shutterstock

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