Saturday, 30 April 2016

30 Blogs of Night: The Trouble with Torties



Day 30


Recently I saw an article on Facebook, which was all about the trouble with torties, the attitude that Tortoiseshells often have that leads them to present a challenge to their humans. They have a reputation for being 'difficult', and are seen as being temperamental, or having 'catitude'. As I've known two Torties quite well, both of the explosion in a paint factory variety, I thought I'd throw my tuppence into the ring.

The first Tortie I knew was Catkins, my parents' third cat, who we got when I was twelve. Kins was a little bundle of fluff, with fast paws and a keen sense of adventure. She was no bigger than your hand when we got her, only nine weeks and full of vim. From the very start, she was my Dad's cat, devoted to him, no matter how much she liked the rest of us. She would lie on his legs every evening, a long furry sporran that reached below his knees when she stretched out. Over time, we would learn she was what they called a 'character', at one point, patting my Mum's leg a she walked up the stairs and in my Mum's imagination casting her as 'the other woman'. As if to prove the point, Dad was the only one who could coax her out of trees when she got 'stuck', and if he set off somewhere we had to be sure she was indoors; given half a chance she would follow him.

She would pull herself around the bottom of my parents' bed; digging her claws into the base as the valance covered her. Despite this, and her joy at fighting Dad's hand, and pouncing upon his feet through the covers (something I've found never really stops if you let the cat know it's okay), she was a very gentle animal. I used to kiss her tummy, and if she disliked it, she would just push me away. After Leo, the ginger tom they had had before, who was a cantankerous old man and bit if he was grumpy, she was extremely good natured. Despite this, the violence she shared with my Dad seemed to make them closer.

One thing I noticed,and which remains true with my own Tortie, Dita, is that they're very vocal animals. Kins and I used to have miaowing conversations, exchanging mews for a few minutes at a time. I have no idea what we were saying, but she obviously felt it was important enough to keep the conversation going. That's how it is with Dita too, though with her it's more a case of her telling me she's hungry and could I sort out some grub for her, please? Occasionally she produces a long, chatty mew that undulates as if she's yodelling or jazz freestyling.

I don't recognise the description of either them as more likely to bite, or hiss, though. Dita is the most refined, placid cat I've ever met. She once let a friend put dice on her paws for ages before she cuffed him, and that was with her claws sheathed. I genuinely believe that if it had been Hobbes, Phil would have been bitten or clawed fairly quickly, rather than sitting there taking it until it proved too much.

I can't recall Kins being overly spiteful either, outside of occasionaly movements of being a Diva, just full of character. Both animals genuinely loved attention, albeit on specific terms, and both liked having their bellies rubbed, rarely if ever presenting the 'tummy trap', that's common with a lot of cats (where you stroke their bellies and they decide you want to play). But, to be fair, that's every cat I've ever met. All of them have their moments for fuss, and for being left alone, all of them have had places they like to be fussed, and places that are verboten. One of the first thing an 'owner' learns is that you do things the cat's way, or not at all. Kins, for example, would only consent to be held 'tree branch style', with her back legs and bottom firmly supported and her forepaws draped over your other arm. That's no different, in my book, to Hobbes' shoulder riding tendencies.

So I have to say I disagree with the idea that these cats are more difficult than other types, if anything my experience tells me that they're passionate creatures, vocal and minxy, but no worse than any other feline.