Tortoiseshell cat resting.

Persian—Tortie and Calico Cat Breed

These rare and sought-after Persians come in a wonderful palette of colors, but they can be difficult to breed.

Tortoiseshell cats—frequently called torties—have a coat of two colors, traditionally black and red, forming a pattern of striking patches or more subtle mottling. A more recent variation is the Chocolate Tortie, with brown and red coloring.

There is also a tricolored version of this Persian, the Calico (also known as Tortie and White). Both Torties and Calicos have bright copper-colored eyes. Persian Torties have been known since the late 19th century, but it took time for tortoiseshell to be accepted as a true Persian coat color.

The US Cat Fanciers’ Association finally established a breed standard for Persian Torties in 1914. Torties have always been difficult to breed consistently. Their genetic makeup means that nearly all cats with tortie coloring are females and the few males that do occur are sterile.

Like other types of Persian cat, Torties are equally at home in the home or the show ring. However, they are said to be more confident and outgoing than other Persians.

Peke-faced Cats

The Persian’s distinctive flattened face has in recent decades been taken to extremes by breeders who have developed cats with exaggeratedly squashed features. This so-called “peke-faced” look, originally a naturally occurring mutation, is popular on the show bench but has exacerbated health problems already common among Persians.

These include breathing problems, a poor bite that can affect feeding, and runny eyes due to blocked tear ducts.

Origin: UK, 1880s

Breed registries: CFA, FIFe, GCCF, TICA

Weight range: 8–15lb (3.5–7kg)

Grooming: Daily

Colors and patterns: Tortoiseshell (black and red), chocolate tortoiseshell, lilac-cream, and blue-cream; also with white patches.