The three-colored so-called tortoiseshell or lucky cats are considered in the vernacular as lucky charms, as special gifts of nature. Where does this myth come from? What is special about these cats? And the question of all questions: Do they really bring us humans luck?
How tricolour develops genetically
Tortoiseshell cats are an interesting animal of nature. Which color the fur has is stored on the X-chromosome. The basic colors are black and red. Since females have two X-chromosomes they can have both colors at the same time. The color white is not controlled by this chromosome, but prevents the formation of color pigments, so the hairs appear white.
Different colors and fur pattern
The colour of lucky cats can occur in all cat breeds. In addition, the tricolor can also show different combinations. The typical red-black-white fur is called tricolour (or without white as tortie pattern).
If the fur colors appear in diluted form, also different cream colors and blue tones can develop. Also brown tones are not excluded. In addition, the fur can have different drawings, as for example currents, checks, spots or stripes. Also the fur-quality (long or short-hair) can vary.
Everything about fur colors, you can read here: Fur colours and patterns of dogs and cats
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Tricolour cats are almost exclusively female
From 3000 born lucky kittens, there is only one boy. So even rarer than a tricolour cat, is a tricolour male cat. However, due to a genetic anomaly (has a second X-Chromosome-Klinefelter-Syndrome in addition to his XY-Chromosomes) this male cat is mostly not fertile, because they produce too little testosterone. Females, on the other hand, can reproduce without problems.
Fun Fact: On the other hand, red cats, for example, are usually male.
Why are they called lucky cats?
What is rare is precious. And since tricoloured cats have always been a rarity, they were also considered especially valuable and thus various legends were created around them. In the middle ages, for example, these cats were seen as a natural fire defense and japanese sailors made their safety at sea dependent on the presence of these beauties.
In general, these cats are especially adored in japan. You have certainly seen them before, the waving cat, also called “Maneki-neko” in japan. The raised hand should bring luck and prosperity to the owner.
In some old religions also the colors had a special meaning. Accordingly, white stood for (re)birth, red for life and black for death. Thus the lucky cat stood for the cycle of life.
Whether or not three-coloured cats bring their owner especially good luck, is not scientifically proven, but rather a myth. But that is not so important, is it? Because our animals are generally all, regardless of their appearance, a blessing for us humans and the world, aren’t they?
Tortoiseshell cats are called so because of its special fur-colour. A gene mutation plays an essential role. Whether they actually bring increased luck, however, is to be interpreted by everyone itself. Fact is however that they always wrap us with its unmistakable beauty around the finger.