Question: I tamed an older litter of feral kittens about 4 months old. The male kittens all tamed down with lots of steady work and application but one of the 2 females in the litter took nearly three times the amount of time and energy before she was adoptable. Even so, she still doesn't like to cuddle or be picked up much. The Tuxedo female in the litter was tough too, but nothing like what it took to tame the tortie. What's been your experience? Taming a Tough Tortie.
Answer: I avoid generalities since they are often misleading and create a preconceived prejudice by the socializer going into the project. BUT, since you mentioned that she was a TORTIE (Tortoise-shell), I must let you know that there is a widely held opinion among Vet Techs, rescuers and anyone who's met a large number of felines, that Torties (and to a lesser degree Calicos) tend to be stand-offish cats and aren't usually cuddly lap cats. Some go as far as to only adopt them out as singles for fear of a territorial instinct which often makes for fighting with other house partner cats. When the Tortie in question is feral it seems to be kicked up even a notch higher. That said, Torties are much loved by their humans and very playful and fun-loving cats who often live in perfect harmony with other cats. It would appear that genetically they are infused to a higher degree than other cats with that "fight or flight" instinct and don't like to take chances, not even with family members they know and trust. Getting picked up or falling asleep in a human's lap is a very vulnerable situation to put yourself in. Torties just don't seem to think it's a smart thing to if it can be avoided. That said, there are millions of Torties and Calicos out there that are rolling belly up right now as I write this, enjoying a full body rub-down and can cuddle with the best of them. RUBY in these pictures lives with me. She provides endless entertainment and in her way is very in tune with humans. Every couple weeks she comes for her fix of petting and attention which lasts about 3 minutes and then she's good. She will curl up and sleep on the bed every night for a week and then we don't see her for a couple months. She's her own girl and very independent. RUBY lives happily with many cats and no fights have ever occured. As you can see she even naps with her Calico pal though we took the picture because it was so unexpected and rare. RUBY was returned from an adoption because the adopters found her too independent and not bonded with them. We love her independent streak and are very attached to her. Make of this what you will but if you have doubts about an adopter, you may want to carefully select who gets the tri-color girls.
Read the following blog for more info about socializing female kittens in the 3-6 month age range.
An interesting foot-note is that Torties and Calicos are all female except for one in 100,000 cats being male. The genetic explanation is that only the female chromosome X can carry color. Male cats only have one female chromosome so they can only carry one color in addition to the color White which is by definition the "lack of color." Female cats have two female X chromosomes so they can carry both black and orange, or any combination of two cat colors along with white. Therefore, only a female cat can be Calico or Tortoise-shell colored. The rare male cat that is bi-colored probably has three chromosomes being XXY, allowing him to be both male and carry color on two different female chromosomes.
If you find this as interesting as I do, or if I've thoroughly confused you, there's lots more info here: