I had the deep joy of getting to sit and talk with Ingrid King at BlogPaws 2015. I’ve long been an admirer of her work on The Conscious Cat as well as her books of which Tortitude is the latest. Ingrid has also supported my art and allowed me to practice on her 2 beautiful torties Ruby and Allegra. I first came across Ingrid when I was exploring expanding my Reiki practice to animals but I soon found a huge resource for feline health and support. I relied on her when our torbie cat Grit who was born feral was diagnosed as being FIV+. At the time the diagnosis upset us a lot but as we educated ourselves we realized that it was fine and now we have 3 FIV+ cats!
Her latest book celebrates the joy, angst, laughter and admiration that comes from being owned by a tortoiseshell cat. As she points out in the book, tortoiseshell is a color pattern not a breed, similar to a brindle coat color in dogs. Torties, most of the time are female so having a male tortie is extremely rare and considered lucky! And of course Grit being featured on page 62 already makes me partial to this book!
Grit is my first experience with a tortoiseshell cat and since she has a tabby stripe pattern also she is a tortoiseshell tabby or torbie for short. Because Grit was a foundling, 2 weeks old and feral, we had to bottle feed her. She was my introduction into the world of feral cats, trap-neuter-return as a concept and my husband Heath’s first cat. Feral cats are known to adopt one person as favorite and torties seem to have a preference as well. Grit’s choice is my husband even though I do all the feeding!
Heath did not like cats at all when we met and Grit and her siblings were horrifying to him! Unfortunately I didn’t know at the time that kittens given to animal shelters usually don’t make it and I still feel bad that we sent her siblings to the shelter thinking that they could help. Grit escaped that fate by continuing to hide another night in a snowstorm. She came out the next day and our friend Denise took her. A week or so went by with Heath going back to visit Grit, so named by him because she was so teeny and had so much “grit” to survive her early hardships, eventually hinting around that he’d like to bring her home.
My last dog was dying and I wasn’t really in the space to take on a new pet but I was so shocked by him wanting a kitten that I said to bring her home if he wanted. He tore out of the house and was back literally 20 minutes later with her in tow! For a long time I thought her um…quirks…were our fault. I thought that somehow our clumsy attempts at raising a by then 3 week old kitten had somehow made her a bit on the moody side.
After finding The Conscious Cat I realized that no, we just had a tiny being FULL of tortitude! What I love about this new book Tortitude: The BIG Book of Cats with a BIG Attitude is that it’s the perfect blend of education, commiseration and celebration of these complex cats! I highly recommend it especially if you’re new to the tortoiseshell personality which is equal parts magic, mystery and befuddlement!
Jackson Galaxy is quoted in the book on page 6, “To call torties misunderstood would be the understatement of the year; the misinformed and uninitiated might just see them as moody, grouchy or mean!” I have to say that’s what I thought and yet my fascination with Grit helped drive me to learn about her, about feral cats and then about torties in general. She was and is a compelling creature, beautiful and deeply rich. I adore her even when seemingly out of nowhere, for no reason, she swats me!
Another point Jackson Galaxy makes is to suggest that torties are more energetically sensitive. This makes perfect sense to me as a sensitive, empathic person who frequently was grumpy and reclusive until I learned to manage being exposed to the energies of other people. Grit being empathic helps me see that her mood swings make sense. By accident we did discover that some times she needs kitty time out in a quiet room to herself where can relax and have a break from the hooligans she has to live with! If she is sensitive to our moods, the energies of the 3 rambunctious boy cats and the weather then of course she might be off kilter at times! Finding that insight in the book has me thinking about Grit with even more understanding.
Observing her, photographing her (she will always pose for the camera) and watching her interactions with my tough guy husband has taught me so much. She owns my husband’s heart and her love for him is absolute. Following her came four other cats, numerous adoptions to friends from the community of cats that frequented our alley and a total cat convert in Heath.
I welcome this book and hope that it finds its way into the hands of all tortoiseshell cat guardians. It’s essential to understand that these cats are not “difficult” but rather offer you a true experience in learning to practice the full acceptance of another sentient being without judgment or expectation, in other words unconditional love. They will help you grow personally in so many ways that it’s like living with a 4 legged guru! I love that there are so many gorgeous photos and descriptions showing the incredible variety to be found among the torties and torbies, I really enjoyed seeing them. I am so glad that Ingrid has taken the time to give the tortie her, and occasionally his, due!
The quote Ingrid paired with Grit’s photo could not be more true:
“It was not I who was teaching my cat to gather rosebuds, but she who was teaching me.” ~ Irving Townsend
FTC disclosure: this is not a compensated review, I purchased my own copy of the book. There are affiliate links to my Amazon store and purchases made through those links provide support for blog expenses.