a tortoiseshell cat sitting on the back of a couch
Charlie is a rare, male tortoiseshell cat. Photo by Mary Ann Snyder

Monday, Dec. 11, started out like any other day at the Washington County-Johnson City Animal Shelter in Tennessee. Little did I know that it would be the day a very unique cat would come through my doors.

Before becoming the shelter’s director of operations, I worked as a veterinary assistant for many years and saw thousands of cats of every shape, size and color—but I never thought I would see a cat like Charlie.

He came to us when a woman surrendered her four cats prior to a move. As a staffer collected the necessary information, he noted what he assumed was a mistake. The woman had described one of the cats, a tortoiseshell, as a male, and we all knew that a male tortoiseshell or calico cat was very rare (less than 1 in 3,000, according to one study).

Much to everyone’s surprise, however, she was correct. The beautiful cat with the half-orange, half-black face was definitely a male! I couldn’t believe my eyes.

Cats like Charlie only come around once in a lifetime. Not only was he beautiful, but he was also one of the most affectionate cats I had ever met. I was thrilled when a close friend adopted him, which means I can see for myself how he is thriving in his new home and visit him any time I like.

—Tammy Davis, director of operations
Washington County-Johnson City Animal Shelter,
Johnson City, Tennessee

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