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Charlie’s surprise

Tortoiseshell cat defies shelter staffers' expectations

From Animal Sheltering magazine Fall 2018

Charlie is a rare, male tortoiseshell cat.

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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Animal Sheltering is for everyone who cares about the animals in their community—from shelter directors and animal care and control officers to kennel staff, volunteers, and private individuals working as activists, breed rescuers, wildlife rehabbers, veterinarians and more.