Boasting a colorful pattern, Calico cats are one of the most popular cats in the feline world. Besides their characteristic tri-color coats, many interesting facts about calico cats make cat lovers go crazy for these colorful cats.
Calico cats are considered a lucky charm. They are also rare, but their males are super rare—only one in 3000 calico cats is a male calico cat. Their unique genetic makeup has been a subject of scientific and genetic studies for decades. Continue reading to learn more interesting facts about these colorful kitties.
Calico Cats Facts with Pictures
1. Calico Is Not a Cat Breed
Calico is not a breed of cat but rather a coat pattern that is present in many different cat breeds. According to the Cat Fanciers’ Association color prefix chart, 19 calico cat breeds feature the calico pattern. Among these calico cat breeds, calico Maine Coon, Persian, Norwegian Forest Cat, and Selkirk Rex are the most popular.
2. Calico Cats Don’t Share Personality Traits
Because calico is not a cat breed but a color pattern that can appear in many different cat breeds, calico cats do not share any personality traits. That said, most cat owners describe their calico cats as the most affectionate and sweet cats. But remember that some owners sometimes complain that their calicos are quirky.
So if you want your calico cat to have a certain personality type, you should look into your cat’s breed.
3. Calico Cats Have a Distinct Tri-Color Pattern
The characteristic calico cat is commonly composed of three colors—white, orange, and black. Thus they are often called “orange black and white cats.”
Comprising around 25 to 75% of the coat colors, white acts as the base color, while black and orange are scattered in irregular patterns on their fur.
4. There are Many Variations of Calico Cats
While most calico cats have intense and bright colors, there can be many variations of calico cats. Below we have listed the calico cat variations.
Calico Cat Variations
|Calico||Dilute Calico||Van Calico|
|Van Dilute Calico||Dilute Calico Smoke||Van Calico Smoke|
|Van Dilute Calico Smoke||Calico Smoke||Chocolate Calico|
|Chocolate Van Calico||Lavender Calico||Cinnamon Calico|
|Fawn Calico||Lavender Van Calico||Cinnamon Van Calico|
|Fawn Van Calico||Chocolate Calico Smoke||Lilac Calico Smoke|
|Shell Calico||Shell Calico Smoke||Dilute Shell Calico|
|Shaded Calico||Shaded Dilute Calico||Dilute Calico Smoke|
|Blue Cream Calico||Shell Chocolate Calico||Shell Lilac Calico|
|Shaded Chocolate Calico||Shaded Lilac Calico||Lavender-Cream Van Calico|
|Cinnamon-Cream van Calico|
5. Calico Cats Are Almost Exclusively Female
Calico cats are almost exclusively female. Here’s why.
- The X chromosomes carry the color-determining genes in cats.
- For a cat to be calico, it must inherit two color-determining genes—one from each parent—for black and orange.
- Where a female (XX) cat can inherit color-determining genes from both of its parents, a normal male (XY) cannot.
- Males (XY) can only inherit color-determining genes for black or orange. This is why more than 80% of orange tabby cats are male.
6. Male Calico Cats Are Unicorns of the Feline World
The chances of a calico kitten being male is one in 3000, even less than 0.01%. While a normal male (XY) cat can’t have a calico pattern, a male calico cat can occur in the following three cases.
- In the case of Klinefelter Syndrome—XXY male
- Mutation occurs in a male cat’s X chromosome during embryo development
- In the case of chimerism—the merging of two embryos
7. The Rare Male Calico Cat is Sterile and Cannot be Bred
Male calico cats are rare but also sterile, as they have malformed sexual organs. That is why they cannot be bred to produce calico kittens. Because of the sterility of male calico cats, they are unpopular among cat breeders despite their rarity.
Not only sterile, but male calico cats are also susceptible to a series of genetic abnormalities and, unfortunately, do not live as long as their female counterparts. However, a healthy diet, daily exercise, and regular vet checkups can help your calico cat live a longer and happier life.
8. There Is Some Possibility of Fertile Male Calico Cats
While male calico cats are undoubtedly sterile, a scientific study of a male calico cat gives hope for the fertility of male calico cats. The studied male calico cat had normally descended testicles that had some fertile seminiferous tubules.
Besides, there is a rarest fertile male calico cat named Dawntreader Texas Calboy, who has fathered many kittens for the Dawntreader Maine Coon breeders.
9. No Two Calico Cats Have the Same Pattern
The X chromosomes carry the color-determining genes in cats. And funnily, both X chromosomes are not working together in embryo development—one of the two chromosomes is inactivated. When the X chromosome with the black color gene is activated, the black color comes off, and when the chromosome-carrying gene for the orange color is activated, the orange color comes out.
The location and size of the spots depend upon the time—when and for how long—certain X chromosome was activated. As this X inactivation is totally random, no two calico cats have the same pattern. Even if you clone a calico cat, the cloned cat would not have the same pattern.
10. Calico Cats Are Considered a Lucky Charm
Calico cats are believed to be a lucky charm almost across the world. Below we have discussed some of the folklore about calico cats.
· The Defender Cat
In Japan, fishermen, sailors, and travelers often carried calico cats with them on voyages, believing that the tricolored cat would save them from the sea’s wrath and the ghosts of their envious ancestors. So if you want to have a safe voyage, make sure there is a calico cat on board.
· The Beckoning Cat
The Maneki-Neko, the famous Japanese beckoning figurine cat, was modeled after a calico cat. These figurines are often placed at the entrances of homes and businesses, as they are believed to bring good luck. So if you are a startup and have a hard time, place a Japanese beckoning cat figurine on your business entry and watch your business skyrocket.
· Healer of Warts
Similarly, in Irish folklore, calico cats are believed to have healing powers, with the power to heal warts. All you had to do was rub the calico cat’s tail on the affected area under the shining May sun. So, if you have warts, forget your dermatologist and visit your friend parenting a calico cat in May (humor intended).
· Money Cats
In the U.S., Calico cats are often called money cats as they are believed to bring good fortune to their loving owners. So if you think you could use a little bit of luck in your life, you should get a calico feline partner.
11. Calicos Are Believed to Have Originated In Egypt
As the calico cat is not a breed, there is no documentation of their breeding or registration, so we don’t exactly know where the calico cats come from. However, there have been several studies on the origin of calico cats. While there is no substantial evidence, it is widely believed that calico coloring first appeared in Egypt.
And from there, it spread to Europe and North Africa via migration and trade routes. Today calico cats, as well as Egyptian cat breeds, have conquered the world.
12. Calico Cats Are Named After a Cotton Fabric
Calico cats got their name from a famous cotton fabric that originated in Southwest India centuries before the European traders first encountered it. Calico cats were given this name because their coat pattern resembled this printed calico fabric.
13. Calico Cats Are the Official Cat of Maryland
In October 2001, the calico cat was recognized as the official cat for the state of Maryland. It was done so as the official bird of Maryland, Baltimore Oriole, and the official insect of Maryland, Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly, also have the characteristic calico colors—white, orange, and black.
Besides Maryland, only two other US states have official cat representatives: Maine and Massachusetts. While the official cat of Maine is Maine Coon, tabbies are the official cats of Massachusetts.
14. A Calico Cat is a Stationmaster in Japan
A calico cat named Yontama is playing the role of stationmaster at the Kishigawa railway line in Japan’s Wakayama prefecture. The calico cat was made a stationmaster as it helped save this railway line with its sweet nature and photogenic features.