14 Interesting Calico Cats Facts With Pictures

Calico Cat Facts
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Boasting a colorful pattern, Calico cats are one of the most popular cats of the feline world. Besides their characteristic tri-color coats, there are many interesting facts about calico cats that make cat lovers go crazy for these colorful cats.

Calico cats are considered a lucky charm. Calicos are 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 a Not a Breed of Cat

Calico is not a breed of cat but rather a coat pattern that is present in many different cat breeds. According to the CFA 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 personality traits. That said, most cat owners describe their calico cats as the most affectionate and sweet cats. But keep in mind that some owners complain that their calicos are quirky at times.

So if you want your calico cat to have a certain personality type, you should look into the calico cat 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

CalicoDilute CalicoVan Calico
Van Dilute CalicoDilute Calico SmokeVan Calico Smoke
Van Dilute Calico SmokeCalico SmokeChocolate Calico
Chocolate Van CalicoLavender CalicoCinnamon Calico
Fawn CalicoLavender Van CalicoCinnamon Van Calico
Fawn Van CalicoChocolate Calico SmokeLilac Calico Smoke
Shell CalicoShell Calico SmokeDilute Shell Calico
Shaded CalicoShaded Dilute CalicoDilute Calico Smoke
Blue Cream CalicoShell Chocolate CalicoShell Lilac Calico
Shaded Chocolate CalicoShaded Lilac CalicoLavender-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.
  • Male (XY) can only inherit color-determining genes, either for black or for orange. This is why more than 80% of the orange tabby cats are male.

6. Male Calico Cats Are Unicorn of the Feline World

The chances of a calico kitten to be male is one in 3000, which is even lesser than 0.01%. While it is impossible for a normal male (XY) cat to 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 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

It is widely believed that rare male calico cats are 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 are 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, 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 on 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 folklores 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 wrath of the sea and that of 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 From 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 go 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.

Baltimore Oriole
Baltimore Checkerspot Butterfly

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 the stationmaster as it helped save this railway line with its sweet nature and photogenic features.


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