Calico Cat Facts

Calico cats are easy to recognize with their tricolor coats but they aren’t actually a breed. It’s a color pattern that appears due to genetics and isn’t found from some breeds. Calicos differ from tortoiseshell cats due to the large amounts of white that appear on the body and patchy markings as opposed to the splatter paint design that tortoiseshell cats tend to have. Some calicos may even have a swirl pattern on the sides of their stomach.

Calico cats are almost always female, in fact, it’s extremely rare to find a male calico. This is due to genetics and the X chromosome that determines the color of a cat. Female cats have two X chromosomes and male cats have an X and a Y. The Y chromosome does not carry the color gene leaving little to no chance of a calico pattern. However, some male cats may have an XXY abnormality which could result in a calico patterned male.

Female cats can have a gene for an orange coat on one X chromosome and the gene for black or white on the other X chromosome. The chromosomes affect each other and create a blotchy pattern on fur. Calico cats can also have variations to how dark or muted the colors are. A diluted calico coat is commonly referred to as “pastel” and the fur has a cream or diluted look to it.

Throughout history calico cats have been written about, acknowledged, and even believed to be magical. In Japan, a calico cat was considered a good luck and sailors would adopt the cat to protect them on their long journeys at sea. In 2001, the state of Maryland adopted the calico cat as their state cat because of the pattern of black, white, and orange which are the same colors as their baseball team, the Baltimore Oriole, and the Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly.

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10 thoughts on “Calico Cat Facts

  1. I had a barn cat who was a calico. She unfortunately had a few litters of kittens. There were as many colors and patterns as you could imagine. One of her daughters was a dilute calico, she had cream/buff orange and gray spots instead of the orange and black. My first cat was a torte Persian who was old when I was born. I just remember her being an intregal part of the back of the couch, that she got big mats that needed cutting out, which she was cranky about and that she had no teeth. She was at least eighteen. I’ve always wanted to have another calico or tortie, but right now I’ve got four- rescues. They find me, so I haven’t been able to exactly choose! Right now it’s a solid red tabby dsh and a solid dilute red tabby dsh and brothers dmh black tabby and dmh solid black!

  2. When I was in high school I had a beautiful calico that I named Mikeneko, which means tortoise-shell cat or cat with three colors of fur in Japanese. She had a checkerboard pattern on her shoulders and was the only cat I’ve even known that was afraid of heights. My family owned several others including a beautiful tortie with a half and half face named Shampoo and her daughter Swat. Then later we found Kitten who gave us Kay and Yuri who were all dilute calicos. Right now my mother has a little dilute tortie named Itty Bitty and I’m fostering another tortie for her that’s named Star because she has a 4 pointed star mark on her forehead.

  3. I had a calico named Cali because the first 4 letters of calico and s ounded like a cool name she died when she was 11. 77 in cat years. She died on Oct. 8 2008 she would be 15 now. I had dez another calico and ally another calico and Jane and George he is a tabby the only one living is george and Jane but Jane is with my aunt I think if I had to pick a favorite would be cali. I love her I wish she was alive.

  4. My husband and I saved a calico cat, who we name Allie, from a troubled home. She was about 6 months old at the time. She was so skinny and scared when she came home with us. At first I didn’t think that she wasn’t the cat for us, but after a few days she proved us wrong. She is the sweetest, most loving and beautiful animal I have ever met. She is “mamma’s baby” and my husband loves her to death. I think she is going to be one big cat. She is growing bigger by the day and she has the cute chubby checks with her big green eyes The cutest thing she does is in the mornings. I don’t like to get up for work and she knows it. So after I push my snooze button for the 3rd time she jumps on my bed, starts nuzzling my face and does her cute little meow to let me know its time to get up. And when I get home she is sitting in my window just waiting for me to walk though the door.

  5. hi i have a boy calaco cat. we thought he was a girl when we adopted him . then he had babies with my sisters cat he was a boy. this winter he got a desieese that makes cough up snot. he is still alive now5 years old. he is the best i trie to spend as much time with him as i can

  6. On May 14th this year my cat Smores {A calico} gave birth to a litter of 3 kittens. The first to be born was Gilgamesh~ I later learned Gilga was a girl~ So we call her Gilly now, her belly’s white and her back is much like her uncle’s but she’s tabby~grey~. 2nd was Piper, she’s very loud and she inherited her mom’s calico coloring but she’s dilute. 3rd came James, he rarely meows and is constantly squished by his sisters. He’s an orange tabby. Their only a few hours old. When my father woke me at 2:27 am, I jumped from my bed and ran to look, I couldn’t sleep the rest of the night. So now, after facing school and asking people if they would like a kitten, I am highly sleep deprived…So fun.

  7. On Aug 11 our white cat gave birth to 3 kittens two white ones, a male and female and a calico male. Then a day and a half later she had another male calico! I keep looking online about more than one being born at the same time. But I can find nothing on them except that they are rare. If anyone knows more about this or who would be able to help me find out more information I would appreciatte it very much.

  8. I have a calico named Addie. I rescued her from the barn in my front yard. She is one of six: two sisters and 3 brothers. The brothers were all black and white, one sister, Placie (a neighbor has her), is a calico and the other, ADT (another neighbor has her), is a torti. The boys are Spike, Tiny (who died) and Fred (who still lives in the barn).

  9. Hi, My wife and I have 2 black cats we picked up from two different humane socities. The first, Bear, is a Bombay who has a sleek shimmery coat and is usually very skittish, until I start checking my email at which time he becomes very determinted to sit on my lap and be petted. The second, Moose, has a nice thick black coat is very sweet, rather large, though still meows like a kitten 7 years later. I really like both our cats, and wish Moose would hang out with me more. Eventually, I would like to get a big calico with a really thick coat, like Moose’s and name him Patches and maybe a tabby and name him Peanut.

  10. i have a calico cat and she is having seizes about four a day and she just turned eight on the 15th of November. does any one have that problem with calico cats.