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A Comprehensive Guide to Calico Cats

You've probably heard of the calico cat and maybe you thought it was a specific breed. However, this cat isn't its own breed – rather a distinction for cats that carry a specific array of calico coloration. 

The name calico comes from the color pattern carried by these cats, which is a tri-color coat pattern that mainly consists of white, black, and orange. The coloration of the three colors varies depending on the cat, with some having more distinct patterns while others carry a more natural blend in their fur. 

Here is a mini comprehensive guide to all you ever wanted to know about the calico - hey, that rhymed!

How the Calico is Created

Instead of being a breed like mentioned earlier, the calico cat is actually a natural anomaly. It is actually genetics that determine this unique color variation known as Mosaic Expression - the same thing found in other animals with this variance like the tortoiseshell cat, which is a form of the calico cat.

According to Meowingtons:

  • A cat needs two X chromosomes to present with the tri-color calico pattern.
  • If a cat has an XX pair of chromosomes, it will be female.
  • Male cats have an XY chromosome pair, so they can rarely be Calicos.

So, as you can see - the calico cat is a very special kitty and can be any breed at all.

Calico Cat Types

The tricolor cat shows varying appearances depending on its coat pattern. It's all about the coloring, and according to All About Cats:

Dilute Calico

A dilute calico carries a more lightly blended and subtle coloration in its fur. Instead of the black patches seen in a traditional calico, a dilute calico cat usually carries blue or grayish patches. The bold orange fur is also muted to a pastel or light cream shade. 

Tortoiseshell Calico

Tortoiseshell calico cats are typically covered in two colors: black and orange fur. These cats lack white coloration and mainly have patchy spots of the two colors, with hints of white fur on their face, chest, or paws. 

Patched Tabby Calico

A patched tabby calico shows a combination of a calico pattern and tabby stripes. They are most easily differentiated by the M-shaped marking on their forehead, with black and white fur bordering each other to create the alphabetical outline. Their coat pattern shows black or brown tabby stripes on the back of their body, and along the side, legs, or tails, as well as patches of orange, black, and white fur on the rest.

How About Temperament, Lifespan, and Health Issues?

Long Haired Calico Cat

Like any cat, you may be wondering about the temperament, lifespan, and any health issues of the calico. The problem with answering these questions is that the calico isn't a specific breed. The calico can come from almost all domestic cat breeds - it is simply the cat's unique coloring and genetic makeup.

It is best to simply treat a calico cat like any other cat by keeping up with vet visits and loving it as much as possible. The average lifespan of a cat is 12-16 years but there is one specific thing you should know.

Males are a Rarity

Having a male calico is extremely rare but if you are lucky enough to find this unicorn then keep in mind that the males live shorter lives than female calico cats because of their unique chromosomal makeup.

Calico cats' tricolor pattern is dictated by the X chromosome, meaning that female cats carry an XX chromosome while males need an extra Y chromosome to achieve the XXY chromosome makeup. This genetic abnormality affects male calico cats' lifespan, and they are typically more prone to health risks such as broken bones or diabetes. 

Don't let that worry you, though. Just take care of this rare animal and treat it with tender loving care as well as regular healthcare. Oh and one last thing, the males are almost always sterile. This doesn't mean they'll eventually die out as a breed because as we mentioned, they're not a breed at all.

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Luck Be a Lady (or Not)

Since almost all calico cats are females, luck be a lady is definitely not appropriate here, but there is still a lot of luck involved. It is considered good luck both in the United States and England to find a male calico cat.

Another area where calico cats are considered lucky is in the ancient days with Japanese sailors who brought calico cats with them as good luck charms along their voyages.

Even the Irish believed that calico cats cured warts. Well, that's certainly a very specific ailment but who are we to judge?

Beauty and Diversity of Calico Cats

A calico is certainly one of the most unique and fascinating cats to exist. No two calicos look alike, with each having their own distinct coat color and pattern. Next time you encounter this tricolor cat, consider yourself lucky to witness such a feline marvel.



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