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The Calico Cat

Calico portrait

Calico cats are not a breed but a color pattern that may occur in almost any type of domestic cat. The word "calico" describes the color pattern of a white cat with orange(or red or reddish-brown), and black patches on the coat. Because color is related to the x chromosome, well over 90% of cats with this color are female. Females have two x chromosomes, so in the case of a calico, one x chromosome will have the orange gene and the other will have the black. A seperate gene for piebald patches which is not related to the sex of the cat creates the white areas to make a calico. The male calico cat actually has a rare condition called Klinefelter's syndrome, which alters the chromosomes. Unfortunately, male calicos may have additional genetic changes besides coat color that could affect their health. The color "tortoiseshell", which is the mix of the red, orange or brownish color and black, without the white, or with only a small amount of white, is also predominately seen on female cats.

Calicos are considered lucky in many countries, particularly Japan

where the color is referred to as "Mi-ke", and is regularly seen on the national cat of Japan, the Japanese bobtail.  Calico cats are part of the ancient folklore in many cultures, and are always seen as peaceful, hopeful and lucky kitties. 

Calico Cat Facts and Calico Information Featuring the -CatStats- Fact Files

calico cats

Calico Cat Personality

Owners of both calicos and tortoiseshell cats believe that there is more than just the color of their cat that is special. Tortoiseshell owners describe the "tortietude" they think is unique to that color- a combination of devotion, spirit and a little bit of hot-temper. Calico owners often say the colorful coat is just the icing on the cake of a very sweet and endearing personality. Sometimes described as "old souls"

calicos are notoriously warm-hearted, affectionate and wise

One famous calico rescued her entire person and animal family from a burning house by scratching on each bedroom door. Another calico

seen recently in the news returned to a burning shed four times to rescue each of her kittens. The kittens were unharmed, but the mother cat received terrible burns that cost her her ears and whiskers. Still, she happily cleaned and fussed over her kittens as hundreds of folks gathered to see her recovering in the animal hospital. Amazing!


What is a Calico Cat?

cat tales calicos

Just like the calico cat, tortoiseshell refers to a color, not a breed. The color "tortoiseshell" is a marbelized black and brown (orange/red).  Like the fellow with the red collar...tortoiseshell cat


True tortoiseshell cats have very little, if any, white markings, and no white in the body color at all. A tortie cat with white "points" or white on the nose, chest and/or feet is called "tortoiseshell and white". Again, no white in the body color, just on the nose, chest, feet and a little on the tummy like this . ...tortoiseshell and white cat


Calico cats have lots of white, along with the black and brown or orange hues, and are often equal parts of the three colors. Calico cats don't always have white on the back and torso area, but the white on the points will extend well up the thighs and around the neck and belly etc. like so...  calico persian
or almost all white with just some black and tan/orange/brown
 like so....   calico                   calico exotic shorthair


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A Few More Calico Facts


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