What Is A Calico Cat?

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Every furry feline has a special and unique habit or characteristic. They have earned reputations as being magical, genius, loving, or downright mean. One thing is clear about all cats; they have a mix of aloofness and co-dependency. Cats can form secure bonds with humans and also survive perfectly in the wild.

The least obvious information is that cats do not share the same personality. They vary according to breed as well as individualistic traits. Cat experts learn to rehabilitate the animals after spending years getting in tune with the instinctive responses of cats. The differentiation of cats begins from their physical qualities and into the enigmatic internal persona.

The Calico Cats are a favorite type of study because they are common and often found within and around our homes. There are many reasons to love and observe these cats. They have a smoother disposition than their wilder counterparts but yet seem to have unseen links with them. Calico Cats have enthralled societies for centuries, rising to acquire seats beside worshipped gods and revered spiritual practices. Nowadays, these cats maintain their regality in subtle manners but still attract the attention of dedicated cat lovers who love unique fur beauty.

What is a Calico cat?

These cats are everywhere in the world and within our local communities. They have color coatings and even more unique biological makeups. It is worth looking into the entirety of these cats’ existence to understand why they hold such an important role in our pet-human associations.


Science states that Calico cats have their origin in Egypt. History indicates that they had consistent migration routes between Europe and Northern Africa. Early documentation of these cats placed their first homes in Spain, Italy, France, and the Mediterranean.

Calico cats are known for their color patterns. The names of each color trademark can be of any ancestral origin. A British shorthair cat can be just as qualified to be a Calico as the Norwegian Forest Cat. All the different origins of Calico cats will have a commonality in the fur.

Types of Calico cats

Calico is neither a species nor a breed. It has more to do with color pattern and genotype of appearance. There are three well-known types of Calico cats.

  • Patched Tabby – It has apparent stripes and striking black and ginger patches
  • Tortoiseshells – They have little whites on the coat and small spots on their paws, chest, and face.
  • Dilute – The colors are less intense than in the other two types. They have a white base and light colors of grey, charcoal black, grey, cream, and orange

These cats can intermix and create a completely different color variation. The most common combinations include the following:

  • White orange and black
  • Cream, black/blue, and red/brown

Understanding the colors

The colors of a Calico cat are controlled by a genetic condition known as piebald. The mechanism results in unpigmented patches of white and scattered color patches that vary according to the breed of the cat.

Calico cats obtain the colors from a genetic setup that inactivates the X chromosome. Scientists have spent decades analyzing the developmental stages of chromosomes. They have established the silenced X chromosome in female cells and immortalized lines of mouse cells.

Observations show that inactivating the X chromosome has a significant impact on the formation of the tortoiseshell pattern. A team of researchers from the University of California presented their findings on these color patterns at the 58th Annual Biophysical Society Meeting. The results revealed that patches of orange and black were common in the Tortoiseshell variation.

The size of the pattern on a Calico cat can be large or small. Some are apart while others are interwoven. Science observes that large patches are due to the following genetic setups:

  • Lyonization occurs sooner during the ontogeny stage. The largest patches are due to much earlier Lyonization processes, while smaller patches occurred later.
  • Inactivation of the same X chromosome by the nearby progenitor cell results in enlarged patches

Folklore of Calico cats


Cats of these unique colorations did not begin their association with mysticism in modern times. The modern connotation of Calico cats has reached one of the highest pinnacles of urbanity. The state cat of the United States Maryland is the Calico cat. The US and other western countries do not dissociate between these cats and money. People believe that using them in the right quantities with some spiritual work results in monetary abundance or protection from the evil eye.


Eugene Field wrote and published The Duel, a poem for children. This 19th-century poet was a contributor to the buzz of having a Calico cat.

Maneki Neko is a Japanese figure that depicts good luck. Its original purpose was to inspire good luck for Japanese sailors. The sailors carried the Calico cat on missions to protect against misfortunes at sea and human attacks. They also believed that the cats chased away, angry ancestral spirits, which is not far from the modern belief that cats keep away ghosts from our homes.

The Maneki Neko is currently common in public places like restaurants and shops. The English translation of Maneki Neko is – ‘the fortune cat.’ The public Maneki Neko has a raised left paw, symbolic of its powers to invite in customers. A raised right paw symbolizes wealth and good luck.

Old tales of Irish wives state that one can cure a foot wart by rubbing it with the Calico tail. The size of the cats’ tails was a fascination among traditional healers. Modern science may prove otherwise, and the cats that we have gotten to know may not always appreciate the bother.

French painters had a special place for Calico cats. Jean-Baptise Simeon Chardin had several pieces of these cats. These 18th-century paintings were mostly of Calico cats playing with big pieces of seafood.


Is it true that Calico cats are solely female? Or are the existing male Calico cats only orange tabbies? The truth is that male Calicos exist but are extremely rare. The College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Missouri states that male Calicos are only one in three thousand. Most of them are rare, with the possibility of only one being fertile among one thousand Calico males.

Attempting to breed a female Calico with a fertile male Calico of the same or different breed will not increase the chances of a young male one. The born cat would not automatically be a tortoiseshell, which is the most common Calico pattern. A male offspring of a male Calico cat will have the genotype XXY.

People who rear cats will rarely use a male Calico cat for breeding. There are 16 breeds, which can develop the Calico coloring:

  • Domestic shorthair
  • Japanese bobtail
  • Scottish folds
  • American shorthair
  • Maine coon
  • British shorthair
  • Norwegian forest cat
  • Exotic shorthair
  • Munchkin
  • Persian
  • Turkish angora
  • Turkish van

There are no advantages to using it, but there are several known disadvantages. The kitten would have potential health complications because of its unique male genes. It is preferable to use the more virile felines.


Some pet owners who have had more than just Calico cats, report that they have very distinct and dramatic traits. Prospective owners of Calicos will benefit from learning about their unique temperaments and mannerisms. One should not forget that Calico is a description of color and not physiological qualities. Despite this fact, they still display an anecdotal difference.


Calicos can be particularly fiery. They have a more aggressive and curious mentality than other cats. These observations are not documentation of vets or animal medics, but observations from hundreds of Calico owners.  Others have noted a distinct difference between the behavior of parent cats and the offspring with a Calico-patterned cat.

Critics suggest that the fiery personas may be a result of the cats being female. Female hormones have a completely different influence than male hormones. The rare finds of male Calicos may have these characteristics because their genes are of a different genetic realm.


Calicos are well known for their strong-willed attitude. The common perception is that one should carefully examine the colors of a cat if they do not want to deal with people who have come to label it as ‘cattitude.’ These cats do not easily change their eating habits and will ignore the replacement for a long time before showing signs of flexibility.


People cannot resist the urge to caress and cuddle a Calico. The cat may be sweetly welcoming or show its claws when the timing is wrong. An older Calico is less jumpy and will be sweet, endearing, warm-hearted, and affectionate.

Energetic and intelligent

Calicos are excellent for families with excitable young children. They have an unending curiosity and intelligence. It is difficult to keep up with the energies of a young playful Calico for extended hours. These cats have evident sassiness and a sense of quirkiness.

Calicos have records of saving humans and litters of kittens from burning buildings. Others have awe-inspiring stories of leading family members or friends to a room of an ailing person. The cat will usually meow and walk off for a few steps to lead you to the room. These acts of bravery and logic have saved people from shattering seizure episodes and over-bleeding, among other conditions.

Calico cats will sense the mood of their owner or the house and act accordingly. Some dispute this as a specific Calico trait, stating that animals have a mind for human emotion and bodily movement. Calicos’ ability to sync with the humanity of the house is a part of all other cats’ tendencies. They will clown to calm a crying baby or pat your face to uplift a sad mood.

The mental health of Calico cats

The mental state of cats is not a regular topic of discussion. This may be because most distressed cats usually have a successful recovery with a few visits from the vet. Studies show that cats of different breeds can exhibit very different mental reactions. Some will be more anxious and tense than others. Calicos of all breeds will typically be neurotic. This means that it may be difficult to manage daily engagement with one. A neurotic cat has the following characteristics:

  • Avoiding the litter box
  • Excessive self-grooming or mutation
  • Incessant meowing
  • Poor appetite
  • Restlessness
  • Aggression
  • Hiding
  • Spraying

Aging process of Calico cats

Calicos do not have a different aging process than other cats. They enjoy the same approximate fifteen years of life as other cats. This observation is particularly true for female Calicos. The rare male counterparts have a slightly different experience.

A study published in the Oxford Journal revealed that male Calicos have relatively shorter lifespans. They are vulnerable to Klinefelter’s syndrome, among other health complications. Unfortunately, there is not enough statistical data to indicate how much shorter male Calicos live. The health problems commonly associated with them are as follows:

  • High insulin resistance leads to the development of diabetes
  • Impairment of cognitive abilities. The consequences are notable disorientation and behavior abnormalities.
  • Development of dyslipidemia, which harms the metabolism of lipoproteins
  • A high content of body fat, which forms the basis for fatal heart disease and high blood pressure
  • The bone mineral content of Calico cats is significantly lower. This condition leaves them vulnerable to the development of bone fractures

What is a Calico cat? It is a common domestic cat that we have all gotten to touch, play with, or at least interact with. A more analytical observation will conclude that there is nothing special about them. You may be tending to one at this very moment.

It is, however, special to understand their biological and behavioral makeup. You may understand why the kittens of your two Calico adults are more problematic. Despite this fact, consult with your vet about the health and personality makeup of your cat. Do not hesitate to scan our blog for more in-depth and captivating facts, folklore, and observations of these common cats.

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