All About Calico Cats – The ‘Lucky Charm’ (Cat Breed Guide)

When it comes to calico cats, the first thing you ought to know is that they are not a cat breed.

Calico refers to the color of the coat.

For a cat to be considered a calico, they must have three color variations of white, black, and orange in their fur.

Calico is a cat of many colors, however they should not be confused with the tortoiseshell cat who has two color shades, mainly black and red, and occasionally a hint of cream, or a mixture of orange or gold.

Calico cats can appear in quite a few breeds, including the Devon Rex, Munchkin, Sphynx, Scottish Fold, Manx, Turkish Van, American Curl, Oriental Shorthair, Cornish Rex, Exotic, British and American Shorthair, Japanese Bobtail, Siberian, Persian and LaPerm.

calico cat on road

The Origin of Calico Cats 

The existence of patches found in calico cats has been traced back to Northern Africa and European trade routes.

The presence of cats with the orange gene was traced to cities in Mediterranean ports in Italy, Greece, France, and Spain, all coming from Egypt.

They’ve then since migrated to other parts of the world into your living room.

Calico Cats are Mostly Female

The coat coloring in calicos is linked to the X chromosome, and for a cat to be tri-color, two X chromosomes must be involved.

Due to this, calico cats are mostly female.

However, in some cases, a male cat will have an extra X chromosome and turn out a calico.

Male Calico’s appear in only one out of 3000 calico cats globally, much the same as with tortoiseshell cats, and are sterile due to the abnormality in their genes.

The Three Variations of Calico Coloring

Calico cats are categorized into three distinct groups based on their coat color.

  • A standard calico is covered with a white coat and big black and orange spots.
  • A dilute calico appears in a lighter color arrangement of a standard calico i.e., white coat with nearly strawberry blonde, and big spots of smoky gray spots.
  • A calibby is a mix of a tabby cat and a calico. In addition to the standard calico color variations, a calibby has tabby stripes.

Check out our post all about ginger tabby cats – they are a bit special!

Calico Cats Lifespan

The lifespan of a calico varies based on the sex and the breed.

For instance American short-hairs live between 18-20 years, while others like the Persians live for about 12-15 years.

Therefore it is possible to choose the life expectancy of your calico based on its breed.

Female calico cats live longer than their rare male counterparts.

Male calico cats suffer from Klinefelter syndrome, which is associated with male cats with an extra chromosome. The condition affects the health and the vitality of a male calico cat.

Klinefelter syndrome results in resistance to insulin leading to diabetes.

  • It also causes an increase in body fat mass, which can result in diabetes, heart disease and cognitive impairments, which make the cat disoriented.
  • The syndrome also makes the cat prone to fractures because of reduced mineral content in their bones.
  • Dyslipidemia, a disorder that disrupts the cat’s ability to metabolize lipoprotein is also as a result of Klinefelter syndrome.

Calico Cats Personality

Documentation of cat personalities and behavioral traits are done based on specific breeds.

However, since the calico is not a breed, their personalities vary.

Despite exhibiting different behaviors, some character traits are shared by the calicos.

Calico cats are considered intelligent, sweet, endearing, and affectionate.

Some calico cats have displayed acts of bravery and intelligence by saving their litter, other animals, and humans from burning buildings.

People who have bred calico cats often say they have more attitude, a trait that is fondly referred to as “cattitude.”

They are also neurotic and quirky, strong-willed, fiery, and very loyal.

Japan’s Love for Calico Cats

During ancient times, Japanese sailors would bring along calico cats on their voyages.

These cats were considered good luck and thought to keep angry ghosts at bay and chase away storms.

Maneki Neko, a Japanese cat talisman of wealth and good fortune, is always a calico.

Famous Calico Cats 

In 2007, Tama the calico cat saved the Kinokawa train station in Japan from closure.

The town appointed Tama as a station master, and she had an office where she would greet passengers.

With time her popularity rose and led to a 17% rise in commuters, hence saving the station.

Marzipan, another calico, lived in the Astor theatre in Melbourne, Australia, for 21 years.

She would greet people entering and leaving the theatre in the lobby.

Sometimes, she would even sit on patrons laps while they enjoyed movies. The city held a memorial upon her death.

Calico – The Lucky Charm

Some cultures across the world consider calico cats signs of good fortunes and lucky charms because they are rare.

The male calico cat is considered even more fortunate.

They are known as money cats in the USA, and some people believe that they bring good fortune to families that adopt them.

Japan declared calico cats a symbol of fortune in the 1870s.

Tortoiseshell cats are considered lucky in many cultures, much like calico’s. Read all about them in our article.

The State Cat Of Maryland

Massachusetts, Maryland, and Maine are the only states in the USA with felines as their official state symbols.

To match the white, orange, and black colors of its other symbols, the state bird and butterfly, the governor of Maryland chose a calico cat as its other symbol in October 2011.

Caring For A Calico Cat

Since calico cats are not bred, but a result of chance, their health is determined by lifestyle and genetics.

They are generally healthy, especially if they are female, and taking care of a calico cat is just like caring for any other cat.

Ensure they have a clean place to sleep so as to enjoy enough sleep and fresh air. A smooth and clean blanket will boost your cat’s quality of sleep.

In addition, ensure that they also get the nutrients they require to stay healthy and vibrant. A calico cat requires enough drinking water, vitamins, and amino acids in their diet.

The beautiful colors that make up the coat of calico cats, together with their vibrant personalities make the popularity of these cats keep rising worldwide.

See More Of Our Cat Breeds Series

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