Calico Cats and Kittens: Pictures and Facts

Calico cat on its side

Calico cats and kittens are known for their beautiful orange, black, and white tricolored coats. Calico coats are usually found in female cats of various breeds. Their genetics, for example, has been the subject of extensive scientific research since the 1940s. Calicos are regarded as lucky in mythology all around the world.

Learn more amazing facts about some of nature's most colorful kitties.

  • 01 of 07

    Calico Isn't a Breed of Cat

    calico cat

    Calicos come in a variety of colors and patterns. Calico, on the other hand, refers to the color variations in a cat's coat. Although the most prevalent calico colors are orange, black, and white, some cats may also include cream, bluish-black, red, or chocolate brown in their coats.

    Calico cats may be found in a variety of breeds, including the American shorthair, Persian, Maine coon, and Cornish Rex, among others.

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  • 02 of 07

    Most Calico Cats Are Female (Males Are Super Rare)

    Because of the particular genetic makeup that produces the color differences in their coats, 99.9% of all calico cats are female. Why? Put your lab coat on first. It's time to get some science going.

    Male and female cats are determined by the sex chromosomes (X and Y). Each cat has a pair of sex chromosomes with the letters XX (female) and XY (male) as potential combinations (male). The coding gene for the black and orange hues of a calico's coat is also found on the X chromosome.

    Calico cats have two X chromosomes, which means they have two color-coded chromosomes. Both X chromosomes may have the black code by chance (and depending on the parents' colors), or both may carry the orange code, in which case the cat will have those markings. Calico is defined as a cat with one orange-coded X and one black-coded X, exhibiting both black and orange colouring. The female embryo will shut down one X chromosome in each cell to handle these two sets of color coding, resulting in the black and orange variances in a calico's coat.

    Male cats cannot be calico because they have one X chromosome with coding for black or orange and one Y chromosome with no color genes. They can only convey one of two colors: black or orange.

    There is one exception: A genetic anomaly called XXY Syndrome, which occurs when the male cat has two X chromosomes and one Y chromosome. This can produce a male calico.

    Male calico cats are born one in every 3,000 and, regrettably, do not survive as long as female calicos owing to genetic defects. XXY Syndrome makes male calicos infertile and can cause a variety of other health issues. However, if you have a male calico, a balanced diet, regular exercise, and enough of love and care will help him live a longer and happier life.

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  • 03 of 07

    Calico Cats Can't Be Bred

    Due to their unique genetic makeup (and the fact that male calico cats are born sterile), calico cats cannot actually be bred. Rather, nature produces these colorful kitties randomly.

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  • 04 of 07

    Calicos Don't Share Personality Traits

    Calico cats do not share personality features, temperaments, or preferences because they are not a single breed (and cannot be bred). However, many cat breeds may be calico, so if you're searching for a certain attitude, look into American shorthairs, Japanese bobtails, and Maine coons, among others.

    Furthermore, the typical lifespan of a calico cat varies substantially. But keep in mind that a good food, safe housing, and enough of affection (when they'll let it) are the keys to a long, happy, and healthy kitten existence.

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  • 05 of 07

    Calico Cats Are Very Lucky

    Because calico cats are so rare (especially male calico cats) they're considered a good luck charm all over the world. The folklore and beliefs about them include:

    • Back in the day, Japanese fishermen brought calico cats onto their ships to protect them from harsh storms, as well as the ghosts of their envious ancestors.
    • According to Irish folklore, you can cure warts by rubbing a calico cat's tail on the affected area but only during May. It's┬áprobably better to make an appointment with your dermatologist.
    • The famous Japanese Beckoning Cat (or Maneki Neko) was modeled after a calico. They're often placed in the entrances of homes and businesses to bring good luck. The Maneki Neko dates back to the 1870s, so these kitties have a long history as bringers of luck.
    • In the United States, calico cats are sometimes referred to as "money cats," because they bring good fortune to their owners.
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  • 06 of 07

    Calico Is an Official State Cat

    Only three states in the United States have official feline representatives: Maine, Massachusetts, and Maryland.

    Calico cats were declared Maryland's official state cat due to their orange, black, and white coats. They have the same coloring as the Baltimore oriole, which is Maryland's official state bird.

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  • 07 of 07

    You May Have a Calico Cat Patronus

    Hey, Harry Potter fans: what's your patronus? If you answered the calico cat, that means you're loyal, clever, observant, and extremely lucky.

  • How long do calico cats live?

    Calicos have the same lifespan as any other mixed-breed cat: about 15 years.

  • How big do calico cats get?

    Since calicos don't belong to a specific breed, this can't be pinpointed. All that to say, their size can range from 4 to 12 pounds.

  • How much are calico cats worth?

    Calicos cost as much as you want to pay for them, as some are mixed breed and others pedigreed. Why not visit your local animal shelter and rescue a cali for your own?