Here's Why Calico Cats Are the Coolest


Calico cats are some of the coolest cats there are. It's not just their beautiful, eye-catching colors that make them pretty calicool. (Okay, even I cringed at that pun.) Their “cool cat” stat is backed by some interesting science.


pudge the cat persian calico



To get down to brass tacks, “calico” is not a breed of cat. Calico actually refers to a cat’s coat color and fur pattern. It’s most commonly a tri-color mix of orange, black and white, but variations of these basic colors can also present, such as cream, reddish brown, blue-black or even gray.

dilute calico gray calico

Calico colors can present in any breed of domestic cat, long hair or short: Japanese Bobtail, Manx, Persian, Turkish Angora and American Shorthair to name a few.

Now to the cool stuff.

Almost all calico cats are female.

Calicos are a weird wonder of nature, genetically speaking. No worries, I won’t be dragging out the Punnett squares and overhead projector. (Boy, do I feel old.) Here are the basics:


  • 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.


One of the more famous calico ladies is Honorable Eternal Stationmaster Tama who saved the Kishi Station in Wakayama, Japan, from closing.

stationmaster tama japan


Another cute calico lady is Pudge, whose "mustache is cooler than yours."  Here's Pudge lounging around in all her feminine feline glory.

cat lounge scratcher for cats


Male calicos are like unicorns.

Good luck finding one! There's less than a 0.1% chance of a calico cat being born male. Approximately one in 3,000 calicos are male.

For a male cat to have calico colors, it must have an extra X chromosome, making it XXY. While these cats present as male, they are calico because of the double X chromosome. 

Meet Sherman, one in 3,000. A stray male calico who showed up at the Humane Society Silicon Valley!

sherman male calico rare male calico

Male calicos are almost always sterile.

Only one in 10,000 male calicos are born fertile because of this rare XXY configuration. This anomaly can also cause Klinefelter’s Syndrome, a health issue that may result in some health problems for calico males.

calico kitten


That concludes the scientific portion of today’s cool calico cat facts! But we’ve got some fun feline folklore in store for you.


Calico cats are good luck.

In England and the United States, male calicos are considered especially lucky due to their rarity.

Maneki neko, a Japanese cat talisman thought to bring good fortune and wealth, is almost always calico. If Maneki neko’s left paw is raised, she’ll lure in those customers with her calico charm; while her raised right paw bestows good luck and wealth. The higher her paw is held, the luckier you’ll be.

maneki neko good luck cat calico cat figurine



Calicos are ancient maritime protectors.

Long ago, Japanese sailors saw calico cats as companions of good luck and would bring them along on their ocean voyages. The calicos were thought to chase away storms and also any angry, ancestral ghosts that may float onboard.

sailor cat

Be sure to bring your pocket-sized calico protector with you wherever you go.

cat phone


Calicos have a cure for what ails you.

An old Irish wives’ tale claims that if you’ve got a wart on ye olde foot, just rub-a-dub-dub that unfortunate bump on an (even more unfortunate) calico’s tail. This calico kitty is a surefire way to banish those bumps. Just look at the size of that wart remover!

longhair calico cat turkish calico

Or you could just wear a pair of cat socks. Or maybe don't worry about weird foot growths. Unless your podiatrist is like, "Whoa." Then maybe go find a calico cat.

Calicos bring in the fat stacks.

Litter isn’t the only thing calicos are raking in. Sometimes called “money cats” in the U.S. due to the myth that calicos can be sold at top dollar. Breeding for calicos is near impossible as the genetic configuration is unpredictable, and most male cats are sterile and aren't really of any higher monetary value than other cats. But we think they're priceless :)

value of male calico


Calicos are officially official.

The calico cat became the official state cat of Maryland in 2001, chosen because the calico’s colors resemble that of an Oriole, Maryland’s state bird. The Maryland Orioles baseball team also wears these colors. 

Fluffy Elizabeth of Baltimore, above, won a division of the animal dress-up contest with her black-eyed-susan themed costume. 


A calico cat Patronus is the best Patronus.

calico cat patronus cats pottermore
Source: Pottermore 

Wait! What about tortoiseshell cats?

Don't worry, we didn't forget about them! Tortoiseshell, or tortie, cats are similar to calicos in that they too are mostly female. But their colorations are slightly different.

Tortoiseshell refers to the bicolor coat pattern that is almost entirely orange and black with very little to no white markings. A popular tortie you might recognize is Venus, the "two-faced cat." 

chimera cat turtle shell cat tortoiseshell vs calico cat


Admittedly, I don't have a calico (or tortie) to call my own. Do you? Feel free to comment below! We'd love to see more photos or hear tell of your beautiful, beloved kitties!

And if you have a kitty birthday or adoption day coming up for your favorite calico kitty, don't forget to treat them to a gift or two from our Under $10 section!




  • Taj

    I’ve had my calico cat, Ellie, since she was a kitten and she’ll be ten this year. She is super sweet and has the loudest purr! She’s the peacemaker in my house of 2 cats and a dog. I can’t imagine my house without her! Calicos are pretty terrific!

  • Sharon

    My wonderful calico, Taco, because she’s all the colors of a taco, is the sweetest and softest kitty I’ve had. She’s 14 years old and doing great. My previous calico, Kinkie, lived to 19 years old. I love calicos and would definitely have another.

  • Rin

    My calico, Suga, was given to me as a late Christmas gift. A friend of mine picked her up from the riverside close to her home and brought her to me the next day. That was back in 2015!

    Suga gave birth last year, in October, to 3 kittens. One of them (I named her Bwii) inherited her calico pattern. I had to give her away, but I get updates and she seems to be doing well. <3

  • Kayla

    My sister’s calico, who is more like a family cat, was rescued from a barn when she was just little ball of fluff. She seemed to be allergic to everything, we weren’t sure she’d actually live very long because she was so sickly. Fortunately she did and is now almost 13!

  • Kimberly

    My husband and I are lucky enough to share our home with two calico kitties- both adopted from our vet after a tech there found a feral momma and her kittens. My Beatrice Bad Kitty has calico patches on her face, her shoulders, and down one leg onto her tummy. The calico fades into traditional tabby markings on her back, hind quarters, and tail. My husband’s little princess Ophelia is a true dilute calico. Her markings are a soft blue-gray, cream, and white. He is especially proud that his little Ophelia is not only a rare calico but an even rarer dilute. Makes him spoil her even more.

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