Here's Why Calico Cats Are the Coolest

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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

Source

 

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!

 

 


113 comments


  • Barbara Lowther

    Hello fellow calico lovers. I’m delighted to find this page. Awhile after I had suddenly, unexpectedly lost my beloved husband; I was in shock to say the very least. I was online looking at a local shelter, when I “heard” a voice telling me to go to that shelter as there is a special kitty there for you. No, I am not crazy. After all, over 15 years ago I had prayed and asked God “why” our daughter was born with a profound hearing loss? Then out of nowhere, about 5 years later while driving I heard that voice again. He said, the reason I had this special daughter is that in the future, I wouldn’t have my husband and we would living in a brand new unfamiliar location; but I would always have my daughter. I
    thought that was crazy! My husband and I, grew closer and more in love with every passing day. I just passed it off and never mentioned it to anyone. Then about 15 years later, (No, He never mentioned a time frame ahead that I would be alone), there I was alone except for my daughter and in a strange town where the only person I knew was the realtor who found our new home; a home we had only been in for 3 days.
    I rushed into my daughter’s room and said I’m leaving right now to go to the animal shelter and did she want to come? Yes.We spent over an hour visiting with these dear cats hoping for their forever home , but I just didn’t feel any of them were “the” right cat; so we started to walk out. Then as we were approaching the front door, I noticed a calico in a cage by herself and a volunteer had the door open. I asked if she was available; she replied yes. That calico came over to the open door where I stood then stood up on her hind legs and put her front legs up on my shoulders as if to say, I am the cat you are looking for. I immediately said the I want to adopt her but could we come back tomorrow as I didn’t have any of the necessities to bring her home yet. She said of course. We went shopping for our new family member’s items. The next day we arrived and she was so calm as we placed her in her brand new kitty carrier, was calm & quiet in the lap of my daughter on the way to her new forever home. We arrived home, came inside, opened the carrier she hopped out and it was as if she was thinking “yes, this is the right place”. I had mistakenly thought that she might run and hide in this strange new place; but absolutely not. That was 11 years ago and she was definitely a lifeline to me. Personality plus and smart as can be; just as I have read other special stories here about their calicos. Yes, she too, says “hello”, and knows exactly when her meal time is Because of her beautiful colorings, we named her Emily Autumn; although quite often I call her Baby too.


  • Richard Gardner

    Our Calico is named Dottie she’s cut sweet, when she wants to be, and a rescue . We were very lucky that our daughter found her on the sidewalk we took her in as soon as we saw her. Dottie is a ray of sunshine


  • bestbooksreads.com

    “Calico Ragdoll Cats: A Colorful and Affectionate Breed” [https://bestbooksreads.com/calico-ragdoll-cat/]


  • sara

    I have one of each!Tortie Lilo and calico Luna. They are sisters and about to turn 1. They are both very sweet and vocal girls. They are a bonded pair and are rarely spotted without the other.


  • Mari

    I have calico and tortie cats. Noksu (nickname for her name Nokinenä literally translated as “sooth nose”. She got her name as her nose is like drawn with charcoal) is calico and she is mom of Pihlaja (meaning rowan tree in our home language) who is from Noksu’s last litter. They are from local rescue center. Noksu has beautiful tortie back with white “socks and collar” and her tummy has red, black and white dots. I can tell, she is a lot of easier to photograph than Pihla, as tortie colours are difficult catch nicely in camera. They are my sweeties with my brown tabby cat. If you want to see picture of them, you can check ig username pihla.noksu.nessa


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