How To Spot The Difference Between Calico and Tortie Cats March 22 2019, 5 Comments

Calico and tortoiseshell cats are best known for their beautiful multicolored coats - and their “tortitude”. And to the untrained eye, these gorgeous mosaic-furred felines can be easily confused for one another.

Both “calico” and “tortoiseshell” are terms that refer to the color and pattern of a cat’s coat and do not refer to the cat’s breed. So a domestic shorthair cat can be a calico just as much as a Japanese Bobtail can be a calico cat!

So, how can you spot the difference between a calico cat and a tortoiseshell cat? Read on!

Tortoiseshell Cats

Tortoiseshell Cats, often called “torties” for short, have a combination of two colors, normally black and orange. These colors can come in various shades, from soft grey to brown, ginger, cream, amber, red, and cinnamon - called dilute torties. A dilute tortie may have blue and cream fur instead of black and orange. You may have heard the term “torbie” being tossed around, too. Torbie is short for “tortoiseshell tabby”,  and is a patched tabby, or one with brown tabby patterns instead of black fur.

 

Calico Cats

Calico cats are also referred to as “tricolor” or “tortie-and-white” - and sometimes even "piebald" cats! Why? Because calico cats have the same black and orange color as a tortoiseshell cat - but with white, too! This is the main difference between a calico cat and a tortoiseshell cat. Even a cat with mottled tortoiseshell patches will be considered a calico if she has significant amounts of white in her coloring.

Like torties, calico cats can also come in dilutes. 

This is just the surface of these unique, colorful kitties! Did you know that almost ALL calico and tortie cats are born female? Click here for more fascinating calico cat facts!