Facts About Calico Cats

The cats calico or tortoiseshell are certainly captivating, but are they really so different from other cats? More importantly, does its lifespan differ from the average cat’s? The answer to that question is yes and negative, and everything relies upon whether a calico is male or female.

As tricolor cats we have the calico cat , this beautiful feline has the basic colors that all domestic cats generally have, which are: orange, black and white.

About calico cats: In calicos, the colors are shown in the form of spots that are unique for each cat, that is, they do not repeat themselves.

Throughout history, the hawksbill cat and the calico (or tricolor) have been very special animals. In some countries, they are considered symbols of good luck, possibly because they are not very common. Let’s find out why they are called “tricolor”, how genetics influence colors, and why they are associated with females.

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What is a calico cat?

Calico doesn’t depict a specific type of feline, yet rather a specific feline example that incorporates three tones: white, cream, and gray, or the more recognized combination of white, orange, and black. This coveted color scheme can appear on several cat breeds: American shorthair, British shorthair, Manx, Japanese bobtail, Maine coon, Persian, and more.

Where does the name calico come from?

Actually, the term calico cat is a description that you will hear most in the US Why? Calico is actually a sort of surface, yet when it came to the United States during the 1780s, Americans used the term calico to imply printed arrangement.

Calico felines are likewise called the dark-striped cat, tricolor, tobi make (Japanese for ‘triple hide’), and lapses at (Dutch for ‘feline patches’). Weakened calico felines with lighter shading are once in a while called calimanco or blurred tiger. Calicos can also be called pica, which can mean any animal with a white base and pigmented spots.

What makes male calicos so rare?

It has to do with genetics. Coat color in cats is usually a sex-linked trait. In other words, color is encoded on certain chromosomes. Both male and female cats can be a mutant gene orange or black because the gene that controls those colors is on the X chromosome.

And while females can have both colors, because they have two X chromosomes, males, which have an X chromosome and a Y chromosome, can only have one or the other unless they have a genetic abnormality in which three chromosomes are present, including two X.

This is the reason why the vast majority of calico, tortoiseshell, and tabby cats are female. The difference between these three is that calico cats have large, distinctive markings on the white fur, while tortoiseshell cats have mottled tricolor fur, and tabby cats are striped with M-shaped markings on the forehead.

Why are they almost all female?

If you want to know the reason why most calico cats are female, you must first know about their genes. When referring to the black color of cats’ fur, or the like (brown, chocolate, and lilac), these will depend on the genotypic expression or B gene.

In the case of felines with mottled white pigments, it is specifically related to the expression of the S gene, when this gene is present and active, the feline will be born with white spots in its fur.

In this regard, the gene that determines the orange color of the coat and its variants (cream, cinnamon, brown, etc.) is closely related to gene X. This gene is known as “O”, from the word “ orange ”which means orange in English, and can be expressed in two different ways:

  • O (orange): makes the original black pigment become orange pigment.
  • o (not orange): allows the black color or its variants to appear naturally, that is, they do not change and manifest as they are.

Referring to females, whether they are felines or not, they have two chromosomes (XX), contrary to the case of males whose chromosomes are (XY), that is why taking the case of males, they can only have one Orange gene, it can be the O gene (orange) or the o gene (not orange), which will determine whether or not that color will appear in its coat.

However, in the case of females, they can inherit two genes to have the color orange, in this way, they can have three different options:

  • OO: orange fur.
  • Oo: non-orange fur. This can be white, black, and even a mixture of black and white.
  • Oo: orange fur and non-orange fur. When this happens, the cat may be born having a bicolor or tricolor color pattern, depending on the case that her genes show.

Why do male calicos have shorter lives?

To understand the reason why calico guys, have a more limited life expectancy, it is vital to investigate their remarkable chromosome cosmetics.

Why are calico males rare?

Male calicos are very rare because the genetics that creates the calico color pattern is made on a cat’s X chromosome. According to an article distributed in Vetstreet, a feline should have two X chromosomes (XX) to have the calico shading design.

Females naturally have XX chromosomes, so it’s no surprise that most calico cats are female. On the other hand, male cats naturally have XY chromosomes, so for a male to be a calico, he has to have an extra X chromosome (XXY).

Effects of Klinefelter syndrome

Unfortunately, the extra X chromosome can affect the health and vitality of a male calico. According to a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) Pub Med website, a condition called Klinefelter syndrome is associated with men who have an extra X chromosome.

Another study published in the Oxford Journal supports the NCBI study, stating that male calicos tend to have shorter lives due to Klinefelter syndrome. However, there are currently no statistics available showing how short their lives could be.

Health threats associated with the syndrome include:

  • Cognitive impairments, which can lead to disorientation and behavior problems.
  • Insulin opposition, which can prompt diabetes.
  • Dyslipidemia, a disorder that interferes with lipoprotein metabolism.
  • Expanded muscle to fat ratio mass, which can prompt coronary illness, diabetes, and different conditions.
  • Reduced bone mineral content, which can lead to an increased risk of bone fractures

What is the difference between a tortoiseshell cat and a calico cat?

Turtle shells (or turtles) have a comparative tone to calicos in that they likewise contain dark and orange in their hide, yet the principle contrast is that rather than a basic white base, turtle shells have a base coat. black, Dr. Gibbons of Just Cats Veterinary Hospital in Stamford, Connecticut, clarifies. ‘Also, instead of distinctive dots of orange and white, tortoise shells are a more uniform mix of black and orange, sometimes with white mixed in.

What is its origin? And the legend?

For hundreds of years, it has been known about a legend that has this species as its protagonist. It tells us that, inside a monastery in Tibet, there were continuous discussions between the monks of the monastery, one of which occurred during the 12th century.

This discussion was due to the fact that they could not agree on their theological beliefs. This is why they all decided to fast for a period of several days. Once the fast was over, they noticed that an agreement had not yet been reached, but it was there that they noticed the presence of a calico cat with her tricolor kittens, which were at the door of the monastery.

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These monks decided to take the mother with her offspring and adopt them, as they thought it would be a kind of offering. From that moment on, they forgot about the problems that made them argue and focused solely on caring for these felines.

One of these monks was that, after a long reflection on the good that these cats were doing to the monastery by adopting them, he commented to his companions that the peculiar tricolor pattern of the fur of the felines actually had a divine meaning.

According to his theory, the black and white of the fur represented yin and yang, a significant sign of the balance of two opposing parts. The color orange was the representation of the earth, the place where all human beings live.

This would mean that the union of these three colors was a clear sign that human beings could be tolerant of different opinions and differences with other humans. instead of arguing about these differences, everyone could put their ideas together in order to create a place full of harmony.

In addition to this, when they noticed that all the offspring were also female, they thought that this was a clear sign that females can give life. This gave them the assurance that there was a clear sign of change, regeneration.

Due to this significant legend, for many years it has been considered that calico cats are an unequivocal sign of harmony and tolerance in homes since these cats represent precisely that spirit due to their three colors.

Caring for a calico cat

  • They do not need special care of their coat, since it is not excessively long.
  • They do not need constant baths, since having a short or medium coat, does not tend to get dirty very often
  • It will require the attention that is given to common cats or depending on their breed.

10 curiosities of the Calico cats

  1. Each of these cats is unique and does not repeat itself.
  2. They are affectionate cats and love to give and receive love.
  3. They are not ordinary cats, as they have a special genetic order that makes them unique.
  4. Because they are mostly female, they are more difficult to be adopted.
  5. They are considered as a good luck charm.
  6. They are so beautiful and special that they are perfect for modeling.
  7. There are them for all tastes, from the feline with darker colors to the lighter ones where the presence of white is predominant.
  8. There are almost no errors when it comes to knowing their sex and being able to choose their name because they are mostly female.
  9. They are politically important because in 2001 they were named as the official emblem of Maryland, United States.
  10. Due to their colors and their tricolor pattern, these cats are hardly adopted, which is why, if you adopt one, or plan to do so, you will be helping these beautiful felines to have a home full of love.

10 fun facts about cheetah cats

  • Women dominate– “Calico cats‘ novel hereditary qualities that decide coat shading implies that 99.9% of calico felines are female.


  • Almost all men leopard and s are sterile– male cheetah usually has Klinefelter syndrome (XXY chromosomal composition), a genetic disease that causes infertility, among many other health problems.


  • Represent a stateBecause of their color, calico cats were declared Maryland state cats in 2001. A dark-striped cat’s hide tones are a blend of white, dark, and orange, similar tones as the quills of the Baltimore Oriole., which is the Maryland State Bird. Only two other states have state cats!


  • Waving CatThe famous waving cat character is based on a tabby cat.


  • Different namesCheetah cats have different names in different cultures. For example, they are called lapses in the Netherlands, which means fixed feline, and mike in Japan, which means triple skin.


  • Talisman –Given their rarity, cheetah cats are known as lucky charms and signs of good luck throughout the world. People also believe that tabby cats bring good luck to the homes of the families who adopt them. Another curious fact is that they are sometimes called cash cats in the United States. During the 1870s, dark-striped felines were pronounced an authority image of fortune in Japan.


  • Calico is brave –A tabby cat saved the closure of the train station in Japan. In 2007, the Kinokawa train station was about to close due to budget problems. As a last resort, the city sent a local tabby to head to the station, where it would greet passengers as they passed. The tabby cat became a celebrity, causing a 17% increase in traffic at the station. The tabby lucky charm is really true.


  • Calico is everywhereConsidering how rare cheetah cats are, they really have spread all over the world. Cheetah cats migrating along routes in Europe and North Africa have been tracked. Although they originated in Egypt, they have also been found in cities along the Mediterranean, France, Italy, and Spain.

  • You can’t create themYou can’t raise a tabby cat because they happen by chance. This chance fact explains why they are so rare and considered a lucky charm.


  • They Cure Warts – Although it is just a rumor, it is often believed that cheetah cats can cure warts. Rubbing warts on a tabby’s tail in May can cure it. We’re not sure if this is true, but we’re sure cats probably don’t like it!

Personality and behavior

Cheetah cats are not a breed in and of themselves, so we cannot attribute breed-specific personality or behavior traits to them. Like many cats, tabby cats will develop their unique personalities based on many factors, such as life experiences.

Since tabby cats are so different from one another, getting one is particularly exciting. You can get a calm and peaceful cat who will enjoy being with you and being your faithful companion, but you can also achieve the opposite: an indifferent, high-maintenance cat with an attitude.

Mysterious genetics

Cheetah cat genetics are fascinating and have long been the subject of scientific research. In fact, we could get into the weeds of this genetics, but your eyes can get glassy. So let’s keep this as short and simple as possible.

The black and orange spots on the fur that characterize these cats are the result of a genetic phenomenon called “X chromosome inactivation”.

In cats, the gene that determines hair color is located on the X chromosome. Almost all tabby cats are female, so they have two X chromosomes. Rare tabby cats have one X chromosome and one Y chromosome.

In addition to determining the color of a cat’s coat, X chromosomes have several genes that code for proteins necessary for survival. In women with two X chromosomes, this double dose of “survival” genes can be toxic. To make up for this double dose, one of the X chromosomes is randomly inactivated when the kittens are just a tiny ball of cells in the mother’s womb.

Therefore, if the X chromosome that carries the gene for white hair at a specific point in the body is inactivated, orange hair can grow there (and vice versa). Since deactivated chromosomes are picked arbitrarily, the mix of hiding tones in dark-striped felines is additionally arbitrary and extraordinary to every dark-striped feline.

Health and life

The average lifespan of cheetah cats is 12 to 16 years. Is this more or less than the average life expectancy of most cat breeds?

Yes and no. It depends on whether the tabby cat is male or female.

Male cheetahs tend to live less than females due to a genetic condition called Klinefelter syndrome. This condition is the presence of two X chromosomes and one Y chromosome.

Klinefelter syndrome can lead to several health problems, such as an increased risk of broken bones, joint pain, and diabetes. These health problems can reduce the life expectancy of male cheetahs.

Regardless of whether your tabby cat is male or female, you can help it have a good quality of life by providing a good shelter, feeding it a nutritious diet, and providing quality veterinary care with the help of a health plan. pet health insurance.

What breeds of cats can be calicos?

According to Dr. Gibbons, the following breeds can have calico colorations:

  1. Domestic short hair
  2. National long hair
  3. American Shorthair
  4. Maine Coon
  5. lost
  6. Exotic short hair
  7. British Shorthair
  8. American curl
  9. Japanese bobtail
  10. Norwegian forest cat
  11. Turkish van
  12. Turkish Angora
  13. Munchkin

Helping calicos and all cats live longer

Regardless of whether a calico is male or female, all cats can live longer, healthier lives if their owners provide them with proper care. This includes providing them with good shelter, feeding them a high-quality diet, and providing routine veterinary care, as well as specialized care for particular diseases and conditions. Think of your investment in caring for your cat as an investment in the relationship you both share.