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16 Surprising Calico Cat Facts

Ed Malaker

By Ed Malaker

Calico cat lying down on a beach towel

Cats make wonderful pets, and their fur can have many different colors and patterns. They can be a solid color, bi-color, or even tri-color. This is called calico, and it can be quite rare. If you are thinking about getting a calico cat but would like to know more about them, keep reading for facts that you might not have heard before!


The 16 Surprising Facts About Calico Cats

1. Calico Cats Have Complex Genetics

Calico cat coat patterns result from complicated genetics, with three distinct colors: white, black, and red. The interplay of these colors creates a mosaic-like appearance.

2. Calico Is Not a Breed

While you may hear many people referring to a cat as a calico cat, they are not referring to the breed but to the specific tri-color (red, black, and white) pattern that can occur across many different breeds. The black can be black, gray, or even a combination of these colors, and the same goes for red. It often appears as a light or dark shade of orange.

old calico cat
Image by: Sonja-Kalee, Pixabay

3. Unique Genes Make Calico Cats a Colorful Puzzle

Calico cats have a fascinating genetic makeup. Their distinctive tri-color pattern is the result of a combination of genes that determine coat color when most cats only have one gene, making them a marvel in the feline world.

4. Calico Cats Are Almost Always Female

Calico cats are almost always female due to the genes responsible for their distinctive coat pattern. The genes for color are on the X chromosome and will determine if the fur is red or black. Only females have two X chromosomes, both of which are needed to produce the tri-colored pattern.

5. Male Calico Cats Do Exist

Male calico cats are exceptionally rare, occurring in approximately one in 3,000 calico felines. These cats have an extra X chromosome, making them unique.

calico ragdoll looking up
Image by: Bianka Kovacs, Shutterstock

6. Calico Cats Have Their Roots in the Wild

The calico coloration is not limited to domestic cats and can occur in the wild as long as the genes for the red and black colors are present. The third color, white, can occur regardless of genes and can appear in any cat. Wild felines that can be calico include bobcats and cheetahs.

7. Calico Cats Are Lucky in Japanese Culture

In Japan, calico cats are symbols of good luck and fortune. The popular Maneki-neko figurine often features the tri-color pattern of the calico cat.

8. Calico Cats Are Lucky in the United States

In the United States, some people regard calico cats as symbols of good luck and positivity. Like in Japan, they believe that having a calico cat in their home will bring good fortune.

calico cat sitting outdoor
Image by: Karen Kaspar, Shutterstock

9. Calico Cats Can Change Color With Age

Some calico cats’ coat colors can change as they age. Vibrant colors may mellow or even gray over time, creating an evolving appearance over the cat’s lifetime.

10. Calico Cats Have Diverse Temperaments

Calico cats are known for their diverse personalities, often being independent, affectionate, and playful, which is why they are beloved pets. However, do note that the genes for color are not related to temperament, and your cat will have a personality that’s unique to them.

11. Calico Cats Have Various Roles in Folklore

Calico cats have been featured in folklore and superstitions worldwide, from Ireland’s belief in their ability to cure warts to various tales of their mystical qualities. Some practitioners of Wicca, a modern pagan witchcraft religion, believe that calico cats are associated with protection and positive energy.

calico turkish angora
Image by: Burhan Oral GUDU, Shutterstock

12. Calico Cats Have Been Featured in Art and Culture

Calico cats have left their mark on art and culture. Their vibrant and intricate coat patterns have inspired artists, writers, and creators throughout history, making them popular subjects in various forms of artistic expression.

13. Calico Cats Can Be Found in Fashion and Design

The beautiful coloration of calico cats has found its way into the world of fashion and design. Clothing, accessories, and even interior décor often incorporate calico-inspired patterns.

14. Calico Cats Can Work as Therapy Animals

Calico cats are often affectionate and gentle, which makes them excellent therapy animals. Their soothing presence and vibrant appearance can provide comfort to those in need.

calico cat sleeping
Image by: biglinker, Pixabay

15. Calico Cats Are Similar to Tortoiseshell Cats

Calico cats and tortoiseshell cats both require two X chromosomes to produce the red/orange color along with the black color. However, calico cats add the third, white color to the mix, whereas tortoiseshell cats are bi-colored and blend only red and black.

16. The Calico Cat Is the State Cat of Maryland

In 2001, Maryland designated the calico cat as its state cat. Other states with official cats include Maine, with the Maine Coon, and Massachusetts, with the tabby cat, which is also not a unique breed but a coat pattern.



There are many interesting facts about calico cats, and you would be lucky to have one, as they are fairly rare, especially a male one, which only occurs in about one in 3,000 calico cats. These felines can look quite impressive with their blend of colors and are usually friendly and playful, which can make them ideal therapy animals. However, a calico cat is not a unique breed, and almost any female cat can be calico if she has the red color on one X chromosome and the black color on the other.

Featured Image Credit: Basje3990, Pixabay

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