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The Calico Cat

Calic cat closeupPortrait of a Calico Cat

The calico cat is not a breed but a color pattern that may occur in almost any type of domestic cat. 

The word “calico” describes the color pattern of a white cat with orange(or red or reddish-brown), and black (or grey or blue) patches on the coat. 

Since “calico” is a color and not a breed, these cats may be large, small, long-haired, short-haired and even hairless, if the cat happens to be one of the breeds with any of these characteristics. 

Three distinct colors must be present for a cat to be considered a calico.

Because color is related to the x chromosome, well over 95% of cats with this color pattern turn out to be female. 

Females have two x chromosomes, so in this case, one x chromosome will have the orange gene and the other will have the black. 

Then a seperate gene for piebald patches which is not related to the sex of the cat, creates the white areas to make -viola! a calico! 

Male calico cats actually have a rare condition called Klinefelter’s syndrome, which alters the chromosomes, and, unfortunately, males with this coat pattern may have additional genetic changes besides color that could affect their health. 

The color “tortoiseshell”, which is the mix of the red, orange or brownish color and black, without the white, or with only a tiny amount of white, is also predominately seen on female cats. 

Curiously, most calico cats, as it turns out, due tend to have similar personalities no matter the breed.

the beckoning cat

These special cats have existed for centuries and the coat color is considered to be quite lucky in many countries, particularly Japan.

The color is referred to as “Mi-ke”, and is regularly seen on the national cat of Japan, the Japanese bobtail. The famous “Beckoning Cat” is almost always portrayed as being calico in color. 

Playing a big part in the ancient folklore and history of many cultures, Calico cats are always seen as peaceful, hopeful and lucky kitties.


Calico cat descriptive wordsHow Do You Describe a Calico Cat?

Calico Cat-Stats


Owners of both calicos and tortoiseshell cats believe that there is more than just the color of their cat that is special. 

Tortoiseshell owners describe the “tortitude” they think is unique to that color. Tortitude is a combination of devotion, spirit and a little bit of hot-temper.

Calico owners often say the colorful coat is just the icing on the cake of a very sweet and endearing personality. 

Sometimes described as “old souls”. Calico cats are notoriously warm-hearted, affectionate and wise. 

One famous calico rescued her entire person and animal family from a burning house by scratching on each bedroom door. 

Another incredible mamma cat named Scarlett seen in the Scarlett hero catnews in 1996 returned to a burning shed five times to rescue each of her kittens. 

The kittens were unharmed, but the mother cat received terrible burns that cost her her eyelids and whiskers! 

Still, she happily cleaned and fussed over her kittens as hundreds of folks gathered to see her recovering in the animal hospital.  - Amazing!

Calico cat with Blue EyesCalico cat with Blue Eyes
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Calico KittenCalico Kitten!

Calico kittens are often very active and are notorious for literally “bouncing off the walls”. Watching them is continually entertaining. 

They are so bold and busy they may put themselves in precarious situations until they learn their own limitations. 

Kitten-proofing is definitely recommended for anyone considering adopting or purchasing any kitten. 

High furniture should be off limits, caution should be taken when holding these wriggly little youngsters, particularly when carrying them across hard wood or tile floors, and spaces under counters and doors should be blocked off as they have a very strong urge to explore.

In Appearance,  the Calico kitten is basically a miniature adult. They tend to grow at an average rate and reach mature height at about 6 months, filling out and maturing to full size and weight at about one year old.  

Because they may be any of dozens of pure-bred cats there are many to choose from, and calico kittens are regularly available for adoption at local shelters..

Calico MommyCalico Mommy

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Just like with a calico cat, the name of a tortoiseshell cat refers to the cats color, not a breed. The color “tortoiseshell” is a marbelized black and brown (orange/red).  Like the young lady in the tree…tortoiseshell cat

True tortoiseshell cats have no white markings, and no white in the body color at all.

A mostly tortie cat with white “points” or white on the nose, chest and/or feetortoiseshell and white catt is considered a calico because there are three distinct colors, but is often refferred to as “tortoiseshell and white”. 

You may also find situations where the black or orange sections have tiger or tabby characteristics like this. Tigcalico-tabbyer and tabby coloration is very common and the same rule applies as long as there are at least three distinct colors it’s a calico

dilute calico cat color
And “Dilute” calicos have the three colors required in a sort of pastel tone like the earnest little person at right….

“Classic” Calico cats have lots of white, along with the black and brown or orange hues, and are often equal parts of the three colors. Classics don’t always have white on the back and torso area, but the white on the points will extend well up the thighs and around the neck and belly etc…. or almost all white with just some black and tan/orange/brown …

calico collage

Calico CatsBeautiful Calico Cat


Calicos and other colored kittens can be in the same litter
  • A cat must have three distinct colors present in order to be a “calico”
  • Those colors are:
  • 1-White
  • 2-Black,grey or blue
  • 3-Red orange or peach or brown
  • Sometimes the gradiance of the colors makes it seem like these cats have maybe 5 or 6 colors all together! But at least 3 is a must! 
  • Well over 95% of all calico cats are females!
  • They are considered to be very good luck
  • They are highly revered in Japan
  • The famous “Beckoning Cat” is usually always a calico color, except when it has been made out of gold or jade


Cornish Rex calico catCornish Rex calico cat

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Next cat from A to Z is the Chartreux  

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