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Calico Cat: Facts, Pictures, & Traits (With Pictures)

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

calico cat lying on pillow

If you’re looking for the most adorable cat out there, the Calico cat has to be at the top of the list. These adorable tricolor cats have a distinctive appearance that people love and are often willing to pay a premium for.

But what makes a Calico cat, and more importantly, what exactly is a Calico cat? We answer both those questions here before diving into everything else that you need to know and highlighting interesting facts about them.

What Is a Calico Cat?

You’ve likely heard of Calico cats before, but unless you’ve taken the time to really look into them, there’s a good chance that you don’t know exactly what one is. The term “calico” refers to the color pattern of the cat. It doesn’t have anything to do with their breed. In fact, just about any breed can be a Calico cat as long as the coloring matches up!

A Calico cat is a cat with a tri-color coat. The base color coat is white, and it can cover anywhere from 25% to 75% of the body. The remaining colors are black and orange, and they form patches over the cat’s coat.

calico cat sleeping
Image Credit: biglinker, Pixabay

Interesting Calico Cat Facts

Calico cats are more than a cat with a beautiful coat. Here, we highlighted five interesting facts about the Calico cat.

1. Only One in 3,000 Calico Cats Are Male

Cats have either an XX or an XY chromosome, and the colors for Calico cats are expressed exclusively in the X chromosome. One chromosome can carry the black trait, and the other can carry the orange trait, but they can’t carry both.

Since you need both traits to get a Calico cat, a male simply can’t do it! Of course, that leads to the obvious question of how can one in 3,000 Calico cats be male if their single X chromosome can’t carry both traits?

The truth is that they have an extra chromosome. Instead of an XY setup, they have an XXY setup. This enables them to carry both color genes, and the Y chromosome is there to make them male!

calico cat_paki74_PIxabay
Image Credit: paki74, PIxabay

2. Male Calicos Are Sterile

Due to the extra chromosome they carry, just about every male Calico cat out there is sterile. It’s a shame because they could help create more Calico cats, but that’s simply not how it works!

3. You Can’t Breed Just Calico Cats

It’s simply impossible to breed Calico cats exclusively. To do that, you would need a male Calico cat, which is extremely rare, and the ones that are around can’t breed!

While breeding a Calico cat is more likely to produce another Calico, there are no guarantees. It’s why you should be extremely skeptical and concerned if a breeder claims that they’re a Calico cat breeder.

4. Other Countries Have Different Names for Them

While Americans almost exclusively refer to these felines as Calico cats, other countries have different names for them. Most of the world calls them “tortoiseshell and white” or “brindle” or simply “tricolor.”

calico cat_Del Green_Pixabay
Image By: Del Green, Pixabay

5. They Are the State Cat of Maryland

In October 2001, the world needed some good news, so Maryland designated the Calico cat as their official state cat. It doesn’t mean anything special, but they’re still an adorable state cat.


The Calico cat might not be a specific breed, but that hasn’t stopped them from worming their way into everyone’s hearts. They’re extremely cute cats, and the fact that they’re not the easiest to come across makes them all the more desirable!

Featured Image Credit: cottonbro, Pexels

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