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What Is the State Cat of Maryland? Interesting Facts & FAQ

Ed Malaker

By Ed Malaker

State symbols can be great fun to explore, and most of us know about state birds, flowers, trees, and flags. However, few people know that some states have a designated state cat. For example, Maryland has chosen the calico cat as its cat because represents the state’s pride, uniqueness, independence, and individualism. Keep reading as we discuss calico cats and when the Free State chose it and why.

What Is a Calico Cat?

A calico cat is a domestic feline with white, black, and orange or red fur patches. The calico pattern can occur in most cat breeds and results from a genetic occurrence that enables the cat to produce three colors. Almost all calico cats are female because the genes that produce red and black fur are on the X chromosome. Males only have one X chromosome, so they will usually be black or red, while females have two X chromosomes, so they can produce both the red and black colors needed for the calico pattern. Calico cats are also known by other names, like tricolor or tortoiseshell and white. The Japanese consider this cat as a symbol of good luck, referring to them as a “Beckoning Cat.”

old calico cat
Image Credit: Kristi Blokhin, Shutterstock

Why Did Maryland Choose the Calico Cat as the State Cat?

Maryland became the first state to choose an official cat on October 1, 2001. According to the Maryland General Assembly’s official website 1, the calico cat represents the state’s pride and uniqueness and reflects the independence and individualism of the Maryland people.

The colors of the calico cat also have a symbolic meaning. Black and gold represent the state’s official colors, while white represents the Chesapeake Bay and the state’s nickname, the Free State. Additionally, Maryland is the birthplace of genetic research and home to the first gene mapping of any species, so it makes sense that it chose the calico cat, whose unique coat involves the X chromosomes.

What Makes Maryland a Great State for Calico Cats?

Maryland’s diverse landscape provides many natural habitats for cats, including the Atlantic Ocean, the Appalachian Mountains, and the Chesapeake Bay. The Maryland people also have a long history of concerns over animal welfare and have had several animal protection laws in place since the 1800s. The calico cat is a popular pet among many residents, and you can frequently find them in the state’s animal shelters.

woman bonding with calico cat
Image Credit: Kristi Blokhin, Shutterstock

Tips and Tricks for Caring for a Calico Cat

  • Provide your calico cat with a balanced diet that has the essential nutrients that they need to stay healthy. If you aren’t sure of the best food, ask your vet for recommendations.
  • Regular grooming can help keep shedding down, limit hairballs, and prevent mats and tangles from forming in the coat. Most experts recommend brushing your cat at least once per week and more frequently when they start to shed in spring and fall.
  • Provide your calico cat with plenty of opportunities to play and exercise, such as by giving them toys and scratching posts that will keep them active and engaged. This will provide mental stimulation, which will help prevent them from misbehaving. It can also help them maintain an ideal weight, so they don’t develop the many health problems linked to obesity, like cardiovascular issues and diabetes.
  • Take your calico cat to the vet for annual checkups, vaccinations, and preventative treatment to help keep them healthy and to learn about any problems sooner. Getting a cat spayed or neutered can also prevent unwanted pregnancies and certain health issues that can occur later in life.
  • Due to their genetics, calico cats might be more prone to bladder and urinary tract infections. Watch for clinical signs like frequent urination and blood in the urine so you can quickly get medical attention for your cat if needed.
  • Cats prefer a stable and secure environment, so providing them with a safe and comfortable living space with plenty of hiding spaces and sleeping areas will help them feel more comfortable. Ensure that there is access to food and water, and keep any toxic items locked away tightly, as cats can be quite curious and clever.


The calico cat became the state cat of Maryland on October 1, 2001. They were chosen due to being a unique and beautiful animal with a distinct coat pattern that sets them apart from other cats. The people who live in the Free State feel that the calico cat reflects the state’s pride in its individuality and independence. They also highlight the state’s history of animal welfare and its diverse landscape, which provides a natural habitat for many animals, including the calico cat. Additionally, the choice reflects the state’s work with genetics, and the calico colors represent the state colors and motto.

See also: What Is the State Cat of Massachusetts? History & Significance

Featured Image Credit: Svetlbel, Pixabay

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