All About Calico Cats
Calico cats are an interesting cat that seem to lead to a lot of misunderstandings about them.
I wanted to talk about the myths that a lot of people seem to have about calico cats and debunk them.
I also want to share some fun facts about calico cats that many of you may not know.
In fact, there were a large number of things that came as a surprise even to me! So, sit back and enjoy!
What Are Calico Cats?
Calico cats are domestic cats that are comprised of a garden of cat colors, either vibrant orange, white and black, or gray coloring. In feline genetics, there is also a type known as “dilute calico.”
Diluted calicos have more muted tones of these colors hence where the dilution comes from.
The various patterns of the calico patches are almost as ubiquitous as snowflakes. You’ll never see two exactly alike.
Calico cats are one of the most colorful cats in the domestic cat family. They are rivaled only by tortoiseshell cats, who are genetically very similar.
Myths About Calico Cats
They are a Cat Breed
This is the biggest myth that comes to Calico cats.
Everyone describes them as a cat breed, when in fact, they are not.
They are a coloring of the cat’s coating. The term “calico” refers to a tri-color pattern of the cat’s coat that can occur in almost any domestic feline.
And since Calico is a color instead of a breed, there can be a large range of cat breeds and cat sizes with this coloring. For a cat to be considered a calico, three distinct colors must be present.
Calicos are predominately white with patches of orange and black but other colors are known to be present depending on the cat.
Are Calico Cats The Same as Tortoiseshell Cats?
Calico cats are sometimes confused with tortoiseshell cats.
Both terms refer to coat colors and patterns rather than breed, but there are several differences.
Both cats have orange and black coloring, but calicos also have large patches of white.
When people ask me the difference behind calico and Tortoiseshell I usually explain as this.
They are both multicolored.
Calico have a white base color, and tortoiseshell have a black base color. This is not an exact representation, but it usually helps distinct one from the other.
The most common difference is that tortoiseshell colors (red and black) are interwoven throughout the coat, where calico cats have distinctive patches of solid color. Sometimes the distinction is even more blurred, when a calico may have some woven patches intermingled with the solid areas, as depicted in the first photo. Such cats are often called “calitorts”…or could they be “torticals?”
What is the Personality of a Calico?
Calico Cats Are Known For Having a Bad Attitude
Calicoes share that personality trait of tortoiseshell cats commonly described as “tortitude.” They are sassy, spunky and very independent.
On the other hand, calicoes are sweet, loving, and loyal cats. If you hunger for unconditional love, a calico cat will willingly and enthusiastically fulfill that need.
The sassy personality could not be farther from an incorrect statement. Mostly because cat coloring has nothing to do with their personality.
Personalities are based from the cat breeds and individual cat.
And my tortie doesn’t know how to have “tortitude”. She is literally the sweetest cat, and with four cats I am not just saying that.
You could have a Norwegian Forest Cat with calico coating who is the sweetest love muffin you have ever met. On the opposite, you could have a calico cat who does not do well with other cats and needs to be left alone.
I always have a hard time when people categories things as having a bad attitude.
Most of the time, the cat doesn’t have a bad attitude. It may have a hard past, not do well with certain circumstances, or be taunted.
For example, if you have a rescue cat that was harmed by humans, they will be un-trusting.
No surprise there.
Many people consider them to have a bad attitude, or not like them. The same goes for dogs, other cats, and kids.
Some cats do better alone, or with one and not the other. Some people are cat people, not dog people and vice versa.
The same is true for cats.
Fun Facts About Calico Cats
Now that the three biggest myths and misconceptions I always hear about calicos are finished, let’s move onto the fun part. Let’s talk about some fun facts about Calico cats.
Are Most Calico Cats Female?
This is one of my favorites, and probably the most well known fact about Calico cats. Most of them are females. Male Calico cats are rare, but not impossible. There is a statistic that approximately one in 3,000 calico cats is male.
So if you have a male calico cat, you have a very special rare cat.
Maneki Neko is a Calico
What is Maneki Neko? I asked the same question. Maneki Neko is a popular Japanese cat statue that’s believed to bring good luck and good fortune. This cute ceramic cat with one raised paw is frequently found at the entrance of Japanese and Chinese restaurants, and other places of business.
So if you see that happy cat at a restaurant just swinging their arm back and forth, you can now share the fun fact that that cat is actually a calico coloring.
Calico Cat Personality
Calico cats aren’t known to have a specific personality.
Often their personality will be decided by their breed.
You can have a calico Maine coon cat that is very adventorous and a calico Persian cat that is very calm. There is no true personality for calico cats, they will vary in most cats.
How long does a calico live?
Again, that answer is hard because it will depend on the breed.
Calico cat’s lifespan does not differ from other colorings in their breed.
If the maine coon cat breed averages 17 years old, then a calico cat of that breed will average 17 years of age as well.
There different types of calico cats
What does a calico cat look like?
When I described the different types of Calico cats, I did a fairly high level explanation of their coloring.
But in that there are three different types of Calico coloring and each one is a little different from the other.
- A standard calico usually has a white coat with large spots of orange and black.
- A diluted calico cat, as mentioned above, has lighter colorations that result in white coats with large spots of smoky gray and an almost strawberry-blonde color.
- A ‘calibby’ is a mix of a calico and a tabby cat, where the calico patches of orange and black have the tabby striped or spotted markings.
The name Calico comes from a Term to Describe Fabric
Calico is actually a type of fabric, but when it came to the United States in the 1780s, Americans used the term calico to refer to printed design.
Calico cats are also called brindle, tricolor, tobi mi-ke (Japanese for ‘triple fur’) and lapjeskat (Dutch for ‘patches cat’).
Diluted calico cats with lighter coloration are sometimes called calimanco or clouded tiger.
Calicos may also be referred to as piebald, which can mean any animal with a white base and pigmented spots.
If you go to another country, you will probably hear them refer to Calicos as another name but at the end of the day, they all mean the same thing.
What Breeds Can Calico Cats Be?
If calico is not a breed (which it is), then what breeds can have calico cats?
Honestly, the list is so large is it actually easier to list breeds that calicos don’t appear in.
Calicoes are not allowed in pointed breeds, such as the Siamese or Himalayan, nor those which allow only solid colors, such as the Bombay and the Russian Blue. (Pretty obvious since Bombays are black and Russian blues are…well blue gray).
You’ll find colorful calico cats in the Persian, Manx, Maine Coon, and Scottish Fold breeds, to name a few.
Some breed standards even allow tabby patches in their calicoes. Calico is the most popular color pattern in Japanese Bobtails.
Are Calico Cats Rare?
Calico cats are a very popular cat coloring.
They are not a cat breed, and not specific to one cat breed.
Many different breeds can produce the beautiful calico cat coloring.
While there are a lot of misconceptions about this coloring, a lot of them can be dunked.
And remember, don’t judge a book by its cover. And in the case, don’t judge a cat by its coloring.
Want to learn more about your favorite cat breed but don’t see it here yet? Send me a message! Let’s learn about them together!