Just about every person who is interested in getting a cat or is just curious about cats will come across the wonderful calico cat at some point.
What Makes Calico Cats so Special?
Because calico cats are so mysterious and show a great deal of interesting characteristics and rich history. In this post we will tell you everything you need to know about this breed, along with 10 fun facts about calico cats.
Personality and Temperament
There are usually scientifically documented studies about the behavior and personality of each cat breed. Contrary to popular belief, calico cats are not a specific breed in their own right, but rather cats with a certain fur color pattern.
This is why we can’t actually tell how calico cats behave. Calico cats are very different from one another and engage in different behavior.
Documented behavior and personality of calico cats is therefore subjectively gauged by owner consensus, rather than scientific studies.
Given their mysterious behavior, getting a calico cat is particularly exciting. You could expect a laid-back, mellow type that will enjoy your comforting and portray loyalty, but you could also get the exact opposite: a cat with an attitude that can be a handful to take care of.
The genetics of Calico cats are quite fascinating, and have been the topic of serious scientific studies since the 1940s. The black and orange patches that characterize these cats are a result of the genetic phenomenon called “dosage compensation”.
Because almost all calico cats are female, they have two X-chromosomes. While males house one X and one Y chromosome, females have two X chromosomes.
X chromosomes, which have hundreds of genes coding them, are responsible for producing proteins necessary for survival. However, females can’t live with double the proteins produced by the X chromosome, and therefore need to compensate for the imbalance by shutting down one X chromosome.
In cats, the gene that dictates fur color is located on the X chromosome. Therefore, if a female shuts down the X chromosome carrying the gene for white fur in one particular spot of the body, the gene will produce orange fur in that spot instead (and visa versa).
Because the deactivated chromosomes are chosen randomly, the combination of fur colors in calico cats is also random and unique for every calico cat.
Health and Lifespan
The common question people ask is “how long can calico cats live?” The average lifespan of calico cats is 12-16 years. The question is if this is more or less than the average lifespan of cats for most cat breeds. The answer is yes and no. It depends if the calico cat is male or female.
How Rare Are Male Calico Cats?
Male Calico cats are pretty rare.They tend to live shorter lives than female calico cats because of their unique chromosomal characteristics.
The good news is that 99.9% of calico cats are female because of this unique genetic makeup. But put worries aside, because just like with any cat, a calico cat can live longer than average if provided the best health care.
Types of Calico Cats
There are 3 well known types of calico cats: Dilute, Tortoiseshell, and Patched Tabby. As we mentioned earlier, calicos are not a breed, but rather a color pattern. Each of these three calico cats differ in color. Dilute means that the colors are less intense, hence “dilute”.
However, the Tortoiseshell and Patched Tabby types do feature unique differences in color. Tortoiseshell cats have very little white coat, which usually appears as small spots on the face, chest or paws.
Ginger and black don’t appear in such distinct patches. Patched Tabby is a type of calico cat which has distinct tabby stripes, along with prominent ginger and black patches.
10 Things You Should Know About Calico Cats
- Females dominate– 99.9% of calico cats turn out to be females because of their special unique chromosomal makeup.
- 1 out of 3000 male born calicos is sterile– This happens because 99.9% of calico cats are females and male calicos are so rare, that 1 of 3000 male calico cats is born with Klinefelter’s syndrome. That means they are not only sterile, but unfortunately also carry a lot of other health problems.
- They represent a state – Because of their color, calico cats are declared The Official State Cat of Maryland. Fun fact is that only two other states have state cats. Authorities declared this because calico cat fur colors are a mixture of white, black and orange – the same as the Baltimore Orion.
- Beckoning cat -The famous Beckoning cat character is based on a calico cat.
- Different names – Calico cats have different names in different cultures. For example they are called “lapjeskat” in the Netherlands, which means “patched cat”, and “mi-ke” in Japan, which stands for “triple fur”.
- Lucky charm – Given their rarity, calico cats are known as lucky charms and signs of good luck around the world. People also believe that calico cats bring good fortune to the homes of families who adopt them. Another fun fact is that they are sometimes referred to as money cats in the United States. In the 1870’s, calico cats were declared an official symbol of fortune in Japan.
- They are brave – A calico cat saved Japan’s railway station from being closed down. This happened back in 2007, when Kinokawa train station was about to be closed due to budget issues. As a last resort, the town sent a local calico cat to be station master, where she would greet passengers as they passed by. As the calico cat became a celebrity, it drove a 17% increase in station traffic. The calico cat’s good luck charm is indeed true.
- They are everywhere – Considering how rare calico cats are, they have really spread around the world. Calico cats were traced migrating along the routes in Europe and Northern Africa. Even though they originated in Egypt, they were also found in cities along the Mediterranean, France, Italy, and Spain.
- You can not breed them– You can’t breed a calico cat because they only happen by chance. They are not a genetically engineered breed. That is why they are so rare and considered a lucky charm. They are also considered to be a little bit magical because of their three colors. It’s like three cats in one…by chance. Quite interesting, no?
- They cure warts – While it’s just a rumor, it’s often believed that calico cats can cure warts. Rubbing warts against the tail of a calico cat in May is supposed to cure it. We are not sure if this is true, but we are sure that the cats probably don’t enjoy it!
Happen to have a Calico cat? Know anyone that does?? Tell us all about it in a comment below!
Frequently Asked Questions
Are all calico cats female?
Yes, 99.9% of calico cats turn out to be females
Can calico cats be male?
Although this is very rare, male calico cats do exist. They most likely have a chromosomal aberration of two X chromosomes and one Y chromosome.
How long do calico cats live?
Calico cats that live indoors have an average lifespan of 11-16 years. Calico cats that live outdoors have a much lower average lifespan of 7-9 years
How rare are male calico cats?
According to a recent study by the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Missouri., only one in every of every 3000 calico cats is male