Calico cats are some of the most beautiful cats in the world. Calico does not refer to a specific breed of cat, but instead to a color pattern. Calicos are between 25-75% white with a mix of orange and black. These colors may be lighter or darker on some cats than others, but all three — white, black, and orange — must be present for the cat to be considered a Calico.
Calico markings are a happy accident of genetics; breeders cannot specifically aim for a litter of Calicos. Some of the breeds with standards that allow for calico coloration include American Shorthair, Turkish Van, Maine Coon, and Japanese Bobtail.
The 6 Types of Calico Cats
The Traditional Calico is a tri-color cat, with white, black, and orange patches. They are also called Tortie-and-White cats, since they look similar to a Tortoise shell, except white. They typically have white faces, chests, and legs. Calicos usually have black or orange foreheads, ears, and backs. Their legs may be either white or colored. Their spots may be more one color than the other, but they must have some combination of the two.
2. Dilute Calico
Dilute Calicos are much like other Calicos, but with diluted colors. Rather than the black patches of a regular Calico, theirs can vary from smoke to blue. Instead of orange spots, they have tan or cream-colored ones. In some countries, Dilute Calicos are referred to as Clouded Tigers. These faded colors are due to a recessive gene; both parents must possess the gene to produce a Dilute Calico. Since it’s a recessive gene, however, one or both parents may not actually be a Dilute Calico themselves.
3. Patched Tabby
Calico cats may also display Tabby characteristics. Usually, this presents as an M-shaped marking on their foreheads. A Calico may also have stripes in the brown and black patches on their backs, sides, legs, and tails. Patched Tabbies often have white paws and can be either longhaired or shorthaired.
4. Male Calicos
Male Calicos are exceedingly rare. Sex and color are both determined by the X chromosome, so Calicos are typically female. All male Calicos have XXY chromosomes, a genetic rarity called Klinefelter Syndrome. This causes males to be sterile, and they may possibly carry other genetic abnormalities that can shorten their lives.
5. Shorthaired Calicos
The most common breed of Shorthaired Calico is the Domestic Shorthair. Domestic Shorthair is the official name for the average house cat. These cats of mixed or unknown ancestry account for at least 90% of the cats in America. Despite their uncertain lineage, Calico Domestic Shorthairs can be entered into cat shows that have “Household Pet” divisions.
6. Longhaired Calicos
Most Longhaired Calicos you’ll see are Maine Coons. This is simply because Maine Coons, or American Forest Cats, are the most popular longhaired cats. They’re known for their fluffy coats, squirrel-like tails, and sweet personalities. Calicos in general have gentle, loving temperaments, but Calico Maine Coons are even more affectionate and friendly than others.
Despite the diversity in their markings and breeds, one thing all Calicos have in common is a warm personality. Calicos have a reputation for being sweet and friendly. Whether you’re selecting a pedigreed show cat or making friends with a stray in an alley, you’ll usually find that Calicos are among the most pleasant of cats.
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