Calico cats are beautiful cats that most of us will have come across at some point in our lives.
They are distinct and will always catch your eye, and most of us will have heard something about these felines at some point – they’re all female?
Many believe that all calico cats are female, but this actually isn’t true. If you want to find out a little more about these cats, including how they can exist and how you actually do get males, keep reading!
In this post, we are going to cover everything you need to know about these unique kitties.
What Is A Calico Cat?
A calico, or tortoiseshell-and white cat, is a cat that has a unique coat pattern that is very rare.
Their coats can include colors such as white, black, and orange, though some will also have chocolate, red, or cream colors on their coats, too.
Typically, the most dominant color on these cats is white, but this isn’t always the case. Their fur patterns can vary, and their beautiful coats can have a dominant orange color, black patches, or brown patches.
The term calico is not used to describe a species of cat, it is simply a term for their coat type. Think of it like the perm ‘palomino’ being used to describe the color of a horse, when ‘palomino’ is not a breed of horse.
This applies to cats, since you can get calico colors in Persian cats, American Shorthair, and Japanese bobtails. All calico cats have at least three different colors in their goat.
Calico is used as reference to the colorful calico fabric, and it is not a reference to the cat’s eyes or any other parts of the body but their fur.
The amazing calico cat is also referred to as the money cat, since they are thought to bring good fortune to their owners.
We all like to believe that these special cats have some kind of calico charm, and Japanese sailors often liked to travel with these cats to have safe passage across the seas.
Whether you believe in the lucky powers of this cat, the calico coat is something special to look at.
What Makes Calico Cats So Special?
Like many other species in the world, cats typically have either XX or XY chromosomes, which they inherit from their parents. Males have XY chromosomes, while females have XX.
It is the male cat who determines the biological sex of his kittens, since he is the only one with the X and Y chromosomes.
If a kitten inherits an X chromosome from their father, they will be female, and if they inherit a Y chromosome, they will be male.
The female’s X chromosome is sometimes referred to as the color gene, as it is this chromosome that determines the kittens’ coats.
To get the calico pattern, a kitten must have inherited their mother’s fur color. The unique thing about calico cats is that they all have two X chromosomes. Because of this, it is believed that every calico cat is female.
Do You Get Male Calico Cats?
So, if a calico cat needs two X chromosomes, you might think they all are female, right? That isn’t the case. There are, in fact, some calico cats that are male!
Although the vast majority of these stunning cats will be female, you might be lucky to come across a male.
Only about 1 in 3,000 calico cats are actually male, though the majority of these male cats are sterile. This means that they are unable to reproduce.
Unfortunately, because these male cats inherit an extra X chromosome (so their chromosomes are XXY), they are sterile. This can also happen in humans and other species of animals, so it is not unique to felines.
However, on very rare instances, there are male calico cats that are not sterile. However, these cats are typically not bred to get more calico cats because of potential health problems.
Even if you were to breed a male and female calico cat, it would not result in more male calico cats like we might expect. Instead, the male would simply pass on his Y chromosome.
While it isn’t impossible to get more male calico cats by breeding the two together, the rate would still be as rare as before, so the chances of getting a male calico are no higher than before.
Although it might be nice to have more male calico cats, there are no real benefits of breeding them, as most are sterile.
Understanding The Science Of Calico Cats
Calico kitties are beautiful, but also difficult to understand. As we mentioned above, the female cat is the one that determines the calico coloring.
The breed of cat is not important when it comes to this color pattern, so in some ways, it is gene unrelated. Many cat breeds can have orange coloring, like the orange tabby.
The sex chromosome is the really influential thing with calico kittens. A cat’s genetic makeup is what determines many aspects of it, including a personality trait or tricolored fur.
XXY chromosomes result in male calico cats, despite the extra chromosome. However, these males being able to reproduce is exceptionally rare.
The trick to getting more calico cats is not finding males that can be bred, because it is the female’s X chromosome that is responsible for the coat color pattern.
Do Calico Cats Have Any Unique Health Issues?
Other than issues with the males being sterile, calico cats do not have any unique health problems. When the males are sterile, they have a condition known as Klinefelter syndrome.
Klinefelter syndrome has been linked to bone fragility, shortened lifespans, behavioral issues, and higher percentages of body fat.
However, this issue can arise with any living thing with XXY chromosomes, so it is not particularly unique to the calico.
To summarize, calico cats are any breed of cat with tricolored fur. They can have colors such as white, orange, brown, black, gray, cream, or red, but are usually mostly white.
Although you can get male calico cats, they are very rare (only 1 in 3,000). It is even rarer for these male calico cats to be able to reproduce because of their extra X chromosome.
Hopefully you found this post helpful and know a little more about calico cats now! There is a lot of science you can dive into on this topic, but you get the general idea above.
If you see a calico cat, or are lucky enough to own one, cherish it! These cats really are special, and you may never have the chance to see one again.