Calico cats have a type of coat that is colored orange, black and white. People also call orange fur “red”. The orange fur is usually a tabby coat, as well. You will see lots of different sorts of calico cat patterns but they all have the same three colors. The amount of each color and the shape of the pattern changes from cat to cat. Sometimes the colors are faded. These are called “dilute calico cats” because the strength of the color is diluted.
Calico cats are not a breed of cat. This means that a lot cats from many cat breeds, and cats that don’t belong to a cat breed, can have a calico coat. Some of the cat breeds that are allowed, by the cat associations, to have calico coats are the:
- American Shorthair
- British Shorthair
- Turkish Van
- Japanese Bobtail — the favorite cat color and pattern of this cat breed is the calico cat. There’s lots of white fur with blobs of orange and black. This is a three color cat. The Japanese have a lucky cat or beckoning cat that is put outside shops and so on. These cats are usually calico cats. They are not living cats but statues. They wave with their left paw.
- Exotic Shorthair.
Another name for the calico cat is tortoiseshell and white. This name is used in Europe. The name “calico” is an American name for this sort of cat.
A tortoiseshell cat is orange (red) and black.
The cat in the main picture, on this page, has clear areas where you can see these three colors. Sometimes it is hard to see the colors as they blend together.
Why do Americans call cats with red, black and white fur, calico cats? It seems to have come from Britain (United Kingdom – UK). More than 400 years ago, a brightly colored cloth (not a cat!) that came from Calicut, India was called calico cloth by the British people. Then the word “calico” was used to mean a brightly colored cat, which the calico cat is. Words can change like this over time. Then the Americans liked the word and used it. Meanwhile the British people decided they preferred “tortoiseshell and white”.
Calico Cats are Nearly Always Females
Almost all calico cats are females. There are some male calico cats. People used to think that male calico cats were sterile, which means that they were not able to become a father to kittens. Male calico cats were also meant to be not very active and lively. However, it seems that these beliefs were not quite correct. A lot of male torties are, in fact, fertile. They can become fathers to kittens.
The reason why calico cats are female cats is difficult to explain in straightforward English because it is a tricky subject.
It is all about genes. Genes are very small particles (things) that are inside the cells of a cat. They control how the cat looks and how the cat behaves and so on. The genes that make the calico cat’s fur red, white and black are linked to the genes that makes a cat female. So, if a cat is female she might have a calico coat. If a cat is male, he can’t have a calico coat, unless something goes a bit wrong.
Do Calico Cat Behave Differently?
Some people think calico behave differently to other cats. I don’t think they do. You will see lots of stuff on the internet about this. Calico cats are meant to have “attitude”. Do you believe it?