Calico -- Tortoiseshell-and-white -- Maine Coon bred in Russia

Calico — Tortoiseshell-and-white — Maine Coon bred in Russia. Photo and breeder: Irina Goriunova.

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If you have come to this page directly, please click on the link above the photograph to take you to an essay on the calico cat for children.

Dr. Desmond Morris tells us that “calico cat” is an American name for tortoiseshell-and-white.

Some British breeders don’t like the description and prefer the original terminology. Like the tortoiseshell cat this coliform is sex-linked and the cats bearing the coat are nearly always female. Males do occur rarely.

Doctor Desmond Morris says that male tortoiseshell cats are feminised or there like masculine females! They are sterile.

There is an argument about how much white fur a tortoiseshell cat should have before they can be described as calico.

They are not necessarily the same thing. Dennis Kelsey-Wood describes the calico cat coat as “white with unbridled patches of black and red. As a preferred minimum, the cat should have white feet, legs, underside, chest and muzzle. Once a cat has more than half of its body total in white, then it is a calico”. Until then it’s a tortoiseshell-and-white or a calico depending upon how the white patches are distributed!

Some of the most beautiful coats are diluted calico coats. They have a very subtle coloration.

The calico coat was taken seriously in the world of pedigree cat shows in the late 1950s.