If you like cats, you will have heard of Calico cats. Most people know that the vast majority of Calico cats are female. However, they often don't realize that Calico is not a cat breed. The word calico refers to the color of the cat's coat. Calico cats are popular choices for cat lovers due to their gorgeous coats. But, unlike a Siamese or Persian cat, the calico is not a feline breed. Instead, the calico can be Persian, calico Maine Coon, Manx, or several other breeds. When we say calico cats, three colors come to mind orange, white, and black.
These three colors appear on the coat in spots, often with white in the highest concentration. Calico cats are named for their coat color, which resembles calico fabric, which was once imported from England to India.
You can find calico cats in many breeds, including Persian, Manx, and our favorite, Maine Coon. To be considered a calico, a cat's fur must have patches of black, white, and orange, often with white as the main underlying coat. Don't confuse a tortoiseshell cat with a calico. The color of the tortoiseshell appears much more mixed, and the white is sometimes very scarce and occasionally absent in them.
What Is A Calico Maine Coon?
Calico cats are named after the calico fabric, which their fur resembles. This multicolored fabric was once imported from England to India, and the word has come to refer to this distinctive coat coloring.
A Maine Coon cat must have three distinct fur colors to be considered a calico: white, orange, and black. Although all Maine Coon calicoes have the same three colors, the pattern in which these colors appear is unique to each calico cat. The main color will be white, and the amounts and distribution of black and orange fur will vary from cat to cat.
Why Are So Many Calico Maine Coons Females?
Almost 100% of calico-colored cats are female. This is due to a unique genetic makeup that determines the color variants of their coat. To become a calico, a cat must inherit two X chromosomes, one X chromosome coded to make orange fur and the other black.
Additionally, they must also inherit the white fur genes, which are unrelated to the X and Y chromosomes. Because it takes two X chromosomes to be Calico, the result is always a cat, with a chance of 3000 that a male cat is born with a genetic anomaly that allows him to wear the colors.
Calico Maine Coon Patterns
The colors of Calico Maine Coons are white, black, and orange. White and black color can be inherited from either parent. White fur lacks pigment, so a cat's coat cannot contain as much white as one of its parents. Orange color can only be inherited from a parent of the same sex. As all calicoes are female, the orange fur is exclusively passed down from mother to daughter.
The patterns of Calico Maine Coon cats can be categorized from Dense Calico, with strongly delineated patches, to Dilute Smoke Calico, which has the required colors. Still, the patches have become diluted with white, giving a creamy appearance to orange hair and a blue look to black hair.
What To Expect Calico Maine Coon
Like all Maine Coons, Calico Maine Coon is a very intelligent and playful animal. There's a superstition that Calicos and Tortoiseshells are very feisty and prone to expecting them to do their bidding, but we suspect this could just be a case of nature training. So be sure to start socializing and training your little calico kitten as soon as you bring him home, and he should be as good as gold.
Maine Coons are great with children and other pets, and calico Maine Coons are no exception. So if you're looking for a pet, Maine Coons are a great bet. They've been known to take a lot of pushes and bangs from toddlers without responding, and they also do well with other pets, including dogs. But given their original history of being bred to hunt and control the rodent population, it's perhaps unsurprising that they don't do well with family rodent pets. Or rather, the rodent probably won't stay very well.
What About Care?
Grooming a Calico Maine Coon is not different from any other Maine Coon. The fur is silk-like and is not difficult to brush, and easily stays smooth. We recommend brushing your teeth once a week, but your cat will take care of the rest.
Dental care is more of a concern with the Calico Maine Coon as they may be predisposed to gum disease. If you're initiating brushing as a kitten, you can eliminate the inevitable battle you'll have with your cat if you only leave it until the problem appears. Try to do it 2-3 times a week.
What Are The Health Problems Of The Calico Maine Coon?
Remember that calico is NOT a crossbreed and therefore does not benefit from the healthiest mixes. A healthy Maine Coon should live around 13 years on average. Maine coons are more likely to develop some or all of the following:
Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)
All cats are at potential risk of suffering from heart disease. It is located in the center of the chest and has four chambers that work together to pump blood throughout the body. And just like humans, they carry a risk of genetic or acquired heart disease. Heart problems can be hidden for years, suddenly presenting with severe deterioration in health and ability or even death. Check out our article on HCM.
This degenerative disease causes pain and loss of quality of life, but it is not life-threatening.
Spinal Muscular Atrophy
It is a genetic disease that affects some Maine Coons. It is not life-threatening but can lead to impaired muscle development.
Keep your cat physically and mentally stimulated. Maine Coons need activities to help them stay healthy and prevent the development of tantrums and negative behaviors that could set in if they get bored or lonely. If you plan on keeping your box as an indoor-only cat, give them a good half hour a day to play with toys, chase lights, and generally run around. Make sure your home has space where your cat can initiate a short sprint.
Are Calico Maine Coon Cats Lucky?
Superstitious types in many cultures think black cats are lucky. Calico cats are also considered lucky in other regions, especially in Japan. Some American calico fans consider them lucky, calling them "silver cats."
Of course, there is no evidence that any cat, black, calico, or otherwise, is lucky; it doesn't hurt to believe that! However, there are health benefits to having a treasured pet in your life, which help reduce stress and loneliness for their owners.
Train your cat with various activities to help keep her mentally engaged and get the best pet possible. Maine Coons will learn from a clicker tool and are very food reward oriented. You can take them for a walk, play fetch or solve food puzzles. Keep it fun. If the chat doesn't want to engage, nothing will work. Let them fade away or doze as they see fit rather than fight them in an attempt to fit them into your routine.
As long as existing pets are ready to accept a new animal into the home, a Maine Coon generally mixes well. He's also kid-friendly if socialized from a young age to ensure he can handle a moderate amount of pulling without responding with a claw. Socializing your kitten early ensures that your cat is friendly with everyone and isn't too attached to any one person, which could lead to problematic behaviors if not.
Larger breeds, such as the Maine Coon, should not be fed lower-quality cat foods that have replaced meat protein with carbohydrates such as corn/rice/soy. Not only is this food of lower quality, but your cat will also crave more of it, leading to overeating. However, all cats are carnivores, so feed them quality meat products.
What Makes Calico Cats So Unique?
Calico cats have an air of mystery and a rich history, not to mention their unique appearance. But what makes calico cats so special?
They are not even a breed of cat! Calicos get their name from the coloring of their coat!
Calico Cat Appearance
Calicos are often described as the most colorful cats in the world. After all, he is one of the only cats to show a wide range of color variations in his coat.
The calico is not a cat breed but a domestic cat with a variety of genetic color variations.
The most common calico is an orange, black, and white tricolor pattern: shades of cream, red, blue-black, and chocolate brown.
Calicos whose coloring is less intense are called diluted calicos. They are mostly white with flecks of light color ranging from blue-gray to cream to strawberry blonde.
You can find calico cats in many different breeds except for solid color breeds and pointed breeds like Bombay, Russian Blue, British Shorthair, Siamese, and Himalayan. Since calico cats come in so many different breeds, sometimes it's hard to tell if the cat is a calico or a tortoiseshell.
The best way to find out is to examine calico stains.
A tortoiseshell cat typically has the primary colors (red and black) woven throughout the coat, while a calico will have distinctive solid color patches (like black spots or white spots).
Some of the breeds that you can find in the calico appearance include Maine Coon, Manx, Persian, American Shorthair, Japanese Bobtail, Siberian, etc.
Personality And Behavior
Calico cats are not a separate breed. Therefore, we cannot assign breed-specific personality or behavioral traits to them. Like many cats, calicos will develop their unique personalities based on many factors, such as socialization and life experiences.
Because calico cats are so different from each other, it's especially exciting to have one.
You might get a laid-back, sweet cat that loves being around you and wants to be your faithful companion.
You can also get the opposite: an aloof cat that demands a lot of attention and has an attitude.
That said, many calico owners report that their cats share a similar personality to tortoiseshell cats — they call it "fortitude."
Torties are known to be courageous, sassy, and independent. Calico cats can share these traits, but, as we mentioned, you never really know what you're going to get. Plus, calico cats can't be mated, so they're even less likely to share common characteristics.
The Mysterious Genetics
The genetics of calico cats are quite fascinating and have long been the subject of scientific research. We could get into the details of these genetics, but your eyes might be squirting. So we're going to make it as short and simple as possible.
The black and orange patches of fur that characterize these cats result from a genetic phenomenon called “X chromosome inactivation.”
The gene that dictates cat fur color is on the X chromosome. Almost all calico cats are female, so they have two X chromosomes. The rare male calico cats have one X chromosome and one Y.
In addition to determining the color of a cat's coat, the X chromosomes contain many genes that code for proteins necessary for survival. Since females have two X chromosomes, this double dose of “survival” genes could be toxic. Therefore, one of the X chromosomes is randomly inactivated to compensate for this double dose when the calico kitten is just a small ball of cells in its mother's uterus.
Thus, if the X chromosome carrying the white fur gene at a particular location in the body is inactivated, the orange gene may become active at that location (and vice versa). As disabled chromosomes are chosen at random, the combination of fur colors in calico cats is also unexpected and unique for each calico cat.
You can have an orange tabby cat with calico patches of white or black fur just as well as a black cat with calico patches of white and orange fur.
Health And Lifespan
The average lifespan of a calico cat is between 12 to 16 years. Is this more or less than the average life expectancy of other cats? Yes and no. It depends on whether the calico cat is male or female.
Male Calicos tend to live shorter than female Calicos due to a genetic condition called Klinefelter Syndrome. This syndrome results in two X chromosomes and one Y chromosome – in other words, a male calico has an extra X chromosome.
Klinefelter syndrome. These health issues can lead to a decrease in the life expectancy of male calicoes.
Whether your cat is a male or female calico, you can help her have a good quality of life by providing good shelter, feeding her nutritious food, and providing quality veterinary care with the help of a good pet health insurance plan.
Are Male Calico Cats Rare?
Male calicoes are rare. According to the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine, only 1 in 3000 calico cats is male.
The good news is that 99.9% of calico cats are female due to this unique genetic background. But put your worries aside because, like any other cat, a calico cat can live longer than average if given the best health care and a healthy, balanced diet.
Calico Cats Vs. Turtoisshells And Tabby Cats
Calico cats aren't the only ones with unique coat colors. Tortoiseshell cats (also called torties) and tabby cats have them too. However, it can be difficult to tell a calico apart from these other cats, so we'll help you out.
Calico cats have three coat colors (white, orange, and black), while torties are usually two-tone (orange and mottled black). Torties have very few white hairs, which typically appear as small spots on their face, chest, or legs.
Tabbies have a characteristic "M" on their forehead. Calicos don't have this mark on their foreheads, which is an easy-to-spot difference between calicos and tabbies. Tabbies also have distinct tabby stripes and conspicuous rufous and black spots.
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Fun Facts About Calico Cats
Females Dominate - The unique genetics of calico cats that determine coat color means that 99.9% of calico cats are female. Remember that coat color is linked to the female sex chromosomes (XX).
Nearly All Male Calicos Are Sterile - Male calicoes often have Klinefelter Syndrome (XXY chromosomal build-up), a genetic condition that causes infertility, among many other health issues.
They Represent a State - Due to their color, calico cats were declared the official state cat of Maryland in 2001. The fur colors of a calico cat are a mix of white, black, and orange, like the feather colors of the Baltimore oriole, Maryland's state bird. Only two other states have state cats!
The Beckoning cat character is based on a beautiful calico cat.
Calico cats have different names in different countries. For example, they are called "lapses at" in the Netherlands, which means "spotted cat," and "mi-ke" in Japan, which means "triple fur."
Lucky charms – Given their rarity, calico cats are considered lucky charms and signs of good luck around the world. People also believe calico cats bring good fortune into the homes of families adopting them. Another fun fact is that they are sometimes called silver cats in the United States. In the 1870s, calico cats were declared the official symbol of good luck in Japan (Maneki-Neko).
Calicos are brave – A calico cat saved a Japanese train station from closing. In 2007, Kinokawa Station was about to be closed due to budget issues. As a last resort, the city sent a local calico cat as station master, where he would greet passengers as they passed. The calico cat became a celebrity, resulting in a 17% increase in traffic at the station. The luck of the calico cat is very real.
Calicos Are Everywhere – Considering the rarity of calico cats, they have truly spread worldwide. Calico cats have been found migrating along routes in Europe and North Africa. Although native to Egypt, they are also found in cities around the Mediterranean basin, in France, Italy, and Spain.
You Can't Breed Them - You can't breed a calico cat because they only happen by chance. This coincidence explains why they are so rare and considered a lucky charm.
They cure warts – Although it is only a rumor, it is often believed that calico cats can cure warts. In May, rubbing warts against a calico cat's tail is believed to cure them. We're not sure if that's true, but we're sure cats probably don't appreciate that!
Frequently Asked Questions
Are All Calico Cats Female?
Yes, in most cases. Since their coloring is linked to the X chromosome and cats with two X chromosomes (XX) are female, 99.9% of calico cats are female. A calico cat can be a male, but this is extremely rare.
Can calico cats be male?
Although very rare, male calico cats do exist. Male calico cats most often have a chromosomal abnormality that gives them two X chromosomes and one Y chromosome (XXY)
How Long Do Calico Cats Live?
The Calico is a coloration rather than a breed, so it's hard to tell if Calicos are different from other cats in terms of lifespan. However, indoor calico cats typically live 12 to 16 years, while outdoor cats have a shorter lifespan of 7 to 9 years.
Are calico cats mean?
Owners of cats whose color is sex-linked (such as tortie or tortie cats) often report a higher aggression frequency than owners of cats of other colors. Calico cats aren't always "mean" per se but tend to be more independent than other cats.
Finding a calico Maine Coon cat can be demanding, but if you want that gorgeous tricolor coat, the search is worth it. Due to the complex genetics behind the tricolor coat, calico Maine Coon is relatively rare and highly sought after. Those lucky enough to own a Maine Coon calico will agree that these beautiful creatures are good company and wonderful to watch.
Whether or not you're considering getting a cat, you've probably come across the wonderful calico at one time or another. Who hasn't?
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