Calico Cats: Their Origin, Personality and Appearance

What distinguishes a calico cat from other cats is definitely its colorful coat pattern. Typically calicos will have fur that is tri-colored with orange/ginger, black and white. And calico cats are almost always female. But did you know there is more than one type of calico cat? Here we’ll tell you all about the different types of calicos including their origin, personality and appearance.


13-17 Years







What Role Does Genetics Play in Calico Cats?

There are three different calico cat genes, and each one results in a different type of calico cat. The calico gene is a sex-linked gene, which means that it is located on the X chromosome. This is why calico cats are almost always female – because males only have one X chromosome, they can only be carrying one calico gene, and if that gene is recessive then the cat will be a calico. If a male cat has two copies of the calico gene, then he will be a tortoiseshell.

Three Types of Calico Cats

  • The patchwork calico is the most common type of calico cat. The patchwork has black and white fur with little areas of orange or ginger fur.
  • The second sort of calico cat is a tortoiseshell calico. This cat has black and white fur with wider areas of orange or ginger fur.
  • A mosaic calico is the third variety of calico cat. With the signature black, white, and ginger fur – the difference is that each color is equally present throughout the coat.

The genetics of calico cats are very interesting and continually evolving; and there is still a lot that we don’t know about them!

Origins and History of Calico Cats

It isn’t clear where calico cats originated. Most people think they originated in Egypt. Others site India as the origin from the calico patterned textiles of India. Regardless, it’s important to know that the term “calico” is not a breed of cat, but rather a coat pattern. In Britain, they were first mentioned in writing in the 16th century.

long haired calico cat sitting on the couch

Long-haired calico cat with black, white and orange fur.

Cat Breeds with Calico Coat Patterns

Because “calico” refers to a coat pattern, a variety of cat breeds can be calico. Some of the most common breeds to exhibit calico coat patterns include:

British Shorthair Calico Cats

The British shorthair calico cat is said to be the original; though many claim the origins to be in Egypt. They are medium-sized cats with long coats. They are a friendly and playful breed, but can also be independent.

American Calico Cats

The American calico cat is a cousin of the British calico and is also medium-sized with a long coat. They are an active breed and make good pets for families with children. They are also friendly and playful, but can be a bit more demanding than the British calico.

Japanese Bobtail Calico Cats

The Japanese calico cat is the smallest and has a short, sleek coat. In addition to their tri-colored fur, they are distinguished by a round face and large eyes. They are calm and sweet-natured, making good pets for people who live alone.

Manx Calico Cats

The Manx calico cat is the only calico cat without a tail. They are a small to medium-sized cat with a long coat. They are friendly and playful, but can also be independent.

Maine Coon Calico Cats

Maine Coon calico cats are one of the most popular types of cats. They are known for their long fur and friendly personalities. Maine Coon cats are considered to be the largest domesticated cat breed. Maine Coons can be quite large, with males often weighing up to fifteen pounds. They are a popular choice for people who want a friendly, laid-back cat.

Persian Calico Cats

The Persian calico cat is the popular and is known for its long, thick coat. Persians have a signature round face and large eyes. They are calm and sweet-natured, making great pets for people who live alone.

Lifespan and Health of Calico Cats

Calico cats have a lifespan of around 13-17 years, which is about the same as most other domestic cat breeds. They are generally healthy cats but can be susceptible to some health problems including:

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy: This is a condition of the heart muscle that causes the heart to grow in size and, if left untreated, can result in cardiac failure. Male calicos are particularly prone to it.

Hip dysplasia: This is a condition in which the hip joint isn’t fully developed, resulting in arthritic and painful legs.

Polycystic kidney disease: This is a condition in which the kidneys are enlarged and filled with cysts. It can lead to renal failure and death.

All of these health problems can be managed if they are caught early, but it is important to be aware of them so that you can monitor your calico cat closely. With regular vet checkups, most calico cats will live long and healthy lives.

Are All Calico Cats Female?

While it’s true that most calico cats are female, male calicos do exist. Though they are not as common as females. Male calicos typically have more orange fur than females, and their coats are usually less patchy. Male calicos also tend to be larger than females.

Male calico cats are just as healthy as female calico cats, but they do have a higher risk of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Male calicos should be groomed regularly and monitored for any signs of heart problems.

Calico Cat’s Personality

Calico cats are known for their friendly and outgoing personalities. They love to be around people and are always eager to please. They are also very playful, and they often enjoy chasing toys or playing games of fetch. Excellent companions, they are perfect for families with children.

These cats can also be a bit demanding, and they may require more attention than some other cat breeds. But with enough love and attention, calico cats will make wonderful pets.


What is a Dilute Calico?

Dilute calicos can come in a range of colors, but they all have one thing in common: their patches of orange and black fur are much paler than those of regular calicos. Instead of their coat being a variation of black, white and orange, they are typically gray, peach and white. This gives them a particularly delicate look that’s hard to resist.

Similarly, dilute tortoiseshell cats exist are a thing. Instead of black and orange fur, their fur color is “diluted” and they have a combination of gray and peach-colored fur.

dilute calico cat sitting on all four paws

Dilute calico cat with gray, peach and white fur.

Tortoiseshell Cats vs Calico Cats

People often confuse tortoiseshell cats with calico cats. Tortoiseshell cats are similar to calico cats in that they have a colorful coat pattern with one important difference. Torties do not have white fur, only black and orange or gray and peach (a dilute tortie). By contrast, calicos have three colors, with white being the differentiator.

There are a few key personality differences between calico cats and tortoiseshell “tortie” cats. For one, calico cats are typically more outgoing and social than torties. Torties are often said to have a fierce independent streak and some extra sass – called “tortitude.” Calicos are often more vocal than torties and can be very chatty with their humans. Finally, calicos are often more active than torties, always looking for something to do.

So if you’re looking for a social cat who loves to explore and chat up her humans, a calico may be the perfect choice for you! Torties make great pets too (I have one) but if you’re looking for a little less “sass” in your feline friend’s personality, calico cats may be a better choice.

What is Tortitude?

So what is tortitude, exactly? Tortitude is a mix of personality traits that are unique to tortoiseshell cats. These include being spunky, independent, and assertive. Torties also have a very strong will and are often not afraid to stand up for themselves. They can be quite stubborn at times and can be very determined to get what they want.

If you’re looking for a feline friend who is independent and spunky, a tortie may be the perfect cat for you. Tortitude can sometimes be challenging, but it’s also part of what makes torties so special. If you’re up for the challenge, a tortoiseshell cat may be the perfect pet for you!

Calicos are wonderful cats who get along with children and are very sociable. Their unique tri-colored coat is composed of a variety of hues and patterns, which distinguishes them in appearance from other cats. Consider adopting a calico cat from your local animal shelter if you’re searching for a new furry companion.

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