Catster logo

12 Calico Cat Facts to Know (With Pictures)

calico cat lying on the floor
Image Credit: Luriya Chinwan, Shutterstock
Last Updated on November 16, 2023 by Christian Adams

A Calico cat has a unique coat color pattern of white, black, and orange or red patches. Their captivating and vibrant coat colors make them unique and visually striking. These beautiful patterns and combinations of colors have made them a favorite among cat enthusiasts and admirers worldwide.

Whether you’re just curious or considering welcoming one into your home, exploring the world of Calico cats unveils a tapestry of wonder and charm. In this article, we delve into several facts about Calico cats, which will hopefully help you appreciate them more.

3 cat face divider

The 12 Facts About Calico Cats

1. Calico Cats Are Not a Breed

Calico cats are cats that display a specific set of characteristics. The genetics behind Calico cats revolves around the X chromosome and the inheritance of coat color genes. Female cats have two X chromosomes (XX), while males have one X and Y chromosome (XY).

Since the orange coat color gene is on the X chromosome, Calico cats are almost exclusively female.

old calico cat
Image Credit: Kristi Blokhin, Shutterstock

2. There Are Variations in Calicos Coat Patterns

Calico cats also exhibit various coat patterns, such as the classic “brindle” pattern, where the colors blend in a mottled effect. Another typical pattern is the “tortoiseshell” or “tortie” pattern, where the colors blend more randomly.

They can also have solid patches of color or even tabby patterns overlaid on their tri-colored coat.

3. Each Coat Color and Pattern Is Unique

The most prominent feature of Calico cats is their tri-color coat pattern of white, black, and orange or red patches.

The distribution of these colors creates a visually striking and unique appearance. The colors can vary widely, resulting in unique patterns for each cat. Some Calico cats may have large patches of color, while others may have smaller, more intricate patterns. For example, some cats will have one color covering anywhere from 25% to 75% of their body.

Tortoiseshell Norwegian Forest Cat
Image Credit: Nui Rattapon, Shutterstock

4. Their Different Coat Colors Coincide With Geographic Location

Calico cats may have different coat colors based on their geographic location. For instance, the standard Calico pattern in the United States consists of white, black, and orange/red patches. However, in some European countries, Calico cats may have blue or cream patches instead of orange/red due to variations in coat color genetics.

5. They Are Named After Cloth

The name Calico originates from the Indian port city of Calicut, where plain cotton was bleached, dyed, and printed with various patterns. The cloth would then find its way into Northern America. The most common patterns on the clothes were two-color prints. Calico cats would later get the name because they often got the description of having “calico” fur.

Shorthaired Calico
Featured Image Credit: Pxhere

6. Calicos Are Considered Good Luck in Some Cultures

Calico cats are a sign of good fortune and prosperity in some cultures. The Japanese call them “Maneki-Neko” or “beckoning cat” and consider them symbols of good luck and wealth.

7. Calicos Are Not Limited to a Specific Region

Calico cats are not limited to a specific region and thrive in various countries worldwide. While they are often associated with North America, you will likely find them in Europe, Asia, and elsewhere.

calico cat in the garden
Image Credit: Piqsels

8. Male Calico Cats Are Rare and Sterile

Males only have one X chromosome. They can only inherit one color gene, either orange or black, but not both. Therefore, they can only have an orange or black coat.

However, there are male Calico cats. This happens on rare occasions, and the cats are usually sterile and have chromosomal abnormalities. These males possess an extra X chromosome (XXY), a condition known as Klinefelter syndrome.

The presence of the additional X chromosome enables the inheritance of two different coat color genes, resulting in a tri-color pattern.

9. Calico Cats are Great Conversation Starters

Calico cats’ unique and eye-catching appearance often attracts attention. Don’t be surprised if people want to know where you got your cat or simply want to talk to you because you have a cool-looking pet. Whether you’re out for a walk or hosting guests at home, having a Calico cat can spark interesting conversations and connections with other cat lovers.

owner feeding his cat
Image Credit: Jaromir Chalabala, Shutterstock

10. Calicos Carry Symbolism and Cultural Significance

For those who appreciate the symbolism and cultural significance, having a Calico cat can add a touch of mystique and charm to the relationship.

Don’t take too much offense if someone else sees your cat and likens them to a well-meaning witch full of good fortune.

11. Calico Cats Have Featured in Popular Media

Here are a few famous Calico cats that have captured the hearts of people worldwide:

Marzipan (Hodge)

Marzipan was the beloved Calico cat of famous British author and poet T.S. Eliot. Eliot saw her as his muse and source of inspiration as he wrote his famous collection of poems, “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.” The poems later became the basis for the renowned musical “Cats.”

“Callie” (Krazy Kat)

The famous cat “Krazy Kat” by George Herriman In the world of comic strips by the same name was a Calico cat. The comic strip, which ran from 1913 to 1944, was famous for its surreal and poetic storytelling, with Krazy Kat’s unpredictable adventures at the center.

“Nora” (Keyboard Cat)

“Nora” was a Calico cat owned by musician Betsy Alexander. The cat became an internet sensation for her unique talent of “playing” the piano. Videos of Nora “performing” garnered millions of views and turned her into an iconic internet meme known as “Keyboard Cat.”

“Mama Cat” (Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey)

Mama Cat was a wise and resourceful Calico cat featured in the 1993 family film “Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey.”

In the film, “Mama Cat” plays a vital role in helping a group of animals find their way home. Her character became a fan favorite and showcased the intelligence and determination often associated with Calico cats.

woman and cat playing the piano
Image Credit: JordiStock, Shutterstock

12. They Are Famous in Maryland

Maryland has recognized the Calico cat as its official cat since 2001. This decision was made based on the cat’s distinctive fur pattern, similar to the state’s bird, the Baltimore oriole. The cat’s color patterns are like those of the Baltimore Orioles baseball team. This is also why some believe the cats can bring good luck to the team.

cat paw divider

Final Thoughts

Calico cats are fascinating creatures with distinct tri-color coat patterns and captivating personalities. Their unique genetic makeup and intricate coat color inheritance make them a subject of interest and admiration. Further, their rarity, and cultural symbolism, give these cute animals a special place in the hearts of many pet owners worldwide.

Additionally, Calico cats have left their mark on history, literature, and popular media. They have inspired authors and artists and even gained internet fame through viral videos.

Whether you appreciate their genetic marvel, cultural significance, or lovable nature, Calico cats continue to captivate and enchant those who welcome them into their lives.

Featured Image Credit: Luriya Chinwan, Shutterstock

About the Author

Christian Adams
Christian Adams
Christian is the Editor-in-Chief of Excited Cats and one of its original and primary contributors. A lifelong cat lover, now based in South East Asia, Christian and his wife are the proud parents of an 11-year-old son and four rescue cats: Trixie, Chloe, Sparky, and Chopper.

Get Catster in your inbox!

Stay informed! Get tips and exclusive deals.


Follow Us

Shopping Cart