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Are All Calico Cats Female? Vet-Verified Info & Fun Facts

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on April 29, 2024 by Nicole Cosgrove

calico maine coon cat lying on the grass

Are All Calico Cats Female? Vet-Verified Info & Fun Facts


Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca Photo


Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca

Veterinarian, BVSc GPCert (Ophthal) MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Cats come in all kinds of different shapes, sizes, and colors. You may have heard that some colors indicate gender. For example, it has been said that all calico cats are female. The truth is that not all, but nearly 100% of calico cats are female. An extremely small percentage of calicos are males. The reason for this has everything to do with genetics. Here is what you should know about why almost all calico cats are female.

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The Science Behind Calico Cats

calico cat outside looking at camera
Image by: Del Green, Pixabay

The first thing to know is that in cats, one of the multiple genes that controls coat color is located on the X chromosome. In mammals, the sex chromosomes are X and Y; normal females have two X chromosomes, and normal males have one X and one Y chromosome. Calico cats receive the orange color from one X chromosome and the black color from the other X chromosome, while the white color comes from a different gene. Because male cats only have one X chromosome, they can’t have a calico pattern unless they have two X chromosomes, which is possible but extremely rare.

Female kittens get an X chromosome from each parent, resulting in their coat color being a combination of the parent’s colors, while male kittens get their coat color just from their mother.

A pair of X chromosomes are needed to produce the tri-color coat pattern that calico cats are so famous for, which is why calicos are almost always exclusively females.

Can a Calico Cat Be a Male?

On very rare occasions, a male cat can have a Y chromosome and a pair of X chromosomes, which is when they can end up with a calico pattern, but this is extremely unusual, with some sources claiming that chances are one in 3,000. Males with calico coloring are sterile and may face health conditions that female calico will not.

This same principle applies to tortoiseshell cats. So, to answer the question, calico cats can be male, yes, but it is very, very unlikely.


A Little About Calico Cats

Calico is not a breed. It is simply a color pattern. Many cat breeds can be calico, including the Domestic Shorthair, Manx, Maine Coon, and American Shorthair. Calico pattern involves the presence of an unbridled orange and black cat with solid areas of white. However, color variations can include cream, blue, and brown. It is not known exactly where calico cats originated from, but the word around the world is that they come from Egypt.

We do know that calicos have been a part of life in Italy, France, and the Mediterranean for many decades. Nowadays, these cats can be found in just about all parts of the world, including the United States. The personality and temperament of a calico cat will depend on their breed. All calico cats are unique and deserve to be treated as such.

Calico cats can be cared for just like any other cat, though. There is nothing special or wrong about them that sets them apart from other cats, aside from their distinctive tri-color markings. They should be brushed regularly to keep shedding under control, and depending on the length of their fur, they may need to be trimmed to prevent mats from developing.

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Calico Cats: Interesting Facts

calico cat on the couch
Image Credit: richardsidwell, Pixabay

There are a few interesting things to know about calico cats that can give you insight into their nature and the way that we humans see them.

1. They Have Many Different Names

Calico cats are sometimes tricolor or brindle in the United States. A calico cat that has a tabby-like pattern is sometimes referred to as a “caliby.” But in Japan, these cats are referred to as “Tobi Mi-ke,” which means “triple fur.” Dutch people call these cats “Lapjeskat,” which means “patch cat”.

2. They Have Been Adopted by a Whole State

In 2001, Maryland adopted the calico as their state cat. A class of elementary school students lobbied for this adoption in the state because calicos are reminiscent of the state’s flag colors, which are black, white, red, and gold.

3. They Are Considered Lucky Charms

Calico cats have been thought of as lucky charms by many cultures throughout the world since their inception. Fishermen in Japan would bring a calico cat with them to fish because they were thought to protect many things, including ocean storms and ghosts.

calico cat
Image Credit by: loicp90, Pixabay

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Final Thoughts: Are All Calicos Female

Calico cats are fascinating for many reasons. Aside from their unique personalities and beautifully unique coats, these cats stand out from the crowd due to their almost limitless pattern variations. Do you own a calico cat, or are you thinking about adopting one? If so, what is your favorite calico fact? We want to hear from you in our comments section below!

Featured Image Credit: Aleksei Verhovski, Shutterstock

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