Calico cat: what characteristics?

Calico Cat: What Characteristics?

Surely you have already come across a tricolor cat whose coat is mostly white, accompanied by large red and black spots (sometimes they can be cream and gray).

Well, this is a Calico cat, not to be confused with the “tortoiseshell” cat, having little or no white. We tell you all about this cat with a very particular coat.

Where did the Calico cat come from?

The Calico cat does not define any breed, its name refers only to the unique color of its coat. This peculiarity does not only affect alley cats, but also other breeds, some of which allow the Calico color in their standards.

This is the case of the Isle of Manx cat, the American Shorthair, the Maine Coon, the British Shorthair, the Persian cat, the Arabian Mau, the Japanese Bobtail, the Exotic Shorthair, the Siberian, the Turkish Van, the Turkish Angora or even the Norwegian Forest cat.

Although their origin remains unknown to this day, a study has determined that the proportion of cats with the orange gene (responsible for the Calico color) was much higher in the port cities of the Mediterranean Sea.

Although many breeders have tried to fix it, this coloring is the result of an “accident”, which is impossible to predict, and therefore to reproduce.

Characteristics of Calico Cats

Genetically, Calico cats have all the characteristics of a tortoiseshell cat except that they express the white spotting gene.

The Calico coat color of cats is determined by the X chromosome of the mother and father. As a reminder, in mammals, the sex chromosomes are XX for the female and XY for the male.

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The mutant gene for the orange color is present only in the X chromosome. For a cat to be born Calico, it is therefore necessary that the X chromosome of the father presents the gene and that the one transmitted by the mother also has it.

This gene is recessive, so the presence of another color in the genetic code will inhibit it. This is the reason why a Calico cat is so rare. It is also for this reason that cats with this coat are almost always female.

In very rare cases, some males can develop a Calico coat. It is a genetic abnormality called Klinefelter syndrome. In this case, the cat has sex chromosomes XXY. These male cats are sterile (except 1 in 3000).

In breeding, even if they are fertile, these cats are excluded from breeding. Indeed, they are generally in poor physical health and feline registries do not recognize them as show cats.

Calico Cat Character

It is important to understand that a cat’s Calico trait only affects its color. Accordingly, a Calico female does not show a specific character and is no different from other cats in her behavior.

If you have a so-called alley female with a Calico coat, then she will have her own character, unlike that of any other cat. On the other hand, if you have a Main Coon cat with the Calico specificity, then her character will generally resemble that of her breed.

In summary, you will not get any indication of the color of her dress, and your cat may turn out to be the sweetest of kittens, just like a black cat or a ginger cat, which however has a bad reputation (wrongly).

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Is The Calico Cat The Isabelle Cat?

We often hear that a cat is tricolor, Isabelle or Calico. If it is true that the Calico cat and the Isabelle cat are indeed tricolor, these names take on two distinct realities.

An Isabelle cat is a cat with black hair, white hair and red hair. On the other hand, the Isabelle cat can have sparse hair, with these three colors blending together. While the Calico cat has colored areas well demarcated from each other.

In other words, the Calico cat is indeed an Isabelle cat, but the Isabelle cat is not necessarily a Calico cat. When in doubt, no one will blame you for saying that it is a tricolor cat!

The Legends And Beliefs Around The Calico Cat

Some beliefs would like the Calico cat to be more aggressive than its congeners. This is of course completely false, the color of a cat’s coat in no way determines its aggressiveness, and the Calico cat is no wilder than any other.

In many cultures, on the other hand, these original and rare cats have the reputation of bringing good luck. Moreover, in Germany they are called “lucky cat” which means “lucky charm”.

In Japan, the popular beckoning cat statues, depicting a seated cat raising one or both paws to ear level, represent Calico cats. Also in Japan, sailors used to bring a Calico cat to protect themselves from misfortunes.

Finally, in Ireland, legend has it that rubbing a wart against the tail of a Calico cat in May would make it disappear. A certain number of myths therefore exist around this extraordinary cat, proof that he knows how to make people talk about him very well!

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