01 of 08
All About Calico Cats
Calico cats and kittens are well-known for their gorgeous, tricolored coats–orange, black, and white being the most common color variations–but there's a lot more to these kitties than their good looks!
Their genetics, for example, have been the topic of some pretty in-depth scientific studies starting way back in the 1940s. And calicos are revered world-wide for their good luck.
Intrigued yet? Read on for more amazing facts (and adorable photos, of course) about some of nature's most colorful kitties.Continue to 2 of 8 below.
02 of 08
Calico Isn't a Breed of Cat
Did you know there's no single calico breed? Rather, "calico" refers to the color variations in a kitty's coat. Although orange, black, and white are the most common calico colors, some cats may have cream, bluish black, red, or chocolate brown in their coats, too.
However, many distinct breeds of cats can be calico, including American Shorthair, Persian, Maine Coon, and Cornish Rex, among others.Continue to 3 of 8 below.
03 of 08
Most Calico Cats Are Female (Males Are Super Rare)
Yep, you read that right: 99.9% of all calico cats are female due to the unique chromosomal makeup that determines the color variations in their coats. Why? Put on your lab coat. It's time for some science.
The sex chromosomes–chromosomes X (female) and Y (male)–determine if a cat will be male or female. The X chromosome also carries code for the black and orange colors in a calico's coat.
Female calico cats have two X chromosomes (meaning they have two chromosomes with color code), while males have one X and one Y chromosome. In order to manage these two sets of color code, the female embryo will actually shut down one X chromosome in each cell, resulting in the black and orange variations in a calico's coat.
Because male cats have one X chromosome with code for black or orange and one Y chromosome without any color genes, they cannot technically be calico. They'll be completely black or completely orange.
There is one exception: A genetic anomaly called XXY Syndrome, which occurs when the male cat has two X chromosomes and one Y chromosome, can produce a male calico.
About one in every 3,000 calico cats is born a male, and, unfortunately, don't live as long as female calicos due to their genetic abnormalities. XXY Syndrome renders male calicos sterile, and can be the root cause of many other health problems. If you do have a male calico, however, a healthy diet, exercise, and lots of love and attention can help him live a longer, happy life, too.Continue to 4 of 8 below.
04 of 08
Calico Cats Can't Be Bred
Due to their unique genetic makeup–and the fact that male calico cats are born sterile–calico cats cannot actually be bred. Rather, the magic of science produces these colorful kitties randomly.Continue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08
Calicos Don't Share Personality Traits
Because calico cats aren't one single breed–and can't be bred–they don't share certain personality traits, temperaments, or tendencies. Many breeds of cats can be calico, however, so if you're looking for a certain personality-type, be sure to read up on American Shorthairs, Japanese Bobtails, Maine Coons, among others.
What's more, the average calico cat's lifespan can vary greatly. But remember: The key to a long, happy, and healthy kitty life is a nutritious diet, protective shelter, and plenty of love (when they'll allow it).Continue to 6 of 8 below.
06 of 08
Calico Cats Are Very Lucky
Because calico cats are so rare–especially male calico cats–they're considered a good luck charm all over the world.
Continue to 7 of 8 below.
- Back in the day, Japanese fishermen brought calico cats onto their ships to protect them from harsh storms, as well as the ghosts of their envious ancestors.
- Have a few stubborn warts? According to Irish folklore, you can cure warts by rubbing a calico cat's tail on the affected area–but only during the month of May. (Our advice? Make an appointment with your dermatologist.)
- The famous Japanese Beckoning Cat (or Maneki Neko) was modeled after a calico. They're often placed in the entrances of homes and businesses to bring good luck. The Maneki Neko dates back to the 1870s, so these kitties have a long history as bringers of luck.
- In the United States, calico cats are sometimes referred to as "money cats," because they bring good fortune to their owners.
07 of 08
Calico Is an Official State Cat
Only three states in the United States have official feline representatives: Maine, Massachusetts, and Maryland.
Calico cats were declared Maryland's official state cat due to their orange, black and white coats. Why? They have the same coloring as the Baltimore oriole, Maryland's official state bird.Continue to 8 of 8 below.
08 of 08
You May Have a Calico Cat Patronus
Hey, Harry Potter fans: What's your patronus? If you answered the calico cat, that means you're loyal, clever, observant, and extremely lucky.
These are facts, people.