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Calico Cat: Breed Information, Personality, Lifespan, Facts and Prices- Zippy Pet

Amir Ali
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Posted on February 7, 2022

If you call yourself a cat lover. And your heart doesn’t beat for a ‘Calico Cat’ then you are not a cat lover. These vibrant fairies have so many things special about them that after reading this blog post you’ll fall in love with them (even if you didn’t know them before). 

Know that Calico is neither a breed nor can be bred(I’ll tell you later why). It is the name of the patterned coat consisting of a white base with orange and black patches. Some calicoes also have less vibrant coats with a combination of cream, blue and grey colours. We call them ‘Dilute Calico’ or ‘Calimanco’ which is a Japanese name for calicoes meaning clouded tiger. Rightly said, isn’t it? 

The calico cat is known with some other names in different parts of the world such as ‘Chatte’ in Canada, Mike-Neko in Japan.

When a calico has both calico patterns mixed with tortoiseshell it is called ‘Calitort’. Similarly, a calico tabby is also known as ‘Calby’. Have a glance at Calio cats’ profile from the infographic below.

Calico Cat Inforgraphic

Difference Between a Calico and Tortoiseshell Cat

An image comparing a Calico and Tortoiseshell cat

Folks often get confused in differentiating between a Calico and a Tortoiseshell cat. Because both patterns are similar to each other. But there is are some differences. 

Calicoes have more white space on their coat while the tortie rarely has very few or no white spaces. Their coat is mottled with black/orange or grey/cream colours. Also, the coloured patches on a calico’s coat are distinctive. Tortoiseshell, on the other hand, have more intermixed colours patterns thorough out their entire coat which make them look darker.

Due to their similarity in appearance with tortoiseshell cats, they are often referred to as ‘Tortoiseshell and White’.

Related: Domestic Short-haired Cat

Calico Cat History

Since Calico is not a breed it is a pattern and the exact origin of this pattern is unknown. So we can’t take the name of any region with surety that this is the region where the calico pattern was first originated. However, some people associate their origin to Egypt and believe that they have been transported to Europe from there. 

Why are Calico Cats Named After Calicut an Indian City?

Map of India

Calicut (now Kozhikode) is the second-largest city in the state fo Kerala in India. When the Europeans reached India they took with them a fine printed fabric from Calicut that became a fashion symbol first in Europe, then in the United States of America. Europeans and Americans began to call this fabric ’Calico’. 

The vibrant colourful coat of the calico cat looks similar to the small patterned calico fabric. So, the word calico started to be used to describe the pattern of a cat’s coat.

Calico Cat Colours 

Calicoes are beautiful tri-cats with combinations of white, orange, and black patches. Dilute Calicoes, on the other hand, have little faint shades such as cream, blue-black, reddish, and brown. However, no two Calico cats have the same pattern.

Calico Cat Health and Life Span 

Calicoes’ health is dominated by the breed they belong to. 

If the other patterns and colours of that particular cat are healthy then the calico pattern is also healthy like Japanese Bobtail Calico, American Shorthair Calicoes and others are pretty healthy cats and live a long life. 

On the contrary, if the breed itself is not considered as healthy then its calico pattern has the same health condition, such as Calico Persian Cat. 

In general, calico cats can have a life expentancy anywhere between 15 to 18 years.

Note that, male calico cats are very very rare. And, even if someone has XXY chromosomes male calico then he must need to give some extra attention. Do you know why? Guess…

…It’s because having XXY chromosomes is in itself a health issue which is known as Klinefelter’s Syndrome. Klinefelter syndrome may give rise to other health and behavioural problems such as cognitive development issues, joint pain, diabetes, joint pain, territorial spraying, and broken bones. 

The Personality of Calico Cats

Like their health condition, the personality of a Calico cat has been dominated by its breed. Calicoes of breeds like Japanese Bobtail, Manx, Turkish Angora and the like have very zippy-dippy, peppy, snappy and independent personalities. So, be ready to clean the mess if you are going to have a calico from any of these breeds because they are unstoppable. 

While the Calicoes that belong to Persian, Maine Coon, Exotic Shorthair are good girls and have calm and sweet and loving personalities. They are happy to sit on the window and watch the aesthetic of the outside world.

Why Are More Than 99.9% Calico Cats Are Females- Calico Cats Genetics

Yes, above 95% of calico cats are female. Male calicoes are extremely rare like diamonds. As a matter of fact, even if you get the one he can’t reproduce offspring. Why?

Because he’s sterile. 

Also, sterile male calicoes need to be neutered otherwise this can give rise to various serious health issues including testicular cancer. 

Lemme wear my biologist coat to answer this but on a condition that you won’t beat your head with the wall. LOL

In simple words, dual coat colour can only be possible if the embryo has two XX chromosomes. Male embryos are the result of the combination of ‘XY’ chromosomes so they can’t have a calico pattern. The only possible case when a male cat can have a calico pattern is due to a health problem called Klinefelter’s Syndrome. It’s a condition when a male embryo has 3-chromosomes(2 X chromosomes and a Y chromosome). That’s why it’s also known as XXY syndrome.

Unfortunately, due to this health problem male calicoes become sterile and have risks of various other diseases therefore you need to be super conscious about their health. 

The Breeds Whose Formal Standard Accepts Calico Pattern

An image showing four Calico cats of different  breeds

These beautiful ladies are a gift of God to mankind. The calico pattern is found in a large number of breeds but I don’t want to create a mess here by writing the name of each and every breed that has a calico pattern. A better idea would be to write the names of those breeds whose formal standards accept calico patterns. And these breeds are 

  1. Calico Persian Cat
  1. Manx Calico Cat
  1. American Shorthair Calico Cat
  1. Japanese Bobtail Calico Cat
  1. Exotic Shorthair Calico Cat
  1. Maine Coon Calico Cat
  1. Arabian Mau Calico Cat
  1. Turkish Angora Calico Cat
  1. Turkish Van Calico Cat
  1. Siberian Calico Cat 
  1. Norwegian Forest Calico Cat

Some other breeds that have calico patterns are

  • American bobtail
  • American wirehair
  • American curl
  • American longhair
  • American shorthair
  • Japanese bobtail
  • Cornish Rex
  • Devon Rex
  • Sphynx

Cat Breeds That  Can’t Be Calicoes

Compared to the breeds that accept calico the breeds that don’t embrace them are few and be counted on fingertips These are: 

  1.  Siamese
  1. Birman
  1. Himalayan
  1. Russian Blue 
  1. Bombay Cat
  1. British Shorthair and a few others.

How Rare is Calico Cats? 

Well, it’s a pretty tricky question and needs explanation. The scarcity of calico cats is based on their sex and the type of coat. 

Scarcity of Calico Cats on the Basis of Hair Type 

Shorthaired Females calico cats are not rare and are found everywhere. Longhaired calico cats however are not as common as the shorthaired.

Scarcity of Calico Cats on the Basis of Shade or Colour 

Vibrant beautiful calicoes are found everywhere and are easily available, whereas dilute calicoes are rare and you may take a longer time in finding one.

Scarcity of Calico Cats on the Basis of Sex

The highest variation is seen in the difference of sexes. While the female calico cats are in large number and available at low prices the male Calico cats are very rare and so they are very costly because of their scarcity.

Calico Cat Prices in Different Countries of the World 

CountryPrice in Dollars
Calico Cat Price in the USA$200 to $2000 
Calico Cat Price in the UK£200 to £2000 ($400 to $3000)
Calico Cat Price in India₹5000 to ₹70000 ($100 to $1000)
Calico Cat Price in the Kingdom of Saudi ArabiaSAR 600 to SAR 2000 ($160 to $ 500)
Calico Cat Price in PakistanPKR 3000 to PKR 50000 ($18 to $300)
Calico Cat Price in Australia$150 to $ 500 Australia Dollars($100 to $350 USD)

*Note: These are the average prices but the prices may vary based on the individual breed, colour, sex and life stage.

Average Price of a Calico Cat

Prices of calico cats are largely determined by their age, sex, and whether or not they are purebred. Calico cats cost between $400 and $500 for females and $1,000 to $2,000 for males due to their scarcity.

15 Facts Calico Cats

Till now, we have discussed so many interesting things about the Calico cats. Now, let’s have a look at some facts. 

  1. Calico is not a breed, it’s the name of a pattern.
  1. 99.9% of Calico cats are female.
  1. Male Calico cats are sterile and need to be neutered.
  1. They are also known as ‘Beckoning Cats’ because the character beckoning cat was based on a Calico cat. 
  1.  In 2001, Calico became the official state cat of the state of Maryland, U.S.A because it resembles the Baltimore Oriole, the state bird of Maryland.
  1. Calicoes are also known as ‘Money Cats’ in the U.S.A because it is believed that these cats bring money to the breeders.
  1. In Japan, these cats are seen as lucky cats. Japanese sailors used to travel with them in the past to protect themselves from enemies. 
  1. In Ireland, these cats are known as curing cats. There is a mythical belief that rubbing the wart against the tail of calico cats can cure them. 
  1. Calico Cats were used in the book ‘Counting on Calico’ to teach little children Mathematics.
  1.  Calicoes are the exclusive gift of God that can’t be bred. 
  1. Only 1 out of 3000 calicoes can be male. 
  1. Calico cats are found in every continent except Antarctica (obviously).
  1. According to ICSID, a business organisation, Male Calico Cats are more expensive than other cats.
  1. Longhaired Calico cats are rarer than their shorthaired counterparts.
  1. Dilute Calico cats are rarer than their vibrant cousins.