|Photo via Ashley Bayles|
The definition of a calico cat is a feline that has a predominately white coat with patches of two other colors - usually orange tabby and black. Calico isn't a breed of cat, but instead a type of color variation for a cat's coat. Calico cats are very interesting and you'll never find two exactly alike.
Calico Cats Pack a Punch
Some say that calico cats have an "attitude". I have met a lot of cats over the years and will agree that many of them can be feisty, but still believe that this is a myth. There are just as many sweet natured calicos as there are truculent ones. One thing is for sure, they certainly do have a lot of personality!
A Lesson in Genetics
Calico cats are almost always female. This has to do with genetics. Females carry to X chromosomes, while males are built up of a set of XY chromosomes. In cats, the X chromosome carries the gene for black and orange fur. Since females have two X chromosomes, it is possible for them to be both black and orange. Since males only have one X chromosome, it is not possible for them to be calico. A calico male usually has some genetic abnormalities and will most likely be sterile. They may also have a number of other health problems.
Show Me the Money
Did you know that calico cats are said to be good luck in some cultures? In the US, they are referred to as "money cats" sometimes. In Japan, the Maneki Neko cat figurine is usually a calico.
|Photo via Jules Antonio|
Not So Common in Purebred Cats
The calico coloration is not found in all purebred cats. Manx, American Shorthair, British Shorthair, Persian, Japanese Bobtail, Exotic Shorthair, and Turkish Van purebred cats can be calico and still meet the standards of their breed.
I was quite intrigued to learn that calico cats can be hard to produce for breeders. Most calico cats are domestic shorthairs, your typical everyday non-purebred cat. Breeders can try putting a black and orange cat together, but even then it is just luck as to what the outcome will be.
Official State Cat
The calico cat was announced the official state cat of Maryland in 2001. This is because its colors are also shared with the state bird - the oriole, as well as the state butterfly - the Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly. I'm going to have to look up the state cat for Texas now because I've never heard of one before I found this.