Can Calico Cats Get Pregnant? – Care Guide For Owners


Calico kittens are always a bundle of joy. They’re little multicolored fur balls that both beguile and cause trouble. Mother cats, or “queens” as they’re called, take great pride in watching and taking great care of their brood. But are all types of cats able to get pregnant, including calicos? Or, are certain cats unable to be mothers because of their coloring.

Can calico cats get pregnant? A calico cat that isn’t spayed is capable of getting pregnant. The famous calico fur is just a colored pattern and doesn’t affect the ability to become pregnant. Female cats can get pregnant as young as 4 – 6 months in age. 

If you haven’t spayed your calico and are worried that she could get pregnant, you should worry. If you let her roam outdoors while she’s in “heat,” there’s always the chance an unneutered male will have his way with her. At that point…kittens! Now the question is, will you end up with more calicos? We’ll discuss cat pregnancies and specifically if you can breed calicos to have kittens with those gorgeous colors.

How Do Calicos Get Pregnant?

Cats, including calicos, have a different fertile pattern than canines. Canines cycle three to four weeks a couple of times a year. On the other hand, cats are seasonally poly-estrous. When the food supply in the wild diminishes in the fall and winter, the reproductive system of a cat shuts down. It continues to be turned off all winter. They start to cycle again in the spring and go all summer.

Cats have an unusual pattern once spring hits. They cycle for four days then quit for eight. They repeat this process until they become pregnant. And just because they’re nursing doesn’t mean the queen has a break. They start to cycle again immediately after birth.

They are also induced ovulators. Once the mating takes place, then the female releases the eggs. They never miss a beat when it comes to getting pregnant. The gestation period is nine weeks. A cat, including a calico, is capable of having two litters a season. Now considering they can have anywhere between three to ten (wow!) kittens in a litter, that’s a lot of babies.

Can You Breed Two Calicos?

You have a beautiful calico and want her to have babies that look just like her. All you need is a male calico. Well, good luck. They are extremely rare. If you do happen to find one, you still won’t have those calico babies. Male calicos are sterile. It’s genetic.

Genetics is the same for all mammals. A female has “XX” chromosomes, and a male has an “XY” chromosome. The male determines what sex the offspring will be by giving it a “Y” or “X” chromosome.

The calico color is sex-linked. It is preordained to be on the “XX” chromosomes of a female. The cat must have “XX” to be a female and to be a calico. The male calico is a genetic aberration. It has “XXY” chromosomes. Because of this extra “X,” the calico male is sterile. Only one in three thousand male calicos are capable of impregnating a female.

So, you probably think a male calico that’s not sterile must be valuable. But no, they’re not. Breeders won’t touch them. They are usually below standards physically and, therefore, not healthy. They also have a low sperm count. No breeder wants to pass this genetic defect to the next generation.

How do You Know if Your Calico is Pregnant

You probably won’t suspect pregnancy until she’s almost ready to deliver. But, if your skinny cat starts putting on weight, the stork might be about to make a visit. Other signs of pregnancy include:

  • Increased appetite vomiting
  • Changes in Personality
  • Pinking up of the nipples (become larger and pink)
  • May start acting more maternal, affectionate.
  • Less tolerant of other pets or animals

If you suspect your kitty is pregnant, you might want to take her to your veterinarian for a check-up. Your vet may order blood tests. An X-ray or ultrasound may also be used to diagnose the pregnancy.

If pregnant, you’ll undoubtedly have several questions for your vet. They should include:

  • How to feed your Queen
  • What about worming
  • Treatment for fleas

You want your fur baby happy and healthy. Don’t be afraid to ask your vet questions and discuss any concerns.

Caring for Your Pregnant Calico Cat

Although cats are primarily self-reliant, there are some things you can do to make her more comfortable before and after the big event. They include:

  1. Bedding
  2. Food and litter
  3. Cuddling
  4. Places to hide

Read our care guide for cat pregnancy here

1.Bedding

You’ll want to help your queen choose a comfortable, safe birthing area. Place towels or blankets around the house. Choose out of the way areas. It could be a:

  • Corner
  • Closet
  • Box under the bed

But you want to give her privacy and comfort. After all, she needs to feel safe and secure to bring her babies into the world. Remember to keep other pets away from the birthing area.

In the beginning, kittens can’t regulate their temperature. Make sure you are setting up in draft-free areas.

2.Food/litter

You need to make plenty of food available for the mother to be. Give her extra meals a day. Or leave it out for her all the time. After all, she’s eating for probably quite a brood. Don’t worry; she’ll regulate her food intake.

As she gets closer, place bowls of food throughout the house. Make it convenient for her. And although we don’t have prenatal vitamins for queens, there is a way to give them extra nutrition. Purchase some kitten food. It’s loaded with dense energy and essential nutrients. Offer her as much as she wants.

Make the litter box convenient to her as well. Scatter a few throughout the house.

3.Cuddling

Yes, your calico will probably want more love, and you should give her plenty of it. But watch the belly. As tempting as it might be, don’t touch her belly. You not only could hurt your queen, but you could harm the kittens at the same time. You don’t want to hurt her, so resist the urge to pick her up or engage in any rough play.

4.Places to hide

This is an after-birth care tip. Give your queen places to escape to. She’ll want to hide from her kittens once in a while for some rest and privacy. You might want to purchase a cat tree or a hide and sleep for her to escape to. Here’s a list of items to keep your cat comfortable

Your Cat is Ready to Deliver

There are several signs that your cat is almost ready to deliver. They include:

  1. Mammary glands enlarge
  2. Kicking up the litter box
  3. Excessive licking grooming
  4. Making a nest
  5. Movement of kittens
  6. Vaginal discharge
  7. Vocalization

1. Mammary glands enlarge

A week to a few days before delivery, the nipples will pinken up and look even more enlarged. You will notice milk production

2.Kicking up the litter box

You will notice your queen aggressively digging in the litter at least three to four days before birthing. You will also see more frequent trips to the box. Some queens have a bit of diarrhea before delivery.

3.Excessive licking grooming

She might lick in one area so hard that she creates a bald spot. The licking usually takes place around the mammary glands and the genitalia areas.

4.Making a nest

Your queen will probably start wondering around the house. She may even jump in and out of small areas. She may climb in an open suitcase or a laundry basket. Your calico is looking for the perfect place to nest.

5.Movement of kittens

A couple of weeks before birth, you may notice rippling movements on her stomach. Those are the kittens moving. It becomes more evident once her abdomen has dropped. This occurs a few days before birth.

5. Discharge

This is the most important indicator that birth is imminent and is actually the first stage of labor. The discharge color can be either:

  • Clear
  • White
  • Yellow

All three colors are typical. Keep in mind, since your queen is vigorously grooming herself, you may not see the discharge. However, you will see the mucous plug that follows. It’s brown. After the mucous plug, her water will break. At that point, the babies will arrive in about 24-hours.

6.Vocalization

It’s about to get noisy. 

There will be a lot of this, and it includes yowling and chirping.

How Can Cats Avoid Pregnancy

The full-proof way to avoid a pregnancy is to spay your calico. If that’s not possible, then keep her inside. Either is a first step in taking care of your girl. But if she does get pregnant, pamper her and make her comfortable.

Remember to do the following:

  • Be vigilant
  • Be quiet
  • Be distant
  • Don’t stress

Leave the rest to your queen.

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