With a coat of brilliant red, jet black and snow-white calicos are indeed striking cats. It also seems like they take a great deal of pride in this. But do all calicos simply have a patchwork of color, or can something else be mixed in?
Can calico cats have stripes? Yes, Calico cats can have stripes. Although the standard pattern is splotches of color, if a calico’s mother, father, or both are tabbies, striping can occur.
Calico cats are usually an interesting group but not always under the umbrella of Domestic Short Hair or Long Hair. They are quite the feline and are characterized by irregularly shaped splashes of color. But sometimes there’s a deviation to the shape of the colors. Read on to discover what happens when a tabby is thrown into the mix.
Are Striped Calicos Still Calicos?
A true calico cat is typically twenty-five to seventy percent white. The rest of their coloring is black and red. To be a calico, it must be tri-colored. For instance, an orange and white cat is not a calico because it only has two colors.
A Striped calico is referred to as a calibby. This is a mix between a tabby and a calico. So instead of having just irregular splotches of color, the calico will have a striped or spotted coat. The addition of stripes and or spots gives the calico an extra dimension. But despite the addition of the stripes, the calico will retain her three colors and, therefore, still be called a calico.
For more information on different types of coat patterns, read this article!
Different Types of Calicos
There are four different types of calicos. They include
This is your typical patchwork fur pattern that everyone knows and loves. When you see a calico, this is pretty much what you’re looking at.
A calico, which is a calibby, as previously mentioned, has stripes and or spots.
These beauties have the black, red and white in their coat just like the standard calico. The significant difference is the base coat. Unlike standard calicos that have a white base coat, tortoiseshells have a black base coat. A tortoiseshell doesn’t have distinct red and white splotches. Instead, it is more of a blend. The red and black mix with a little white thrown in. And although this can be controversial among tortie parents, they’re still tri-colored, which makes them calicos.
Understanding the difference between tabby and tortoiseshell patterns is important for any cat owner. You can learn more about Tortoiseshell vs tabby cats here.
Dilute calicos have a light coloration. You may have heard them called different names such as clouded tiger or calimanco. They look different than a standard calico, but that’s what they are. It can be confused with a plain grey cat. It’s a smokey colored grey with an almost strawberry-blond color tone. It’s not as vibrant as the standard calico, but it’s an exquisite look.
Do the Calico Colors Make it a Breed?
No, a calico is not a breed (although they may act like they are), but they can appear in different breeds. There are several recognized feline purebreds that will accept the calico coloring. These breeds that accept the calico coloring are:
- Maine Coon
- Exotic Short Hair
- Japanese Bobtail
- Norwegian Forest Cat
- Domestic Shorthair
- Domestic Longhair
- Turkish Angora
- Turkish Van
- American Curl
- And More…
Even though these breeds do accept the unique calico pattern and colors, there are some breeds that will not accept calico coloration.
- Russian Blues
- Siamese (and other point breeds)
It would be difficult for these breeds to produce a calico anyway. This is because they are solid colors that don’t have orange in them. The Siamese are cream and black, and the Russian Blue is grey…no orange.
How Does the Unique Calico Coloration Develop?
Calicos are rare. They are a genetic anomaly. It starts with their chromosomes. All-female cats have two “X” chromosomes. These chromosomes double the amount of protein that the female needs. But a female can’t live with all this protein. They end up closing down one chromosome. When a chromosome is shut down that controls black fur on the part of the body; red fur might come out instead. If it closes down a white part of the body, black fur might appear. This is called dosage compensation. Now, this is all very random. And that’s why each calico’s fur has a unique pattern. Just like a snowflake, no calico looks the same.
You may have noticed that the example was for a female. But how is color determined on the male calicos? It’s a fallacy to think all calicos are female. Although 99.9% of calicos are female, one in three thousand are male.
A non-calico male has “XY” chromosomes. But a calico male has a deviation in their chromosomes. They have “XXY” chromosomes. As a result, the “XX” of the male calico will still go through dosage compensation.
Do the Colors Effect Personality?
Do colors effect personality is the million-dollar question when it comes to a calico. Because boy do, they have personality. Some would say an overabundance of personality. But although the red in their fur might be accused of giving them that ginger rage, there may be other factors that contribute to their vibrant personalities. Many calicos are accused of being
Besides being a female cat, why do they have such a bad rap for their big attitudes? Although not entirely documented by scientists, there is a possible medical reason why calicos are so, well, challenging. Although not based on their color, it could be based on genetics.
There have been a few studies linking personality traits to color. A University of California-Davis survey of over a thousand cat parents had questions regarding cat behavior. It found that aggression in female cats was associated with sex-linked coloration.
This means that coloration linked to the “X” chromosome was associated with bad behavior. Calicos are the poster child of sex-linked coloration. This isn’t saying that all calicos are going to attack the veterinarian or your neighbor’s dog, but it does show a propensity toward naughtiness.
Coat patterns and personality differences are especially important for new cat owners. Understanding how to link the behaviors can help when selecting a new cat to add to your family. Learn more about coat patterns and behavior here.
Calico Coloration Revered For Luck
Are you down on your luck? Then, you need a calico. They are known throughout Asia and the Middle East to be lucky.
Japanese sailors took them on ships to chase away storms because calicos were considered very lucky. Even if you’re not a calico parent, you’ve probably seen one over and over again. Maybe you’ve noticed, or own; a Japanese talisman called a Maneki neko. It’s a cat sitting with one paw in the air. It’s usually a calico. It’s often seen in shops. A left paw in the air brings customers to the store. A right paw in the air brings good luck.
Standard Calico or Calibby…They’re Beautiful
Although rare, calicos give you many variations to choose from when it comes to vibrant colors. With the added dimension of the stripes, a calibby provides you the best of both worlds. From a standard queenly pattern to a mysterious dilute, you can find one that meets your tastes. And although the jury is out about their personality, there’s one thing for sure. You’ll never be bored with knowing or loving a calico.