What is a calico cat?
Do you remember the moment when there was information on the Internet that male calico cats are wanted all over the world? Then the organizers of the search promised a monetary reward to those who will find and bring such a rare cat. Probably, at that moment, everybody thought that it was easy to find such a cat. But as a practice has shown, it is almost impossible because everything came down to the fact that only females can be tricolor.
This fact raises many questions: What is a calico cat? What makes a cat a calico? Why a cat cannot be a talisman that brings happiness, wealth and good luck? Let’s find out what such discrimination is related to.
What is a calico cat – what is the secret?
Let’s clear things up at once, that “calico” is not a breed of cat but only the name of the pattern and location of colored spots on the body of the animal. Besides this type of color, there are other different types of calico cats:
- “Calico” is the color of the coat which is characterized by the prevalence of black and red spots with white inserts. These colored spots have clear borders, don’t intersect, and can have different shades of both black and orange (chocolate, or red);
- “Harlequin” – it also has colored spots that take up less of the cat’s body area and form a certain pattern. Most often the spots are localized on the head (muzzle) or legs. Also, the spots can only decorate the tail and the body can be purely white;
- “Tortoiseshell” – you might have seen these cats most likely in one of the neighboring streets (this is quite a popular type of color among spotted cats). “Tortoiseshell” cats have hair in which different colors are combined with each other into a chaotic order (one color can smoothly change into another). The muzzle of such cats can be divided into two parts – red and dark and the rest of the body will have a spotted, turtle color;
- “Scaly” – that’s when the arrangement of the fur’s colors resembles fish scales, in other words, they are tightly interleaved and superimposed on each other. It is almost impossible to trace where one color goes to another (more often it is red and black shades) – this is the main difference between calico and tortoiseshell cats.
What is the secret of the coloring of the calico cat?
As you remember from biology lessons, our DNA has different chromosomes – “X” and “Y”. They are the ones that determine the sex of a future animal or human. If there are two “XX” chromosomes in the genome, the kitten is born female, and if the code consists of “X” and “Y”, the pair will have a male heir (continuer).
The fact is that only females have a set of “X” chromosomes, which is responsible for the color of hair in animals. The “X” chromosomes may contain black and red pigments. Therefore, if a cat has an “X” chromosome set in its genome, it has all chances to become part of the calico cat representative species.
Another situation is with tricolor male cats that have an abnormal set of chromosomes at birth, namely “XX chromosomes”. In a man, everything is quite simple and not so colorful because the chromosome “Y” has no color pigments. Therefore, a cat that is born with a standard set of “XY” chromosomes has the ability to be two-color or monochrome (if good fortune is with him).
According to statistics, males calico cats are born infertile (they cannot have offspring in the future) and most often have some health problems that affect their life quality and expectancy.
There is a historical fact that confirms that a unique set of chromosomes “XXY” in the genome of tricolor males were studied to determine the cause of genetic abnormality in children born with Down syndrome. Since these children also have an extra chromosome in their genetic code.
Calico cats personality traits
As we mentioned above, it is not a breed but a color, so it is almost unrealistic to name common features for all three-color cats and describe calico cat’s behavior. These cats are so rare that predicting calico cat temperament for all representatives is not an easy task.
There are some sources that say these cats are friendly and cautious towards strangers. And they also often miss the litter box. They prefer to choose this special place for themselves, so you should look at their preferences. But these are all generalized data that don’t have specific confirmation. We are sure that these cats are not even similar to all calico cats.
Calico cat breeds
In fact, even a street cat can have tricolor hair. But there is a list of breeds that are more inclined to be born with a unique color, for example:
- Long-haired calico cat: Persian, Maine Coon, Siberian, Norwegian forest cat breeds, Turkish Van
- Shorthair: Japanese and Kuril bobtail, Exotic breeds of cats
The calico kitten cannot be born into a British Shorthair cat family because this breed can only have a gray hair shade.