Calico cats are beloved all over the world for their eye-catching fur and quirky personalities. They boast a wide-range of beautiful colors and patterns and a fascinating history, too. 

No two calico cats are alike, and each one has truly unique traits. You never know what to expect, which is why they’re one of the most popular types of cats in the UK! How much do you know about the charming calico? Below, Cat in a Flat explores what makes these fascinating felines one-of-a-kind. 

calico cat origins

What is a calico?

It’s common for some paw parents to list their kitty’s breed as ‘Calico’. However, unlike the Siamese or British Shorthair, calico isn’t a breed. Instead, it refers to the unique color pattern that some felines have on their fur. 

To be called a calico cat, your fur friend must have a tri-colored coat. There should be at least three colors in their fur—usually the basic black, white, and orange. However, these types of kitties can have many other color variations including cream, blue-black, and brown. 

Where do calico cats originate from? 

Feline history is often a bit of a mystery, and the calico cat’s origins is no exception. While no one knows for sure where your tri-colored fur friend’s ancestors originally came from, it’s often believed they were first found in Egypt. From there, these felines would have traveled by ship along the Mediterranean to ports in Italy, Spain, and France. 

Reasons calico cats are unique

Calico cats are truly one-of-a-kind kitties! Here are a few things that make them unique.

Calicos happen across all cat breeds

Because ‘calico’ is a type of coat and not a breed, many different feline breeds can have calico cat markings. Persian, Maine Coon, and the Japanese Bobtail are all examples of cat breeds that produce kitties with tri-colored fur patterns. 

Most calico cats are female

A fascinating cat fact about this type of kitty is that only one in every 3,000 are male! Most calico cats are female because their coloring is related to having two X chromosomes. A XX combination is needed for a cat to have the distinctive tri-color coat, and if a cat has an XX pair this also means she will be female. 

The exception happens in rare cases where a cat has an XY chromosome pair (meaning he is male) but also an extra X. These cats therefore have an XXY configuration and present as male. Interestingly enough, the extra X chromosome also means that male calico cats are sterile and unable to reproduce. 

calico cat personality

Calicos have major cattitudes

Studies show that people are more likely assign spunky, temperamental personalities to calico cats. While Mr Whiskers’ personality does depend on their breed, there is little proof that a link exists between coat color and your kitty’s behavior. Even so, proud calico paw parents are more likely to claim that their kitties have larger-than-life cattitudes!

Calicos aren’t the same as Tortoiseshells

Because of their similar coloring, calico kitties are often mistaken for Tortoiseshells (and vice versa). However, these are two different types of felines! While calicos are mostly white with patches of color, Torties have a mainly brownish coat with streaks of color and very little white. 

maneki Neko lucky cat

Calico cats are lucky

In many cultures, calico cats are believed to be quite auspicious felines! They are sometimes referred to as ‘lucky cats’, and in countries like the US and UK calicos are symbols of good fortune. In Ireland there are folktales around the lucky properties of calicos. For example, an old Irish wives tale claims that rubbing a calico cat’s tail against a wart will make it disappear!

However, Japan perhaps has the closest ties to these feline lucky charms. You’re probably familiar with the waving Maneki-neko, or Money Cat. This statue originated in Japan in the late 1800s and is based on the calico cat. Business owners would place a Maneki-neko at the entrance to their shops or restaurants to attract prosperity and good luck.  Because they were so rare, Japanese sailors would also bring calicos on sea voyages. They believed these cats would bring luck, calm angry spirits, and guarantee a safe trip! 

What to expect from a calico cat

Because calicos can exist across many feline breeds, it’s best to be prepared for anything when bringing one into your home. Take your time getting to know your feline and their unique demands. Although calico cats can have a wide range of personality quirks and needs, the basics of essential cat care never change. Adjust these cat care tips to your individual fur friend . 

For example, if your tri-colored cat is a breed that tends to gain weight easily, make changes to how you feed your cat and be sure to provide them with quality playtime. If they’re long-haired, you may need to brush them multiple times per week. On the other hand, a short-haired calico will do fine with a single weekly brushing. If your calico cat is a breed that gets lonely easily, you may need to hire a cat sitter who can do multiple daily visits. Be flexible with your calico cat’s needs! A happy, healthy calico cat will bring hours of entertainment and a great deal of enrichment to your life. 

Are you the paw parent of a particularly spunky, chatty fur friend? Find out more about why your cat chatters at birds and what your kitty’s meow means