Calico cats are members of the feline species that can have anywhere from 25% to 75% white fur that features large patches of black and orange in a tri-colored format. In some cases, even grey can appear in the coloration of this domestic breed of animal Normally, calico cats will be of the female gender. It is extremely rare to find a male calico cat, but it has been known to happen from time to time.
This is because the genetic determination of coat colors involved is directly linked to the X chromosome. This is commonly found among female cats as their genetics feature a maternal X chromosome and a paternal X chromosome. Because male cats only have a single X chromosome, the majority of the time they’re either just one color or two. Only in rare circumstances will a male cat sport a second X gene. In this case, it’s a condition called Klinefelter Syndrome, which means the male cat will also face issues of sterility.
Calico vs. Tortie
Sometimes, the calico cats are confused with the tortoiseshell (tortie) cats. Tortie cats normally have their fur mottled that is either black-orange or grey with cream. As is the case with male calico cats, it is extremely rare to find white on a tortoiseshell cat. However, calico cats are indeed tortoiseshell cats in every way. The only difference between the two is the colors and patterns featured on their coat. While the calico cats are not a specified breed of cat, the following breeds that allow calico coloration as formal standards in shows are;
- American Shorthair
- Arabian Mau
- British Shorthair
- Exotic Shorthair
- Japanese Bobtail
- Main Coon
- Norweigan Forest
- Turkish Angora
- Turkish Van
Calico Cats in Study
Murray Barr took it upon himself to study calicos in 1948 when it was observed each of them sported dark drumstick-shaped masses located inside the nuclei of the nerve cells belonging to female cats. This did not exist among any of the male cats that were studied. In 1959, it was learned by Japanese biologist, Susumu Ohno, the dark masses were X-chromosomes.
Also referred to as Barr bodie, genetic scientist, Mary Lyon, proposed in 1961 a concept known as X-inactivation, which meant one of the two X chromosomes found in female cats seems to shut off, which then results in the coat color patterns similar to mice. This, according to science, suggests the reason why calico cats are always female is due to the locus of the gene that causes color inhibition, the white emerges along with patches of two other colors, which are usually orange and black.
While there are always genetic exceptions, such cases are extremely rare and are always connected to some type of medical issue. Although not life-threatening when this exception happens to a male cat, this is considered a birth defect and as a result, is not favored as a suitable breeding option.
Caring for Calico Cats
Calico cats are not a special breed of cat, but they are almost always female. However, since calico cats are found within a wide variety of breeds, taking their ancestry into consideration, plus their lifestyle, play deciding factors in a cat’s overall health. Just like people, each cat, including calicos, will have their own genetic makeup that will play its role in a cat’s immune system,, plus other health considerations.
Furthermore, since the vast majority of calico cats are female, there is the issue of birth control. For female cats, it’s called spaying. Spaying a cat before her estrous cycle greatly reduces the risk of cervical cancer, as well as eliminates the risk of ovarian cancer. With the ovaries removed, the hormones that encourage cancerous tumor growth are greatly reduced. Spaying also reduces the threat of mammary cancer as well. Furthermore, with an already disheartening amount of unwanted cats as it is, adding to the problem is just as inhumane as animal abuse.
There are also a number of other health-related issues when cats, including calicos, mate. Feline leukemia and feline AIDS are two diseases that spread through bites of infected cats upon other cats. According to VCA Hospitals, the feline version of these diseases cannot be transmitted to people as the biochemistry involved has too many variables for any cat to pose as a threat to people. A spayed cat also has less violent urges to fight over mates and territory, which reduces their chance of sustaining injury.
Male Calico Cats
Should luck have it there is a male calico cat, which is rare as there’s maybe only one out of every three thousand male cats born may share the calico trait. Already with genetics working against the male cat as it is with the likelihood of having Klinefelter Syndrome, having the male calico neutered as quickly as possible is highly recommended to ensure his health is as optimal as possible. Should you have a male calico cat and he has been diagnosed with Klinefelter Syndrome, he will be prone to increased body mass that may lead to diabetes, heart disease, and other impairments that could render him disoriented. Often associated with Klinefelter Syndrome is Dyslipidemia, which is a disorder that disrupts a cat’s ability to properly metabolize lipoprotein.
Calico cats, like all cats, require routine care in order to live out a quality of life that is as healthy and stress-free as possible. Human beings expect this for themselves, so why not cats? As people, we groom ourselves regularly, so cats, including calicos, require this as well. Aside from cats already seeming to be experts at self-cleaning, there are a couple of areas where we human beings can help out. Regular brushing is one good way to go about it. Even if the cat doesn’t have a long coat of pet hair doesn’t mean they don’t need grooming.
A regular routine of brushing his coat removes dead hair off the body so when the cat grooms itself it doesn’t ingest any of that dead hair. The least amount of hairballs kitty coughs up the better for both of you as you won’t have to clean up the mess and kitty doesn’t have to endure the unpleasantness of becoming momentarily ill. Also by doing this, you can determine while brushing if there are any abnormalities with the calico cat that needs further attention. Grooming a cat through this matter also strengthens the bond between yourself and the cat, especially if this is done as a routine ritual.
Fresh Drinking Water
Fresh drinking water is something we expect for ourselves, so supplying this for a cat should be standard practice. Having good, clean, fresh drinking water supplied for the calico cat is essential. There are cat fountains that are known to stimulate a cat’s interest to drink water as the rotation of the water through its water filtering system helps maintain the cleanliness and freshness of the water.
This, plus providing quality cat food that doesn’t cheap out on its ingredient list, will go a long way to maintain your cat’s health as optimal as possible. Also, be sure to keep up with the litter box as cats are fussy enough animals where if their access to their toilet is not as clean as they like, they won’t use it. They may do their business next to it instead of inside.
At this point, should they do this, the fault isn’t with them, as they have demonstrated it’s not for a lack of consideration on their part they do this. It’s a lack of consideration to keep the closest thing they have to a toilet clean. The only other reason they may do their business outside a litter box, even if it’s a clean one, is the possibility of the cat contending with urinary tract infection (UTI).
Should this be the case, taking your cat to a veterinarian as soon as possible is highly advised. With the subject of urinary tract infection brought up, this is another reason why it is vital to keep the cat’s litterbox as clean as possible. Such as the case with human beings, an unclean environment promotes a series of potential health issues.
Not only is it important to keep the litterbox clean, but use quality kitty litter instead of cheating out on products that contain too much dust. It’s that dust that gets into the cat’s system and, over time, can result in a build-up of bacterial infection that can lead to medical issues such as urinary tract infection.
One of the most overlooked medical issues with cats, including calicos, is their dental health. Such as the case with people, tartar buildup inside the mouth can lead to gum disease, as well as tooth decay. Furthermore, the bacterial buildup can get into the cat’s bloodstream, organs, and other vitals that will take away the cat’s ability to enjoy the quality of life they deserve.
It is recommended to schedule your cat once a year to visit a veterinarian for teeth cleaning. Since cats can’t brush their own teeth as people can, we need to do this for them, but it’s not a task they’ll be so willing to let us do. Again, all the more reason why taking the cat to visit a veterinarian should become an annual practice so that your cat’s oral health doesn’t become compromised. In the meantime, between visits to the veterinarian, there are chewable products that have dental-friendly ingredients in them.
Greenies are one such product that is frequently seen at many veterinarian clinics and is usually the treat of choice given to the cat while visiting an animal clinic. Calico cats, like any other cat, benefits from scratching posts. First off, having scratching posts around and encouraging the cats to use them not only reduces the risk of your furniture from being destroyed but helps keep the cat’s muscles strong. It also helps the cat maintain quality claw health as the cardboard or fabric sisal featured in scratching posts helps get rid of the old layers of the cat’s claws to make way for the new.
This is a better and more humane way to deal with the claws of your cat as declawing should never be an option worth considering. Among a growing number of states, it has now become illegal to declaw a cat as it is now recognized as a form of animal abuse. Declawing a cat, regardless of its age, is taking away muscle and tissue that play an integral role in the long-term well-being of your cat, both from a medical standpoint and psychological.
When the time comes when you need to take your calico cat to see a veterinarian, make sure you find one that is cat-friendly. Although in the trade to care for all animals like a physician is supposed to with people, there are some veterinarians that are not as cat-friendly as others. Veterinarians that are cat-friendly not only seem to provide better care for your feline friend but will likely share that same love affair with calico cats as you do. This will mean that veterinarian is more likely to develop a better relationship with your cat, who is most likely not happy that you’ve taken him/her outside of the comfort of his/her own home, to begin with. When taking your cat anywhere, be sure to use a quality pet carrier. This is for both your benefit as the cat is safe and secure in the carrier and you are kept safe from a potentially panicked kitty that will likely interfere with your driving.
The term “Cattitude” was first associated with calico cats as they seem to have a reputation for being bold, neurotic, quirky, and strong-willed. According to Japanese culture, calico cats are considered to be good luck. A few other nations also share this same belief, including Americans. In the states of Massachusetts, Maryland, and Maine, the calico cat has been officially declared as each state’s animal symbol.
You can also read:
- Tortoiseshell Cat vs. the Calico Cat: The Battle of the Non-Breeds
- The Most Popular Calico Cat Names Out There
- 20 Things You Didn’t Know About Calico Cats