4 Things You Didn’t Know About Calico Cats

| Published on November 25, 2017

Calico cats are recognized for their unique coat pattern, but there are many more interesting things about them than one may realize.

All cats are alluring individuals, each with their own special looks and personalities, but some coat colors have a bit of a history. When it comes to our patchy calico cats, there are some fun facts to learn. If you’re new to calico cats, you might be surprised to find they are…

#1 – Mostly Female

Because the orange and black patch colorings are located on the X-chromosome, the majority of calico cats are female. Since female cats, like people, have two X-chromosomes, they are much more likely to display the calico coloration. Males, with their XY-chromosomes, only have one X that is able to show these traits (Y-chromosomes don’t contain any coat coloration genes). A single X-chromosome offers either black or orange coloration, but not both, therefore making it very rare for males to be calico. Male calico cats do exist and are often the result of a disorder called Kinefelter’s syndrome in which they have an extra chromosome – XXY – and are generally sterile.

Image source: Michael Frank Franz

#2 – Good Luck Charms

After learning all that science, it’s time to enjoy the less-proven belief that calico cats are good luck charms! In Japanese culture, these cats are thought to bring good luck and were often taken aboard by sailors as a form of protection against any possible misfortune out at sea.

#3 – Stately Cats

In October 2001, the state of Maryland named the calico cat as the state cat. These cats were chosen by officials because of their resemblance to the state bird, the Baltimore Oriole. You might notice that the Baltimore Oriole’s baseball team also sports the black, orange, and white as their team colors.

Image source: Andy Smith

#4 – Bringers of Good Fortune

Many are familiar with the Maneki Neko – or Beckoning Cat – in Japanese culture. These cats are often calico cats and are thought to be a symbol of good fortune. They are often placed at the entrance of homes and businesses to welcome prosperity. The Maneki Neko goes all the back to the 1870s in Japanese culture, making this a very old belief and likely the reason for the calicos’ popularity elsewhere.