Breed Tips

Are All Calico Cats Female? The Truth About Calico Colors

What is a Calico Cat?

Calico cats are beautiful cats with patterned coats. Typically, calico coats have a white base and several colors on top, such as orange and black. Orange and black are the most common calico colors, but calico cats can also come in strawberry blonde and gray shades.

The term “calico” was initially used in the U.S. as a blanket term for any type of patterned fabric. Similarly, cats with multiple pigments on their coats also took on the term calico.

Are All Calico Cats Female?

Almost all calico cats are females.

You may have heard that calico cats are always female, but this is a myth. Male calico cats are very rare, with only around 1 in 3,000 calico cats being male, but they do exist. 

The reason for this is based on chromosomes. Like humans, female cats have XX chromosomes, while male cats have XY chromosomes.

In cats, chromosomes determine their fur color. The X chromosome is linked to the colors black and orange. This gives female cats, who have two X chromosomes, the opportunity to have both black and orange coloring. While male cats only have the chance to be either black or orange since they only have one X chromosome.

You may be asking yourself now how any male cat can be calico if this is the case?

A rare condition known as Klinefelter Syndrome gives male cats the possibility of becoming calico. Male cats with Klinefelter Syndrome have an extra chromosome, giving them XXY chromosomes, so they have the necessary X chromosomes needed to be both black and orange colored. 

Why Are Male Calico Cats Not Bred?

If the calico coloring is so sought after, you may be wondering why male calico cats are not bred to increase the likelihood of male calico kittens. The reason for this is that most cats with Klinefelter Syndrome are sterile, making breeding for male calico cats very difficult.  

That’s not to say you shouldn’t spay your cat, because spaying will help decrease the likelihood of your cat marking their territory and developing certain cancers later on.

If you are lucky enough to have a male calico cat, definitely make sure you treasure him!


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