top of page

Why Are Calicos Calico?

Have you ever wondered why some cats are Calico and have so many variation of color? Me too. Rosie is a Calico and I wondered what a male Calico looked like. Guess what? Good luck finding one. Only one out of 3,00 cats may be a male Calico. They are like teeth in a chicken. Show me one.

It's all about genetics. Want to be bored? Here are the details. Coat color in cats is typically a sex-linked trait, meaning the physical characteristic is related to the cat's gender.

Both male and female cats can be orange or black because the gene that controls orange fur color is on the X chromosome. However, in males, an orange color is usually expressed in a striped or Tabby pattern.

Female cats, on the other hand, can be Tabby, Calico or Tortoiseshell. Calico and tortoiseshell are similar, but Calico's have patches of white, orange and brown or black while Tortie's coats are only orange and black.

Because the X chromosome is responsible for both orange and black fur, female cats can display both colors because they have two X chromosomes. But males, having only one X chromosome, can be either orange or black. For a male cat to have a calico pattern, the feline has to have three sex chromosomes: two X's and a Y.


This XXY combination can occur when there's an incomplete division of the male's XY chromosome pair at the time of fertilization — and it doesn't just happen in cats. It can occur in people too, resulting in a genetic disorder known as Klinefelter syndrome.

While you might assume that a male Calico cat is valuable because of his rarity, male Calico's are of little interest to breeders because they're typically sterile.

In fact, it's estimated that only one out of 10,000 male Calico's is fertile.

Recent Posts

See All

1 Comment

6 days ago

Calicos are pretty

bottom of page