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February 17, 2012 / Zoe

Feline Friday – The Calico Cat.

My favourite colour on a cat is grey, I think that’s fairly obvious, given the colouring of my kitty offspring. But I do have a clear second favourite, and that is the calico. I know that the terminology differs from country to country, so you might call them a tortoiseshell-and-white. I do think that tortoiseshells are also gorgeous, but something about the white with patches of ginger and black gets me every time.

We’ve had one calico foster kitten, named Dorothy. We had several calls as soon as she was listed for adoption, so I know I’m not alone in this love of the calico kitty!

Isn’t she stunning? I would have loved to have kept her! I’m fairly sure that our next cat will be a calico, not any time soon though, 3 is enough!

The special thing about both calico and tortoiseshells is that they are almost always girls! Coat colour in cats is determined by the X chromosome, and which colour is expressed is completely random! The only way a male can be a calico is if he has XXY chromosomes, which is not normal, and he would probably be sterile.

Dorothy’s sister, Pippi, was also a special girl. She is what would generally be called a tortoiseshell. And just quietly, I would have really loved to keep her too! That’s the danger of fostering kittens!

They were two of the sweetest cats I’ve ever known, and there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that being friendly and a little bit odd is a common trait of calico and tortoiseshell cats.

In the end they both found wonderful homes with an older cat to play with, and lovely people who adored them from the moment they met them. Lucky girls!

Is there a calico cat in your life? Do you find them to be exceptionally delightful?



Leave a Comment
  1. Amiee / Feb 20 2012 3:26 pm

    My parents place has a resident tortie Toby who we mistakenly thought was a boy but luckily she ended up with a unisex name! She is going on 18 this year and definitely feisty!

  2. Tara Galuska / Feb 19 2012 5:42 pm

    Too cute! The mother of my kittens is a calico cat and she is just lovely.
    She was a pregnant stray when my mother in law found her and I am so happy that I could adopt two of her gorgeous kittens.

  3. Yadira / Feb 19 2012 3:49 pm

    I really enjoyed this post! There’s a calico growing up in my house right now. I can’t wait to see her when her colors finally set and her personality develops, I’ll let you know if she has any special trait. If you want, you can read my latest blog post about a legend of the tortoiseshell cat.

  4. ladykatie32 / Feb 18 2012 12:57 pm

    Love your pics! I’m not sure I could foster kittens, I would want to keep them all! I have one calico, she is quite feisty–on a good day. On days when she’s in a mood, feisty is a little too kind haha, but I love her so much for her personality!

  5. Oldcat / Feb 18 2012 4:05 am

    The gene on the X chromosome determines if the orange color replaces the black color. So a calico has one X saying ‘replace’ and one saying ‘don’t replace’. Different parts of the cat pick which X to use, hence the patchy colors

    The gene for black tells what shade of black a cat is – black, chocolate or cinnamon. Even orange cats have this gene, its action is just hidden. It isn’t on the X

    The gene for white spotting is also not on the X. There seems to be a link between lots of white spotting and the size and distinctness of the color spots – torties have little spotting and finely mixed colors, calicos with a lot of white have well separated blotches of color.

    • Zoe / Feb 18 2012 6:35 am

      Ok, thanks. My understanding was from my HSC Biology class, which is apparently outdated now.

  6. I would love to have a calico or tortoiseshell kitty in my life! All of the tortoiseshell girls I’ve known have also been quite small, which made them even sweeter. One day, I’m sure. Somehow, I always end up with a grey tabby!
    p.s. I would have had a hard time letting go of Dorothy and Pippi, too. Good lord, they have the most darling little faces!

  7. Ieva / Feb 17 2012 10:54 pm

    What lovely photos. Torties are feisty girls!!

  8. Annika / Feb 17 2012 9:46 pm

    Aww, they both are so sweet! My cats are two tortoiseshells, and even though their personalities are completely different, they are both quite eccentric. Mae is loyal like a dog and the most loving cat I have ever known, and Missy is very independent, but will lick you all over when she wants to show her love.

  9. Juani (@juaniWC) / Feb 17 2012 9:28 pm

    I sent you an email with some pics of my calico girl 😉 I love them to bits as well,and adored these pics of your fosters.

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