The Calico Cat's Coat
By: Alfred and Patches Kitty
The calico cat is a distinctive among most cats because of
the unusual coloring of its fur. There can be several
different variations of calico cat coloring. A true calico
has three colors: black, red and white. There is also a
"diluted" version of the calico that is blue, cream and
Cats that have the same coloring but lack the white spotting
are called tortoiseshells, torties or blue-creams. The white
spotting occurs randomly and in varying degrees. Cats with
little white are sometimes called tortoiseshell and white
instead of calico.
Cats that have a lot of white spotting are sometimes called
"high-white" calicos. A calico cat that has mostly white and
only a patch on the head and tail of coloring is called a
"van" calico cat.
A calico cat can come from many different
Maine Coons and
Scottish Folds all have a calico coloring
version as do several short hair and long hair breeds, and
of course the mixed "alley cat".
The calico coloring is carried by the female's genes and
that is why it is very rare to see a male cat with a calico
coat. And if you do it most likely is sterile because it is
In North America, calico is also called calimanco or clouded
tiger. Tortoiseshells are a part of the "calico" coloring
and isn't a separate coat color like many people think.
Calico markings without white are also known as brindle
coloring. The Japanese Bobtail breed is especially sought
after with this coloring.
A tortoiseshell cat's colors are usually randomly
asymmetrical. Sometimes patches of tabby patterns with a
black or red based stripe are seen. These markings are often
then called "torbie" or "caliby". Point patterned cats may
have tortoiseshell points rather than points of a solid
Cats of this coloration are believed to bring good luck in
the folklore of many cultures. In the United States the
calico is sometimes referred to as a money cat.
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