Calico cats have fascinated cat lovers for thousands of years. People all over the world have shared their lives with these unique tricolor felines, and many have become ardent fans of calico. If you’re interested in calico cats, you’ve come to the right place.
How is the calico coating pattern defined?
The calico cat’s coat comes in three colors, one of which is white. Classic calico is available in white, black and orange/red. Since calico’s coats always come in three colors, they are also called tricolor cats. Variations of black elements in calico include:
- Grey tabby
- Blue (slate grey) also known as diluted black
- Variations of red elements in calico include:
- Red tabby
- Cream tabby
- Cream is also known as diluted red
- Calico cats with white, blue, and cream patterns are often referred to as “dilute calico.” we’ll talk more about diluting calico in a minute and discuss how tabbys play into the mix as a whole.
When the calico becomes tortoiseshell
The calico cat’s three-color coat is dominated by white with large patches of the other two colors. The more white in the coat, the larger the color block, the more differentiated it is. On the other hand, as the white coat area decreases, the reds and blacks begin to have a more “mixed” appearance as the patch size decreases. In some cats, the white disappears entirely, leaving a tight blend of red and black known as tortoiseshell.
So, the tortoiseshell cat – affectionately known as the tortoiseshell – is actually a calico without a white display. This is why they are often bundled as tricolor cats, even though the coats technically only show black and orange.
How does the tabby pattern work?
You may have heard that all cats are actually tabby cats. The tabby pattern is almost certainly the original coat pattern possessed by the first domesticated cats. We can still see tabby cats in the wild today. A tiger is a striped tabby, a leopard is a spotted tabby, and a lion is actually an agouti. Tabby patterns help these feline predators hide in shadow when they ambush their prey.
After thousands of years of domestication, new variations have emerged that allow cats to have colors and patterns that can mask the original tabby. Every now and then, tabby markings will appear through them.
White is the only color that really washes out the tabby so much that no markings show. Black is also relatively good at hiding tabby patterns, although – in the right light – you may see potential tabby patterns even on black cats. However, red almost always shows the tabby pattern very clearly.
What about calico?
Since one of the coat colors of Calico Cats are red, you can usually see some tabbys on real calico. Just look for it in the red zone. If it happens to be around kitty’s forehead, you should be able to spot the famous tabby m shape.
What does the name “calico” mean?
The name “calico” has a long history. According to linguists, the word originated in the mid-16th century as a version of calicut. Calicut is the name of an indian seaport. The word is also used to denote fabrics made in that city.
The material characteristic of calicut is predominantly white, but with a certain colour pattern, with patches of orange-red and black. Some call it kalko, as a variation of the word “calicut”. Before long, a pattern of white combined with other color blocks was called “calico”. Initially, calico was used to describe horses. Records show that it was first used as a word to describe a cat sometime in the 1880s. So, yes, our calico cats were named after the fabric model!
Is calico a race?
Calico is a type of color on a cat’s coat – not a breed. You can find the calico coloring in many cat colors, from long to short-haired, and even in other breeds.
What types of cats can have calico as an approved pattern?
People sometimes ask what types of cats are calicos. There is no race where calico is the only allowed pattern, so there is no “calico race” out there. Thus, these popular races may have a calico as a pattern:
- Maine coon
- American shorthair
- Scottish fold
Types of colorpoint may not have calicos base but some allow part-color pattern in points. This means that these cats have the same genetic makeup as calicos – and yes, they will be female. Perhaps there is an interesting genetics of calicos and why they are women in minutes. In the meantime, keep in mind that colorpoint ragdoll can be counted as a “tortie” points, so somehow, it is the calico cat pattern in the colorpoint cat!
Some types of cats will never have a calico coat pattern. Bengals, abyssinians or bombay cats have coat patterns that do not include the possibility of calico patches or even tortie items.
What is dilute calico?
Again, now that we have that genetic background, let’s take a brief summary of dilute calicos. The black and red colors in cats have what is known as a “dilute” version. In short, one gene makes the hair less pigmented, resulting in a darker version of the original color. Strong blue cats is a fact that reduced version of black cats. Cream tabbies are the dilute version of the red color. Mix black and red and you get calico or tortie. Mix blue with cream (the reduced version of black and red) and you get a dark calico or dilute tortie.