Picturesque Calico Cats

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Calico cats with their gorgeous orange, black and white coats are very distinctive felines, but...

...Interestingly enough, calico is not the name of a cat breed.

Rather, calicos are simply cats which are primarily white but which also have patches of orange and black fur.

Most calicos are at least two-thirds white. There seems to be a correlation between the amount of white fur that a cat has and how distinctive its orange and black patches are.

Tortoiseshell cats are similar to calicos but have little or no white fur.

Dilute calicos, also known as Muted, are primarily white like normal calico felines, but instead of patches of orange and black, they have patches of blue and cream.

Calico Feline's and Genetic Code

Calicos are predominately female. This is a result of the way that the feline genetic code accounts for the orange and black colors.

The gene for fur color appears on the X chromosome. Therefore, calicos need two X chromosomes, which usually gives them a set of XX. This should result in a female cat. The Y chromosome does not contain any coding for fur color.

Therefore, since male cats are XY and not XX, calicos are very rarely males. However, this is not always the case.

calico cat sitting
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Cells do not always divide correctly, so sometimes instead of an XX or XY sex chromosome pairing, the kitten ends up with three chromosomes.

For instance, such a kitten may have XXY.

If the two X chromosomes contain codes for different colors, then it is possible to end up with a male calico.

The reason why this is such a rare occurrence, is that it requires that the correct colors of cats mate as well as there is an error in the formation of the cat embryo.

XXY calico cats will be sterile, although there are a very few non-sterile males which can only be explained through an even rarer genetic anomaly called a mosaic.

A mosaic forms when a cat has cells from more than one different cell line in its body.

A mosaic cat would have started out as an XXY cell, but after it began to divide, the cat would end up with some normal cells as well. This might also be a cause of male calicos.

The last genetic anomaly is called a chimera.

Chimeras happen when two cat embryos fuse into one during pregnancy. These cats will also have a strange combination of sex chromosomes.

Since male calicos are so rare, and almost always sterile, it is virtually impossible to breed calicos with each other.

However, females can be bred by mating orange and black cats. If an orange male is bred with a black female, for example, there is a good chance that any female kittens will be calico.

While you may end up with a calico male, however there is not currently any way known to purposefully breed male calico cats.

Calicos, the "Lucky Cats"

Calicos are generally considered to be lucky throughout several cultures. In Japan, for instance, it was at one time thought that having a calico in the house would bring its owners good luck, and having a calico on board ship was considered to protect the sailors from harm.

Calico catIs a calico a lucky cat?

In the United Kingdom and parts of the United States, male calico cats are considered to be even luckier than normal calicos due to their extreme rarity.

These cats are often called money cats, due to the popular, though mistaken, belief that they are worth a lot of money.

This rumor probably started when a research establishment put out a call for male calicos to test them for fertility.

In fact, because the vast majority of male calicos are infertile, they are of no use for breeding programs and therefore, not worth a great deal of money.

Amazingly, male calicos are said to have been advertised for sale at more than $10,000. That does not mean that anyone paid that price though.

Female calicos, on the other hand, are usually no more expensive than cats of other colors.

For those people who are looking to keep calicos as pets, your best bet is to talk with the breeder of the particular cat that you are looking to adopt or buy.

Since calico felines may be one of several different breeds - American long and short hair, Japanese bob-tail, etc., it is highly suggested that you find out the specifics about the breed before making a commitment to taking your beautiful kitten or adult cat home.

Calico Cat Pictures.
It is no wonder that calico cat pictures are so popular, pictures of calico cats make such an attractive display, adding color and interest to any room in the house.

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