Calico Kittens: Everything You Need to Know


With butterscotch, chocolate, and vanilla swirls, calico cats are the showstoppers of the feline world. With such a distinctive pattern, we may think calico cats are a specific type of cat, but they aren’t a breed at all. Many types of cat breeds (American Shorthair, Japanese Bobtail, and Persian to name a few) can have the signature calico cat markings. In other words, your calico kitten can come from a wide variety of genes! Interestingly, a calico cat’s three-toned fur almost always corresponds with being female. Calico’s are 99.99% female due to the X chromosome determining the cat’s coloring.

‘XX’ (female chromosomes) means multiple colors can show up, while ‘XY’ (male) means usually only one color can be present. Due to this anomaly, only one out of every 3,000 calico cats are born male. Though no one has records of where calico cats officially originated, they’re said to be discovered first in Egypt. Cats with the orange color gene can be traced back to Mediterranean ports such as Spain or Greece, suggesting that travelers brought these cats with them on ships back to Europe. The wondrous calico cat didn’t just land overseas. They’re highly popular in the U.S. as well. In fact, calico cats are the official state cat of Maryland!

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Calico Kittens: Everything You Need to Know

Calico kitten facts

Sometimes, your calico kitten may be confused with a tortoiseshell cat, (or “tortie” for short.) They both tend to have brown and orange fur, but calico cats will have a lot of white coloring as well. Here are some important facts when doing research on your new calico kitten.

In general, calico cats are healthy when they are female. Check with your veterinarian specifically about what you can expect with your female calico cat. However, If you happen to have a highly rare male calico cat, they may be diagnosed with something called Klinefelter’s Syndrome.

This is due in part of their XXY chromosomes that are present. This syndrome leads to weak bones, developmental issues, and abnormal weight gain. With many kittens, biting may be an issue. Be sure to discourage it by pulling your hand away, saying a firm “no”, and have plenty of toys for them to bite instead!

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Calico Kittens: Everything You Need to Know

Who is the best human for a calico kitten?

Calico kittens personality mostly depends on what breed the calico gene came from. For instance, Turkish angoras do well in larger families with small children and Maine coons are often known as “gentle giants” and get along well with other pets. For most cats, however, it’s important to have plenty of higher spaces and breathing room for them to climb up to and survey their new kingdom.

Getting a calico kitten

Choosing to adopt or go through a breeder for your new calico kitten is a personal choice that requires research. Thankfully, there are many resources out there to help you find a rescue or breeder that offers healthy, ethically sourced calico kittens.

Knowing what you’re in for when you get a calico kitten is an important step in being a responsible pet owner. Whether you find a responsible breeder or are planning on adopting, it’s up to you to be prepared for an energetic and friendly addition to your household.

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Adopting calico kittens

You may be surprised to hear that adopting a calico kitten is possible. Most breed rescues report that a majority of their rescue cats come from individual owner surrender, with the most common reasons being a change in lifestyle or the breed not being right for them.

This means that there may be many cats and kittens out that that are looking for a new forever home. The main difference between a breeder and a rescue is that a rescue may not always have young kittens to choose from. The benefit, however, is that most are mandated to only adopt out cats that have been microchipped and spayed/neutered.

This means you may end up with a cat that’s already been housebroken, and doesn’t need these common medical procedures. You may also find a calico mix that has all the traits you want from the breed, but with a little extra thrown in.

Finding a calico breeder

The first step is to do your research. Sadly, there are many kitten mills posing as reputable breeders along with many online scams. Be aware, and reach out to different online forums for conversations about getting your future furry family member. Be sure to ask questions, make arrangements to meet the breeder and cat parents, and follow your gut. If something seems wrong at a breeder you visit, or the calico kitten seems too good to be true, there’s likely something going on.

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