B2B NewsPet industry newsAre All Calico Cats Female

Are All Calico Cats Female


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A calico cat is a domestic cat of any breed with a tri-color coat. A calico coat is typically white, orange, and black but could have three different colors in its coat. 

calico cat

If you’ve met a calico cat before chances are it was a female. There’s a common conception that all calico cats are female. Is this really true, or is it an old wive’s tale?

The answer boils down to genetics. Orange coloring in cats comes from a gene in X chromosomes. Males have XY chromosomes and females have XX chromosomes, so realistically either a male or female cat can have orange coloring. 

However, female cats are commonly calico, tortoiseshell, or orange tabbies whereas males are typically solid orange tabbies. Excluding rare cases, only cats with an XX chromosome can be calicos or torties. That’s why there are so many male orange tabbies and so many female calicos and torties. 

Are calico cats ever male? Although it is rare, it is possible for a male cat to be calico. According to a study by the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, only around 1 in 3,000 calico cats are male. 

In rare situations, a male cat will have three chromosomes, XXY. This condition leads them to have calico coloring because they have the two necessary X chromosomes. Male cats with XXY chromosomes are known as Klinefelter males (named after the endocrinologist Henry Klinefelter who discovered this condition in the 1940s). 

A tortoiseshell color male cat would have the same chromosomal makeup. The condition remains so rare because the majority of afflicted cats are sterile, so they cannot pass the genetic trait onto their offspring. 

Want to learn more fun facts about cats? Check out the articles below:

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