Calico cats: endangered or just a genetic anomaly?

Are calico cats endangered? Calico cats are not endangered and are not going to extinct. Even though male calico is very rare, there will be female calico available for you because it is not a breed of cats; it’s a pattern of three colors in some cat breeds.

Are calico cats endangered?

Calico is not any particular breed for cats. They are a pattern of three colors that appears in some cat breeds. These three colors can be either: white, cream, and grey, or white, orange, and black in female cats. 

Calico cats are mostly- female. Male ones are pretty rare. Being calico a cat’s life does not affect at all in terms of personality, behavior, and lifespan. But male calico cats tend to live fewer years than female ones because of their chromosomal differences. 

But, calico cats are not- endangered nor going to extinct any time soon. Cat from any breed can become calico. It doesn’t need a male and female calico cat for that. So you can be rest assured there will be enough calico cats in the world. According to many folklore, they are expensive and a symbol of good fortune. 

Calico is not a single breed of cat. It is a color scheme in different cats and has three color palates. Many cat breeds produce calico cats. The following list contains their name:

  1. American Shorthair 
  2. British Shorthair 
  3. Maine coon 
  4. American Curl
  5. Manx 
  6. Japanese bobtail 
  7. Persian
  8. Devon Rex
  9. Scottish Fold 
  10. Siberian etc. 

Why Are Male Calico Cats so Rare? 

Calico is a domestic cat with a tri-color coat, and it can be of any breed. Calico word originated from ‘calico fabric’ from an Indian city: Calicut. The fabric had a printed design and was- imported from there. Eventually, it became a name for cats with tri-color skin. 

Male calico cats are rare. They are the unicorns of the cat world. One in every 3000 male cats has a chance to become a calico. It is because only the female cats have the chromosome that is needed for a cat to become a calico. 

But once in a few thousand, a miracle happens: a male cat develops an extra chromosome and becomes calico. It is why male calico cats are unbelievably rare.  

Chromosomal Abnormalities in Male Calicos 

A male cat has to have: three sex chromosomes to become a calico: two X and one Y chromosome. This phenomenon is called the Klinefelter syndrome. It can happen when an incomplete XY pair appears during fertilization. Male calico cats come with malformed sexual organs. 

There are some health issues for calico males as well. They live for a shorter period compared to a calico female. They often tend to have heart diseases, fat body, diabetes, etc. They will require special care to deal with these problems. 

Why are Chromosomes Important for Calico Cats? 

Calico is not a breed for cats- but a tri-color pattern of cats’ coats. It is- determined by chromosomes. A domestic cat has 19 pairs of chromosomes among them, 18- pairs are autosomal, and one is a sex chromosome. A female cat has XX sex chromosomes, and a male cat has XY sex chromosomes. 

Calico cats are mostly- female, and they have two versions of a gene for their coat color and are- located on their X chromosomes. Sometimes X chromosomes in a female baby can show a mechanism. One of the two XX turns off randomly and lets the other express. It is called X chromosome inactivation. It allows cells to express X chromosomes differently. 

We know that coat color genes are- located at the X chromosome. Imagine a calico female’s X from the mom carries White color and X from dad carry the black color. If the X from mom is inactive, the color of a particular part will be black and vice versa; this is how cats from any breed become calico cats, and they are female most times because they have XX. 

People Also Asked 

Are Calico cats going to extinct? 

No, calico cats are not going to extinct any time soon. Since they are not a single breed, many breeds produce calico cats. Cats become calico because of their sex chromosome, X chromosome to be particular. It is the reason why there is more female calico than male.  

How rare is a male calico cat? 

Male calico cats are unimaginably rare. For every 3000 calico cats are born, there will be only- 1 male calico cat. They are so rare that people call them the unicorn of cats. Veterinarians practicing in shelters said they had passed years and decades without seeing a single male calico.   

Final Words 

Calico cats are playful and energetic; they have warm hearts and are very affectionate. They will want to be cozy with you. One thing they are not is- endangered. After all, they are as stubborn as they can be. 

Amelia Kteylor

Amelia Kteylor, DVM, attended the University of Georgia. She is a cat expert with 20 years of experiences in field. She has a passion as a writer and editor for pet publishing industry too. Amelia contributes to numerous pet magazines in the areas of pet health and groom. Further, she volunteered in cat rescue centers in her leisure time.

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