Contrary to what some believe, the calico cat is not a cat breed. It is actually a distinguishable coat of a domestic cat who happens to sport a specific colour pattern - and an interesting set of genes!
What is a calico cat?
Calico is not actually a breed of cat. The term 'calico' refers to the cat's fur coat (their coat colour and fur pattern). It is commonly a tri-colour mix of orange, white, and black but these basic colours can also vary, such as cream, reddish brown, blue-black or grey.
It is impossible to know the origins of these beautiful felines. This is mainly because they do not belong to a particular breed. Therefore, a calico cat can be a purebred or non-purebred. A study showed that the proportion of cats having the orange mutant gene found in calicos was traced to port cities along the Mediterranian, including France, Greece, and Italy.
Of course, all calico cats have different markings; just like fingerprints are unique, no two cats are exactly the same. This means breeders are unable to predict what a calico kitten's fur will look like. Even the mother's fur colour doesn't let us predict what her kittens will look like. For example, a calico kitten can be found amongst a litter of grey kittens or a litter of different colours. Their eyes, however, can be orange, green or yellow.
There are actually different types of calico cats including 'dilute' and 'tortoiseshell'. In fact, many people often confuse calico cats with tortoiseshell cats. But they do have differences in colour. Calico cats have tortoiseshell coat colours except that they have big white patches. Tortie's colours are more swirled together and predominately black and orange with hardly any white. Dilute calicos’ coat markings are just the same as normal calicos, but the colour is less intense, hence the name ‘dilute’.