Are All Calico Cats Female? MYTH or FACT!

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Most calico cats are usually female, except for some extraordinary exceptions resulting in 1 male in approximately 3000 calico cats. These triple-colored calico cats result from 2 X-Chromosomes, only found among female cats. But are there any other cats of such kind?

As a veterinary expert, I will explain the root of this phenomenon for your more profound understanding of why are all calico cats female! Almost all…!

In this article, I have mentioned the calico cat’s genetic origin, appearance, behavior, and unique characteristics, along with some cool facts about calico cats!

I know how confusing the relationship between a cat’s coat color and gender can be. Hence, Let me explain the complex science in an easy-to-understand manner!

Why Are Most Calico Cats Female? CHROMOSOMES!!!

Gender determination in cats, like humans, depends on the sex chromosomes X and Y. The presence of 2 X chromosomes indicates female. In contrast, 1 X-chromosome and 1 Y-chromosome show male. 

Coat color determination alleles are usually displayed on the X-chromosome rather than Y-chromosome. This means that the presence of 2 X-chromosomes allows a combination of colors. For this reason, a female cat can display two colors. 

Is Calico A Cat Breed?

NO! Unlike what most people believe, a calico is not a cat breed but a type of cat. 

A cat from any domestic feline breed with a tri-color coat is a calico cat.

They originate from a genetic phenomenon known as X-chromosome inactivation. The phenomenon leads to the formation of a unique coat color combination.

Calico Cat Appearance

Its appearance can vary depending on the breed it originates from. But it always has three different colors on its coat. The colors are usually ginger, black and white. The white color mainly composes 75% of the coat color in Calico Cats.

Are Tortoiseshell Cats the Same as Calico Cats?


Calico and Tortoiseshell cat types are not exactly the same but display some similarities. 

Even though these two cat types arise from the same genetic phenomenon, X-chromosome inactivation, they do not look the same.


Tortoiseshell Cat
Calico Cat

The difference in coloration patterns is obvious at first glance!

Like Calico cats, Tortoiseshells have an exceptional coat color. They show a combination of 2 colors, usually black and ginger, and lack the white color that calico cats have. 

Usually, the coat color alleles (one of two or more versions of DNA sequence) are displayed on the 2 X-chromosomes. A black allele on one and a ginger allele on the other give rise to a tortoiseshell. 

This is also the case for calico cats, except that there is autosomal interference. This means that a chromosome other than the X-chromosome participates in the coat color determination. Thus a white color is visible on calico cats, originating from an autosome. 

Distinctive Characteristics of Calico Cats

Their distinctive coat color is not the only unique thing about them! Calico cats are characterized by courageous, strong, and assertive personalities. They are independent and do not require continuous attention. 

Even though they have fiery characters, They are affectionate and loyal to their owners. They are picky with what they eat and tend to be very vocal. They like all kinds of activities and love to climb! 

How Can There Be a Male Calico or Tortoiseshell Cat?

A male calico can occur only if they have an extra X-chromosome. Meaning that its karyotype will be displayed as XXY rather than XY. 

This is similar to Klinefelter syndrome in humans. Then, the presence of 2 X chromosomes, along with the Y, allows the rise of male tortoises or calicos.

What Cat Breeds Can Be Calicos?

These are some most common cat breeds that can be calicos:

  • Maine CoonPersian
  • American Short-Hair
  • British Short-Hair
  • Japanese Bob-tail
  • Angora
  • Siberian
  • Exotic Short-hair

4 Fun Facts about Calico Cats:

  • The state cat of Maryland is Calico.
  • Calico cats are good luck charms in many cultures.
  • All male calicos are sterile.
  • Only 1 in 3000 calicos is a male. 

FAQs: Are All Calico Cats Female? And MORE…!

Are female calico cats sterile?

No, female calicos have normal fertility.

What percentage of calico cats are female?

More than 99% of calicos are female.

Calico cat health problems?

Calico cats commonly suffer from low bone mineralization and obesity.

Are all tortoiseshell cats female?

Almost 95% of tortoiseshell are female.

Male calico cat price?

On various online marketplaces that I reviewed, It can vary between 400$-2000$ depending on age and breed.

Are calico cats autistic?

No. Male calico cats suffer from another syndrome known as Klinefelter.

Final Thoughts!

So now you know why are all calico cats female…Well, Almost All! But remember this: Calico cats are unique, distinctive types of cats. They are distinguished by their exceptional coat color, followed by fierce personalities. 

The genetic origin of calico cats comes from the X-chromosome inactivation phenomenon. This is only applicable in XX chromosome carriers, Females. 

Only when a genetic abnormality of the XXY chromosome occurs can a calico be a male.

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