Calico Cat: Mistaken Identity

Calico cats are one of the most common kinds of cats domesticated. They have been loved by many because of their spotted or parti-colored coat which is usually predominantly white with black and brown patches. However, this known tri-colored feline is not a specific breed of cat like the Siamese, Persians or the Ragdolls. Its name “calico” refers only to a color pattern on their fur and not to a breed. Sometimes, calicos have been mistakenly named as a tortoiseshell cat but these types of cats are not the same. Tortoiseshell cats are mottled with patches of orange or cream and chocolate, black or blue. They vary in their coats coloring but these two types of cats are both unspecific breeds of cats.

Calico Cats’ Historical Background

There is no exact data where this type of cat had been originated. However, according to studies, it has been believed that the presence of patches in calico cats were traced to a certain degree by Neil Todd in a study determining the migration of domesticated cats along trade routes in Europe and Northern Africa. Furthermore, it has been said that the proportion of cats possessing the orange mutant gene found in calicos was traced to the port cities along the Mediterranean in France and Italy, originating from Egypt.

Facts about Calico Cats

  • There are certain issues about calico cats that make them unique. Here are some facts about these remarkable and wonderful creatures.
  • Calicos were nominated as the official state cat of Maryland on October 1, 2001.
  • In many cultures, calicos are considered as bringers of good luck. These cats are known as money cats in the United States.
  • Most calico cats are females.
  • Calico is not a particular cat breed. This word only refers to a color pattern of cats’ fur and not to a breed.
  • A popular good luck ceramic sculpture form in Japan, Maneki Neo, is almost always fashioned after calico cats.

Calico cat’s behavior

Because the calico is not a true cat breed, some might wonder how this kind of cat behaves. Would all calicos have similar traits the way pure bred cat breeds do or would their personalities vary like a mixed bred?

Basically, not all cats which belong to the same breed always have exact and definite behaviors and characteristics. Just like humans, every cat may behave distinctly from one another. There are certainties that some cats of the same family may have few common characteristics but it doesn’t necessarily mean it is true to all.

With regards to calico’s temperaments, they have been depicted as cute, sweet, loving and gorgeous creatures. Generally, most of these cats are females. Calicos can be easily recognized because of its fascinating tri-colored fur. They have parti-colored coats which is predominantly white with brown or black patches. Just like other kittens, they are considered to be playful, happy, lively and relatively mellow cats. On the other hand, some would describe calicos as sassy, spunky and very independent. They have been perceived as creatures having wild or unpredictable dispositions. Here are some calico cat personality traits that you must know before bringing that eye-catching blotchy kitten home.

  • Calico cat personalities are somewhat independent, a bit stubborn and pretty temperamental. However, cat owners won’t be astounded by these cat qualities as these are common to all cats.
  • Calicos like being pampered and treated with extreme regard. They want to be cared for like newborns. This is the reason why they are considered as heads among domestic felines.
  • Calicos may take some time to adjust to their new surroundings at first but once comfortable in their new home, they are very loving and fun to be with.
  • Calicos have high pitched meows and are generally known to be combative. They are not extroverts with fellow cats.
  • Calico cat colors are primarily white, brown or black, and orange.
  • Sometimes, calicos follow their own moods but that doesn’t mean they don’t like or love their owners. They may display affection by rubbing their body to your feet and resting upon your lap purring softly.

How long do calico cats live?

Cats can also be susceptible to diseases. Subsequently, certain cases have revealed that most cats died because of illnesses. Pertinently, with regards to a calico cat’s lifespan, indoor cats typically have longer life spans compared to outdoor cats. There are several reasons for this which include the fact that outdoor felines are more liable to get hit by vehicles, get in cat fights and contact serious conditions and diseases, either from other infected cats or from prey like rodents and birds. A domestic calico cat can have an average lifespan of about sixteen years and can go through three stages namely kitten hood, adolescence and adulthood and maturity. Moreover, greater veterinary care, a healthy diet and vigilant ownership can ensure a vigorous life for your older calico.

Whether pure bred or not, cats will always remain attractive and delightful, ensuring their love by people all over the world.


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40 Responses to Calico Cat: Mistaken Identity

  • cwl says:

    We recently adopted a young calico from the Houston SPCA and she is the complete opposite of your personality profile. Victoria readily fit into her new home, in fact, she was ready to be fully free to roam the house way before we thought she should. She is never far from our side when we are home even when we are sleeping. She is the friendliest, most playful cat we have ever had, and finally, she is the biggest extrovert we have ever seen! Victoria has managed to turn her new “brother”, Victor, whom we have had for 8 years, into a renewed and playful sparring partner (something never seen with our two other cats). In short, calicos are the way to go if you want a cat that is unique in both looks and personality……………ours is the whole package.

  • B says:

    I agree with a lot of what this article has said. We adopted a friends calico kitten when she was 6 weeks old, she is now 11 years old. We have moved twice since she has joined the family and it has taken her time to adjust with each move. She is very territorial when we had a guest stay for 3 months (we live in a 2 bedroom apt) she started attacking our guest who was staying in our spare room (or should I say our cat’s room) but after 3 months I can’t say I blammed her. She is affectionate when she wants (mostly at bedtime) but can turn on a dime if you don’t give her that attention when she wants it. I wouldn’t trade her for the world but she isn’t your typical cat.

  • Robert says:

    We have a calico cat she is pretty laid back, she loves to be outdoors and indoors, she is a bit talkitive but loving,

  • Rachael says:

    I love my calico cat, Ginger. I have had her for about eight years. Within the last few months she has become more of a lap cat. She loves people and being loved by people. She does not like other cats, at all. She gets along with my dog, however, she does not care too much for him. She loves to rub her head against mine, get under my covers and sleep in my bed, and be brushed. She is definitely like my child. If you want a cat that enjoys people, likes being with the family, and gives/wants lots of love, a calico cat is the right way to go. BUT, i know from my own experience, they do NOT like other cats, at least my cat doesn’t.
    p.s. She did not start out this way, so at first your calico may not be like my description. Over time she became a lap cat and liked getting under the cover. After eight years together we’re still getting to know each other better!

  • Ashley says:

    My calico has lived to be 19 and now all she wants to do is eat and yap about how she wants her food. So when you have a calico that lives this long be aware that you need LOTS of food.

  • Katherine says:

    We adopted our 7 week old Calico in January, and she is nothing like any cat I have ever had! I don’t know if it has to do with the fact I have been home with her majority of these three months or if it is because she is a Calico. She HAS to sleep under the blankets at night with us, nothing else will do. If you are not giving her attention, she will slap your face (but no claws) then turn her butt on you. She is so smart, and loving. When I come home from the store or a class she will jump on my lap and alternate between nibbling and licking my face as if she is mad I was gone, but happy I am back. She is just the biggest personality I have ever seen in a cat!!

    She also LOVES to stalk my roommate. Any time he comes out of his room or home from work he becomes her prey. So cute!

  • My Callico is strckly a house. Yes she is stubborn and temperamental and like me she has a quick temper. She like to be rubbed only when she wants it. Plus she likes to bite or just put teeth on you. It don’t hurt. The only time I get hurt is when I jerk mt hand out of her mouth.
    My question is– She doesn’t like to be held? I can pick her up for about 15-20 seconds and she wants down.
    Any type of help or do I just liive with it?

  • Buzzybee says:

    This was very helpful as I did not know if my cat was a calico or tortoiseshell. You see this old man told me that I owned a very beautiful tortoise shell cat but then later after reading this article and others,I became aware of my cat being a calico not tortie. I have read these other replies and nearly all of them say how their calico doesnt like other cats. that is the same with my cat aswell so i guess that all calico’s dont like other cats. Does anyone know how to tell a female calico from a male calico?

  • Rachel says:

    I had a sweet and spunky pastel calico named Marbles. She was so sweet and playful. She was the most gorgeous kitty I’ve ever seen! I don’t know if she would have gotten along with other cats but I know she loved our dogs. She used to get in Peanut, my Great Danes, mouth and paw at her face. They both loved to play together. I really miss her. She passed away when she was 4 1/2 months old. We took her in to have her fixed and her heart stopped when they were stitching her up. I was of course devastated, but it certainly didn’t help that I was 3 months pregnant. I have really been wanting another kitty lately. I’ve been looking at online shelters and Petsmart. I want to find another calico because they are beautiful, playful and sweet. I will definately get a kitty that has already been spayed!

  • mary says:

    We have a beautiful Calico cat named Rainbow, she is adorable,she loves my husband to bits,will only sit on my lap when he is out,which is a shame ,she loves to play with her toys,but never sleeps in the same place twice,she has two cat beds but not to her liking, she shoud be named Diana,:Godess of hunting:as she has desimated the local wild mouse populatuion,with a few song birds for good measure,of which are.nt very pleased about.

  • Julie says:

    I have a 7 year old calico with longer hair that likes to sit behind my head on the couch and “groom” my hair. She will spend almost an hour at a time kneading and licking my hair. If I try to move before she is finished with me she gets upset and tries to hold my head still. I have never had a cat do this before. She just started doing this within the past year.

  • Joseph Hancock says:

    I just rescued a young Calico who may be pregnant from the local pound…can you imagine a cat like a Calico in the pound and nobody being interested…This kitty is such a little sweetie, I could not let her get put down…people should try to adopt kitties before buying at pet stores if they can…

  • Donna says:

    My little Calico, Roxy has the most extraordinary personality! She is very very affectionate and vocal. We think sometimes she thinks shes a puppy. She will eat ANYTHING and has been seen running around with table scraps in her little mouth! Her favourite activity is her obsession with my makeup brushes. She finds her way into my bag and gets them out on a daily basis and plays with them. She gets into the eyeshadow too, and it is sometimes all over her face. She is ADORABLE!

  • Kristy says:

    I dearly love my calico cat and got her as a kitten. She is very bold, moody, doesn’t like to be held very long and is very independent. She will lay next to me if I don’t bother her. However, I dearly love her and she is an awesome hunter of mice.

  • Carolyn says:

    I have a 7 year old Calico cat called Jasper that i adopted as a kitten and she has one heck of a personality! She can be extremely affectionate and want to sleep on your lap for hours, or she can spend the day exploring and sleeping in the garden by herself. She is very vocal, especially at dinner time when she will follow me around the house howling for food. Every time I arrive home she hears my car and comes to greet me at the kerb. Like Rachael’s comment, my calico has developed more and more of a personality as the years pass. What a special cat!

  • L says:

    My calico cat is two years old now. She is vocal, playful, and loving BUT hasn’t always been. We adopted her at ~6 months old after her first owners (elderly couple) could not handle her. They had her declawed which I can see why, but none of my other cats have been declawed. As a kitten, she was slow to adjust to her new home. She & my adult female cat did not get along at all. It seemed to be territorial. They both love attention & still get jealous when the other gets attention. Luckily, my husband didn’t get rid of her because she is so unique and seems to favor him over me. She will be in his lap & rub his feet. Both of my girls learned to co-exist after six months. Now, they play with each other and get along well. My calico cat still catches me off guard with her meow. It is very high-pitched…I would call it screechy & scary at times. At first it sounds like she may have hurt herself or got her paw stuck in the door, but I would find her just playing with her favorite toy by herself. She is very independent, yet loves attention too. We adopted two male gray kittens that she loves to play with. No time to adjust needed with the new boys! When you give her the attention she wants, she will purr the loudest I’ve heard.

  • Shirley Nov 13, 2012 @ 8:34pm says:

    our calico, is not like no other cat we have had. She is very loving, she loves to play all the time.
    She is only four yrs, and has a lot oif engery to burn. We have two other cats, that are much older than Callie. They play and get along just fine. The other two cats are male.

  • Jack says:

    I have a Female Calico. She’s very pretty and fluffy, however… she’s quite the violent cat. I’m probably the one she’s most loyal to, anyone else in my family: Stroking her = Clawed. She has a split personality too… haha.

  • Cheyann says:

    My calico Jazmine is the cutest little sassy spunkball. She eats a ton of food, but she never looks heavy. We took her to the doctor and she doesn’t have worms or anything. She’s always hungry, but completely healthy! Love the calico’s!

  • Terri says:

    We adpoted a 4 year old female Calico, Cayden about 6 months ago. She is a beauty and very sweet & gentle to us although does not like our other 5 year old cat. It did take her a while to settle into her new home. She hid in a spare bedroom for a couple of months and slowly worked her way out. The information you provided sounds mostly correct. She is laid back but can be loud and agressive toward our older cat.

  • Lauren says:

    I have three cats: two Maine Coons and a long haired Calico. They have lived together for about six years. My Calico is treated like the outcast by the Main Coons. The “Coons” are much more dog like and they rule the house. Gwen, the Calico has hissed and fought with Gabe since day one. The Calico is very loyal to me but she does not warm up to people. I think she would have a different personality in a different house. She can be very loving and is a wonderful alarm clock. I recently had her shaved and thought it was going to be a nightmare. She loved having her hair short and was an angel at the groomers. It was a pleasant surprise.

  • AmyXoXo says:

    I adopted a calico cat about a month ago. She’s 4 months old and her name is Denver. She’s so cute but she’s very aggressive and territorial. Shes a handful but I love her!* She also attacks my dog. Lol I’ve never owned a calico cat but I’m glad I do now (:

  • john & denise says:

    We have a calico cat. Her name is morgan. She got her name from the soap god jason morgan from genral hosptal. She is a great cat, and she loves our dog jj. But she gets into EVERYTHING………

  • Lora Blocker says:

    We adopted a two year old calico from our local pound. She had been there a full month and no one was interested in this beautiful cat. She was on the schedule to be put down the following week. We named he Patches. It has been three months and she is just beginning to adapt to us. She was so skittish I was afraid adopting her was a mistake. Since reading the other comments I understand her being slow to adapt. Patches was adopted to help me deal with my grief from losing a cat that h a d been my constant companion for 23 and a half. I love her very much and hope to have with me for a very long time.

  • stefanie says:

    I have a 12 yr old calico named lucy ( short for lucifier)… she was aptly named this because as a kitten she did not tolerate other cats or women for that matter. if it was someone she didnt like she would trip them down the stairs. she is very dominant and thinks she runs the house . Lucy is extremely smart- she listens to commands like a dog would and is potty trained like a child . She is my babygirl and i dont know what i would do without her – she comforts me when im sick ( i have crohns) wont leave my side when it flares up. calicos are very loyal to their people – especially who they consider mom and dad

  • Robin says:

    My Calico Cat Pixie, actually says mom to me if you really liosten closely, people thought I was nuts, until they actually got to here her themselves. She’s amazing and the love of my life. She is a definately a gift from god when I needed her most, I really don’t know what I would do without her. Shes my little side kick. She goes everywhere with me in the car ,etc., shes my service animal so she goes in all stores motel/hotels etc. She is very therapeutic. Calicos are the best, and, kinda funny how they are the state of Marylands Cat because I was born in Maryland.

  • trish kelly says:

    my callico callie. is the most cute cat ever. when i get home from work and take my shoes and socks. she will go over and smell them and put her face in my shoes. she likes to cuddle with my husband.she is twelve years old she sits with her front paws crossed its so cute she has a sister name sweetpea they both get in cabnet and play and sit in my pot sweetpea tuxedo black white thereboth s

  • JazzMom says:

    I adopted a calico as a stray, almost 14 years ago and she fits this article pretty well. She’s pretty much psycho but is also the sweetest and most affectionate kitty we have. She took quite a few months to adjust to a move and when she was younger, she would hiss and growl at every stranger like a guard dog. She’d hide behind furniture and attack our german shepherd; hiss at any of the other animals that came within her personal space; and is more vocal than any cat we’ve had. She loves or hates new people immediately. But definitly likes people more than other cats. She’s also the biggest cuddler, very independent yet extremely interactive and so much fun. I wouldn’t change her for the world. Hope to adopt another calico some day.

  • Our female calico named Toast is the cats pajamas!! She’s a 25 lb 3 year old that we adopted. She was at the adoption agency the longest and they didn’t think anyone would take her. I feel like we got her in the nick of time!! I think that she knows that and that’s why our bond is so strong. The adoption agency said her previous owner was an elderly “cat lady” that died in her sleep. I’m pretty sure that was a complete lie but all that matters is that she/we have a great life now!! Also, the infant fact is correct. She likes to be held and she wraps her legs and arms around us!

  • Roberta says:

    My girl, Phoebe,is a rescue cat. I got her Jan 2012. For the first YEAR..yes,year,she hid in the living room under the chairs. When she came out to use her box she slinkyed along the hallway wall down to the bathroom.I hardly got to see her. She came out at night. I would hear her crunch her food, and she was the best “cat hockey” player ever! In the morning I would find the scatter rugs pushed up against the front door:she loved to run..hit the ruh and slide across the floor.Finally..late Jan 2013..I was brushing me teeth early in the AM,and much to my surprise I felt a rubbing on the back of my legs! Boy..was I surprised! Mind you know..that in all that time she never let me touch her..never! When I tried she would whack at my hand. My feet suffered badly from her whacking me from under the bed. One day I took a chance, while her back was to me I barely touched her back..boy did she jump! At least 2 inches off the floor.But that was the beginning.Slowly she let me touch her, and pet her.But still, she put limits on me.Now, she sleeps with me,and follows me EVERYWHERE! But strangely enough she will not allow me to touch her while she is on the bed. Seems that I can only touch and pet her while she is on the floor. In watching her I’ve come to the conclusion that this behavior is from being outside. So I give her the space..and respect she needs. The rescue center told me she was 8 months old when they brought her to me. She’d had a liter and been spayed. She was in 2 foster homes before she came to me. Both returned her because she wasn’t “social” Well..sometimes I’m not social either.So I really understand her and give her the time and space she wants. Respect..I never push myself on her..never! She’s a great friend,great company,we talk to each other ALL the time..very important. And sooner or later my limits will be lifted…lol Thanks for letting me tell our story.

  • Sam says:

    Has anybody ever seen their calico cat use the toilet?

  • Kathy says:

    I just adopted two 8 week old sisters, and boy are they full of energy! They are so loving and their purring is incredible! We have them upstairs in our foyer with access to 4 bedrooms to play and explore. We have them separated from our newfoundland who is 4 years old and is a darling! I guess I will let them meet once we can’t keep the kittens behind the gate we set up, they are great jumpers! Does anyone know when is a good time to introduce them to each other? I would like the kittens to eventually have access to the whole house and meet our wonderful newfi

  • Michele Jablonsky says:

    I found my Calico cat on U.S Route One in Savage, Maryland. She was on the island of the highway. I had never owned a cat before, only dogs. She has been with me for thirteen years and she is the love of my life. She can be very affectionate in her own way, especially if I’m sick or sad, but she will attack just for the sport of it. She loves to play hide and go seek. If I’m sick, she will not leave my side. She can be aggressive or a complete sweetheart. I love my Calico Cat and would not trade her for anything. She has brought so much joy into my life. Calico cats are beautiful in their coloring, sweet, temper mental, but will always be your best friend. I highly recommend adopting or buying a Calico cat. You will not be disappointed. Michele and Calico :-)

  • Vickie T. Greene says:

    My husband and I rescued a Calico kitten a couple of years ago. She had everything in the world wrong with her and she cooperated and did great through all the treatment. She is loving but does not want to be held. When we have folks over for any reason she is in the middle of everything. She is very, very vocal and knows the word “treat” very well. We have two other cats and she loves them. She loves to play and run through the house. We are so lucky that she found us. I will totally get another Calico. I have never heard her hiss at anything or anyone. We have raccoons that appear on our deck and she is intrigued by them.

  • Debbie says:

    I had a beautiful calico cat named Charity for 16 1/2 years. She recently passed away. I miss her so very much. She would lay beside me in a chair while I practiced piano. Now days I don’t even want to practice because it makes me miss her even more. She was not very loving when she was younger but as she got older and my daughter moved out on her own, Charity took to me more and was very loving and special. She had a large mass grow inside her and was attached to the outside of her stomach; there was nothing the vet could do. It was a sad day when I signed to put her down. Miss her very much.

  • KerryAnne Graham says:

    Oh my I must have a little rarity on my hands!

    My new 13week old kitten Penny is a diluted Calico, we got her at 9weeks old, her Mother was a full Tortoishell all black and ginger. Penny took to her new home straight away and within 15ins was purring!
    After half an hr was fine with my 6yro tuxedo male cat, by the third day he was grooming her! (And he hates other cats!? Deej has lived with us since he was 4weeks old & with a Tortie female for 6yrs, unfortunately I had to have my Tortie-Spice put to sleep back in March due to mouth cancer. :(

    Back to Penny,
    She is very playful, loving, hyper, inquisitive and a heavy sleeper! Lol
    She does have a high pichted mew that makes me think shes in pain- so i go running to see if her cat Brother is being too rough with her only to find her playing by herself.

    She likes to climb the curtains, walls and you! (Her mom is an excellent climber)
    Shes not a lap cat yet but likes to be next to you.
    She also puts herself to bed at bedtime and is are wake up alarm. She likes to be under the covers licking your face/playing with her tail or on top attacking your feet!

    She is a handful alright energy wise-but again during the day she has already given herself set naps, 1hr in the morning, another around 2-3pm then from 6-9 her big sleep, at bedtime she sleeps about 7-8hrs a night.
    Iv never had Callie before she is different shes like a lil human baby and I love her to death! :)

    Penny doesnt seem a greedy cat (yet) or agressive/temperamental at all, just very loving and friendly. :)

  • Colleen says:

    My Calico…(Callie)…was a stray. I had worked at a resturant at the time and she was hanging around the parking lot. I fell in love with her and took her home. She was about 6months when I found her. She was very skinny and it was the dead middle of winter. Now she is about 3 years old. She is the first I’ve known to like a car ride. It has to be a short ride like 2-3 blocks then she’s done but she will put her head out the window like a dog. She also loves to be on my shoulders…its funny. She doesn’t care for kids cause I don’t think she’s ever been around them. Probably a good thing I don’t have any! She definetly does have an attitude and mood swings but I think that’s what makes it interesting. She is very loving and loves to cuddle. Callie is pretty much my life and she rules the house…and she knows it! LOL

  • Margaret says:

    My baby is 13 years old. Apparently she is a cameo calico long haired cat. Her name is Sparkling but I should have called her Gucci (like a handbag). She follows me everywhere, she brings me gifts. Her little traits are stealing toys from neighbours. Toys big enough for her to carry in her mouth. One day she bought home a rubber snake. I found her with her brother at 2 weeks old. We intended to keep the brother and give her away. I never had a calico cat before and didn’t realise how beautiful they look when they grow up. I am happy we kept her.

  • Cassie Simon-Bargery says:

    We just adopted a calico..she is a ball of energy and jumps all over my other big cats. She wants to be patted as she eats and rubbed in her bed before snoozing. She cries at me if i dont always look at her. Sounds quite similar. My black boy cat is similar but much worse so its not new to me :) love all my fur babies!

  • Missy says:

    We recently adopted our kitten from The Raleigh County Humane Society. She is my first calico and unlike any other cat I have owned. Callie gets somewhat confused on whether she is a dog or kitty, as she mimics hers sisters’ one being a chihuahua and the other our 2 year Siamese. She is such a baby, and follows me from room to room. Such a sweet little kitten and adapted immediately to her new home.

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