Girls only: an exclusive club

By Joan DiPiero

With their attention-grabbing colors, calico cats have long been favored by cat fanciers. They are not a separate breed, but rather a patterned color type. To qualify, the cat must have three colors – typically white, orange, and black or a more muted version of peach and gray with white. This lighter version is known as a “dilute” calico or the more fanciful “clouded tiger.” Occasionally, the tri-color calico coloration is combined with a tabby patterning. The calico patched tabby is called a “caliby.” The amount of black/gray and orange/peach varies greatly per cat, but white is normally the dominant color.

A calico variation is the “tortoise” cat or “tortie.” The colors are mottled, usually black with orange. Frequently there will be a “split face” pattern with black on one side of the face and orange on the other with the dividing line running down the bridge of the nose.

Calicos are nearly always female because the X chromosome determines the fur color, and female cats, much like all female mammals, have two X chromosomes, allowing for two colors, while male cats have one X and one Y chromosome. Some male cats have a genetic anomaly that causes them to have XXY chromosomes, so male calico cats can occur, but are very rare (about 1 in 3,000) and are almost always sterile.

At the SPA, we have several calico cats on display, all of whom are under six months old. Daisy is a pure calico while Deana qualifies as a caliby. Roxy, Brandy and Cinnabar are examples of torties with their interesting split-face colors. Diandra, now adopted, represents the dilute calico. Each of these kittens is playful, friendly and adorable.

Calico cats are believed to bring good luck in the folklore of many cultures and are referred to as “money cats.” While we can’t vouch for the money part, we are certain you will consider yourself lucky to be owned by one of these beauties. Come and meet them and their feline and canine friends at the SPA, Monday-Saturday, 11am-2pm, Los Pinos 7, phone 152-6124, or stop by the Jardín on Thursdays from 11am-1pm to meet some of our available pets. Check out our website and make sure you follow us on Facebook at with albums of all our cats and dogs available for adoption (biographies, pictures, and some videos).


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