Are There Male Calico Cats?

Are There Male Calico Cats

See that cat in the header image? That’s Josh. That’s right, that is a male name for a male cat!

Growing up I was always told that calico cats or tortoiseshell cats as they are also called were always female.

So, are there male calico cats? Are tortoiseshell cats always female?

There is no denying that calico cats have beautiful coats and come in all kinds of patterns, making them really popular in some parts of the world.

They have a blend of white, black, and a reddish-brown mix. Often referred to as having a three-colored-coat, but the colors typically have a wide range of shades.

I’ve owned a calico cat so I’ll admit I have a soft spot for them. I’ve also done a decent amount of research into the history of calico cats, and the reasons why they are usually female and their genetics. 

So, let’s take a look at this wonderful cat, if there are actually male calico cats and everything else you need to know about them.

What Does Calico Mean?

The word ‘calico’ is actually describing the colors and pattern you see on the coats of calico cats. It’s that distinctive mix of black, white, reddish-brown, red and yellow colors.

It’s often mistaken for meaning a breed. Calico cats are not a breed, in fact, they are available across a lot of different breeds. Such as the Cornish Rex, American Shorthair, Scottish Fold, Siberian, Turkish Van, Devon Rex, and more.

What’s the Difference Between Calico and Tortoiseshell Cats?

It’s common to mix up calico and tortoiseshell cats as they have very similar coats. The main difference that separates them is that calico cats have white in their coats and tortoiseshell do not.

So, next time this comes up as a bit of trivia or if you or someone you know has one of these types of cats you can tell them which they are, a calico because they have white in their coats or not.

I go into the differences between Calico cats, Caliby, tortoiseshell, torbies, torties, and other cats with similar makings in this post.

Calico Cats Personality Traits

There aren’t set personality traits that cross over all breeds and are specific to calico cats. Remember, calico cats are a color, not a breed.

There are a few characteristics that are common with calico cats however. Afterall, they are almost always female as I’ve explained so you can expect certain behaviors.

They are commonly described as having lovable and sweet personalities. They are typically affectionate, social, love human interaction and fussing, and make for an excellent addition to the family home.

Are There Male Calico Cats?

There are male calico cats. It’s an old wives tale that all calico colored cats are female.

It’s not a complete lie however and I can see why a lot of people think this as it’s estimated that there is only around 1 male calico cat in every three thousand born. So as you can see males are incredibly rare.

Male Calico Cat Genetics

What's the Difference Between Calico and Tortoiseshell Cats

Cats require two chromosomes, one from the mother and one from the father. And, there is a gene responsible for determining the color of a cat in one of these.

For example, if the dominant chromosome has a gene with white pigmentation, then the kitten will be predominately white.

However, this doesn’t apply the red color gene. This gene cannot be passed on to a male offspring, hence why it’s very rare that calico cats are male.

When there is a male calico cat born it’s due to an incomplete division of the chromosome pairing. The unfortunate result is that almost all male calico cats are infertile due to this abnormality.

How Long Do Male Calico Cats Live?

Female calico cats have the same life expectancy as other cats of the same breed. It’s just the color of their coat that is different, there aren’t any physical differences that would cause them to live either longer or shorter lives.

So generally speaking you can expect a female calico cat to live to around 15 years old if they’ve had a healthy and happy life.

Male calico cats on the other hand do not have a regular life expectancy. There isn’t enough information and research to put a number on how long they are expected to live, but it’s considerably shorter than females.

They often suffer from a range of health conditions, such as insulin resistance, cognitive issues, increased body fat mass, and mineral deficiencies to name just a few of their common health complications.

Do Calico Cats Make Good Pets?


There is something special about calico cats. Maybe it’s because each and every one has their own unique markings, or because they are just loving and affectionate cats. Whatever the reason anyone who owns one will tell you how awesome they are.

Like I said, I’ve owned one from a kitten so I have a special place in my heart for calico cats. If you’re looking to adopt a cat check out the calico coats available, they are genetic wonders and truly special cats!


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