If you love cats, you will have heard of Calico cats. Most people know that the vast majority of Calico cats are female, however, they often do not realize that calico is not a breed of cat. The name calico refers to the color of the cat's fur.
Calico cats are popular choices for cat lovers because of their gorgeous coats. But, unlike a Siamese or Persian cat, calico is not a feline breed. Calico can be a Persian, Maine coon, Manx, or several other breeds. For a cat to be labeled calico, her coat must contain three colors—black, white, and orange.
These three colors appear on the coat in patches, often with white in the highest concentration. Calico cats are named for their coat color that resembles calico cloth, which was once imported from England to India.
Calico cats are popular due to their attractive coats. You can find calico cats in many breeds, including Persian, Manx, and our favorite, the Maine Coon. To be deemed a calico, a cat's fur will need to have patches of black, white, and orange, often with white as the main underlying coat. Don’t mistake a tortoiseshell cat with calico. Tortoiseshells differ in that their colors are mixed or blended and there is little or no white fur.
- What Is A Calico Maine Coon?
- Calico Maine Coon Patterns
- Owning a Calico Maine Coon – What to expect
- What about Care?
- Are Calico Maine Coons Rare?
- Where Can You Find Calico Maine Breeders?
- What are the Calico Maine Coon health issues?
- Are Calico Maine Coon cats lucky?
- How Much Do Calico Maine Coon Cats Cost?
- Our Conclusion
What Is A Calico Maine Coon?
Calico cats are named after calico cloth, to which their furs bear a resemblance. This multi-colored cloth used to be imported from England to India, and the word eventually came to refer to this distinctive coat coloration.
A Maine Coon cat has to have three distinct fur colors to be considered a calico: White, orange, and black. While all Maine Coon calicos have the same three colors, the pattern in which these colors appear is unique to every calico cat. The main color will be white and the quantities and distribution of the black and orange fur will vary from cat to cat.
Why are so Many Calico Maine Coons Female?
Almost 100% of Calico-colored cats are female. This is because of a unique genetic makeup that determines the color variants of their coat. To become a calico, a cat must inherit two X chromosomes, with one X chromosome being coded to make orange fur, and the other to make black.
Added to this, they must also inherit the genes for white fur, which is unrelated to the X and Y chromosomes. Because it requires two X chromosomes to be Calico, the outcome is always a female cat, with the one in 3000 chance of a male cat being born with a genetic abnormality that allows him to carry the colors. However, such a cat is rare, frail, and not accepted by breeders clubs.
Calico Maine Coon Patterns
A Calico Maine Coons colors are made up of white, black, and orange. The white fur can be inherited from either parent. White fur is a lack of pigment and as such, a cat's coat can only contain as much white as one of its parents. Black fur can be inherited from either parent, but orange (also called red or ginger) can only be inherited from a parent of the same sex. As all Calicos are females, this means the orange fur is passed down from mother to daughter exclusively.
The patterns of the Calico Maine Coon cats can be graded from Dense Calico, with strongly delineated patches, all the way down to Dilute Smoke Calico, which have the required colors, but the patches have become diluted with white, resulting in a cream look to the orange hair and a blue look to the black hair.
Owning a Calico Maine Coon – What to expect
Just like all Maine Coons, the calicos are very intelligent and playful animals. There is a superstition that calicos and tortoiseshell are extra feisty and prone to expecting to get their own way, but we suspect that might just be a case of nurture over nature. Make sure to begin socializing and training your little calico kitten as soon as you get them home and they should be as good as gold.
Maine Coons are great with children and other animals, and calico Maine Coons are no exception. If you are looking for a family pet, Maine Coons are a great bet. They are known for their putting up with a lot of prodding and poking from little ones without responding, and they also do well around other pets including dogs. But given their history of originally being bred to hunt and control the rodent population, it might be no surprise that they don’t do well around family rodent pets. Or rather, the rodent probably won’t remain very well.
What about Care?
Grooming a Calico Calico Maine Coon is the same as any other Maine Coon. The fur is silk-like and is not difficult to brush and easily remains smooth. We recommend brushing through once a week, but your cat will take care of the rest.
Dental care is of more concern with the Calico Maine Coon because they can be predisposed to gum disease. If you initiate tooth brushing as a kitten, you can eliminate the inevitable battle that you will have with your cat if you leave it only until the problem appears. Try to do this 2-3 times a week.
Are Calico Maine Coons Rare?
Despite the popularity of the calico coat, it is more difficult to breed than other coats and therefore there is a smaller pool of cats available to breed. Expect stiff competition for any calico kittens and move fast to secure your new pet. Just remember to take all the necessary steps in locating a good breeder, which we cover below.
Where Can You Find Calico Maine Breeders?
We recommend that you always should look around to find reputable maine coon breeders. There aren't likely to be many in your local area, but online forums may help guide you. Do not agree to buy a cat until you have seen her, her’s parents, and littermates.
The breeder should have had your kitten vaccinated and genetically tested, and should also be able to provide a health certificate to confirm this has been done. No reputable breeder should allow you to remove the kittens from their mother before 8 weeks, and many will ask you to wait for 13 weeks.
Genetic testing should be undertaken to identify the presence of any problematic genes. Not all cats with the genetic markers will go on to manifest the disease itself, but it is important to be aware of the possibilities. We recommend that you check out our article on buying from a reputable breeder, to reduce the risk of buying a kitten with problematic gene anomalies.
What are the Calico Maine Coon health issues?
Remember, the calico is NOT a crossbreed, and therefore does not benefit from the typically better health of mixes. A healthy Maine Coon should live for around 13 years, on average. Maine coons from a higher chance of developing some or all of the below:
Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)
All cats carry a potential risk of suffering from heart disease. Like a human, a cat's heart is hollow and made of muscle. It is located in the center of the chest and has 4 chambers that work together to pump blood around the body. And just like humans, they carry the risk of genetic or acquired heart disease. Heart problems can be hidden for years, presenting themselves suddenly with serious deterioration of health and ability, or even perhaps death. Check out our article on HCM.
Maine Coons are susceptible to the same hip dysplasia. This degenerative disease results in pain and loss of quality of life, but it is not life-threatening.
Spinal Muscular Atrophy
This is a genetic disease that affects some Maine Coons. It is not life-threatening but can result in weakened muscle development.
Keep your cat stimulated physically and mentally. Maine Coons require activities to help keep them healthy and prevent the development of negative quirks and behaviors that might creep in if they get bored or lonely. If you plan to keep your can as an indoor-only cat, make sure to give them a solid half an hour a day playing with toys, chasing lights, and generally running around. Make sure your house has a space that your cat can unleash a short sprint.
Are Calico Maine Coon cats lucky?
Superstitious types in many cultures think that black cats are lucky. In other areas, especially Japan, calico cats are considered to be lucky too. Some American fans of the calico also consider them lucky, referring to them as ‘Money Cats’.
Of course, there’s no evidence that any cat, black, calico, or otherwise, is in any way lucky, it does no harm to believe it! However, there are known health benefits to having a treasured pet in your life, helping to reduce stress and loneliness in their owners.
Train your cat with a variety of activities to help keep them engaged mentally and also to get the best pet you can. Maine Coons will learn from a clicker tool and are very food reward orientated. It is possible to take them for walks, play fetch or solve food-based puzzles. Keep it fun. If the cat doesn't want to engage, nothing is going to work. Let them disappear or snooze as they see fit, rather than fight them in an attempt to get them into your routine.
As long as existing pets are prepared to accept a new animal into the house, a Maine Coon generally mixes well. It is also child-friendly if socialized from an early age to ensure it can handle a moderate amount of pulling around without responding with a swipe of its claws. Socializing your kitten early ensures that your cat is friendly to everyone and not overly attached to one specific person, which might result in problematic behaviors otherwise.
Larger breeds, such as the Maine Coon, should not be fed on inferior cat food that has replaced meat proteins with carbohydrates such as corn/rice/soy. Not only is this lower quality food, but your cat is going to demand more, resulting in overfeeding. All cats are carnivorous, so feed them quality meat products.
How Much Do Calico Maine Coon Cats Cost?
Typically if you buy a Maine Coon as a pet it will be less expensive than purchasing one for show. It is also usually an added expense to get the breeding rights for a kitten. The breeding rights can cost you about $2,000 on top of the cost of the kitten which can also be around $2,000.
Bear in mind that this cost, whilst not cheap, is unlikely to include any genetic testing and therefore there are a lot of potential problems that you may encounter. As such, we recommend that you obtain insurance on your new pet to assist you in the event of any genetic complications. They may not sell for the same price as the pedigrees but can still be pricey.
Finding a calico Maine Coon cat may be difficult, but if you want that gorgeous tricolor coat then the search is well worth it. Due to the complex genetics behind the tricolor coat, calico Maine Coons are relatively rare, and highly sought after. Those lucky enough to be owners of a calico Maine Coon will agree that these beautiful creatures are great company and wonderful to look at.