Besides their distinct orange, white, and black hue, calico cats have been known to bring good fortune and luck.
Unfortunately, the luck they bring is sometimes short-lived. And so we wonder: how long do calico cats live, and how are they different from an average cat?
Yes, these tri-colored beauties are indeed a wonder- from their captivating colors down to their genetic makeup. If you wish to get to know them more, read on.
We’re here to give all you need to know about calico cats – what they are, how long calico cats live, and more.
Also Read: Best 153 Calico Cat Names
What Are Calico Cats?
The word calico does not refer to an actual breed. Instead, calico has something to do with a cats’ color and coat pattern (think tabby and tortoiseshell cats).
A calico cat is a domestic cat distinguished by its tri-color coat, which is often orange, white, and black. However, some cats can also have muted colors like chocolate brown, bluish-black, red or strawberry blonde, and cream. These are known as dilute calico cats.
And since this color variation isn’t breed-specific, you’ll find the calico color pattern in various cat breeds, including:
- Arabian Mau
- American shorthair
- American wirehair
- British shorthair
- Cornish Rex
- Devon Rex
- Japanese Bobtail
- Manx cat
- Maine Coon
- Norwegian Forest cat
- Turkish Van
When it comes to personality traits, calico cats are rumored to be quirky, strong-willed, and feisty. Unfortunately, we can’t say this holds true for each calico cat since no scientific studies are available to back this up.
Given the breed differences, calico cats can have different temperaments and attitudes. As such, you can expect one calico cat to be overly playful and aggressive while another can be an affectionate cat with a personality that jives well with other animals.
Also Read: Calico Cat Facts
Calico Vs. Tortoiseshell Cats
Both the calico and tortoiseshell refer to a cat’s coat pattern. However, tortie cats are generally bi-colored and often show off a black and mottled orange or red hue. On the one hand, your gorgeous calico cats will have white coats with distinct black and orange patches.
The Science Behind Calico Cat’s Color Pattern
The official state cat of Maryland, calico cats, aka “money cats,” have been considered by many as a lucky charm. Why? It’s because this cat’s beautiful calico color pattern cannot be bred and often comes out by chance.
To give you a quick background, a cat’s gender is determined by the X and Y sex chromosomes – XX for female cats and XY for male cats. When it comes to calico cats’ color variation, it’s the X chromosome that plays a vital role since this carries the black and orange colors’ coding gene.
A cat needs two X chromosomes with the right chromosomal makeup to show that calico color pattern – one black-coded X chromosome and one orange-coded X chromosome. Given the need for calico cats to carry two X chromosomes, you’ll discover that 99% of calico cats are female.
Don’t get us wrong, though. Male calico cats also exist, but they’re RARE. While it’s normal for female calico cats to carry two X chromosomes, male calicos carrying an extra X chromosome (XXY) is deemed as a genetic rarity. Fact is, out of 3000 female calicos, only one is born a male.
Average Life Expectancy: How Long Do Calico Cats Live?
Like most cats, the average life span of a calico cat is twelve to fifteen years but some calicos can go beyond 20 years. But just like humans, the life span of an individual cat varies. When it comes to calico cats, in particular, four key factors determine their average lifespan.
Pet owners who have a female calico cat need not worry because the length of a female cat’s life is not affected by their coat patterns. In fact, female calicos can live up to 15 years (or even more) as long as they’re given proper nutrition and care.
Unfortunately, it’s a different story for male calicos. Like humans, male calicos or those born with an extra X chromosome suffer from a genetic condition called Klinefelter’s syndrome.
One common problem experienced by calico males with Klinefelter’s syndrome is sterility. This makes breeding calico cats almost impossible.
Apart from that, this genetic abnormality also leaves male calicos with various health issues resulting in a shorter life span. Health problems that are often linked to Klinefelter’s syndrome include the following:
- Behavior problems and disorientation caused by cognitive impairment
- Insulin resistance increases the risk of diabetes
- Abnormal levels of cholesterol and other fats or lipids (dyslipidemia) can result in obesity, joint pain, and heart disease
- Low bone mineral density increases the chances of broken bones or fractures
Compared to purebred cats, mixed breed cats live longer. This is because the risk of moggy or mixed-breed cats getting hereditary disorders (often seen in purebred cats) is reduced.
Also, some cat breeds live longer than others. Example of cats with shorter lives includes the American Wirehair and Burmilla. On the one hand, Bombay and Siamese cats can live up to 20 years.
Yes, like humans, a cat’s living condition can also affect its lifespan. In general, indoor cats live longer than outdoor cats.
While outdoor cats are usually more active, they’re also exposed to more danger compared to indoor cats. Passing cars, viruses, and toxic substances are just some of the hazards cats that roam free frequently face.
In addition, monitoring the health condition of a calico cat living outdoors is a bit more tricky. Since indoor calico cats are often within sight and reach, potential health problems are easily spotted.
Health & Well-being
Many healthy cats have been known to live longer lives. So, if you want your dear old calico cat to live a long, happy life, make sure to put their health and well-being on top of your priority list.
How To Lengthen Your Calico Cat’s Life?
Lucky or not, any loving pet parent would want their cat to live a long, healthy life. Whether you have a couple of female cats on board or a male calico cat for a pet, there are a few things you can do to keep your calico healthy, reduce its risk of diseases, and hopefully outlive an average cat.
Keep them indoors. Since the average lifespan of an indoor cat is generally longer, you might want to consider keeping your calico males indoors (given their reputation for having shorter lives). The same applies to other cats.
Alternatively, you can ensure that your cats feel comfortable by providing them with good shelter – something that can keep potential hazards at bay.
Help your cat maintain a healthy weight by providing a balanced diet. Calicos and any other cat are prone to diseases whenever they’re over or underweight. As such, it’s essential to give your tri-colored guys cat food that your cat likes and provides all the nutrients they need. Most vets recommend giving your furry pal a mix of high-quality dry cat food and wet food.
Playtime is a must. Aside from giving your cat proper nutrition, keeping your cat active is also essential. So, make sure to allot some playtime with your cat during the day and be ready with a few interactive games (think laser pointers). Alternatively, you can also set up a cat tree or food puzzle in your home.
Provide adequate health care. Often, pet parents make the mistake of only bringing their pet to the vet when they get sick. Rather than visiting the vet only when the need arises, it’s a good idea to provide your cat with scheduled or routine veterinary care. This way, early detection of potential health problems is possible, and chances of treatment are increased.
Regular grooming and litter box cleaning. While cats already do a great job keeping themselves clean, grooming them at least once a week can help keep their coats shiny and mat-free. By doing this, you can also check if they have any lumps or unusual growths in their skin.
Since your cat’s poop and pee can tell a lot about your cat’s medical condition, it helps to clean your feline friend’s litter box regularly. Aside from sanitary reasons, doing this can help you monitor and keep tabs on your pal’s elimination habits.
Calico cat or not, all cats deserve to live a life of good health, contentment, and happiness. In our books, a cat doesn’t need to have three colors to be considered lucky. Whatever color they have, the fact that your cat is able to bring so much joy in your life is already considered a blessing.
So provide them with good, hearty food, a clean shelter, routine veterinary care, and lots of Tender Love and Care (TLC). You’ll never know. Even your male calicos might just be able to defy common beliefs and live a longer life.
Do calico cats have shorter lives?
Male calico cats have much shorter life expectancies that female calicos because many of them have Klinefelter's Syndrome, a genetic condition where a cat is born with two X chromosomes and one Y chromosome, which can cause all sorts of health problems, including diabetes.
Do calico cats have more health problems?
While the rare male calico may encounter some health issues and have shorter life expectancies, female calico cats are just as healthy as cats with other coat patterns, with an average lifespan of 12 to 16 years.
Do calico cats get along with other?
Many Calico breeds get along well with children and other pets too. The Calico personality is also thought to be quirky. They are said to have a sassy but loving temperament, enjoying active play as much as purring in their owners' laps.
How long does a calico cat last?
Calico is just a color pattern, albeit a complicated one, and many cat breeds may have a calico color variety. Generally speaking, female calicos are just like any other cat, and they can enjoy the same general life span of about 15 years as long as they receive proper care throughout their lives.
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