Calico Cat Breed Guide

Unique | Colourful | Divas. With a mixture of caramel, chocolate and vanilla coat colours, the calico cat is a pawsitively sweet type of kitty-cat. And, although they aren’t technically a breed, but rather a type of cat that has a tri-colour (calico) coat, they have a unique origins story and an array of fun facts about them so we think they deserve their very own “breed” guide. Read on to learn everything you possibly can about the charming calico cat. 

Calico cat standing up


Average Lifespan: 10 - 20 years 
Average Weight: 2 - 5.5kg 
Coat Length:  All coat lengths
Colouring: Calico 
Shedding: Low - High, dependent on the breed


A calico cat is any kitty that has a unique tri-colour coat (orange, brown and black). They can be any breed from the laid-back Persian cat, to the curly and cheeky Devon Rex. With this, their origins are a bit wishy washy, but they’ve likely been stomping around since the ancient Egyptian times when cats were believed to embody the godly essence of Bastet, the cat-headed goddess.
What we do know, through fancy genetic studies, is how the unique calico coat comes to be which we’ll try to break down as simply as pawssible.
Like all mammals, cats have two sex chromosomes in every cell that are made up of tightly wound strands of DNA. There are two types of chromosomes, X and Y and kittens get one of these from each of their parents. Female cats have two X chromosomes, whereas males have one X and one Y. Different instructions for certain physical traits come from each chromosome if the cat is a male, however, if it is a female, the traits from one X chromosome get deactivated at random. Fur colour is a trait that comes from the X chromosome. So say a female kitten receives an X chromosome for orange fur from its mother and an X chromosome for black fur from its father, some cells will express orange traits and others black at random. This gives the calico cat its patchwork of orange and black.

But what about the white?

Tortoiseshell cats have the same scientific origins story but are only black and orange. The calico cat goes one step further with the genetic anomalies as they also have a condition called piebalding, which gives them their tri-colour mixture of white, orange and black. 
Calico cats are almost always female (99.99%) and the rare few males that are born calico are sterile. With this and the fact that the calico genetics are completely random, breeding calico cats is unfortunately impossible, rather they are a simple gift of luck! 


Calico cat in a box


Calico cats can come in all shapes and sizes depending on the breed. They can have long luscious locks if they’re a towering Maine Coone, or tight curls like the delightful Cornish Rex. Their distinguishing charm is their patchwork tri-colour coat of orange, black and white. No two calico cats have the same colour arrangement on their fur giving each one their own unique charm. This distinguishes them from the similar tortoiseshell cat which only has scattered patches of orange and black.


As calico cats are mostly female they are less adventurous than other mixed-gender breeds. Calico cats are loving and sociable but also have an independent streak about them that doesn’t require constant hooman attention. Some people describe calico cats as divas which likely comes down to their independent nature. With this, every day is different with a calico cat, one day they’ll be all about playtime whilst the next they’ll only be interested in “me time”, dozing off in a patch of sunlight dreaming about chasing after mice and reciting self-affirmations of how unique and wonderful they are. 


Although calico cats can be all types of breeds, they are more common in some breeds than others. Common breeds to produce calico cats include Rex breeds, Maine Coones, Persians, American and British shorthairs, Norwegian forest cats, Japanese bobtails, Scottish folds and of course the average moggie. 

These cats are known for their friendly natures and sweet dispositions. Nevertheless, all cats have their own quirks to them, with some friendlier than others. Early socialisation and spending quality time with your kitten is impawtent to teach them good behaviour and manners. 

We’ve written countless helpful articles over on our Cat Blog & News page so check that out to get yourself up to speed on everything cat care. 

Calico cat licking lips


As calico cats come in all shapes and sizes, it’s impawtent to be feeding them the correct amount of cat food for their size and activity levels. Some may be agile and athletic and require larger dinners whilst others will resemble more of a sloth than a feisty kitty and will be prone to stacking on the pounds if their meals aren’t monitored. All cats tend to slow down as they get older which can increase their risk of obesity and other health complications if their food intake isn’t monitored so this is impawtent to recognise.

Other than this, all calico cats are obligate carnivores and require a diet high in animal meat to provide them with the necessary nutrients and minerals they need to stay healthy. Moderate levels of fat from meat and a small amount of carbs are also impawtent. From here, whether you feed your calico cat dry cat food or wet, is up to your furry bestie’s preference which is as unique as each calico cat’s adorable patchwork of coat colours!


Scrumbles Wet and Dry Food

Calico cats love our deliciously meaty Gut-Friendly Cat Food, and here’s why:

  1. Up to 77% Meat - With exceptionally high levels of human-grade meat, our recipes deliver all the essential protein, fats and minerals your calico needs to keep them in ideal health. We clearly label all of our ingredients so you know exactly what makes up our nutritious recipes and leave out added nasties such as added salt, sugar, artificial additives and fillers.
  2. Gut-Friendly - We add prebiotic slippery elm bark to our wet cat food, and the powerful probiotic Enterococcus Faecium to our dry cat food to improve gut health and digestibility. 
  3. Designed by Nutritionists and Approved By Vets - Our dry and wet cat food is nutritionally balanced and complete so that you can feed these recipes to your fur baby every day with the confidence that they’re getting all the essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients they need to maintain optimal health. 
  4. Healthy Treats - Our treats are also a healthy adjunct to a nutritionally balanced meal and contain their own powerful benefits. Check out our Gnashers Cat Dental Treats for fresh breath and pearly whites or our Chillz Calming Cat Treats with valerian to help relax stressed-out kitties. 
  5. Sealing Lick of Kitty-Cat Approval - All our recipes score 100% on palatability testing meaning even the fussiest of felines will love our cat food. 
  6. B Corp Certified - We use eco-friendly packaging, and are proud to be the second ever pet food brand to become B-Corp certified with a commitment to reducing our carbon pawprint on this Earth. This means that you don’t have to forego your climate-positive morals when choosing Scrumbles

Whilst you're here, why not read:

1. Burmilla Cat Breed Guide
2. Bombay Cat Breed Guide
3. Ginger Cats: Breed Guide

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