If you want to own a female cat, you might just want to get a calico immediately, or if you found yourself getting or rescuing a calico, you’ll most likely end up having a female cat around. Some people may find it surprising but calico cats are almost always female.
For the uninitiated, calico is not a breed in itself but a color or coat pattern, in which all three colors – black, white and orange – should be present. There is a variation in color with ginger, cream and gray. Cats that bear this coat pattern are mostly female. According to Humane Society, only one out of three thousand calico cats is male.
Why Are Calico Cats Almost Always Female?
The answer lies in genetics. Sex chromosomes in cats work the same way as humans, in which female cats have two X-chromosomes (XX), coming from the mother and father while male cats have X-chromosome from the mother and Y-chromosome (XY) from the father.
In cats, X-chromosome dictates the majority of the color of the cat’s fur.
That said, female cats inherit their coat color from their mothers and fathers. To produce a calico (or tortie), one of the X chromosomes need to carry the black gene and the other will carry the orange gene.
For instance, a black male cat mates with an orange female cat – they will produce a half-black/half-orange offspring or a calico. The same goes for a black female and an orange male.
Most of the time, male kittens get their color from the mother (X) alone and Y-chromosome determines its sex. A male black cat and an orange female will have an orange male offspring; a male orange cat and a black female will have a black male kitten.
Only one of the two X-chromosomes is functional in females, which makes an individual easily predict the colors of a cat’s offspring.
At times though, chromosomes tend to misdivide and result in the birth of a male calico.
In this case, the male calico has two X-chromosomes and one Y-chromosome. If one of the X’s carries a non-orange gene and the other an orange gene, the calico male will be produced.
Although a male calico cat is considered unique or odd, cat breed experts noted that they are normally healthy and they have great life expectancies. But there’s one problem with these cats — they usually have malformed sexual organs so they are mostly sterile.
Are you a proud calico cat owner? Do you know of a male calico cat? Let us know in the comments section below.
h/t: Reader’s Digest