a dilute calico curls up

Dilute Calico Cats: What Makes These Felines So Special?


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Calico cats are a favorite among cat lovers. Their beautiful caramel, black, and white colors are a desirable mix, and they tend to be the sweetest cats. While calico is a cool color pattern, it can only be outdone by its lighter cousin: the dilute calico cat. Much like tortoiseshell cats, calico cats are not a recognized breed; they are just a coloration of a cat's coat.

The color pattern can happen in a lot of different cat breeds and mixed breeds, including the Manx, the American shorthair and longhair cats, Maine coons, the British shorthair, Persians, Japanese bobtails, and the Turkish Angora cat. (Just to name a few!) While most calicos are female cats, male calico cats do exist. They most likely have Klinefelter's syndrome, a rare genetic condition found in male calicos that's from having an extra X chromosome in males.

There are three types of calico cats: the standard calico; a caliby, which is a mix of calico and a tabby cat and has the colors of a calico along with the tabby stripes of a tabby; and lastly, a dilute calico.

dilute calico cat lays on its side

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The tricolor coat color is perhaps the most distinctive coat pattern around and is the most commonly desired among cat lovers. A calico cat has three different colors: white, orange (or sometimes referred to as red), and black. These pretty cats are typically mostly white cats with large patches or spots of black and orange coloring against the white fur. They are not to be confused with tortoiseshell cats (a.k.a. torties). Although the two have similar coloring, the major difference that distinguishes torties from calicos is that tortoiseshells have a black-based coat while calicoes have a white-based coat.

Dilute calico cats are exactly what the name implies: they have the same coloring as calico cats, but diluted--meaning dilute calicos are calico cats with less intense color hues. While the standard calico cat has distinct patches of white, black, and orange, dilute calico cats have less distinct lighter coat colors of a smoky-gray or blue-gray, white, and a strawberry-blonde or cream color -- all dilute calicos have lighter coloring than their traditional counterparts. Other than blue, white, and cream, dilute calicos can also come in colors such as white, lilac, and cream or white, fawn, and cream.

Dilute calico kittens get their unique light coloring by inheriting the dilute gene, as well as a combination of complex genetic markers, to get that beautiful coat coloring.

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Do you live with a Dilute Calico cat? Or just a Calico cat? Share your tri-color kitty on our Wide Open Pets Facebook page!

READ MORE: Why Did Ancient Egyptians Love to Worship Cats?

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