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Calico cats are cats that have 3 fur colors and are always female or males two X chromosomes.

I've seen many cats that will have 2 fur colors (one of them is usually white) and another, third, color which is a darker shade of one of the other colors. As exampled in the pictures below (taken from the internet). Are those considered Calico cats?

pic of cat 1

pic of cat 2

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I don't know much about calico cats, but from those pictures nobody can tell you for sure if they are female. One of the upper two closely resembles a male (and fertile) cat I know. –  skymninge Nov 28 '13 at 9:19
    
The relation to female was only through Calico cats. I don't really care about their gender. –  Ilya Melamed Nov 28 '13 at 9:22
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I'd say, those could as well be normal tabby cats. Calicos are more often those with big brown and black patches on white. Or at least they have a distinctive amount of visible bright brown in their coat. –  skymninge Nov 28 '13 at 9:24
    
@skymninge, are tabby cats considered to be Calicos, and can they be of both genders? –  Ilya Melamed Nov 30 '13 at 21:52
    
Tabby is just another name for the color. Like Calico, it is not a breed. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tabby_cat Some Calicos could also said to be tabbys. Like Calicos, they can be of both genders. (It's just that most calicos are female, not all of them.) –  skymninge Dec 2 '13 at 7:42

1 Answer 1

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Tortoiseshell cats (which is the normal name for Calico style cats in Europe) arise due to a gene on the X chromosome. Some patches are ginger, and some tabby due to the deactivation of one X chromosome in each cell at an early stage of development. This produces a tortoiseshell-like pattern.

What you see in these tabby cats with the white colouring is due to temperature dependence, this gives the patterning on the feet/nose etc. Tortoiseshell cats looks quite different, where the different coloured patches of fur are random.

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