Not a breed in its own right, the Calico gained this name because of its unique colouring. The breed is not recognised by any major cat registries, despite many considering it an independent variety with its own personality. Believed to be one of the most common and popular cats in the domestic setting, the Calico has established a concrete reputation for itself over the years and is a highly sought house cat. Precious little is known about the breed’s evolution, although it is speculated that cats carrying the gene for ‘calico’ colouration came from the port cities along the Mediterranean, having been transported there from Egypt. In several cultures, the orange-coloured cat is considered good luck and figurines appear in many homes.
A popular variety of domestic cat, the breeds that permit calico colouring include the American Shorthair, the British Shorthair, the Turkish Van, the Japanese Bobtail, and the Manx. Generally speaking most Calico cats, or tortoiseshell cats, as they are more popularly known, are female. Male Calicos usually suffer some impediment when it comes to breeding due to their genetic make-up. With a muscular yet athletic body structure, long legs, wide-spaced ears, expressive eyes and a semi-length, glossy coat, the Calico is a pleasant and distinctive-looking breed. The coat is typically parti-coloured or spotted with the predominant colour being white. Black and orange tabby are usually the two colours making up the patterning.
Whilst the Calico is not a separate breed, owners have described them as having very consistent personalities that set them apart from other breeds. On one hand, the Calico is a truly independent cat that benefits from a free roam in the wide outdoors, while being affectionate, loyal and sociable towards its family in the home. When introduced gradually, the Calico is highly compatible with children and other house pets, providing it does not feel threatened. Typically, an adult domestic Calico will weigh 8-10 pounds, with an average life expectancy of 15 years (for an indoor cat).
Due to calico being a colour rather than a breed, these domestic cats are effectively just cats, and any specific health conditions are difficult to determine. Again, genetic problems are largely unknown; it is more useful to look at breed-specific health complaints in the breeds that permit calico colouring, including the British and American Shorthairs, the Japanese Bobtail and the Turkish Van.