Calico vs Tortoiseshell Cats: How Are They Completely different?

Final Up to date on: November 17, 2022 by Crystal Uys

Calico vs Tortoiseshell cats

Calico and tortoiseshell kitties each have a placing look, due to their beautiful mixture of colours and distinctive markings. Many individuals don’t understand there’s a distinction between the 2, although. Some folks could not even understand that tortoiseshell is a sort of cat however as a substitute suppose that each cat with orange patches is a calico.

It’s additionally not widespread to understand there are variations in persona between these two kitty colours. Individuals who personal tortoiseshell cats will inform you all about “tortitude”, and calico cats even have a temperamental popularity. There are positively distinct variations in each look and temperament with these two coat colours.

Visible Variations: At a Look

calico vs tortoiseshell
Picture Credit score: Left – Calico Cat (Kristi Blokhin, Shutterstock); Proper – Tortoiseshell Cat (andy-holmes, Unsplash}

Calico Cats

  • Common top (grownup): 8–10 inches
  • Common weight (grownup): 5–12 kilos
  • Lifespan: 12–16 years
  • Train: Average
  • Grooming wants: Low to excessive
  • Household-friendly: Usually
  • Different pet-friendly: Usually
  • Temperament: Candy, impartial, quirky

Tortoiseshell Cats

  • Common top (grownup): 8–10 inches
  • Common weight (grownup): 5–12 kilos
  • Lifespan: 12–16 years
  • Train: Average to excessive
  • Grooming wants: Low to excessive
  • Household-friendly: Generally
  • Different pet-friendly: Usually
  • Trainability: Feisty, affectionate, hot-tempered

Calico Cat Overview

calico cat staring at the camera
Picture Credit score: dmgreen22, Pixabay


The looks of a calico cat is set by the colours of its coat, not its breed. Virtually all cat breeds can have the potential for calicos. The calico coat consists of three colours, that are often primarily white with accents of black and orange. Muted calicos are primarily white with accents of blue and cream. Calicos may have crimson, brown, or tan of their coat, however they’re all the time tricolor cats. White often accounts for 25–75% of the coat of calicos.


Calico cats can have any temperament because of their means to be from any breed. Nonetheless, they’re typically recognized for being loving and affectionate cats that present a substantial amount of loyalty, particularly for one chosen particular person. Most individuals take into account them quirky and energetic, however these traits may translate into neurotic behaviors generally.

The Calico Gene

You could have heard that every one calico cats are females, and whereas this isn’t completely true, it’s virtually all the time true. Male calicos are exceptionally uncommon. It is because the gene that causes calico coats is linked to the X chromosome, however two copies of this gene are wanted to create calico.

Since males solely have one X chromosome, they’re often not affected by this gene, though they’ll carry it. Because of this male calico cats have an additional chromosome, bringing them to XXY as a substitute of XY. It is a genetic abnormality that, in people, is known as Klinefelter’s Syndrome. In some cats, this will likely not trigger any issues, however some cats could present signs of this situation, like behavioral issues, weight problems, and an elevated danger of situations like diabetes and coronary heart illness.

Appropriate for:

It varies considerably between cats, however calicos are sometimes nicely fitted to houses with kids and different pets. They’re often candy and affectionate cats which are loving towards their folks, though they are often very impartial cats as nicely. Ensure that to supply your calico loads of hiding locations away from kids and different pets to allow them to recharge.

Tortoiseshell Cat Overview

Tortoiseshell Norwegian Forest Cat
Picture Credit score: Nui Rattapon, Shutterstock


Tortoiseshell cats are sometimes confused with calicos, however they’re distinctly totally different in look. These cats are often bicolor, with their two colours being black and brown, tan, or orange. It’s doable for the black to indicate up in a dilute type, showing as blue or tabby.

Generally, a cat will primarily appear like a tortoiseshell with small patches of white. This white is often too minimal to depend the cat as a calico, and it’s generally known as tortico. Just like the calico, tortoiseshell cats could be from nearly any breed.


Like calicos, tortoiseshells are recognized for his or her affectionate temperament. Nonetheless, individuals who personal tortoiseshell cats report them being hot-tempered and extra susceptible to aggressive behaviors than many different cats. Additionally they report “tortitude”, which is an outline of the precise kinds of persona and angle that the tortoiseshell cats typically have.

These cats generally is a little bit spicy, typically having little tolerance of shenanigans from anybody however themselves. This may lengthen to kids and different pets within the residence generally. It’s essential to differentiate that scientific research haven’t proven a connection between a cat’s coat shade and their temperament, besides in situations the place the coat shade is instantly related to the cat’s breed. A lot of the proof of tortitude is anecdotal, however widespread.

The Tortoiseshell Gene

Just like the calico gene, the tortoiseshell gene is X-linked, and two copies of the gene are required to provide a tortoiseshell cat. The overwhelming majority of tortoiseshell cats are feminine, however male tortoiseshells do exist. This often means they’ve an additional X chromosome and have Klinefelter’s Syndrome.

Appropriate for:

In the event you imagine within the existence of tortitude, then chances are you’ll really feel like a tortoiseshell cat shouldn’t be acceptable for households with young children or different pets. Like with most pets, correct introductions and respect of the cat’s boundaries are essential to create and preserve peace, in addition to retaining the cat comfortable and freed from stress.

Sterility and X-Linked Traits

Male cats with an additional X chromosome are virtually all the time sterile and unable to provide offspring. You must by no means assume that your cat is sterile, although. It’s additionally essential to have your cat neutered, even when your vet believes he’s sterile. It is because leaving your cat’s testicles intact will increase the danger of testicular most cancers and behavioral issues.

Which Cat Is Proper For You?

Calicos and tortoiseshell cats have very totally different temperaments from one another, at the least anecdotally talking. There isn’t any stable proof of those traits being linked to your cat’s coat shade. Some folks report calicos with having an angle very like tortitude, whereas different tortoiseshell homeowners report their cats being loving and outgoing.

When selecting a cat, strive to decide on a cat that appears to have a temperament that may match your property greatest. It may be troublesome to find out in case your cat continues to be younger, although. The very best factor you are able to do, no matter which coat shade you select to take residence, is to make sure your property is ready as much as cut back your cat’s stress ranges, assist them really feel protected, and supply them with loads of shops for vitality.

Featured Picture Credit score: Left (Calico Cat): Linn Currie, Shutterstock, Proper (Tortoiseshell Cat): Julieshoots, Pixabay

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