Dear Green Gato #15 – The Elusive Male Calico

Beautiful calico cat sitting in grass next to wild blackberriesDear Green Gato,

I have a question for you regarding the color of my cat. I have a calico named Porky. Porky is male, and I’ve been told that it is really rare to have a male calico. He is only a few months old, and I haven’t had him neutered yet. I’ve heard that male calicos could make a lot of money as a breeder cat. I know that there are many homeless cats out there and I would never want to contribute to that, but I also have heard that there are responsible breeders out there. Would breeding Porky be a good or profitable idea? How rare is it that he is a male calico? Thanks!

-Ginger C.

Dear Ginger,

Thanks for the great question! Porky sounds like a really cute little guy. Calicos are some of the most beautiful cats around, and you’re correct to suspect that having a male calico is rare. Only one out of 3,000 calicos are male! However, Porky has no value in being a breeder cat for a few reasons.

First of all, let’s talk about why calicos are rarely male. The calico pattern is a description of the cat’s color and not their breed. A calico cat is comprised of red, black, and white fur. Sometimes the red shows up as more of an orange color, but this is still considered calico. Cats have two sex chromosomes; X and Y. The mother cat has two X chromosomes, while the father has an X and a Y chromosome to contribute.

Since the father has variation in the chromosomes that he passes on, his genes determine whether the kittens will be male or female. The red color gene that shows up in calicos rarely shows up in male kittens because it has odd characteristics that mostly only show up in females. How then did Porky turn out to be a male calico, you ask? Well, occasionally a mutation occurs in the kittens, dividing the chromosome pair. This produces a male cat with XXY chromosomes.

This brings us to the question of breeding your rare male calico. Well, there are two reasons why breeding Porky poses no monetary value.
1. Due to this genetic anomaly of XXY chromosomes, almost all male calicos are sterile. It is estimated that only 1 in 10,000 male calico cats are fertile. You can only imagine how small this statistic is considering that only 1 in 3,000 calicos are male. This makes male calicos undesirable for breeders.
2. Even if your cat was the 1 in 10,000 that can reproduce, there would be no guarantee that he would produce other male calicos. Cats may look one way, but hold many different color traits to pass on to their kittens. This is why a black cat can produce tabbies, black and white cats, or even orange kittens. Think about how a brown-haired person and a blonde-haired person could produce a red-haired child. This is because the trait is in their genetic makeup, but not presented in the parents, only in their child that receives the trait.

Although Porky is likely sterile, you’ll want to have him neutered anyways. Even though he is missing a part of his male anatomy, he will likely still exhibit undesirable traits that come with a male cats. Some of the behaviors that you can avoid by neutering Porky include:
-Marking/spraying
-Aggression
-Desire to roam/escape
-Mounting and mating behaviors
-Reduced risk of uterine infections, testicular cancer, prostatic hyperplasia, and other health ailments

These are just some of the immediate reasons to have Porky neutered. For a more in-depth look at why spaying and neutering is so important, click here. While you’re at the vet, you can also ask to try and figure out what breed he is. The calico pattern commonly shows up in American Shorthairs, Maine Coons, Persians, Scottish Folds, Japanese Bobtails, and others.

You should absolutely be proud of your rare kitty; after all, he is one in 3,000, and that number isn’t even including the percentage of cats that are calico overall. However, Porky has no value as a breeder cat, and you’ll want to have him neutered as soon as possible in order to prevent harmful medical conditions and behaviors. Enjoy your beautiful male calico, and thanks for writing in!

-GG

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