Just how long do calico cats live?

Calico cats aren’t a specific cat breed, so that’s not an easy answer.

I’ll try to tackle it below for you, though, to give you a good overview, along with tips on helping your calico live life to the fullest.

We have much to discuss, so let’s jump in!

READ MORE: Calico Cat Facts

What is The Average Lifespan Of a Calico Cat?

fierce calico cat (how long do calico cats live?)

Like I said above, there’s really no single answer, so if you were hoping for a clear-cut “12-15 years,” I’m sorry.

Since calico cats are not specifically any breed of cat, their life span depends entirely on their actual breed.

Male calicos are a bit of an exception to this rule though, as we’ll discuss in a moment.

How Long Do Indoor Female Calico Cats Live?

Indoor cats generally live longer than cats who stay outdoors. This is due to the fact that outdoor cats are more exposed to dangerous situations than cats who stay indoors.

Outdoors, cats are more exposed to other predatory animals. They may also get lost in the streets and get run over by vehicles by accident.

beautiful indoor calico cat

The average life expectancy of indoor calico cats is the same as any indoor cat, which is approximately anywhere between 12 to 15 years. Female calicos, in general, live up to around 15 years. Some can live even up to 20 years.

As mentioned above, the lifespan of calico cats also depends on the life expectancy of the type of cat breed that they belong to.

Take for example the Siamese cat life expectancy, which can reach twenty years, versus that of white Maine Coon cats, which averages around 10-13 years.

How Long Do Male Calico Cats Live?

chubby calico cat with green eyes

The long life span of calico females does not, unfortunately, apply to a male calico cat. Male calico cats have shorter life expectancies compared to female calicos owing largely to their genetic makeup.

To understand this a bit more, you would have to get to know more about the genetics of a calico cat in general.

The genetics of calico cats have always been a source of wonder for genetic researchers. It all lies in what happens with the genes in the sex chromosome, particularly the X-chromosomes.

The X-chromosomes in cats, among many other things, carry two other important functions. One is to carry a specific fur color and the other can be considered as a survival gene in cats.

Female cats will always carry a combination of two X-chromosomes while males will always have a combination of both an X and Y chromosome, pretty much like humans do.

However, the survival gene in female cats may be one too many when they carry them in both X chromosomes.

In order to circumvent any potential danger, one chromosome then undergoes chromosome inactivation to lessen any protein overexpression that two “active” x chromosomes may bring.

The deactivated gene for survival also happens to be the same gene for a specific color. When that same gene is deactivated, the color becomes recessive, allowing another color to be dominant. This leads to a vibrant combination of colors in the cat.

There may be cats though who possess tri-color coat patterns that turn out to be less vibrant. In this case, they are known as dilute calico cats.

Whether they are dilute or not, the genetics remain the same with the X chromosome being the one responsible for the fur color of the cat.

For male cats, the chances of having a combination of colors are even more rare, given the fact that they have only one X chromosome in them.

In order for them to become calico cats, they must have an additional x chromosome in combination with a single Y chromosome.

These tri-colored guys now have the combination XXY chromosomes, instead of the normal XY chromosomes found in males.

This extra X chromosome is considered a genetic abnormality, resulting in a condition known as Klinefelter’s syndrome.

Unfortunately, this is the payoff for having colorful coats in male calicos since having this condition makes them more predisposed to a host of diseases which lead to a shorter lifespan.

Some of the health concerns in male calicos are:

  • Sterility. Male calicos are sterile, therefore, they cannot be used for breeding.
  • Broken Bones. This results from bone mineral deficiency in male calicos.
  • Problems in behavior. Male calicos usually have cognitive and developmental issues which, oftentimes, result in abnormal behavioral patterns.
  • Joint pain, diabetes and heart disease. This is due to an increase in body fat mass, as well as increased insulin resistance.

How to Help Your Calico Live Longer

Although there is an average life span that has been observed for calico cats, there are certain things that you can do, as a pet human,  to make your calico cat live longer.

Provide good shelter

Always provide a place that is comfortable for your calico cat. It would be preferable for your cat to be a house cat and stay indoors since this can keep them safe from potential hazards such as cars and other predators.

If indoors, make sure to keep away all toxic material that may be hazardous to them such as poisonous plants, chemicals, and tiny objects. Make sure that the area they stay in is dry and not cold and wet. Provide them with a litter box with quality litter as well.

Provide them with a lot of space that they can walk around and be active in. Cats need to be active and they need exercise as well, just like their pet humans.

If you do intend to keep them outdoors, make sure that they are in a shelter that is properly insulated, especially during wintertime.

Provide them with suitable bedding so that they can keep warm and protected from the cold.

Straw comes highly recommended as suitable bedding for outdoor shelters made for cats. Straw repels moisture enough to keep your cat dry even during cold and wet winter months.

calico cat lying on the striped blanket

Providing proper nutrition

Make sure that you feed your calico cat with a healthy diet.  Cats are carnivores. A balanced diet for them involves adequate amounts of protein, moderate fat, and very few carbohydrates.

Make sure that they get the necessary vitamins, minerals, and amino acids to maintain their coat and muscles as well.

Some cats will do better with scheduled feedings, while others will fare better with smaller but constant feeding throughout the day.

Whether it’s dry, moist, or semi-moist, make sure that your cat likes what he eats and that he is not overfed. The key to keeping him away from diseases is to keep him within a healthy weight.

Groom your cat

Grooming your cat regularly helps protect their coat. Keeping them neat and clean also prevents them from developing skin diseases, which may eventually lead to other health problems,

The same goes for cleaning their ears and teeth. Keeping these areas clean lessens the chances of infection from setting in.

Clipping the nails is a must for indoor cats. Unlike outdoor cats, the nails of indoor cats do not encounter any rough surfaces which can help prevent rapid growth.

Clipping their nails helps prevent them from inflicting injury onto themselves.  It also helps them walk properly when their nails are clipped short.

Provide routine veterinary care

Adequate health care and regular checkups by your vet are necessary for overall pet wellness and health. Your vet can easily spot any condition that may place your feline in bad health.

As the saying goes, “an ounce or prevention is worth a pound of cure”. This saying very well applies to cats as it does to humans.

FAQs

DO CALICO CATS HAVE SHORTER LIVES?

calico cat stretching under the chair

Calico females have the same lifespan as any cat within the given breed that they belong to. Calico males, however, have shorter lives as compared to females due to genetic factors.

WHAT MAKES CALICO CATS SPECIAL?

Calico cats are not an actual breed of cats. Rather, they are considered special due to the tri-color coat that they possess.
The genetics of calico cats allow for them to have a calico color pattern which is uncommon and in males, even considered to be quite rare.
Calico cats are quite special in that they have been named as the official state cat of Maryland in the United States. They are also considered to be a lucky charm and a sign of good luck in different countries around the world.

Conclusion

Calico cats are beautiful genetic mistakes that no amount of experimentation can create. They are indeed rare species that only nature can produce.

They are, however, not a special kind of breed. On the contrary, they are your average cat. Being average cats, their life expectancy is quite similar, if not the same, as any other ordinary cat.

That said, it takes a lot of care and nurturing for a calico cat to live a long and healthy life. For as long as you, as a pet human, can provide your calico cat with all the love that it needs, it will surely live and be with you for many years to come.

References

  • All About Cats. 2021. “Calico Cats→ Genetics, Personality, Lifespan and Intelligence | All about Cats.” All about Cats. April 7, 2021. https://allaboutcats.com/calico-cats.
  • “Alley Cat Allies.” 2021. Alley Cat Allies. 2021. https://www.alleycat.org/community-cat-care/straw-not-hay-for-outdoor-cat-shelters/.
  • “How Long Do Indoor Cats Live? – the Vet on Fourth.” 2019. The Vet on Fourth. December 31, 2019. https://www.thevetonfourth.com/how-long-do-indoor-cats-live/.
  • https://www.facebook.com/thespruceofficial. 2021. “Fascinating Facts and Cute Pictures of Calico Cats.” The Spruce Pets. 2021. https://www.thesprucepets.com/calico-cats-photo-gallery-4031810.
  • “Welfare of Cats: The Need for a Suitable Environment.” 2015. Nidirect. nidirect. November 19, 2015. https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/welfare-cats-need-suitable-environment.
  • 2016. Aspcapetinsurance.com. 2016. https://www.aspcapetinsurance.com/resources/calico-cat-facts/.
calico kitten sitting on the floor

Do you have a calico cat? How old is she/he? Let us know in the comments below!

Deanna C
Deanna C

Deanna is a passionate cat lover and freelance writer. She lives with her Chi dog and a ragdoll cat. When she’s not writing, Deanna loves listening to country music or watching Dancing With The Stars.
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