What is the Difference Between a Calico and A Tortie Cat?
Tortie is a shortened form of the word “Tortoiseshell”. A basic distinction is that a Tortie has two colors but no white. These colors are often orange or some reddish shade and grey or black. A tortie may have any two colors such as red and black plus white. A tortie also has colors that are mixed together with the different colors of fur over lapping in the same area. A calico does not have this mix of different colored fur. If the fur of a “calico” is mixed together is actually referred to as a “Tortie with White”. That is the main difference between a Calico and a Tortie cat.
Here is a Calico cat.
Note how this cat has distinct color blocks. The black is pure black. The orange is all orange. In a Tortie the colors are mixed together with both colors of fur in the same patches as in the cat below.
Here is a Tortie cat.
This cat has no white and the dark and orange fur are mixed together in the same patches.
Here is a Tortie with White Cat.
Note that this particular cat has the tortie orange and black fur as well as white. This cat could also be called a “Torbie With White” since it has some tabby markings (stripes). The Torbie combines the words Tabby and Tortie. So a Torbie with White is all that plus white.
Does It Matter Which Pattern A Cat Has?
No. Tortie, Calico and all the other marking names are only descriptions of fur colors. They don’t tell you anything about the breed or health of the cat. You can make some educated guesses about a cat’s gender based on some colors such as the fact that the majority (but not all) orange cats are male and most all calico cats and tortie cats are female.
There are short haired, medium haired and long haired versions of all of these markings.
How Do You Keep Your Tortie or Calico Cat Healthy?
You can keep your tortie or calico healthy the same way you keep any cat healthy.
- Make sure they always have unlimited, clean water to drink at all times. Kidney and urinary disease can be common and are devastating for cats. Making sure they get enough water is the first step to preventing this.
- Give your cats healthy food. Solid Gold Cat Food.
- Provide a clean litter box.
- Take your cats to the vet for regular check ups.
- Give your cat love and attention on a regular basis.
- Provide toys and places to play and get exercise for physical and mental health. Try an affordable, sturdy and practical cat tree like this one which is the best I have found. It has 10 built in scratching posts. Tall Cat Tree, Best Value!
- Give your cat natural supplements if they have special needs such as bad teeth, upper respiratory infections or digestion problems. Check with your vet. My vet approves of these and recommends them now. Pet Alive Supplements.
Are Calico Cats Lucky?
There are many legends about Calico cats. Their orange color comes from the domestic cats of Egypt. Calico cats are the official symbol of luck in Japan and they are the inspiration for the famous lucky waving cat figurines called “Maneki-neko“. These are traditionally made of porcelain and are considered good luck in the home. They are popular in China as well where they are sometimes gold colored. Japanese fisherman had calico cats on their boats for good luck and safety to protect from storms. In the U.S., Calico cats are sometimes called “money cats”.
My own “calico girl” turned out to be a tortoiseshell with white. We adopted her at 14 and she is not the sprightliest member of the family. She is amazing and in perfect health at almost 15 now. Maybe there is something to the calico luck after all! Meet her here!
Meet My Rare Breed Cats
If you are interested in more unique cats, check out my Norwegian Forest Cat and French Chartreux which were both rescues. Unlike calicos which are just a color pattern, these are actually unique breeds. They are amazing cats and adored as part of our family.
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