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The Calico Maine Coon Guide

The Calico Maine Coon is a cat that’s admired by many. However, Calico Maine Coons are relatively rare and finding one can take time, especially a calico male. Some people are not even certain what a calico Maine Coon is or why it is so-called.

A standard Calico Maine Coon is a white cat with varying patches of black and red fur. However, any Maine Coon with a three-colored coat is also a calico. The calico pattern is sometimes referred to as tricolor, tortie and white, or piebald.

There’s a genetic reason why Calico Maine Coons are rare and mostly female.

A mainly white calico Maine Coon cat.

How Many Calico Maine Coon Patterns Are There?

The standard white, black and red Calico Maine Coon is the most well-recognized but there are a total of eight calico variations as described in the following table.

Calico Pattern NumberCalico Maine Coon Pattern NameCalco Maine Coon Pattern Colors
1Dense CalicoWhite with unbrindled patches of black and red
2Dilute CalicoWhite with unbrindled patches of blue and cream
3Dense Shell Calico White with unbrindled patches of black and red. Back, flanks and tail lightly tipped with black and shades of red
4Dilute Shell CalicoWhite with unbrindled patches of blue and cream. Back, flanks and tail lightly tipped with blue and shades of cream
5Dense Shaded CalicoWhite with unbrindled patches of black and red. Mantle of black and red shading down the sides, face and tail
6Dilute Shaded CalicoWhite with unbrindled patches of blue and cream. Mantle of blue and cream shading down the sides, face and tail
7Smoke CalicoWhite with unbrindled patches of black and red. Every hair is white at the root
8Dilute Smoke CalicoWhite with unbrindled patches of blue and cream. Every hair is white at the root
This table describes the eight different Calico Maine Coon patterns

These 8 calico Maine Coon patterns are recognized by the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) and are all eligible to enter into the organization’s cat shows – so long as they are female!

The CFA does NOT currently officially recognize any cats with genetic anomalies and as the male calico Maine Coon falls into this category (see Calico Genetics below), he is currently refused entry into official competitions.

Calico Maine Coons are rare

Maine Coons can be calico but this is one of the rarer coat patterns because of the specific genetics necessary to produce one.

Calico coloring isn’t limited to purebred Maine Coons: Maine Coon mixes can develop a tricolor coat too.

The most common Maine Coon Calico

You are more likely to see a Calico Maine Coon with a predominantly white background and vivid red (orange) and black patches. This is known as a dense calico pattern which means the colors are undiluted.

The amount of each color can vary widely from 25% white and 75% black and red through to 75% white and 25% black and red.

Calico Maine Coon Male vs Female

Numbers

Calico Maine Coons are usually female at a ratio of about 2999:1 What this means is that for every 3,000 Maine Coon kittens born with a calico coat, 2,999 are females and just one is male.

This makes Calico Maine Coon males super rare. They can probably be classed as the rarest Maine Coons in existence.

Size

The average weight of a calico Maine Coon Maine is between 8 and 18 pounds, with females more likely to max out at 13 pounds and males weighing towards the 18 pounds end of the range.

Of course, there will always be a few cats that exceed the highest weight.

The following table shows a comparison of male and female calico Maine Coons with respect to their height, weight, length, and lifespan.

Calico Maine CoonsFemaleMale
Weight range (lbs)8 – 1310 – 18
Body length (inches)19 – 3019 – 30
Tail length (inches)12 – 1812 – 18
Height to shoulder (inches) 10 – 1410 – 16
Lifespan (years)9 – 209 – 20
This table compares male and female Calico Maine Coons

Why Calico Maine Coons are usually female

The orange and black pattern in a calico Maine Coon’s coat is expressed via two X-chromosomes. Ordinarily, only female cats have two X-chromosomes, limiting the calico pattern to this sex.

However, if a male Maine Coon has a genetic anomaly known as Klinefelter syndrome, he will possess an extra X-chromosome making it possible for him to express the distinctive tricolor calico pattern.

Klinefelter is a rare condition and only occurs in about 1 in 3000 male cats, which explains why male Calico Maine Coons are a rare occurrence. Sadly, this genetic anomaly can affect a male Calico’s health and shorten his lifespan

Are tortoisehell, tabby and calico Maine Coons the same?

The calico Maine Coon is occasionally confused with tortoiseshell and tabby Maine Coons because of the similar colorings. I’ll explain in a moment how you can distinguish one from the other.

A vivid-colored calico Maine Coon cat.

Why are they called Calico Maine Coons?

Calico was originally an unbleached cotton fabric, with a light cream color. When it first appeared in the United States from India in the 18th Century, it was printed with patterns and often used to make patchwork quilts.

The printed fabric became referred to as calico, a shortened version of the name of the Indian town of Calicut where it originated.

Cats with tri-colored coats of red, black, and white were thought to resemble patchwork and so they became known as calico cats. This lead to the belief that the calico cat was a breed, one that’s still held by some people today.

Of course, we know it’s not a breed but a coat pattern found on Maine Coon cats and many other breeds.

How rare are calico Maine Coons?

Though it’s a popular pattern, the beautiful calico Maine Coon is comparatively rare. Their scarcity is due to the fact that they cannot be selectively bred.

Calico Maine Coon kittens can occur naturally within any litter as long as their parents have the right genetic coding to make this possible (read more about this further down).

If a Maine Coon’s litter contains a calico kitten, this is a happy coincidence and not a breeding choice.

How much is a Calico Maine Coon?

As Calico Maine Coons are somewhat rare, it is often the case that they cost more than other Maine Coons.

A Calico Maine Coon kitten is worth a lot more to a breeder, especially when several people are looking to buy one. This can make the price artifically high. Whereas an average Maine Coon might cost $1500, a Calico kitten could cost $2000 plus.

If a breeder tries to justify a higher price for a calico kitten, bear in mind that it did not cost them any more to produce than any other pattern.

Of course, some people are prepared to pay over-the-top prices for a calico Maine Coon if they have their heart set on one and high demand generally results in inflated prices.

Calico Maine Coon sizes

Calico is simply a Maine Coon pattern and does not affect the size a cat will grow to. Like any other Maine Coons, a calico cat’s size can vary. Smaller Maine Coons weigh around 11 pounds and larger ones are 18 to 20 pounds.

Female Maine Coon calicoes tend to be smaller than males but this is not always the case.

We often talk in terms of weight when discussing Maine Coon sizes but don’t forget they can vary in height and length too. These measurements have a huge bearing on whether a Maine Coon is overweight or not.

To ensure a calico Maine Coon maintains a healthy weight, feed it a high-quality diet and ensure it gets enough exercise and mental stimulation.

Comparison of Calico and Tortoiseshell Maine Coons

As it happens, there is a direct relationship between the calico and the tortoiseshell (tortie) Maine Coon.

A calico Maine Coon is actually a tortoiseshell cat expressing an additional genetic condition known as piebalding. A piebald cat is simply one with patches of white fur.

A tortoiseshell Maine Coon is black with brindled patches of red or red shaded fur intermingled. There is also a tortie and white coat which is similar to calico because of the colors being the same.

On a tortoiseshell, the colors are much more mixed up as opposed to being in the distinct patches seen on a calico cat.

A tortoiseshell Maine Coon which has calico colors.
Tortoiseshell and white Maine Coon

The Eight Calico Maine Coon Patterns

1. Dense Calico Maine Coon

The dense calico Maine Coon pattern is the most common. It consists of patches of white with dense patches of solid red and black.

Some calicoes have as much as 75% white fur with the other 25% split between red and black. Others have just 25% white fur and 75% red and black.

This coat is dense in color with no dilution of the red and black. The white fur is, more often than not, predominantly on the cat’s belly, bib and legs.

Every Calico Maine Coon is unique – no two coats ever the same. You might hear this pattern referred to as tricolor, parti-color and white, or piebald.

You will also hear calico referred to as unbrindled which means the color patches are each a single color with no other color interspersed.

A Calico Maine Coon kitten.

2. Dilute Calico Maine Coon

A dilute calico Maine Coon has muted versions of the dense coat colors because of the presence of the dilution gene (see more about this a bit later on).

The vibrant red is replaced with cream fur and the dense coal black is replaced with blue (grey).

Other than having muted colors, the dilute calico has the same unbrindled patches distributed in the same manner as the dense calico.

3. Dense Shell Calico Maine Coon

A Maine Coon with a dense shell calico pattern is white with unbrindled patches of black and various shades of red.

Each hair shaft on the cat’s back, sides, and tail, is lightly tipped with black and shades of red. Its face and legs can also have shaded tips. Finally, the underparts of the cat are mainly white.

4. Dilute Shell Calico Maine Coon

The dilute shell calico Maine Coon is very similar to the dense shell calico but where the dense version is black with shades of red, the dilute version has patches of blue (grey) and shades of cream.

A Dilute Calico Maine Coon.

5. Dense Shaded Calico Maine Coon

A dense shaded calico Maine Coon is white with unbrindled patches of black and shades of red. It has a mantle of black and red shading along its sides, face, and tail.

Its face and legs sometimes have deeper shading than the rest of the body. White fur is predominantly seen on the underparts of this particular coat.

The overall look of the shaded calico is much darker than the shell calico.

6. Dilute Shaded Calico Maine Coon

The dilute shaded calico Maine Coon has the same patterns as the dense shaded cat but in place of black fur it has blue (grey) and in place of shades of red it has shades of cream.

Again the overall appearance of this coat is darker than the dilute shell calico.

7. Dense Calico Smoke Maine Coon

A Maine Coon with a dense calico smoke coat is white with unbrindled patches of black and shades of red. The black and red patches have a white undercoat.

Pure white fur is also found on the underparts of the cat. When it sits still, this cat looks similar to a dense calico but as it moves the white beneath the red and black fur is obvious.

8. Dilute Calico Smoke Maine Coon

The dilute calico smoke Maine Coon is similar to the dense calico smoke but has blue (grey) fur in place of black and shades of cream in place of shaded of red.

A Calico Maine Coon face closeup.

How Calico Maine Coons Occur

A breeder cannot specialize in producing calico Maine Coons. The genetics behind this coloring are complicated as you will see in a moment. A litter producing any calico kittens is really just down to pure chance.

A Calico Maine Coon and ginger tabby.

Calico Cat Genetics

It all boils down to chromosomes of which a cat has 19 pairs in every single cell of its body.

Just one pair of these chromosomes determines if a cat will be male or female. In a female they are XX and in a male they are XY.

Genes found on this pair of chromosomes are known as sex-linked genes and genes on the other 18 pairs of chromosomes are autosomal.

A female needs just one X chromosome and so within every cell, one of the X chromosomes is deactivated early in life.

In calico cats, the gene that dictates fur color happens to be located on the X chromosomes. One of the pair is coded for orange fur (XB), and the other for black fur (Xb).

Depending on which X chromosome is left active the fur it produces will be orange or black resulting in random patches of color, and patterns unique to each cat.

Whether the color is diluted or not depends on the presence of the dilution gene, and a further gene is responsible for white spotting.

Calicoes are generally female because of the fact that males only have one X Chromosome coded to produce either black or orange fur.

The occasional male calico results when a genetic anomaly known as Klinefelter syndrome occurs.

In this case, a male cat has XY chromosomes and an extra X chromosome. As with females, one of the extra X chromosomes in each cell is deactivated and the remaining X chromosome randomly produces orange or black fur.

This has about a 1 in 3,000 chance of occurring and when it does the males are virtually guaranteed to be sterile. Only about 1 in every 10,000 male calico cats are fertile.

Maine Coon Calico Mixes

A Maine Coon calico tabby mix is affectionately referred to as a calibby. This cat can have any of the calico patterns described earlier but also has stripey mackerel tabby markings.

Calico cats are considered lucky!

Because they are so rare, male calicoes are considered lucky in several countries

Calico cats were made the official state cat of Maryland on October 1st, 2001 because of their similarity in coloring to the state’s bird, the Baltimore Oriole, and the state’s insect, the Baltimore Checkerspot Butterfly.

The Calico Maine Coon: Baltimore Oriole.
Baltimore Oriole

Japanese sailors used to take calico cats on their ships to protect them from storms and any angry spirits.

The traditional calico color combination is considered to be the luckiest and is the one most seen on Maneki Neko, the Japanese Lucky Cat.

The Calico Maine Coon: Maneki Neko.
Lucky Japanese Cat

Calico cats were once thought to banish warts if you rubbed them with the cat’s tail during the month of May – according to Irish folklore!

Calico cat breeds

  • American Shorthair
  • American Curl
  • British Shorthair
  • Domestic Longhair
  • Domestic Shorthair
  • Exotic Shorthair
  • Maine Coon
  • Munchkin
  • Norwegian Forest Cat
  • Japanese Bobtail
  • Persian
  • Turkish Angora
  • Turkish Van
  • Siberian

Of course, these are just the recognized breeds. Mixed breed cats can be calico too, and are just as gorgeous.

Calico Maine Coon Cats – Conclusion

Calico Maine Coons with their attractive tricolor coats are quite rare. A breeder can’t selectively produce this pattern so can never know when one will be part of a litter

A male Calico Maine Coon is probably the rarest Maine Coon you’ll ever encounter but be aware of the inherent health problems he may suffer from because of his genetic anomaly.

People have a fascination with this stunning tri-colored cat and consider it to bring good fortune. If you ever come to own a male calico Maine Coon you might consider yourself incredibly lucky.