dilute calico cat grooming

What Makes A Dilute Calico Cat Special?

Are you looking for a special cat? Have you considered a dilute calico cat? These cats have an amazing look. Find out what a dilute calico cat is here, how rare they are, whether they are available in long or short hair variations or both, and other interesting facts you might never have realized.

Read on to learn more about faded, muted, or pastel calicos here…

What Is A Dilute Calico Cat?

If you have heard the term dilute calico you might be wondering what it actually means? You probably know what a calico cat is – so how can it be diluted? Well, for the uninitiated we will start from the beginning. 

adult calico cat sitting on a fence in sphinx pose
Calico Cat – No Dilution

A calico cat is a cat with a certain coat coloration. Specifically, between 25 and 75% of their coat is white, the remaining areas are black or red. The black or red areas can be either patches of individual color or can be blended patches – but the cat only has three colors!

A dilute calico is very similar, except the black color is faded or diluted to grey or blue. The red colors are diluted to orange, cream, or golden hues

A dilute or muted or faded calico is basically a standard calico cat with the colors washed out or reduced to pastel shades rather than the full, vibrant black or red shades expected on a standard calico cat!

Do They Have Short Or Long Hair?

Muted calicoes can have either long or short hair. Bear in mind that only 10% of all cats have long hair because the long hair gene is a recessive gene – this means finding a calico cat with long hair could be a stretch and finding a dilute version is going to be really difficult!

It is worth bearing in mind that dilute calicoes are a coat color rather than a breed of cat. Now, some long-haired cat breeds like the Persian and British Longhair are known to produce calico cats – so finding a dilute calico within a long hair breed should be possible. But, more on breeds later!

long hair dilute calico cat
Long Hair Dilute Calico Cat

Do They Have A Special Personality?

Some cats like torties are thought to have certain personalities and temperaments. Torties are thought to have “tortitude”.

Orange tabby cats are often thought to be extroverted characters, which seems to be backed up by scientific research.

And then, some breeds are known for certain characteristics – like Siamese cats are thought to be sociable, intelligent, and talkative, Persians are thought to be laid back, quiet and low-energy lap cats, and Ragdoll cats are thought to be almost dog-like in some of their behavior!

Dilute calico’s are not specifically noted for personality – that is not to say that they can’t inherit specific breed characteristics and personalities – just that having the coat colors they have does not make them mean, friendly or lazy!

dilute muted calico cat face
Muted calico cat

Are All Dilute Calico Cats Female?

You have heard that calico cats are female so is this the same with dilute calico? Generally speaking, it is true that calico’s and dilute or faded calico’s are female. This is down to genes and the genetics required to produce a calico-colored cat!

Basically, cat coat color genes are carried on the “X” chromosome. In mammals, females have two “X” chromosomes in each cell and males have one “X” chromosome and one “Y” chromosome in each cell.

What this practically means is that a female cat can have an X chromosome that is black colored and an X chromosome that is red – two colors, one cat – this gives rise to calico’s, torties, and any number of different shades of cat coat!

A male cat only has one “X” chromosome per cell which means male cats simply are not available in more complex color patterns.

Now, you might be thinking what about black and white cats or stripy tabby cats! They come as male! But, white patches and stripes and such are often caused by separate genes that are not color genes. White patches are a product of “piebald” genes and stripes of “agouti” genes. And this is where the dilution effect in dilute calico’s comes in. A dilute or faded calico cat also carries a “dilution” gene.

So a dilute calico must have the right “X” chromosomes to be calico and carry dilution genes. The chromosomes are why these cats are female……But, not so fast – you can get male calico’s!

How does that work then? Well, male calico’s have an extremely rare genetic mutation where they actually have three chromosomes per cell! 

In these cases, they have two “X” chromosomes and one “Y” chromosome. The “Y” makes them sexually male, but the “X” gives them the opportunity to be a calico – but only if each “X” carries a different color – if both “X” chromosomes are black they won’t be a calico. 

And then to be a male dilute calico takes a whole new level of genetic rarity – to inherit the chromosome mutation, the correct color combination, and a dilution gene? That is a tall order!

So, 99% of the time dilute calicos are female!

dilute calico faded persian long hair cat, muted calico , pastel calico
Dilute Calico Persian Cat With Long Hair

Are They Sterile?

Female dilute calico cats are not born sterile or sterile as a result of their coat color. They have the same opportunity to reproduce their genes as any other cat which is why dilute calico’s have essentially come down through time!

But, male calico’s with the specific chromosome mutation are known to be sterile the majority of the time. What this means is that breeding dilute calico cats is just not possible – they arrive by luck more than planning or judgment!

Are Dilute Calico Cats Rare?

So are dilute calico cats rare? Yes, they are! First off you are limited to only half the world population of cats being able to be calico – females, and then you need those females to inherit the recessive dilution gene from both parents or they will not be dilute! 

To make matters even worse, if you want a long hair dilute calico you could be looking for some time. Only 10% of all cats have long hair. So you need a female cat with long hair, with the correct color chromosomes, and inheriting the dilution genes – do the maths, that is not going to be a common cat!

And then if you want a male dilute calico cat it is even more of a mountain to climb. They reckon only 1% of all calico cats are male, never mind dilute calico’s! Don’t even think about looking for a long hair male dilute calico! 

Are There Any Dilute Calico Cat Breeds?

So maybe you want a purebred cat with specific characteristics? Are there any cat breeds that produce dilute calico cats so you can get a calico cat with some specific characteristics? Yes, there are pure-bred cat breeds that come with a dilute calico variation! 

Check these breeds out: American Bobtail, Curl, Longhair, Shorthair, Wirehair. British longhair and shorthair, Exotic, Japanese bobtail and LaPerm, Maine coon, Manx, Norwegian Forest cat, Persian, ragamuffin, Siberian, Scottish fold, Selkirk Rex, Turkish angora, and sphinx.

So if you want a bobtail check out the Manx, Japanese bobtail, or American bobtail. If a long hair dilute calico is of interest then an American or British longhair could be an option or a Norwegian, Persian, ragamuffin, or Siberian could offer an option. 

norwegian forest cat dilute calico cat
Norwegian Forest Cat Dilute Calico

Are They More Expensive Than Other Cats?

A domestic shorthair dilute calico is unlikely to fetch a higher price than any other type of cat because many breeders simply don’t consider any domestic shorthair (mixed breed) to be of great value. 

You might even find that they simply don’t even note the dilution characteristic! What you will find is that being quite distinctive cats in appearance they will not remain at shelters or in available litters for long – the beautiful or unusual cats tend to get picked quickly!

If you are going for a purebred pedigree cat, then these will fetch a higher price and might go for as much as $2000 depending on breed. So a Persian longhair cat that is certified in a dilute calico coloration might end up being $2000 but not due to their color but because of their bloodlines and the status of the breeder! 

Indeed some breeds favor particular color combinations so calico combinations may be less attractive within the breed and be released at a cheaper price because of this – for example, British Shorthairs are favored in blue, solid colors – a dilute calico is still a breed standard but not the preferred variation. 

Dilute calico’s are not necessarily more expensive – just harder to come by.

dilute calico cat face
Dilute Calico Domestic Shorthair Cat

Are They Hypoallergenic Because Of Their Coat?

Unfortunately faded calico’s are not Hypoallergenic as a result of their coat! In fact, there are no hypoallergenic cats. 

Basically, the Fel D1 protein in cat saliva causes an allergic response in some people. This protein comes into the environment when a cat grooms its fur and then sheds the same fur. People come into contact with this fur or the cat and have a response. 

There is no evidence that dilute calico cats produce less Fel D1 or shed less than other cats! 

There is evidence that female, neutered cats produce less of the protein than other cats, and there is evidence that some cat breeds produce less protein than others and shed less than others – such as the Burmese cat and Siberian cat – but these tend not to be available in dilute calico color!

What Makes Them Special?

So what makes a dilute calico cat special? They have a very distinctive and attractive appearance and they are very rare – if you find a long hair dilute calico then you really are talking about a cat that is unusual and extremely hard to find! 

Do they have any other special qualities like personality or size or lifespan? Not really, unless you get a breed-specific dilute calico like a Maine coon for size or a Persian for laid-back personality…

Dilute calico’s are special purely because of their look and rarity – you know the likelihood of seeing another one in your neighborhood is low!