If you're a cat person, you know there's nothing cuter than a cuddly calico cat. These colorful kitties are so distinctive, and they make great pets. But here in Maryland, they're more than just critters that live with us -- they're official symbols of state pride. Want to know more about them? Read on.
1. Almost all calico cats are female
Ready for a genetics lesson? The genes that make a calico get those bold blocks of color are on the X chromosome, and two are required to get the look. Male cats have XY chromosomes, so they'll never get both unless the have an extra X -- and those males are sterile.
2. Calico refers to a coloration, not a breed
You may have heard of cat breeds like the Maine Coon, the Bombay, and the Persian. But calico isn't a specific breed of cat, and many breeds can get the markings that make a calico distinct.
3. A calico cat had an important job in Japan
Maybe you've heard of a calico cat named Tama. She was the stationmaster and greeter for a train line in Kinokawa, a city in Japan. People were fascinated by the adorable mascot, and the once-struggling line saw an economic boost thanks to her. A train was even designed with a cartoon of her image! She passed away in 2015, but she's had a few successors take on her duties, all of them calicos.
4. Calicos and tortoiseshells aren't the same
Tortoiseshell cats also have a color combo, but their coats tend to have a more blended look, and if they don't have blocks or patches of white, they're not a calico. Still, they're awfully cute, and they almost always have the colors that remind us of Maryland. Speaking of which...
5. Calicos became Maryland's state cat about 20 years ago
In 2001, the calico cat became our state's official cat! Why? Because they're orange, black, and white, they bear very similar colors to the flag, as well as to other Maryland icons like the oriole bird (and the baseball team!).
Do you have a calico cat? You've got a truly Maryland proud pet on your hands!