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Why are tricolor cats females?

Surely you’ve ever heard that cats of three colors They are always females. It is true? Are they always females? In this Animal Expert article we will explain why it is produced in detail so you can discover if it is a characteristic of females or, on the contrary, males can also wear a coat of three colors.

Keep reading to answer the question why tricolor cats are female and find out if it really does not happen in male cats.

The tricolor cats

The tricolor cats are also known as Calico or carey cats and they are characterized by presenting a peculiar pattern of coloration in the coat. His hair contains orange, black and white. The proportions of each color are variable.

In cats there are three basic colors, black, orange and white. The rest of colors being the result of degradations and mixtures of the previous ones. The genes of the animal are responsible for the patterns of fur, striped or smooth, dotted. Also the color and the combination of colors in the coat.

What determines the color of the coat?

The coat color in cats is a characteristic linked to sex. This means that information for hair color is found on both sex chromosomes.

Chromosomes are structures that are found in the nucleus of cells and contain all the genes of the animal. The cats have 38 chromosomes: 19 that contributes the mother and 19 of the father. The sexual ones are those chromosomes that determine the sex and each one is contributed by a parent.

Cats, like all mammals, have two Sex chromosomes: X and Y. The mother gives the X chromosome and the father can give X or Y.

The black and orange colors they are on the X chromosome. In other words, the X chromosome must be present to express them. The male only has an X, so it will only be black or orange. Females having two X can have genes for black and for orange.

El white instead, it is not linked to sex. It is expressed independently of him. For this reason a cat can present all three colors. Because they have two X chromosomes and white has been expressed as well.


Depending on the chromosomal endowment that the individual receives, one color or another will be expressed. Black and orange are coded on the same chromosome, if the X0 allele is present, the cat will be orange if Xo is black. It is in the case X0Xo when one of the genes is inactivated and is responsible for the tricolor appearance.

Females can inherit three combinations:

  • X0X0: orange cat
  • X0Xo: tricolor cat
  • XoXo: black cat

The only two males:

White is determined by the W gene (white) and expressed independently. That’s why you can make combinations with the other colors. There are black and white, orange and white cats and only white cats.

Types of tricolor cats

Within the tricolor cats there are several types. They only differ in the proportion of white or in the type of pattern in the fur:

  • Calico cat or Spanish cats: In these cats predominates the white color in the abdomen, legs, chest and chin. They have black and orange spots on the skin. Black can be grayish. In the image we see a Spanish cat.
  • Hawksbill cat or turtle: The colors are mixed asymmetrically. White is scarce. The colors are usually diluted in lighter shades. The black predominates.
  • Tricolor tabby cat: It is a division between the previous ones. The pattern is tabby with all three colors.

Are there male tricolor cats?

Yes. The Tricolor cats exist, although it is very rare to see them. It is due to a chromosomal anomaly. These cats have three (XXY) instead of having two sex chromosomes (XY). When present, two X chromosomes can express black and orange as females.

The word Klinefelter syndrome and usually causes sterility. It is a rare disease that banishes the myth that all tricolor cats are female. But when dealing with an anomaly we can say that in normal situations all the tricolor cats are usually females.

If you want to read more articles similar to Why are tricolor cats females?, we recommend that you enter in our Curiosities section of the animal world.

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