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Question about Calicos

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I was outside a few minutes ago, checking up on "Pretty Girl" and I need confirmation that 1% or so of Calico cats are male?

Because I think I saw something coming off the back of this kitten that females don't have
post #2 of 12
I am by no means an expert on this, but from what I understand regarding calico coloration is that under normal circumstances the genetics which creates that coat color also dictates female gender. (The coat color is a sex-linked trait, where is should only be expressed by female chromosomes X-X .) When a male is produced with the calico coloration, it is due to a genetic abnormality and the male is sterile. (I believe in this case the male has X-X-Y chromosomes instead of the normal X-Y). The Y chromosome determines the male gender, but the coat pattern is expressed by having the two X chromosomes. (I am not sure if this abnormality affects the health of the kitten in other ways.) Hope this helps
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
It definitely helps, but in some ways disappoints me... If it's a genetic abnormality and what I saw was really there, it means that we are now providing care for *three* genetically abnormal animals, and that makes me quite sad.

Two of our three squirrels are missing half of their tails, have an oversized left hind foot, and the female has deformed ears and front paws as well.

Two of the cats at least are fine! And the opossums don't appear to have any issues.
post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 
Oh! I wanted to be clear that it doesn't change our minds about the cat... I should have said that before. Whether he is a he or she is a she and genetically "perfect" or not, we still want to get him/her homed and warm for the winter!
post #5 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Iluvdevons View Post
the male is sterile.
The male is not always sterile, I know an Exotic breeder who had a calico stud he was not sterile.
post #6 of 12
Male calicos/torties can happen in 3 different ways.

1) XXY syndrome is where the male has an extra X chromosome. While it is a genetic abnormality which in humans can also result in severe learning difficulties, in cats an ability to learn to read is not really so important, and they live very normal cat lives. The hips may be a little wider than a genetically normal male cat, and they are often very friendly and gentle. As in females, only one X chromosome is active in each cell, so if the active X contains a red gene, the cell will produce red pigment, if the active X doesn't contain a red gene, the cell will produce black/brown pigment, resulting in a tortie or (if they also have white) calico pattern. The male is sterile.

2) Chimerism is where 2 fertilised ova fuse together in the womb and develop into one foetus, or it can occur at an early stage of development when each is just a few cells. The cat is genetically XXXY. As with the female or the XXY male, only 1 X chromosome is active in each cell etc. The male is usually fertile and can produce either red or black offspring.

3) Somatic Mosaicism can be best be described as having birthmarks. The cat is normal XY genetically, but has localised areas of pigmented skin cells, much like having a red wine birthmark or a dark mole in humans. Because the localised areas occur in clumps, they usually have distinct patches of colour rather than brindled. The male is completely normal genetically and is fertile, but will be genetically either red or black, not both, and only be able to pass one of the colours on to his offspring. This seems to be most common in Rex breeds, and was seen in some of the early males in Cornish Rex lines. A female cat can also display Somatic Mosaicism, but because a tortie female is not at all unusual, it tends to go unnoticed unless the cat is in a breeding programme and multiple breedings don't result in offspring with the full range of colours you'd expect a tortie to be able to produce.
post #7 of 12
We had a male calico persian once, but never did find out if he was sterile or not since we did not use him for breeding. Because of him I never knew that most calicos were female until we found Lexi.
post #8 of 12
IMO 99.9 percent of calicos are females. There sometimes is an occasional male. I've personally known/seen 3 male calicos. Two of them happen to be FERTILE (which is even rarer) male calico cornish rexes. The most recent has produced some weird shades of color too on his offspring

The other one was a blue cream male mixed breed in the HHP class at a show.

Can you have a vet verify and get him/her neutered/spayed?
post #9 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Epona View Post
Male calicos/torties can happen in 3 different ways.

1) XXY syndrome is where the male has an extra X chromosome. While it is a genetic abnormality which in humans can also result in severe learning difficulties, in cats an ability to learn to read is not really so important, and they live very normal cat lives. The hips may be a little wider than a genetically normal male cat, and they are often very friendly and gentle. As in females, only one X chromosome is active in each cell, so if the active X contains a red gene, the cell will produce red pigment, if the active X doesn't contain a red gene, the cell will produce black/brown pigment, resulting in a tortie or (if they also have white) calico pattern. The male is sterile.

2) Chimerism is where 2 fertilised ova fuse together in the womb and develop into one foetus, or it can occur at an early stage of development when each is just a few cells. The cat is genetically XXXY. As with the female or the XXY male, only 1 X chromosome is active in each cell etc. The male is usually fertile and can produce either red or black offspring.

3) Somatic Mosaicism can be best be described as having birthmarks. The cat is normal XY genetically, but has localised areas of pigmented skin cells, much like having a red wine birthmark or a dark mole in humans. Because the localised areas occur in clumps, they usually have distinct patches of colour rather than brindled. The male is completely normal genetically and is fertile, but will be genetically either red or black, not both, and only be able to pass one of the colours on to his offspring. This seems to be most common in Rex breeds, and was seen in some of the early males in Cornish Rex lines. A female cat can also display Somatic Mosaicism, but because a tortie female is not at all unusual, it tends to go unnoticed unless the cat is in a breeding programme and multiple breedings don't result in offspring with the full range of colours you'd expect a tortie to be able to produce.

Absolutely fascinating!!!

I love reading about feline genetics, especially regarding coat coloration. Thanks for the easy to understand tidbit!!!
post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
GoldenKitty, was that question for me?

If so, we plan on bringing him/her in. We don't have a colony of cats (though we're developing one of opossums We only have three cats that we know of, one is stray (not feral), one is definitely feral, and the third is the kitten in question -- young enough that we fear for his/her safety if the kitten remains outside.

I highly doubt that s/he is altered. In either case, we are going to be calling the local feral organization hopefully tomorrow or Tuesday to come and TNR the other two cats, and once we manage to get the kitten tamed, s/he will be going to the vet in short order for neutering and for shots as well as microchipping.
post #11 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pookie-poo View Post
Absolutely fascinating!!!

Thanks for the easy to understand tidbit!!!
I agree!!! Made it much easier to comprehend!
post #12 of 12
Wow you got a lot of information on this topic!!!! It is all very interesting isn't it!
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