Photo by Howcheng (Own work)
via Wikimedia Commons.
I, Miss Cuddlywumps, am a perfect example of a calico cat, with my mostly white body enhanced with distinct patches of black and orange. That coloring also makes me a perfect example of the official state cat of my home state, Maryland.
Why the calico is Maryland’s state cat
The calico has been Maryland’s state cat since October 1, 2001. We calicos were chosen as the state cat because our white, black, and orange coloring resembles the coloring of the Baltimore oriole (the state bird) and the Baltimore checkerspot butterfly (the state insect). And, although some of us are pretty sure the Maryland state flag is black, white, red, and yellow (not exactly orange), our calico colors are also associated with the flag.
“Calico” is not a breedWe calicos are not a specific breed of cat; we just have a specific color pattern. A true calico must have large distinct blocks of the three colors. If the colors are blended together, the cat is called a tortoiseshell. Both calicos and tortoiseshells are almost always female. This is because coat color in cats is a genetically sex-linked trait. Calico males occur very rarely, and they are almost always sterile.
Other states have cats too
Maryland is one of only three states to have an official state cat of the domestic variety. The others are Maine (Maine coon) and Massachusetts (tabby). (Notice that all three of these states begin with the letter M. Coincidence? Yes, I think so.) Florida doesn’t have a state cat, but its state animal is the Florida panther, which certainly is a cat, though not a domestic one. Look for more information on the other state cats in upcoming posts!
And if you have a calico cat, be sure to treat her with the deference she deserves (especially if you live in Maryland)!