Skip to main content

5 Calico cat health problems you’ll want to keep an eye out for

Calico cats are beautiful and feature distinctive coats, making them a highly popular choice for many pet parents. Since having a calico, you’ve likely heard all sorts of facts and rumors about the breed, like calicos are always female or they are known for their highly particular attitudes. But when you own a cat, it’s also important to understand any health issues that might come along, given that cat’s breed or coloring. Whether you’re thinking of bringing home a Calico or just want to understand how to better care for the cat that you already have, understanding the ins and outs of these unique cats is helpful and important. There are a few Calico cat health problems you’ll want to be prepared for.

Calico cat lying on a white surface
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Calico-cat health problems to be aware of

Before we delve into Calico-cat health problems, it’s important to understand that Calico isn’t a breed of cat – it’s a coloring. ASPCA Health Insurance explains that Calicos are known for their tri-color coats, which often incorporate white, orange, and black. Coat variations do exist, such as reddish, cream, and even brown.

Since calicos aren’t a distinct breed, most aren’t affected by health issues specific to being Calicos. Klinefelter’s Syndrome is an exception.

Calico coloring is related to the X chromosome. A cat needs two X chromosomes to be a Calico. Female cats have XX chromosomes, while most males have XY chromosomes, so of course, most Calicos are female.

Some cats are born with an extra X chromosome, so their chromosomes are XXY. These cats are male, but because, like females, they have two X chromosomes, they can also be Calicos. But this somewhat rare extra chromosome can lead to Klinefelter’s Syndrome.

Cats who have Klinefelter’s Syndrome can experience many problems, including cognitive issues, behavioral problems, reduced bone strength that can lead to more broken bones, and a higher body-fat content that can contribute to issues like diabetes and joint pain. Cats with Klinefelter’s Syndrome typically require special care to address these issues, and some may experience shorter lifespans.

How long is the life expectancy of Calico cats?

Since calicos aren’t a breed, your calico cat should have a normal life expectancy, barring issues related to your cat’s breed. ASPCA Pet Health Insurance reports that many cats can live to be 15 years and older, so there’s a chance you can enjoy many years with your cat.

Calico cat climbing in a tree

How to care for your Calico cat

Since Calicos really don’t have any specific health issues, your cat will benefit from the same quality care that you’d give to any other cat.

One of the best ways to ensure you’re caring for your cat’s health is to work closely with your veterinarian. Schedule appointments at least once a year so your vet can see your cat in person and monitor her for any potential health issues. This annual wellness appointment provides a chance for your vet to observe and record any changes, and this appointment might help your vet spot emerging health issues early on before they become too severe.

As your cat ages, your vet will recommend more frequent senior appointments. Generally scheduled twice per year, these appointments help your vet to keep a closer eye on your aging pet. There are many health issues that senior cats can develop, and keeping up to date with your cat’s senior appointments can help to identify these issues before they become a large problem.

Maintaining close care with your vet also helps you to carefully monitor your cat’s weight. Obesity in cats is common, and it can lead to other serious health conditions, like joint and heart issues. Your vet can recommend dietary and lifestyle changes to help you stay ahead of your cat’s changing weight, keeping her healthy.

In addition to providing quality vet care, you can help keep yourCalico healthy in how you care for her. Give your cat plenty of exercise and try to fit in daily playtime to keep her active and entertained. Feed quality food and monitor your cat’s weight carefully. Go easy on the treats, feeding just a few a day, and try to feed quality treats that aren’t full of fillers. You can even feed your cat bits of cooked chicken and turkey for an extra-special, yet healthy, treat. All of these small elements add up to top-quality care that can help to maximize your cat’s health.

Editors' Recommendations

Paige Cerulli
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Paige's work has appeared in American Veterinarian, Business Insider, Healthline, and more. When she's not writing, Paige…
Can cats suffer from mental health conditions the way dogs can?
What you need to know about your cat's mental health
A blue-eyed white cat sprawls out on top of a rug with a forlorn expression

As it turns out, man's best friend has quite a lot in common with humans. Just like us, dogs can suffer from mental health conditions like anxiety and depression. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "1 in 5 Americans will experience a mental illness in a given year." With such staggering numbers, it's easy to understand why the self-help industry is booming. But what about cats? Are our feline family members similarly affected by mental health issues?
While dogs are typically more expressive regarding their moods, cats can be more difficult to read. A dog suffering from depression may refuse to play with his favorite toy, but what behaviors can you expect from your feline friend? Do cats suffer from depression and anxiety the way some dogs do? We'll take a deep dive into the world of cat mental health, so we can answer the question once and for all.

Can cats have mental illnesses?
In her 2014 book "Animal Madness," Dr. Laurel Braitman writes, "There is not a branch of veterinary science, ethology (the science of animal behavior), neuroscience, or wildlife ecology dedicated to investigating whether animals can be mentally ill." While we can't read our cat's mind, we can use their typical behavior to gauge sudden personality changes that might ring a few alarm bells.
Two commonly diagnosed mental issues in cats are obsessive-compulsive disorder -- often abbreviated as OCD -- and cat anxiety. In cases of OCD, you may notice your cat excessively grooming the same location on her body, which can lead to redness, swelling, skin irritation, and even hair loss. However, excessive grooming is also a symptom of anxiety, though anxiety is often accompanied by additional concerning behaviors, such as decreased appetite, incessant yowling, and even drooling.
Details are scant regarding exactly how many cats suffer from mental health issues, but the fact remains that your frisky feline can be affected by OCD, anxiety, or depression. In fact, it may surprise you to learn that cats can even have autism.

Read more
Do cats get cold outside and what temperature is too low for outdoor kitties? Veterinarians weigh in
Here's how you can tell if you cat needs to come in from the cold
Black cat covered with snow

If your cat is an indoor/outdoor pet, he likely loves to pop outside even when the temperatures drop. There are plenty of cold-weather cats who have thick coats and seem to do well outdoors in the winter, but it's important to consider your cat's comfort and safety, too.
Cold temperatures affect cats and threaten their health, and extreme temperatures can even lead to a cat's death. That doesn't mean you can't let your cat out in the frigid temps, though. Instead, it's important to understand how cold is too cold and what extra care your cat may need to stay comfy in chilly weather.

Do cats get cold easily?
Do cats get cold outside? Absolutely, and it can happen easily, depending on the temperatures. According to Texas A&M University, the temperature that's too cold for your feline will depend on several factors, including the thickness of your cat's fur and his body mass. If your cat isn't acclimated to the outdoors, you shouldn't leave him outside if the temperatures are below 45 degrees Fahrenheit. It's also important to never keep kittens, older cats, or sick cats out when the temps dip below that.

Read more
Do cats sleep more in winter because they’re depressed? Here’s what to know about seasonal changes in felines
Find out if cats can experience seasonal depression like people do
Cat sleeping on a beige fleece blanket

When the winter weather hits and the days become shorter, gray, and overcast, it can be all too tempting to climb into your PJs early and call it a night. Chances are -- your cat is right there with you! If you think you're noticing your feline friend sleeping more frequently or for longer periods of time during the winter, you might not be imagining things.
Cats' sleeping habits can change for many reasons! It's important to keep track of your cat's sleep, though, because big changes can sometimes indicate health issues in pets. So, do cats sleep more in winter? And why do they spend so much time snoozing?

Do cats sleep more in winter? If it seems like it, you're not just imagining things
You're not crazy if you feel like cats sleep more in the winter -- it's totally true! The ASPCA reports that cats typically sleep between 12 and 20 hours per day, but in the winter, they may sleep even more.
That increase in sleep may be because the daylight hours are shorter, but your cat might also be picking up on your own changes in routine. If you're headed to bed a little earlier than usual, they might too.

Read more