What Are Cat Colonies?

Feral cats prefer to live their lives without any direct interaction with humans. Feral cats will avoid direct human contact. They may live anywhere there is a supply of food, water and shelter. These free-roaming cats have reverted to their wild ways for survival. They take care of themselves in a world that is often hostile and dangerous for them, and their life expectancy is low. If a feral makes it past kittenhood but lives on his own, his life expectancy is about two years. If the feral cat lives in a cat colony with a regular caretaker, he may live to be as much as ten years old.

Some feral cats live in cat colonies that loosely resemble lion prides. A cat colony consists of a group of usually related female cats and their offspring. The size of the cat colonies depend upon the availability of food and other resources. Adult male cats do not live in cat colonies, but friendly behavior between females and males can occur, especially when familiarity exists.

Within cat colonies, female cats, known as queens, will share many activities together such as raising kittens and guarding the cat colony from intruders. The queen cats will nurse, groom and guard each other’s kittens, and they will teach the kittens appropriate behaviors. The queens in cat colonies will often band together to repel other animals, including lone cats and cats from other cat colonies that encroach on their territory. Sometimes a stray cat may eventually be allowed into the cat colony after a number of interactions.

The one activity cats do not share is hunting. Each cat will hunt on its own in its own territory. Territories may overlap, but there is no cooperation between cats in catching prey.

Members of cat colonies will groom each other and rub their bodies up against one another to reinforce their group identity by transferring scents. Inter-cat aggression is not common in cat colonies since the strong familiarity among females helps keep aggression to a minimum. In-group fighting can occur, but this is more likely to happen when resources are scarce.

What Is a Cat Colony?

The living arrangements of free-living domestic cats can be divided into those in which females form small groups or cat colonies, loosely resembling a pride of lions, and those that remain solitary with individual territories.

Since cats are a species of essentially solitary hunters, it is important for cats to establish a hunting territory and that it is defined in such a way as to generally avoid conflict with other cats. This is necessary for the survival of the species. So cats mark their territories using scent from facial glands, urine, feces and anal glands. This territorial marking, together with an extremely sensitive sense of smell, helps cats to communicate effectively and to minimize direct conflicts. In the wild, territories may overlap with neutral areas where cats may greet and interact with each other. If a strange cat encroaches into another cat’s territory, it will normally provoke an aggressive interaction to chase off the cat through staring, hissing and growling. If that is not effective, there will be a short, noisy, violent attack.

Feral cats can and will form small cat colonies based around available food resources. This does not inevitably happen and some will choose to live singly, but it is not uncommon for small groups of cooperating females and kittens to develop. While there may be a very loose dominance hierarchy in these groups, the relationships are complex. They do not form an interdependent hierarchy as would occur with dogs. Relationships in cat colonies are complex, with stronger affiliations between some cats and less affiliation with others. This may be influenced in part by how they are related, age, etc. But they do not develop a social survival strategy nor a pack mentality and they continue to be solitary hunters. So cats are not pack animals, but they have the ability to adapt to form social groups.

Cat colonies appear to only work well when the members of the colony are familiar and when there is no competition over food or other resources. Cats can form strong social relationships with familiar individuals. In feral cat colonies, kittens may often be nursed by more than one lactating queen. There may be a larger central cat colony of females associated with the major food source and smaller peripheral groups that develop around the central colony that have poorer access to the food source, poorer health and poorer reproductive performance.

How to Build a Winter Cat Shelter

Community cats or feral cats are well-suited to outdoor living, and they can survive winter on their own. But there are some things that you can do to make winter life more comfortable for them. One way that you can help is by building a winter cat shelter.

Building a winter cat shelter can be simple and inexpensive. The two preferred styles used for a winter cat shelter are styrofoam bins and Rubbermaid plastic storage bins with removable lids. (Make sure that the brand is Rubbermaid. Other brands may crack in the cold temperatures.)

When building your winter cat shelter, smaller is better. A smaller interior means that less heat is needed to keep the cat warm. A small shelter can be heated by one or two cats. A large shelter with only one or two cats inside will remain cold, so two smaller shelters are better than one large winter cat shelter.

The placement of your winter cat shelter is important to help keep cats safe from predators. If there are dogs in the area, place the winter cat shelter behind a fence where dogs can’t get in. Another good idea is to have the entrance face a wall so only the cat will be able to get in and out.

Be sure that the winter cat shelter is weighted down and hard to move. Cut only a small cat-size doorway to help keep larger predators from getting in and to keep more heat inside. Cats only need an opening of about five and a half or six inches in diameter. Cut the doorway several inches above the bottom of the bin to help keep the weather out.

Build Options for a Winter Cat Shelter You Can Put Near Your Home

A foam cooler has about two inches of thickness and makes the perfect winter cat shelter. It is waterproof and insulated and you can easily create a doorway with a knife or box cutter. Cut the doorway a few inches above the bottom of the bin to help keep winter elements outside. Use duct tape around the opening to keep the cats from scratching.

Don’t place the winter cat shelter directly on the cold ground. Use two 2x4s or other materials to lift it off the ground. Also, raising the rear of the winter cat shelter slightly higher than the front will help to keep rain from pooling inside and snow from piling up on the roof. You may want to drill a little hole into the side of the winter cat shelter to allow water to drain out should rain blow into the front door.

The winter cat shelter should be weighted down to help keep it secure from the wind. Try putting a couple of 5 or 10-pound barbell weights on the floor of the shelter underneath the bedding, or you may use bricks or flat, heavy rocks.

Insulate the winter cat shelter to increase the comfort and warmth of the cats. Use insulating materials in which the cats can burrow. Blankets, towels and newspaper should not be used as they will retain wetness. Straw is a very good insulating material to use because it can absorb more moisture and is less susceptible to rot or mold.

A Rubbermaid bin is another good option. (Make sure that the brand is Rubbermaid so that they will not crack in the cold.) These winter cat shelters should be double-insulated. You’ll also need an 8×2-foot sheet of one-inch thick hard styrofoam, a yardstick, a box cutter and straw for insulation.

Here are some instructions from Alley Cat Advocates on how to assemble your winter cat shelter from Rubbermaid containers:

  • Cut the doorway six inches by six inches in one of the long sides of the bin towards the corner. Cut the opening so that the bottom of the doorway is several inches above the ground to prevent flooding.
  • Line the floor of the bin with a piece of styrofoam, using the yardstick and box cutter to cut the piece. It doesn’t have to be an exact fit, but the closer the better.
  • In a similar fashion, line each of the four interior walls of the bin with a piece of the styrofoam. Leave a cap of three inches between the top of these styrofoam wall pieces and the upper lip of the bin.
  • Cut out a doorway in the styrofoam interior wall where the doorway has already been cut out in the storage bin.
  • Measure the length and width of the interior space and place a second smaller-size bin into the open interior. This bin should fit as snugly as possible against the styrofoam wall pieces. Cut a doorway into this bin where the doorways have been cut into the styrofoam and outer bin.
  • Stuff the bottom of the interior bin with straw to provide both insulation and a comfortable spot to lie down.
  • Cut out a styrofoam roof to rest on top of the styrofoam wall pieces.
  • Cover the bin with its lid.

What to Put In Your Winter Cat Shelter

You should line your winter cat shelter with straw to help keep the area warm and dry. Towels, blankets and newspaper should not be used as they will soak up wetness. Cats like materials like straw because they can burrow into them to stay warm.

What Is Trap Neuter Release?

Trap neuter release, or TNR as it is known, is a program that has been used in the United States for decades after its success in Europe. It is the humane approach to controlling feral cat overpopulation. In trap neuter release, the feral cats are trapped, neutered or spayed, and then returned to the very same spot where they were first caught.

Trap neuter release is a community based program in which concerned citizens like you trap free roaming cats in your neighborhood and bring them into a clinic to get them spayed or neutered. The cats’ ears are “tipped” to designate that this particular cat has already been treated. The cats are then returned to the exact same location so they can live out the rest of their natural lives. In an ideal situation, a caregiver will also provide food, water and shelter for these cats.

Before the trap neuter release program, feral cats were captured and turned into animal shelters where they were killed. This practice still exists in many areas. Catch and kill may temporarily reduce the numbers of feral cats, but it doesn’t solve the problem in the long term. Cats are living in a certain area because there is an available food source and some sort of shelter. These feral cats breed prolifically, and more cats will move in to take advantage of the natural resources and shelter available in this location. So trap and remove doesn’t work to curb the number of feral cats in a community.

About the Trap Neuter Release Program

Trap neuter release programs are successful at decreasing the feral cat populations. These programs succeed at the least cost to the public and they provide the best possible outcomes for the cats.

How Trap Neuter Release Helps Local Cat Populations

Trap neuter release is practiced successfully in hundreds of communities and in every setting. These cats are humanely trapped and taken to a veterinarian to be spayed or neutered and vaccinated for rabies. The cats’ ear is also “tipped” to show that this particular cat has already undergone treatment. After their recovery, the cats are then returned to their home, the outdoor colony. (Kittens or cats who are friendly and socialized to humans may be adopted into homes, but the vast majority of these cats are returned to their outdoor communities.)

By stabilizing the cat population, the cats will naturally have more space, shelter and food, as well as fewer risks of disease. After they are spayed or neutered, cats living in outdoor colonies tend to gain weight and live healthier lives. Spayed cats are less likely to develop breast cancer and will not be at risk for ovarian or uterine cancer. Neutered males will not get testicular cancer. Neutering male cats can also reduce the risk of injury and infection, since intact males have a natural instinct to fight with other cats. Spaying also means that female cats do not go into heat. That means they attract fewer tom cats to the area, which reduces fighting.

Trap neuter release helps local cat populations by stopping the breeding cycle of cats. It improves the lives of the cats while preventing reproduction. TNR provides a life-saving and effective solution for feral cat colonies. Here’s how TNR can help:

  • Stabilizes feral cat colonies – Colonies involved in trap neuter release diminish in size over time. TNR stabilizes feral cat populations by ending reproduction and by removing socialized cats from the colony.
  • Improves the lives of the cats – Cats live healthier, more peaceful lives after TNR. It relieves cats of the constant stresses of mating and pregnancy. Mating behaviors like roaming, yowling, spraying and fighting cease. The cats’ physical health improves. The cats are vaccinated against rabies, so they are less susceptible to infectious diseases. Through trap neuter release, cats live long, healthy lives.
  • Meets the needs of the community – When residents understand that something is being done to control the cat population, they usually embrace having a TNR program. The cat population stabilizes so there are no new kittens. The cats become quieter and become better neighbors.
  • Protects the lives of the cats – The number one cause of death for cats in America is being killed in shelters. When cats are neutered, vaccinated and returned to their colonies, they can live out their natural lives.
  • Works where other methods fail – Catch and kill doesn’t work because the community cats just keep having more kittens, and new cats move in when others are removed. Adoption is not an option for most feral cats since they cannot socially interact with humans. Relocation is also ineffective for the same reason as catch and kill doesn’t work.

What You Can Do to Make an Impact

A feral cat community needs a caretaker. This is an individual or group of individuals who manages the feral cat community. The caretaker keeps watch over the cats, providing food, water and shelter for the cats. The caretaker also provides spaying or neutering and emergency medical care through the trap neuter release program. Some shelters and rescue groups even give out free or low-cost spay or neuter coupons to colony caretakers.

Why You Should Use Cat Traps for Your Local Strays

Cat traps are a painless and humane method for safely capturing cats. Don’t try to pick the cat up to put it in a carrier. Use humane cat traps to ensure the safety of the cats and you.

Cat traps come in different styles, like a box trap or a drop trap. In some areas, you may be able to borrow a cat trap from a local animal shelter, or they may be able to teach you how to work with a cat trap. If you cannot borrow a cat trap, you can purchase a humane cat trap.

Before trapping begins, you should have a warm, dry, secure holding place ready to house the cat or cats that you trap. You must have your spay or neuter appointments scheduled before you trap. You must purchase or borrow your traps before you are ready to begin trapping, and you should have transportation ready to transport the trapped cats.

What Cat Traps Are Used For

Cat traps are a safe and humane method for catching a cat. You may decide to use a cat trap to catch a neighborhood stray, or you may use cat traps to safely Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) community cats. Cat traps may be purchased, or sometimes they may be borrowed from local rescue organizations.

The normal trap used for TNR is a box trap. To use the box trap, bait (food) is placed in the rear of the trap. The cat enters the trap through the front. On its way to eat the food the cat steps on a trip plate which triggers the front door to shut behind the cat.

After the cat is captured the box trap will double as a cage to house and transport the animal.

How to Attract Cats to Your Trap

If you plan to trap a cat, the first step is to get the cat on a regular feeding schedule. Cats are much easier to trap once they have been trained to eat on a predictable schedule. Once you know when and where the cats will turn up, you will know the best time and place to set your cat traps. Most feral and stray cats come out in the evening. Set the food out after dinner but before dusk, and never leave the food out overnight. This method will get the cat to return at the same time every day.

The day before you plan to capture the cat, feed it only half as much food or withhold food altogether. This is to help to ensure that the cat is hungry on trapping day.

To attract the cats to the cat traps, you must first bait and set the trap. Place a small amount of food on a paper plate and place it behind the trap’s step plate. Use tuna, mackerel, sardines or a food with a strong odor. Set your trap and wait until the cat returns for its regular feeding. Hopefully, it will walk into the cat trap, setting it off.

Once you trap the cat, cover it immediately to help calm the cat. The cat will begin to panic after being trapped. To calm the cat, place a sheet or towel over the trap.

Where to Take a Cat After You Catch It

Before you try to trap the cat, contact a no-kill shelter and ask about the Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) programs in your area. These programs will not find a home for the cat. Instead, they will neuter or spay the cat and clip one of their ears (for easy identification of a cat that has been treated through the TNR program), and they will return them to where they were found. Never try to relocate the animal as it will be disoriented and will likely die. Return the cat to the same area where you found it.

You may also contact your local Humane Society for help in handling the situation.

For more information about rescuing stray and feral cats, read our article Stray Cat Rescue: How to Help Your Community.

To learn more about feral cats, go to What Is a Feral Cat?

Stray Cat Rescue: How to Help Your Community

According to the ASPCA, the number of community cats in the United States is estimated to be in the tens of millions. A community cat is a cat that is born and raised in the wild, or a cat who has been abandoned and who has turned to wild ways in order to survive. A community cat is primarily raised in the wild or it has adopted community life.

A stray cat, on the other hand, is usually someone’s pet that has become lost or who has been abandoned. Unlike community cats, a stray cat is usually tame and comfortable around humans. These cats will try to make a home near humans. They are not able to cope with life in the wild and are completely reliant on humans for food.

When it comes to stray cat rescue, you may want to feed a stray cat, but you may not want to capture it. These stray cats have a much better chance of reuniting with their owner when they’re left in the area where they are found, so stray cat rescue is not always the best option. According to the Animal Humane Society, less than five percent of stray cats that are brought to shelters are ever reclaimed by their owners. That’s why stray cat rescue is not a good idea. It is best to leave healthy, friendly cats where you discovered them.

A stray cat may be friendly and approach you, or it may be too scared to let you get close, however it will usually eat as soon as you put food down. If you want to try to help a stray cat, see if the cat has identification and contact the owner. If you are able to safely get the cat into a carrier, take it to the veterinarian or to an animal shelter and have the cat scanned for a microchip. Contact animal shelters, rescue groups and veterinarians to let them know you have found the cat – someone may have filed a missing cat report that matches your description. Ask your neighbors if they know the cat. Post signs in the neighborhood. While you search for the cat’s owner it is helpful if you can provide shelter for the cat. If the owner cannot be found, you may decide to adopt the cat yourself or try to find it a good home. (If you take the cat home with you, have it examined by a veterinarian before introducing it to your other cats.)

For community cats, stray cat rescue is not recommended. A humane method called Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) is used to manage cat communities. With this method, the cat is trapped, spayed or neutered and vaccinated against rabies, and then returned to its colony to live out its life.

Why You Should Use Cat Traps for Your Local Strays

Cat traps are a painless and humane method for safely capturing cats. Don’t try to pick the cat up to put it in a carrier. Use humane cat traps to ensure the safety of the cats and you.

Cat traps come in different styles, like a box trap or a drop trap. In some areas, you may be able to borrow a cat trap from a local animal shelter, or they may be able to teach you how to work with a cat trap. If you cannot borrow a cat trap, you can purchase a humane cat trap.

Before trapping begins, you should have a warm, dry, secure holding place ready to house the cat or cats that you trap. You must have your spay or neuter appointments scheduled before you trap. You must purchase or borrow your traps before you are ready to begin trapping, and you should have transportation ready to transport the trapped cats.

You may decide to use a cat trap to catch a neighborhood stray, or you may use cat traps to safely Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) community cats. Cat traps may be purchased, or sometimes they may be borrowed from local rescue organizations.

To learn more, read our article Why You Should Use Cat Traps for Your Local Strays.

What Is Trap Neuter Release?

Trap neuter release, or TNR as it is known, is a program that has been used in the United States for decades after its success in Europe. It is the humane approach to controlling feral cat overpopulation. In trap neuter release, the feral cats are trapped, neutered or spayed, and then returned to the very same spot where they were first caught.

Are Cat Heating Pads Safe?

Are Cat Heating Pads Safe?

In the winter months you might be looking for a way to keep your favorite feline warm — especially if you have drafty windows. Cats are sensitive to the cold just like we are, so if they’re spending extended periods of time in the cold weather, or just colder temperatures than normal, their immune system can be weakened and they run a higher chance of getting sick.

Your cat might like to sit by the vent or even in the sun, but with winter being a time when sunshine can be few and far between, what else can you do to keep your cat warm? One option is a cat heating pad. This is a small, cat-sized mat that sits on the floor, and when you plug it in it heats up. Similar to an electric blanket, these pads can give your cat a cuddly place to sit on cold days.

Cat heating pads seem like the perfect answer, a warm pad that your cat can sit on? Sounds perfect, right? However, some cat owners wonder about safety. Are cat heating pads safe? For the most part, yes.

The Positives

With cat heating pads, they require little electricity, so there’s not a high risk of fire, overheating, or electrocution. Since the pads are specific to cats, most won’t get hotter than a cat’s internal body temperature and you can feel comfortable leaving them on for extended periods of time. As a whole, with a cat heating pad is safe, so you won’t have to worry about it causing damage to your cat or your home.

Cat heating pads can give your cat a sense of security by giving them a space that is similar to a lap or a warm bed. In fact, most cats will think of it in the same way and find it comforting. They can also provide an easily accessible place for older cats who might get a little stiff during the colder months.

The Negatives

Unfortunately, there are situations in which a cat heating pad might not be safe in your home, but the key to knowing whether it’s worth it essentially comes down to how well you know your cat. The cat heating pad itself isn’t likely to hurt your cat. Your cat, on the other hand, might harm herself by messing around with the heating pad.

For example, if your cat has a habit of chewing things, she could chew through the cord or the pad and end up electrocuting or burning herself. If she goes further than chewing and actually starts to eat the pad, she could also end up with an intestinal blockage. Inside the pad are wires that create heat, and if they’re ingested they can wreak havoc on the inside of your cat and leave you with an enormous vet bill.

You’ll also want to make sure that if you get a heating pad, you don’t get one that can get any warmer than a cat’s body temperature. If the pad is left on too long and starts to get hotter, your cat could end up with burns.

Since the pad is electric, it has a cord. This also runs the risk of strangulation if your cat is rolling around with another cat near the cord and gets tangled up.

If you want to get a cat heating pad, do your research. Make sure you get a heating pad that’s well reviewed and doesn’t overheat. Once you have one, keep an eye on your cat while she’s using it to make sure she stays safe, and avoid leaving it on overnight.

Did You Know Captain Marvel Has a Cat?

We Love a Good Cat Cameo

Here’s your fun fact for the day — if you’re a fan of the Avengers, you’re probably getting ready for the new Captain Marvel movie, and in the newest trailer we spotted an exciting detail — she has a cat!

For those who are fans of the Marvel comics, you might have already known about the unique feline. But now we know that Captain Marvel’s cat — Chewie in the comics, Goose in the film — will make an appearance. Fans have even spotted him as an easter egg in movie posters, which may promise that Goose will be a more than just a passing scene.

If you’re wondering, in the comics, Chewie is named after Chewbacca from Star Wars, and Goose’s name comes from a reference to Top Gun. Both versions of this cat have distinct ties to current pop culture and also provide an opportunity to give your own feline a fun homage to what’s looking to be a very exciting movie. (Not just because there’s a cat.)

Of course, we still don’t know how big a role Goose will have in the upcoming movie, but right now we do have an adorable scene of Nick Fury and Goose meeting for the first time in the trailer. His excitement toward stumbling upon a cat is something we can all relate to, because who wouldn’t be excited to see a cat in the hallway?

On the outside, Goose appears to be an orange tabby cat, but from the comics, we know that Goose isn’t actually a cat at all. Instead, he’s an alien creature called a Flerken, and they’re actually pretty terrifying. Looking like a cat is really just a disguise, and inside its mouth, a Flerken has many tentacles as well as pocket dimensions. It’s probably a good thing that Goose appears to be on Captain Marvel’s side, because it certainly doesn’t seem like a creature you’d want to have on your bad side.

Even if Goose is an alien, we’re still excited to see what his role will be in the new movie! Captain Marvel comes out in March 2019.

All About the Ragdoll Personality

The Ragdoll cat is big and affectionate. The Ragdoll is among the largest of the domestic cats. The Ragdoll cat matures slowly. This breed does not reach their full size and coat development until they are about three to four years of age. Males can range up to 20 pounds in size while the smaller females range from 10 to 15 pounds in size.

The Ragdoll cat has beautiful baby blue eyes and a semi-long coat in a pointed pattern. There are four different coat patterns for a Ragdoll: bicolor, mitted, van and colorpoint. The mitted, bicolor and van coat have white while the colorpoint coat has no white. If your Ragdoll has a colorpoint pattern, it will have a light body color with a contrasting darker color on the extremities, the mask, and the ears. The bicolor Ragdoll also has dark points but exhibits an inverted V on the forehead. Its stomach, legs, and ruff are white. The mitted Ragdoll cat also shows points, but the feet and the chin are white. Vans have the most white on the body.

The Ragdoll coat comes in six different colors – seal, blue, chocolate, red, lilac and cream – giving the breed a variety of looks. The coat varies from semi-long to long, and it is silky and plush. Ragdolls are known to shed year-round.

The Ragdoll cat was created by breeder Ann Baker in California in the 1960s. She called the cat the Ragdoll because it would happily flop into the arms of anyone who would pick it up. Ms. Baker registered the new cat breed and then launched the International Ragdoll Cat Association. She trademarked the new cat breed name and established her own detailed breeding criteria for the Ragdoll cat breed.

Ragdoll Personality, Temperament, and Traits

The Ragdoll personality is calm and even-tempered. Sweet, friendly and loving, this cat is relaxed and very good natured. This is one of the main reasons that the Ragdoll is one of the most popular breeds in America according to the Cat Fanciers’ Association.

The Ragdoll is eager to greet you at the front door and to follow you anywhere you want to go. The Ragdoll has even been nicknamed the “puppy cat” because of its desire to follow its humans around from one room to another, and because the Ragdoll simply loves to be held, cuddled and loved.

The Ragdoll personality gets along well with all family members as well as dogs and other household cats. Changes in routine do not usually upset the Ragdoll and she is the perfect companion for apartment living.

Your Ragdoll will happily greet you at the door and sleep with you in bed. The Ragdoll personality is fun-loving. Ragdolls enjoy a good game of fetch. This good-natured cat is a natural with children. The Ragdoll personality can even get along well with dogs.

As for being vocal, the Ragdoll cat is surprisingly quiet. Their small, sweet voice is soft and musical.

The Ragdoll has a moderate energy level and a very laid-back demeanor. This cat is happy to be picked up and carried around in your arms. Rather than climbing to the highest spot in your home, the Ragdoll prefers to stay at ground level. They prefer lying on your feet or in your lap. They love snuggling with their owners and having a fuss made over them.

A lover of water, the Ragdoll cat has been known to jump into the bath with its owner.

Ragdoll cats can learn quickly with positive reinforcement. They can even be taught to play fetch, to come when called and to walk on a leash.

The Ragdoll cat is easy to live with, happily interacting with its family members. The Ragdoll personality is well suited to any home where people are willing to love him and give his beautiful coat a brushing at least once a week. But because of its intensely social nature, this is not a cat that you can leave alone for long periods of time every day. If you want to get a Ragdoll cat, but you have to work, think about getting two Ragdolls so that they can keep each other company while you are gone.

To learn more about cat personality, go to What You Need to Know About Cat Personality.

Related articles:

Great Names for Ragdoll Cats
10 Things You Should Know About Ragdoll Cats
Choosing a Ragdoll

All About the Calico Personality

Calico is not a breed of cat. The word “Calico” actually refers to the cat’s coat coloring. Calico cats have patches of three different colors in their coats – white, black and orange. The Calico cat is different from the Tortoiseshell cat. It has the same colors (white, black and orange), but in the Tortoiseshell cat these colors are swirled together instead of in patches.

Calico cats can be found in many breeds including:

  • American Shorthair
  • American Curl
  • Japanese Bobtail
  • Oriental Shorthair
  • Persian
  • Devon Rex
  • Cornish Rex
  • Munchkin
  • British Shorthair
  • Turkish Van
  • Sphynx
  • Manx
  • Scottish Fold
  • Siberian
  • Exotic Shorthair
  • LaPerm

The origin of the Calico cat is unknown, but most think that they originated in Egypt. From there they may have been brought down the Mediterranean to Italy, Spain and France. Today, Calico cats can be found all around the globe.

Here’s another interesting fact about Calico cats – most Calicos are female. Here’s why. Males have one X and one Y chromosome while females have two X chromosomes. In cats, the gene that determines fur color is located on the X sex chromosome. While both male and female cats can get the orange gene from just one chromosome, it requires two X chromosomes for a cat to be Calico or Tortoiseshell. That almost always means that Calico cats are female. It should be noted that about one in every 3,000 Calico cats is male. These male Calico cats have an extra X chromosome (XXY), which differs from the usual XY chromosomes of the normal male.

One in every 3,000 male Calico cats is born sterile.

Here’s something you may not have known about the Calico cat. You can’t breed Calicos. The Calico hair color happens by chance – they are not a genetically engineered breed.

Calico Personality, Temperament, and Traits

There are scientifically documented studies about behavior and personality in specific cat breeds. But since Calico cats can be found in many different cat breeds, the Calico personality will vary. Calico cats are very different from one another and they engage in different behavior. However, a few characteristics have been attributed to the Calico cat.

The Cat Breeds Encyclopedia attributes some unique characteristics to the Calico personality. They are said to have sweet, endearing personalities. The Calico cat is said to be warm-hearted, affectionate, intelligent and good with children.

The Calico personality is also thought to be quirky. They are said to have a sassy but loving personality.

Some Calico cats have even been credited with intelligent acts of bravery, like saving their human and animal families or their entire litter of kittens from a burning building.

Ultimately, the Calico personality will be determined by a variety of factors including breed, experience and environment.

Fun Facts about Calico Cats and the Calico Personality

Here are some fun facts about Calico cats.

  • Because of their rarity, Calico cats are considered “lucky” by many around the world. The Calico cat is thought to bring good fortune to the homes and families that adopt them. They are also considered to be a little magical because of their three colors.
  • In the 1870s, Calico cats were named the official symbol of fortune in Japan.
  • The Calico cat became the official cat of the state of Maryland in 2001. The Calico cat was chosen because the colors of its fur are similar to that of the Baltimore Oriole, which is the official state bird.
  • According to Irish folklore, if you have a wart that you want to get rid of, just rub it against a Calico cat’s tail.

To Learn more about cat personality, go to What You Need to Know About Cat Personality.

Related articles:

Naming Your Calico Cat: Name Ideas for Calico Cats
Why Are Calico Cats Female?

All About the Russian Blue Personality

The Russian Blue has a luxurious silver-blue coat, vibrant green eyes, and long legs and body. This robust medium-sized breed is long, slender, muscular and elegant. One cat judge called the Russian Blue the “Doberman Pinscher of cats” because of his elegant yet muscular body.

The Russian Blue looks much bigger than it really is because of its double coat which is dense, silky and plush. If you were to run your fingers through the coat of a Russian Blue, the patterns made by your fingers would remain there until they were petted smooth. The Russian Blue stands out for his coat color. While his coat may appear gray, cat show terminology would call him a bright blue with silver-tipped hairs.

The striking eye color of the Russian Blue adds to it captivating physical qualities. When the Russian Blue is a kitten, it is born with yellow eyes. At about four months of age a bright green ring appears around the pupil, and as the cat matures the eye color grows to a bright, vivid green. The contrast between the bright green eyes and the shimmering silver blue color of the coat is beautiful to behold.

The Russian Blue has a slightly upturned mouth which looks a little bit like a smile. It is sometimes compared to the Mona Lisa smile.

Little is known about the actual origins of the Russian Blue. He probably did come from Russia and his thick coat is that of a cat from colder climates. It is believed that British sailors brought these cats home from the White Sea port town of Archangel in Northern Russia.

The breed’s development took place primarily in Britain and Scandinavia beginning in the late nineteenth century. The Russian Blue made its first appearance on the world stage in 1875 at an exhibit of cats held at London’s Crystal Palace. The Russian Blue was labeled an Archangel Cat because it was believed to be from the Russian island of Archangel. A British cat fancier named Mrs. Carew-Cox began importing the breed in 1890. She bred and showed the cats through the turn of the century. But World War II nearly put an end to the Russian Blue breed; most of the Russian Blues were killed.

Russian Blues were first imported to the United States in the 1900s. After World War II, American breeders began to develop their own lines after the war. Since the 1960s, the Russian Blue began gaining popularity and has become a favorite at cat shows and in homes.

Russian Blue Personality, Temperament, and Traits

The Russian Blue personality is gentle, sweet and affectionate. This is a reserved cat, but once he gets comfortable with you he can be a playful, loving companion. Described as elegant and reserved, the Russian Blue personality is affectionate but not clingy toward family members. He will probably want to sleep with you and to be with you as you go about your daily chores. He also loves to be combed while you are sitting watching TV.

The Russian Blue makes an excellent, loyal companion – constantly following its owners around the house and generally preferring one human over all others in the family. The Russian Blue personality gets along with everyone, including children. The Russian Blue personality does best with older children who won’t scare him. However, if he is raised with your children or with cat-friendly dogs he can get along well with them.

When guests come to your house your Russian Blue will likely retreat, although he may choose to interact with them later if he determines them to be acceptable company. They never rush into a situation without carefully observing first. This Russian Blue personality trait has earned this breed the reputation of being shy or aloof.

This is a sensitive cat who doesn’t like to be ignored. In fact, he will be hurt if he doesn’t receive the same amount of affection that he gives. When he doesn’t get attention, the Russian Blue may become anxious or fearful.

The Russian Blue can be easily startled. They can become nervous or shy around strangers and in strange environments.

The Russian Blue has a quiet voice and is not especially vocal, however they will respond if you talk to them and they can learn the meaning of many words.

The Russian Blue personality is playful. This cat loves to play, especially fetch. He loves jumping and climbing up to the highest places where he can study the people in his home and his environment before deciding whether or not he wants to get involved.