Effective October 1, 2001, the calico cat became the official cat of Maryland (Chapter 194, Acts of 2001; Code State Government Article, sec. 13-317). Its colors of orange, black, and white are shared with the Baltimore oriole (State bird) and the Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly (State insect).
Calico is not a breed of cat, but an unusual coloring occurring across many breeds, including Domestic Short-hair, Persian, and Manx. Virtually all calico cats are female; a male calico is a genetic anomaly and usually sterile. Producing calico kittens through selective breeding also is nearly impossible due to unpredictable actions of genes and chromosomes when cells multiply in a feline fetus.
Calico cat, Annapolis,
Maryland, September 2001. Photo by Ann J. Baker.
A calico cat must be a tri-color, with its three colors in distinct patches, not mixed as in a tortoiseshell cat. Some breed standards specify what percentage of the body must be white; others allow tabby striping in the color patches. To be a true tri-color, a calico cat's colors must be: white; red or cream; and black, blue, chocolate, lilac, cinnamon, or fawn. The variations in color from red and black are caused by a gene which dilutes, or lightens up the basic color, and produces a dilute calico cat, most commonly with a coat of white, cream, and blue.
Sleeping calico cat, Canton, Baltimore, Maryland, May 2002. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.
© Copyright June 17, 2004 Maryland State Archives
Maryland Manual On-Line, 2009
July 1, 2009
Note: In this past edition of Maryland Manual, some links are to external sites. View the current Manual