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Verify: Are calico cats always female? Are orange cats always male?

The executive director of SpokAnimal said calico cats that come in to the shelter are always female and the orange cats are always male. KREM set out to verify if this is always the case.

SPOKANE, Wash. — SpokAnimal staff members are seeing a trend among the cats they shelter. The shelter's executive director said calico cats that come in are always female and the orange cats always male.

Is this always true? KREM set out to verify. 

According to a veterinarian with the SouthCare Animal Medical Center, it is possible for a calico cat to be male but it is very rare.

"With female cats, they have two X [chromosomes] just like with humans. Male cats have X and Y. So the way that those colors are expressed, you can have multiple colors expressed at the same time when you have two X [chromosomes], so you have many colors," said Dr. Heidi Patterson with SouthCare Animal Medical Center. 

"The only way you get a male cat that is a tortoise shell or calico is if it is an X-X-Y," she continued. "Which in humans would be called Klinefelter's Syndrome."

In a study completed by the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Missouri, researchers found only one out of every 3,000 calico cats is male.

Is it also that rare for an orange cat to be female? According to a blog written by Dr. Marty Becker, the Chief Veterinary Correspondent for the American Humane Association, the gene that determines how orange cats get their color is displayed on the X chromosome. 

"However it's a recessive gene. You can absolutely have female orange cats. I have a female orange cat," Patterson said. "But they are maybe a little bit less common because sometimes genetically in females if they have two X [chromosomes] and the orange gene is on one of the X chromosomes, randomly they will deactivate one of the X chromosomes sometimes for genes. That's just a normal process for the cats."

"So that's why sometimes we will tend to see more males because they only have one X chromosome, so that orange gene is manifested on that chromosome, where as in females, one of them might be inactivated," Patterson continued. 

Are calico cats always female and orange cats always male? The answer is no and therefore the claim is false.

SpokAnimal has plenty of calico and orange cats available, among many others. Those who are interested in adoption can visit the SpokAnimal website.

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