Tortie vs Calico: Difference and Comparison

Globally we have varieties of cat breeds known to us. The major difference between these different cat breeds is nothing but the genetic makeup of them.

As the slightest change in the genetic code can cause smaller or larger mutations and characteristic features in the body-the color of the fur, eyeball color, different color patches present on the body, whiskers, etc.

Key Takeaways

  1. Tortie and Calico are coat patterns of cats where Tortie has patches of red, black, and sometimes cream, while Calico has patches of white, black, and occasionally orange.
  2. Tortie and Calico’s patterns are caused by different genetic combinations of the X chromosome, and not all cats with these patterns are female.
  3. Tortie and Calico patterns can be difficult to differentiate, and some countries have different names for them.

Tortie vs Calico

Tortie is a cat breed that is present in only two colors: white and black. These cats are short-tempered. Calico got extra genes due to which it has white color patches present on it. It can be whole white with colored patches or whole colored with white spots. These cats are aggressive.

Tortie vs Calico

Tortie Cats or Tortoiseshell Cats are the two words used synonymously. The name of the breed is this because of their appearance, just like the shell of the tortoise. Precisely, tortie cats are referred to as bi-colored coats cats.


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They are people-friendly pets and can be put in houses.

Calico Cats are referred to the domestic cat breeds which have a tricolored coat hue present on them. Surprisingly, the word Calico doesn’t refer to any cat breed but is the variation of tricolored coats on the cat’s body.

The most common color of the Calico cat is White with black and orange patches.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonTortieCalico
DefinitionTortie cats are referred to the cats which have an appearance just like a tortoiseshell.Calico cats are referred to the cats which have three colors on their body fur.
Color Commonly they have a blend of orange and black.They have white, orange, and black color on their body fur.
Other NamesTortoiseshell, TorbieBrindle, Tricolor
BreedsAmerican and British Shorthair, Cornish Rex, Persian, Maine CoonsManx, Arabian Mau, Siberian, Turkish Angora, Japanese Bobtail, Turkish Van
AttitudeStrong-willed, hot-tempered, possessive towards owner, fierce, unpredictableMore fierce, strong-willed, very high tempered, aggressive behavior like – hissing, biting, swatting,

What is Tortie?

Tortie Cats are also known as Tortoiseshell cats. This is because of the resemblance of their body fur color with that of the shell of a tortoise. Tortie cats are mainly females. There is a rare possibility of male cats, and if so, they are born male. They are sterile. 

These types of cats are having a blend of orange and black color. Sometimes the cats are born with the dominant colors and are thus referred to as lack of “dominant coloring,” meaning the color on the fur will appear lighter than usual. 

Sometimes Tortie cats resemble one of the colors of the Tabby cats, and thus they are referred to as “Torbie” or “Torbie Cats.” The attitude of the Tortie cats is very fierce, hot-tempered, possessive towards the owner, strong-willed, and is unpredictable.  

Some of the breeds of tortie are – 

  • American Shorthair
  • British Shorthair 
  • Cornish Rex
  • Persian
  • Maine Coons

What is Calico?

Calico cats are also known as Brindle or Tricolor cats. They are thus referred to because of the presence of three color fur on their body. Calico cats are mainly females, and male Calico cats are rarely found, and if so, they are said to be sterile.

As the name suggests, the cats have three distinct colors in which white color is must present along with orange color (sometimes reddish-brown or red) and black (sometimes blue or grey).

The presence of white color in Calico cats is because of the presence of an extra spotting gene which results in the white unpigmented color patches on a colored fur body or the whole fur being white with multiple color patches on the body.

A surprising fact to be known is that Calico is not the name of the breed but the scientific appearance of three colors on the fur.

Also, they are said to be super lucky for their owners and are rarely bred, which means nature selects their traits and randomly produces them.


Main Differences Between Tortie and Calico

  1. Tortie Cats are referred to the cats resembling the body color of a tortoiseshell, whereas Calico Cats are cats with three colors on their body fur.
  2. Tortie cats have a blend of two colors, orange and black, while the Calico cats have a blend of three colors where the presence of white color is a must, along with orange color (sometimes reddish-brown or red) and black (sometimes grey or blue).
  3. Tortie Cats are referred to by different names, which are Tortoiseshell Cats or Torbie Cats, while Calico Cats are referred to by other names such as Brindle, Tricolor, Tobi Mi-ke (Triple fur in Japanese), Lapjesket (In Dutch referred to as patches cats).
  4. Tortie cats have many other breeds, which are American and British shorthair, Persian, Cornish Rex, and Maine Coons while other breeds of Calico cats are Manx, Arabian Mau, Siberian, Turkish Angora, Japanese Bobtail, and many more.
  5. The attitude or nature of the Tortie cat is fierce, independent, possessive towards its owner, strong-willed, unpredictable, hot-tempered, etc., whereas the attitude or nature of the Calico cat is very fierce, highly tempered, strong-willed, and very aggressive some of the behavior is – hissing, swatting, and biting.  
Difference Between Tortie and Calico



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