Before answering the question of how long Calico cats live, it is crucial to understand that Calicos are not a specific breed. Rather, the term Calico refers to a coat pattern. Specifically, a Calico cat must have a coat that contains three colors: white, orange, and black.
The lifespan of a cat is influenced by a few key factors, including her breed, whether she stays indoors or outdoors, diet, and lifestyle.
On average, an indoor cat, including your Calico, can live anywhere between 13 and 17 years. However, it is not unusual for some cats to live well into their twenties.
Factors that influence a Calico’s lifespan
While there is no way to predict how long a cat will live, there are a few factors that influence a cat’s lifespan:
In general, moggies or mixed breed cats live longer than purebreds. The main reason behind this is that mixed-breed felines do not carry the hereditary diseases and disorders associated with purebred cats.
In a paper entitled “Sex Differences in Lifespan,” Steven Austad and Kathleen Fischer discovered that between male and female cats, the latter lived longer. According to the study, female cats tend to live longer by as much as two years.
Most Calico cats are females. Or to be more precise, 99.9 percent of Calicos are females. The gender of a cat is determined by the sex chromosomes it carries. Specifically, a male cat has the X and Y chromosomes while a female has two X chromosomes. The X chromosome carries the genes that give Calicos their colors.
Female calicos have two chromosomes that carry the genes responsible for their coat patterns while males have two X chromosomes and a Y chromosome.
Because male Calicos carry an extra X chromosome, they carry certain defects that shorten their lifespans. Male calicos have been known to have defects like:
- Mental and cognitive development problems
- Behavioral issues
- More body fat
- Low bone mineral content
These defects make male Calicos susceptible to a variety of diseases and disorders like diabetes, joint problems and heart disease.
Although the deck may seem to be stacked against Male calicos, they can live long lives, provided that you pay extra attention to their health and wellbeing.
3. Outdoor vs. indoor cats
Another critical factor that can determine how long a Calico cat will live is whether she stays indoors or outdoors.
According to some estimates, a cat that stays indoors exclusively typically lives up to 17 years or longer. A cat that lives outdoors, even for just a part of its day, has a considerably shorter average lifespan.
What is the reason behind the disparity?
Generally, a cat that lives indoors exclusively is exposed to fewer dangers, from getting hit by passing cars to ingesting potentially toxic substances. Apart from these, cats that go outdoors have a higher risk of contracting diseases like the feline leukemia virus or the feline immunodeficiency virus.
When a cat lives indoors exclusively, it is easier for her human to check on her health and spot potential issues before they spiral out of control.
4. Diet and lifestyle
Just like in humans, diet and lifestyle can influence a cat’s health and wellbeing. If you do not feed your Calico properly and do not give her opportunities for play and exercise, she will be more susceptible to a host of diseases and disorders.
As an obligate carnivore, your Calico requires ample amounts of proteins and little to no carbs and sugars. Felines are efficient in converting proteins into energy but do a poor job in digesting carbohydrates. In fact, feeding your Calico with too many carbs impedes her ability to digest proteins.
Aside from proteins, your cat also needs essential amino acids that her body cannot produce on its own. These include cystine, taurine and methionine.
Apart from providing your cat with toys, it is also critical that you give her cat furniture like perches and scratching posts. You may also want to consider walking your cat outside to exercise her body and stimulate her mind.
How to help your Calico live longer
While there is not much that you can do about your cat’s genes, there are a few things that you can do to potentially increase your Calico’s lifespan.
1. Schedule regular visits to the vet
Do not make the mistake of taking your Calico to the vet only during medical emergencies. You should schedule regular visits to the vet to ensure that your Calico gets proper medical attention, especially if she tends to hide when she is ill.
2. Do not let your Calico go out
If there is one thing that you should do to help your Calico live longer, that would be to keep her indoors exclusively.
Indoor cats live longer compared to those that stay outside, even for just part of the day. Staying indoors protects your Calico from a variety of risks, from accidents and injuries to life-threatening diseases.
However, you should also be aware that your home may pose a few risks, from open windows to poisonous plants. Survey your home and eliminate potential risks that can harm your Calico.
3. Feed your cat properly
Nutrition plays a vital role in a cat’s health. As such, you should not trade convenience for your cat’s wellbeing. Consult with your vet about proper nutrition and serving portions.
Ideally, your cat’s food should contain enough nutrients, especially protein, and little to no carbs and sugars. Most experts recommend wet food over dry cat food.
4. Keep your cat at a healthy weight
Carrying excess weight leaves a Calico vulnerable to a host of diseases, from diabetes to liver issues. Apart from making sure that you feed your cat nutritionally-balanced meals, you should also make sure that your pet remains active.
As much as possible, you should let your cat exercise at least 30 minutes each day. It is also helpful to monitor your cat’s weight at home, measuring her weight at least once a month.
5. Engage your Calico’s mind
Although staying indoors helps a Calico live longer, it may also present a few problems. In particular, living indoors exclusively may deprive your cat of an outlet for her instincts like hunting. In turn, this lack of a suitable outlet can lead to unwanted behaviors like scratching and aggression.
Fortunately, there are a few ways that you can provide your Calico with an outlet for her instincts while stimulating her mind.
Start with the basics by providing your pet with cat furniture like perches, scratching posts, and cat trees. From there, you can play interactive games with your pet. For example, your cat will enjoy playing chase with you when you use a laser pointer.
6. Make grooming a habit
Although cats do a great job grooming themselves, your pet will surely appreciate some extra help in this department.
But apart from helping keep your cat clean and her coat luxurious, grooming is an excellent way to keep tabs on her health.
While grooming your cat, check her body for unusual growths or lumps and bumps which sometimes are symptoms of disease.
7. Clean the litter box regularly
Apart from sanitary reasons, there is another important reason why you should clean the litter box regularly.
Cleaning the litter box regularly allows you to check your Calico’s bathroom habits. A change in his elimination habits can indicate a medical problem that requires the immediate attention of your vet.
8. Watch out for anything unusual
Cats are quirky creatures. But over time, you will have a fair idea of your Calico’s personality and habits.
Often, behavioral changes in cats indicate medical problems. If you notice that something is amiss in your Calico’s behavior, you can investigate further to check if your pet is dealing with a medical problem.
Image: istockphoto.com / krblokhin