Why Male Calico and Tortie Cats Are So Rare

Recently we stumbled upon an article about an extremely rare male calico kitten up for adoption in Silicon Valley. Less than 0.1% of all calicos or torties are male. And, it’s likely this kitten, named Sherman, or any other male calico or tortie was born sterile.


http://patch.com/california/redwoodcity-woodside/unicorn-cat-makes-its-way-silicon-valley

‘Unicorn Cat’ Makes Its Way to Silicon Valley Animal Shelter

By Renee Schiavone (Patch Staff)

A very special kitten has found his way to a Silicon Valley animal shelter, and now representatives are hoping someone will be willing to give him a forever home.

Sherman is a male calico cat. Which is apparently really rare.

Dr. Andrea Berger, who is a veterinarian at the Humane Society Silicon Valley, says the chances of a calico cat being born male is less than 0.1%.

“It’s like a unicorn! I’ve been involved with shelters for 20 years and I have never seen one,” Berger said.

The four-month-old kitten recently arrived with the HSSV, as a transfer from one of their sister shelters, which was full.

“We work with shelters in the area to help alleviate the strain on resources when shelters are too full and when there’s an animal who needs a little extra help getting adopted,” a spokeswoman told Patch.

Anyone interested in adopting Sherman can stop by the Sunnyvale Neighborhood Adoption Center, inside Petco at 160 East El Camino Real. The adoption fee is $175.

By the way, shelter representatives say the little fur ball is very personable and friendly– and he’s a sucker for people and wand toys.


We asked guest writer and over all “one smart cat” Newton to give us the science behind the rarity of male torties and calicos. Here you go!

Newton’s Perspective: Calico Genetics

My namesake, Sir Isaac Newton, was a renowned physicist and mathematician. Although some credit him with inventing the cat flap to protect his experiments from light exposure (http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/3156/did-isaac-newton-invent-the-cat-door), I doubt that he actually knew much about cats. That’s not surprising since we are WAY more complicated than physics! Recently my insatiable cat curiosity led me to a book about a male calico cat titled “Cats are not Peas” – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1358214.Cats_Are_Not_Peas. Well, that seems pretty obvious. I thought this was about genetics, not gardening. But what I read was far more complex than I imagined.

Have you ever met a male calico cat? If you said no I am not surprised. Less than one percent of all calico cats are male. But before I go any further, let’s define calico. Calico is a color pattern. When I think “calico” I see a cat that is predominantly white with patches of orange and black. However, this is only one variation. The key is having both orange (or beige) and black (or grey) colors.

The genetic code for black and orange colors is located on the X chromosome. Females have two X’s (XX), while males have an X and a Y (XY). If a female kitten gets both an orange and a black X then she will be calico XoXb. A male kitten from the same litter would get either an orange or a black X with the following results.

The only way for a male to have both orange and black colors is through a genetic mishap that gives him three chromosomes XoXb Y instead of two XoY or Xb Y. This is called Klinefelter Syndrome in humans and generally results in feminization and sterility.

So now you know why male calico cats are so rare. But I’m sure you’ll agree, all cats are special, no matter what color they might be.

102 year old lady proves you’re never too old to adopt a cat

102-year-old Iona L. and 2-year-old Edward at the Montgomery County Animal Shelter

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/22/102-year-old-woman-adopts-cat_n_6524804.html – This Photo Captures The Tender Moment A 102-Year-Old Woman Fell In Love With A Shelter Cat

Do you ever feel like you are too old to do something? Often that’s so not the case especially in matters of love! Here you will read about a lady who’s 102 years on this planet and she’s fallen in love with a special cat – and it’s mutual. Neither are concerned with how long the other might be around – they just went for it and it’s beautiful. We love that old saying “it’s never too late.” This woman and her cat prove that it’s true. There’s nothing like the love of a furry friend to make one feel young, vital and needed.

Meet a Roman Cat!

Mimi sent us this picture of Aka…

“This is Aka, my beautiful almost 15 year old Roman cat. She is the Queen of Piazza Mazzini here in Rome, which she watches over from our 5th floor balcony. She is on her window perch; outside the window in the background you can see the top of St. Peter’s dome. She is quite a lady and doesn’t have a wrinkle on her. She loves relaxing on her favorite armchair or gazing out the window, looking at the streets of Rome. We met when she was 5 days old and left her mom to waddle over to my hand. 2 months later she moved in with us. She’s my gattissima bellissima!!!”

We wrote her…

“We are located in San Francisco and there is an organization here called Friends of Roman Cats – they raise money for Italian cat shelters and rescue! One of the groups is called Torre Argentina. They have an annual fund raiser here which we’ve donated to in the past.”

“I’ve had many interactions with Italian cats! My favorite, the funniest: I was in Verona (one of my favorite places) and walked past an alley. There were a lot of street cats eating. I looked up and sitting in a window about 4 floors up was a woman, something right out of Fellini… Harsh looking face with garish makeup, buxom figure, sleeveless dress with bra straps hanging down, a cigarette dangling from her lips, throwing pieces of fish out of her window the cats below. I watched for awhile. Then she saw me and threw fish at me and yelled something in Italian at me. Pretty funny! I once helped the old ladies feed the cats who live on the grounds of a museum in Milano.”

“Thank you so much, it gave me a few minutes to think of the cats I saw and met in Italy!”

Mimi wrote back…

“Thanks so much for the interesting information on the “Friends of Roman Cats”. Everyone here knows the cats of Torre Argentina. They are very famous and inhabit some very important architectural digs. In fact they have recently “discovered” or “uncovered” the exact location where Julius Caesar was assassinated there. I work near an area that is a crossroads between the Aventine hill, Testaccio and the Pyramid and there is a colony of cats there too. In fact many cats (lovely black ones) live in the garden/parking lot of the pool/Gym where I work. They are well cared for by the volunteers from the Piramide cat colony.”

If you ever come to Rome, I’ll take you to visit the Piramide cat colony!!! I’ll look forward to seeing Aka in an upcoming newsletter.

Thanks and baci.
Mimi

Advice for long car trips with cats

This is a question and answer email exchange that we recently had with a customer. We thought we’d share it with you in the event that you might need to travel or move with cats in a car.

Teri Our Customer: You’ve been so very helpful to me and how to care for litter box problems, etc. – so I am turning to you again for some assistance. I am preparing to move and I would like to get a plan for my three cats. We will need to be in a car for 8 hours. I’m trying to get a plan in my mind so I can get supplies needed within the next several months. I need to budget for this. Would appreciate your kind suggestions and helpful hints to make this trip as easy as possible for my cats and myself.

Cat Faeries: Congratulations on a big move! Will you be the only adult human in the car? If so, when you stop to pee or eat you must keep your eye on the car at all times – we’ve heard tragic stories of cars and campers being stolen with cats inside! Be cautious at rest stops and gas stations. Cars and campers have even been stolen in parking lots with meters. If you are with another adult, one of you should remain in the car or stand outside of it while the other runs the errand.

Teri: I’ll probably be alone. What should I do when I need to use the facilities?

Cat Faeries: Check this out! http://www.go-girl.com/ We know someone who has one (she’s MAJOR phobic about public toilets) and she likes it. She sort of enjoys telling people she can pee while standing! You’ll want to practice in advance as it takes a bit of getting used to.

Teri: I have good size kennel/carriers for each cat and I saw that you have pads.

Cat Faeries: The waterproof pads are great. Pre wash them to soften them up a bit (they’ll absorb better). Double them up so that if the top layer is soiled you can quickly remove it and there’s a clean layer below. However, even if the pad has been urinated on, it should dry, and you may find that leaving the cats undisturbed in the carrier/kennels is best for all of you. The pads can be quickly and easily folded to fit inside the carrier/kennel.

Teri: Would I use the Feliway to spray my car and in the kennels?

Cat Faeries: Yes, that would be ideal. You’d spray the pads 15 minutes before you place the pads and the cats in the carriers/kennels. Give each pad 4 squirts. After a few hours, when you stop the car to freshen up you can spray it in the air towards where the cats are kenneled.

Teri: I am concerned with their peeing, etc. due to the long hours traveling.

Cat Faeries: They will pee at some point, and they may poop, although they may hold that one. Invest in a smallish litter box for each carrier/kennel. You don’t need to put as much litter in them as you do at home. We don’t want to see soiled cat litter flying around the car if you need to brake hard and fast!

Lastly, music is really important because the right music can be very calming to you and the cats. We recommend avoiding talk radio, rap, 80’s metal, and loud banging anything. If your vehicle doesn’t have a CD player or if you don’t have something like an iPod – sing! Even if you sound like a flock of crows, sing anyway. It will keep you awake and alert, and the cats will enjoy hearing your voice. Can’t remember the lyrics? Go through the alphabet and sing the name a vegetable for each letter (A = asparagus, B = broccoli etc). It’s a fun thing to do during any mundane task, like doing dishes. After you’ve done vegetables come up with old fashioned people names which you think would be cool for a cat and sing those!

Drive carefully, and let us know when you’ve arrived in your new home!

Newton’s Purr-spective – When grooming gets out of control

One of the most frustrating feline medical conditions is when our cats over groom, or self-barber. This means they are licking or biting at their fur until bald spots form, and in severe cases bleeding. We’ve tried, and failed at, creating a flower essence formula that would work for all cats who do this. Veterinarians give out drugs but from what customers tell us, they don’t work and in some cases can make it worse. And most people don’t like giving their cats drugs like this, which we understand completely.

We once had a bunny who did this. It was when we gave her less freedom and confined her to her cage more than letting her roam with the other rabbits, she stopped barbering and her fur started to grow back. I’ve never forgotten that and wondered how something like this could help cats.

Recently we received a photo from someone who wanted us to post her cat to Facebook and Pinterest. The cat was wearing a shirt and the person who submitted it said the cat wears it to help with his anxiety.

From Kelly: “This is Roger. You will usually find him wearing some sort of shirt every day. It helps him a little bit with his anxiety issues. Roger found me when he was about a year old. He was living in my neighbor’s back yard. He is now almost 9 years old.”

We assumed that the snugness of made the cat feel secure much like Holly the bunny felt so secure being in her cage rather than being free ranging and thus the self-barbering could stop.

Snugness. There are therapies for children and adults with blankets and hugging that help a variety of emotional conditions, so why not a sweater or a jacket for a cat!

This was such a fascinating theory and solution that we asked our feline friend Newton (who knows everything) to investigate. And this is what he discovered – including a jacket that you can purchase for a cat who’s going overboard with grooming.



Fellow cats: Have you ever heard your person say, “I was so upset I was pulling my hair out”? Hmmm. It sounds rather painful and I can’t imagine it would solve any problems. But people do say strange things when they are angry or stressed. Although we don’t have the pressure of bringing home a paycheck cats get stressed too. By nature we are curious and enjoy intellectual stimulation, but we do value the comfort of basic routines in our daily lives. Change that persists longer than a visit to the vet can really upset our emotional balance.

Examples of stressful situations range from a change in kitty litter to moving across country. A new addition to the family (animal or person) or loss of a beloved companion also increase stress and anxiety.

When we are kittens our birth mom licks and cleans us and makes us feel safe. As adults we find our daily cleaning ritual soothing. It stands to reason that under stress we would groom ourselves to ease anxiety. Unfortunately, too much of a good thing can lead to hair loss as the follicles break. Licking the unprotected skin can then cause sores and infections. Since licking is our natural response to heal a wound a vicious circle starts and continues until the stress is alleviated. http://cats.about.com/od/behaviortraining/a/catover-grooming.htm

The pet parent is generally unaware of the damage Fluffy is doing to herself until it is painfully obvious. Stressed cats often hide and do their excessive grooming in private. This is one reason to do regular exams on all your cats to detect problems in their early stages. What should be done if hair loss is discovered?

1. Rule out potential health issues such as skin diseases, parasites or allergies.

2. Determine the source of the stress.

3. Modify the environment to reduce or eliminate the stress.

Well known stress relievers include Feliway® http://www.catfaeries.com/feliway.html, flower essences http://www.catfaeries.com/essences.html, calming music http://www.catfaeries.com/music-for-cats.html, and environmental enrichment.

Another nonpharmaceutical therapy (for animals and people) now widely used is touch. Here are some examples I’ve been reading about.

The Tellington TTouch® has been helping animals and people with anxiety since it was developed in the 1970’s. http://www.ttouch.com/whatisTTouch.shtml

The centuries old practice of wrapping fussy infants in swaddling cloths is still practiced today. Some say the pressure simulates the comfort of being safe in the womb.

Pressure and weighted vests help relieve anxiety in autistic people.

The ThundershirtTM, now available for dogs and cats, exerts gentle pressure to the torso to relieve anxiety. The exact therapeutic mechanism is currently unknown. However, good results have been achieved. http://www.thundershirt.com/Product/ThundershirtForCats.aspx?item_guid=04a62476-dd84-4c67-ae9b-83f2fb67db81

“Wait a minute”, you say. “A shirt on my cat? I’ve been dressing Tiger up as an elf for holiday photos for years and he is definitely NOT relaxed and smiling.”

True, the idea of using pressure to calm cats is relatively new. Many veterinary clinics use a technique called the “kitty burrito”. A nervous cat is firmly wrapped in a towel for examination of a small exposed part. Clothing a cat would wear on a frequent or daily basis is harder to imagine. Actually, the term “shirt” is a bit misleading. The ThundershirtTM looks more like a thin lifevest.

Cats are more sensitive to touch than dogs. The first time wearing the shirt they may freeze or even lie still on their sides. As with any new thing Fluffy needs a gradual period of adjustment to different sensations.

No single method is guaranteed and you may find that a combination is required. Patience and experimentation with the examples I’ve given will help you to discover what works best to reduce Fluffy’s anxiety and restore her fur coat.

You can’t know too much about Anti Icky Poo! A Q&A.

Here is an interesting Q & A between Cat Faeries and a customer which we think you’d like to read. We’ve edited it a bit here and there.

Question: For clean up, I have used vinegar with water spray. A “natural” spray cleaner from a conglomerate chain store. I’ve also used ammonia in a spray bottle.

Answer: OH NO! Ammonia is the worst! And this is why: Cat urine, in fact all urine from any species, has an ammonia like quality. Our housecats instinctively seek out the smell of ammonia, which ideally is only detected in the litter boxes. This tells the cat: “it’s ok to pee here! This is where we cats are to urinate.”

What you accidently did was spread the smell of ammonia around your home! But don’t feel bad or beat yourself up, today is a new day, we begin anew! We will conquer this problem together!

Vinegar does nothing other than in the short run it’s nice to clean up a fresh puddle. But it will not eradicate the smell or the urine proteins and gases, or that ammonia.

That’s why it’s imperative to use a product like Anti Icky Poo which does not mask the odor, but actually eats urine’s proteins and gases, thus eradicating it completely.

Q: The peeing and spraying is happening in living room, kitchen, dining area, pantry, and porch. A few spots in each room- example, the fire hearth, in front of refrigerator door, by dog treat bin in pantry, on treadmill. Since I’ve got cat urine all over my home, and I’ve probably put the smell of ammonia throughout my house too, what can I do?

A: Do you recall how in your Feliway handout we talk about using it in each room “here and there”?
You are going to do something similar with Anti Icky Poo – PLUS – use it on the spots that you know have been hit. These are methods that we created based on our many years of experience.

The reason for Here and There with Anti Icky Poo is that when we suspect that there is urine in places you don’t know about we want to cover our bases.

When a cat sprays they do one of two things:

  • They empty their tank on one surface or wall
  • They can spray little drops or a fine mist on multiple things to claim the entire house or garden as IT”S MINE! Therefore it could be worse than your nose tells you.

Go through your home with your bottle of Anti Icky Poo with the sprayer intact. Approach a variety of surfaces and objects and give a fine baby misting of Anti Icky Poo “here and there.” Do this for a few days. After a few days this should de-stink and allow you to reclaim your home!

Q: They both used the litter boxes until old cat passed, and now young female won’t always let other old male on the porch to use litter boxes.

A: When an older cat dies it’s always best to get new litter boxes. There could be lingering smells. A good example is the awful smell of impending death when an old cat is ready to pass. This can freak out any remaining animals “I could be next!” And this can be the trigger for spraying or not urinating in a litter box.

A point we always like to make about why we don’t like having multiple litter boxes throughout a house, particularly a smaller house. When boxes are scattered throughout a house the smell of ammonia is in every room that a box is in. This tells the cat it’s ok to deposit urine in multiple rooms, and the sight of litter boxes everywhere and the odor cannot be pleasant for you! Cats don’t avoid their litter box because they are too lazy to walk over to where the boxes are.

Q: The flooring of our home is completely tiled and they have urinated on it.

A: You are very lucky to have such wonderful floors! My dad was a tile setter so I grew up with tile floors. Urine can penetrate the grout especially if it’s modern grout as opposed to 1960’s grout which was indestructible. Probably a few days of treating the tile with Anti Icky Poo will eradicate any urine which may have penetrated the tiles or grout.

Q: I was confusing the flower essences for essential oils – sorry! How many drops per gallon of water? We change the water twice a day, but we need to use big water bowl because big dog drinks a lot.

A: Most people have smaller water bowls and we suggest 3 to 5 drops. For your big bowl start with 5 drops for the gallon. You may need a few more drops. In addition to adding drops to the water bowl rub some on her head, ears, back when you have the time.