Difference Between Tortie and Calico

Calico and tortoiseshell are the names used to describe the pattern and coloring of a cat's hair. Cats can be either calico or tortoiseshell, but not both. While the genetics of both types of cats are identical, calico cats have one extra copy of the allele responsible for white spots. When you look at a tortoiseshell cat, you'll notice that her coat has almost no white markings.

Most calicos and torties are female. Few males may be found here. A defect in the genes of both calico and Tortoiseshell cats causes sterility to occur in one in every three thousand of these cats. They are distinguished by an additional X chromosome.

What is Tortie?

Amber, red, chocolate, brown, black, and cinnamon are just few of the unique hues that make up the combination in the brindled coat of a tortoiseshell cat. A chocolate tortoiseshell cat has a lot of black, whereas a dilute tortoiseshell cat has more subtle hues like off-white and pastel violet. This tabby pattern is called a torbie because it features tortie hues. What we in the US refer to as calico is known as a tortie and white in the UK. There are both short-haired and long-haired tortoiseshell cats.

A tomcat, or torties, may be a wonderful pet and friend. Cats of this breed have an aggressive demeanor and display a lot of sass.

Marzipan, a tortoiseshell cat from Melbourne, Australia, held the record for the longest lifespan of any cat at 21 years. Those who possess tortoises are said to be blessed.

What is Calico?

Calico cats have a reputation for being outspoken, energetic, and feisty. They have a kind nature but also a proclivity for stirring up problems. Calico cats are distinguished by their coats, which are typically white but often have black and orange spots.

To create a diluted calico, we begin with a white foundation and gradually add shades of off-white, charcoal cream, grey, and pale orange. The tabby and calico cats are the basis for the calibby. The colour variations in Calibby and Calico are identical, with the addition of the tabby pattern.

In addition to "calico," you may also hear the terms "tortie-and-white," "tricolour," or "piebald" when referring to this type of cat.

Differences: Tortie and Calico

The following table highlights the major differences between Tortie and Calico −





Tortoiseshell is a feline coat coloring. The name comes from tortoiseshell material. Tortoiseshell cats are awesome and beautiful creatures affectionally termed as "torties."

These are termed as "the divas of the cat world. These cats have some unique trait of showing attitude and that is termed as "tortitude".

A calico cat fur coat is typically 25 percent to 75 percent white with large black and orange (in some cases off-white and grey patches).

It is either a full white cat with a less colored patches or a colored cat with a few white spots.


Torties or Tortoiseshell cats are commonly a blend of orange and black.

Tortoiseshell cats do not always have dominant coloring and can be born with something called "dilute coloring" which simply means that the black and orange appear lighter on their fur.

A calico cat predominantly consists of 3 distinct colors (white is a must). Their coat has a definitive white with patches of orange (at times reddish brown or red) and black (at time grey or blue).


American shorthair, British shorthair, Cornish Rex, Persian, and Maine Coons

  • Manx

  • British Shorthair

  • Arabian Mau

  • Norwegian Forest Cat

  • Turkish Angora

  • Siberian

  • Japanese Bobtail

  • American Shorthair

  • Turkish Van

  • Exotic Shorthair

  • Persian

Other names

  • Tortoiseshell

  • Torbie

  • Brindle

  • Tri-color

  • Tortoiseshell and white

  • Lapjeskat – ‘patches cat’ in Dutch

  • Tobi Mi-ke – ‘triple fur’ in Japanese


Strong-willed, a bit hot-tempered, very possessive of their human, fiercely independent, feisty and unpredictable.

Calico cats are more fiery, strong-willed, more temperamental than cats of the other color’s combinations within a breed, aggressive behaviors included swatting, hissing, and biting.


The main difference between tortie and calico cats is their coat patterns. Torties have a patchy coat with two or more colors, while calicos have a coat with three distinct colors. Both cats are beautiful and unique, with their own distinct personalities and characteristics. Whether you prefer torties or calicos, both of these felines make wonderful pets and bring joy to their owners.

Updated on: 26-Apr-2023

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