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Pet of the week: Pretty little Priscilla, the Calico cat

sherman and priscilla
“Priscilla” with volunteer Sherman

Here’s Bonaire Animal Shelter volunteer Sherman, enjoying his work in the cat cage, especially the part where he gets to hug the cats like little Priscilla.”  It’s volunteers like Sherman who help to keep the Shelter cats and dogs social so that they make perfect adoptees. Thank you, Sherman!

Pretty little Priscilla, one of the darling calico cats, is about a year old. She was brought in with her siblings because her owner just had too many cats! Hopefully, the mom has been sterilized so that that won’t happen again. As you may know, most calico cats are female. Just a rare few are male. Calicos are not a breed; it is a color pattern and three colors must be present: black, white and orange. A “true” calico has large blocks of these three colors. According to veterinarian Janet Tobiassen, the reason they are nearly always female is due to genetics. Coat color in cats is a ex-linked trait, a physical characteristic (coat color) related to gender. Female animals have two X chromosomes (XX), males have one X chromosome and one Y chromosome (XY). The genetic coding for displaying black or orange color is found on the X chromosome. The coding for white is a completely separate gene. Since females have two X chromosomes they are able to “display” two colors (orange and black, or variations thereof) and white, creating the 3-color calico mix. Since males have only one X chromosome, they can only be orange OR black. It is more complicated than simply having the color genes — it is a complex process of dominant and non-dominate genes interacting on the X chromosomes, but that is the basis for coat color for calico cats.

Stop by the Shelter on the Lagoen Road to meet all the healthy and very social animals. They’re open Monday through Saturday, 8 am to 1 pm and 3 to 5 pm.

Laura DeSalvo, Bonaire Reporter– December 17-31, 2010

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