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The Rescued Calico Cat

Updated on January 21, 2015

Mali, the calico cat comes home.

This is the story of Malibu, (Mali for short) our calico cat who came to our lives unexpectedly in the year 2000. My son brought her home one evening exclaiming, "Mom, I brought home a cat." I had just gotten over the loss of our 12 year-old Maine Coon cat, Fluffy, who was taken away by feline aids. I swore I would never own a cat again. This all changed that evening when Mali came home.

My son found the scrawny, dirty and hapless kitten wandering aimlessly in the parking lot of a go-kart raceway in Northern California. Jim was resting in his car after a long bout of video games in the arcades. He heard the tiny meowing of a kitten in the dark but was not sure if those were sounds coming from the busy amusement park or not. When he went to look around his car, he noticed a long-haired calico kitten cowering behind the bushes. It was raining and getting late in the night and Jim could not bear the thought of leaving the cat behind. He approached the shivering and terrified kitten, scooped it up, put it in the backseat of his car and drove the 45-minute drive home. The rest is history.


Mali's first week home

First visit to the Vet

When the terrified kitten came home, she hid in the Booda Dome litterbox for half the day. I managed to coax her out with some dry cat food, but only momentarily. She immediately retreated to the litterbox for safety.

The next day,Mali had a bad case of diarrhea. I brought the kitten for her first visit to the vet. The prognosis was that Mali was not used to eating cat food because she subsisted on bugs, spiders, leaves or whatever that kept her alive in the parking lot. Mali was prescribed a small dose of Kaopectate for 7 days. She weighed a mere 4.7 lbs. and was malnourished. She was given all her required shots, general checkup, flea dip, and most importantly, an official name and a cat license.

While getting her flea dip, I was told by the vet's aides that Mali was the only cat they had ever encountered who purred while partially submerged in water. It was as if she was saying " Thank you I need this bath". But Mali's fluffy and bushy tail, held up high at all times masked her tale of survival.

When I came to pick up the cat, the young girls begged me to give them the kitten in case I changed my mind. I knew that moment on that there was something different about this rescued cat.


This calico cat is not afraid of water.

Please turn on the tap!

Living in a parking lot during the rainy winter months may have tempered Mali into a water-loving cat. She may have been accustomed to the harsh rainy weather and drank from dirty puddles and running street water. Every morning, Mali looks forward to playing with the tap water in the bathroom sink. Mali would gingerly step into a basin full of water and play with the drain.

Her great-great-great grandfather must have been a tiger.


So what is a calico cat?

The good luck charm

A calico cat is not a breed of cat but a color pattern. To be considered a "calico", the colors must be present: black, white, and orange. That is why the calico cat is also known as the tri-colored cat.

Mali's fur is distinctly cinammon orange all over with splotches of black and a white chest and paws. Her orange color resembles that of a tiger.

Mali is also a female calico cat. Nearly all calico cats are female. And why is that? The answer is in genetics.

First for a quick lesson in basic biology: Female cats are formed when each parent donates an X chromosome. Male cats are formed when the mother donates an X chromosome and the father donates a Y chromosome.

Part of the genetic anomaly that gives calicoes their unique coloring is linked to the X chromosomes. In calicoes, one X chromosome carries the gene for black fur and the other X chromosome carries the gene for orange fur.

Since males only have one X chromosome, they rarely become calico cats. The very few male calicoes usually have genetic abnormalities (such as carrying an XXY chromosome pattern). They are almost always sterile and may experience other health problems as well.

The calico cat is considered the "lucky" cat or "money cat" by some cultures. Japanese sailors often carried calico cats on board their vessels because they believed the cats would bring them protection at sea. These felines were also believed to bring good fortune to any home lucky enough to have one.


A calico cat with a purr-sonality

Mali is not just a stunning cat but is a low maintenance cat. Her long silky fur resists matting and stays shiny and well-groomed. A quick brush in the morning keeps her from ingesting the loose hairs when she grooms herself.

She has an extremely mellow disposition and a sweet cherubic face with the vocals of a kitten rather than an adult cat. With one look into those large expressive eyes and cherubic face, Mali will steal your heart. I know, because she stole mine and everyone else's.

Mali's striking pallete of orange, black and white is her most recognizable trait. Her long bushy which is always up resembles a feather duster. This must the sign of an eternally happy cat. The black markings behind her furry hind legs make her look like she is wearing knee-high boots or trousers. This is very apparent in the YouTube video I posted of Mali taking a walk in the garden.

In the beginning, I thought Mali might be a ragamuffin cat. So I sent her picture to a breeder in Austria and I was told that her nose was not scooped enough. But she has all the other traits of a ragamuffin cat. Being a ragamuffin dropout nevertheless made Mali even more endearing and special.


Cats get feline acne?

No more plastic bowls!

Once Mali developed blackheads on her chin, some of which were irritated and swollen. A visit to the vet revealed that Mali had feline acne. These blackheads or comedones actually look like dirt under the chin. A gentle cleansing with hydrogen peroxide with a cotton swab took care of the problem.

I was advised to get rid of Mali's plastic feeding bowl and switch to glass, ceramic or stainless steel bowl. This is because plastic bowls are porous and trap bacteria, which is then transferred to the cat's chin. It has also been suggested that an allergic reaction to the plastic food bowl is a cause.

The exact cause of feline acne isn't known. There are other possible causes including stress, food allergies, poor grooming habit, and over-active sebaceous glands.

Cats gravitate towards sunny places.

There is always time for a catnap.

Cats are known to sleep from 16-18 hours a day. While cats are sleeping they remain alert to the slighest stimuli.

Mali's favorite napping place is just about any place that is warm, cozy and quiet.


Even an indoor cat needs to go outside.

It's a big world out there!

Being an indoor cat has made Mali even more curious. Her docile and trusting personality makes her an easy target for outdoor cats and racoons. For this reason, Mali's romps in the garden are strictly surpervised. On two occasions, I made the mistake of leaving her alone outside and went inside the house to answer the phone. When I came back out looking for her, she was nowhere to be found. I looked all over the backyard calling her name and there was no sign of Mali anywhere. Two hours transpired and still no cat. Then I heard a very soft meow from under the deck. It was then I realized that Mali had crawled under the deck through a tiny gap and could not find her way back out. Thank goodness for the trap door outside the deck. Mali came out swathed in spiderweb and dead leaves but nevertheless, a very happy cat.


Cats and their urge to scratch

Marking her territory

Mali has a scratching post inside the house but does not like using it. Instead she prefers to scratch off her old front claw sheaths on the bark of her favorite yellow marguerite. Sometimes she would chew the sheaths from her back claws.

Cats also have scent glands in their paw pads, so in addition to removing claw sheaths, scratching a surface leaves the feline's personal scent signature to let others know that the item or space is his. Humans can't detect these scent signatures, but another cat can. Marks left by clawing also let other cats know by sight who owns a given object or area.

Mali, the calico cat takes a walk in the garden. - Does this look like a broken tail?

One of Mali's favorite weekend pastime is taking leisurely walks in the garden. The path she takes in the garden is very predictable. She stops to smell the yellow marguerites, munches on tuffs of grass, chases lizards, and chatters at birds.


Mali's best friend

A brush with friendship

Mali's bestfriend is a resin boot brush resembling a cat. When I brought home this adorable garden shoe cleaner from a nearby plant nursery, Mali balked and avoided it for the longest time. It must have been an indoor cat's sense of preservation. These two felines are now inseparable.

Mali enjoys being in high places. - Watching the world go by

This is Mali's favorite perch high up on the railing of the backyard deck overlooking the garden below. She has a good vantage view of cars zipping by, people walking their dogs, and often does some semi-serious bird watching.

Calico cats to charm your home. - Lovely gifts for the cat lover.

Webkinz Calico Cat
Webkinz Calico Cat

Soft, cuddly, and so comforting as a companion especially for one who have lost his or her beloved cat. Kids will not go to sleep without this purr-fect stuffed calico cat.


Mali, a cat with more than 9 lives

Forever immortalized

According to Brewer's Dictionary Of Phrase & Fable, a cat is said to have nine lives because it is "more tenacious of life than many animals." The inquisitive feline has a knack of dodging death by a whisker. Cats are intrepid explorers and fearless acrobats.They always seem to land on their feet after a fall. Another theory is that the cat-headed goddess of Egypt was blessed with nine lives, and all other cats followed in her fortune.

Mali is now 10 years young. She has been immortalized on a mural in our powderroom wall. Visitors who use the powderroom always come out with a smile on their faces. This idea struck me one day to paint Mali on the wall facing the toilet. I took my favorite photo of Mali with her signature bushy tail and projected this on the wall with my Artograph tracer projector. After tracing the image on the wall with a pencil, I completed the image with Winsor and Newton acrylic paint. They say a cat has nine lives. I say that Mali has a 10th life as she has been forever immortalized.


Playing Dressed up

Pretty in Pink

Cats usually do not like to wear clothes. Because cats like to move freely and not feel constricted. I must confess that Mali owns a reversible pink outfit with a matching belt. It was really for a puppy and was just too cute to pass up.

I took Mali out for a walk on a leash with this pink dress and a neighbor stopped and exclaimed, "Now I have seen everything."


Say Cheese


Mali broke into an unexpected big yawn just as the camera shutter button was pressed. This was one of those candid shots which will be hard to duplicate.

I marveled at Mali's teeth which I have never seen before in a panoramic view. It was always a tug-of-war just to pry her mouth open to check on the health of her teeth or pop a pill. To keep those choppers and gums healthy, Mali has her teeth cleaned at the vet every year. This will help prevent gingivitis and tartar buildup which is a common dental condition among housecats.

Cats have 30 teeth (12 incisors, 10 premolars, 4 canines, and 4 molars), each specially adapted for a specific job - such as stabbing, slicing, and biting. The small canine teeth are needle-sharp for grabbing and killing a prey. The molars work like scissors to cut the prey into bite-size pieces. The small front incisors serve to separate meat from bones and to carry things, prey or kitten, for example. Because the cat cannot move its jaws sideways like a human do, it is unable to chew its food with its mouth closed.


Important Links you should read

Keep your cat healthy and happy.

Common Symptoms of Dental Disease in Cats

How to spot common symptoms before it is too late.

Keeping Your Cat's Teeth Clean

How to clean your cat's teeth

Gingivitis and Stomatitis in Cats

Sometimes this can develop when the cat is very young.

A calico cat has distinct patches of white, orange and black.

In a tortoiseshell, the three colors are mottled or brindled and do not form distinct patches.

A tortoiseshell may have significant portions of white, but the remaining colors are blended.

This pattern is called a tortoiseshell and white.

This cat loves her stuffed mice.


Mali has a basket full of toys. But her favorite ones are the green, pink, orange and brown stuffed mice. It does not matter how deep these four mice are buried in the basket, Mali will collect these four-some and leave these outside the bedroom door as presents. It may be that cats are slightly colorblind, but this one seem to know her colors. Most likely, these stuffed mice were picked based on their scents.

This is Mali after sniffing catnip. She rolled on the deck, rubbed her chin and cheeks against the boot brush statue for 5 minutes or so and then became sedated.

Catnip is a perennial herb and a member of the mint family Labiatae. It is also a distant relative of marijuana and known to make most cats high. The active ingredient in catnip is called Nepetalactone and will elicit a change in a cat's behavior when sniffed or eaten.

A cat will roll on its back with paws extended, run around a room, rub its cheek and chin against the spot where the catnip has been sprinkled,

or just settle into a contented pose and become immobilized for a while.

Catnip Effects on your healthy cats.

Watch Mali's silly antics after sniffing catnip.


Mali takes a walk.

Yes, cats can be trained..

Mali was trained to walk on a leash as a kitten. It came with a price. A battle of wills and lots of patience on my part. During the first two weeks, Mali just sat down and refused to move as soon as the harness was on her. Then I allowed her to wear it around the house until she got used to it. On many occasions, Mali squirmed out of the harness. This is because cats are such expert contortionists and can squeeze out of tight situations.

Taking the cat for a walk? Check out these links.

How to Leash Train Your Feline.

Important tips on leash training. The proper type of harness is important.

wikiHow -Steps to train your cat to walk on a leash.

A lot of patience on your part will pay off at the end.

Watch Mali take a leisurely walk.

This cat has me well-trained!

Mali kneads a little love. - A contented cat

Mali loves to knead her favorite soft fleece blanket while purring in contentment. It is really a joy to watch. She would move her front legs up and down exerting downward pressure with her paws, opening and retracting her claws, ever so gently grabbing the blanket.

Many theories abound as to why cats knead. One may have originated from the cats' wild ancestors who had to tread down grass or foliage to make a temporary resting place. Another belief is that kittens instinctively knead their mother's belly to encourage the flow of milk.

My Personal Recommendations from Amazon - Your cat will love you even more.

Snuggle Safe Pet Bed Microwave Heating Pad
Snuggle Safe Pet Bed Microwave Heating Pad

This freesbie-looking disc, when microwaved for 5 minutes, will keep you pet warm for 12 hours during the cold winter months. I used this as a foot warmer during the winter. Worked great! I bought two of these, one for the kitty and one for myself.

Your dog will love this too!


Show me some love. Your comments are appreciated.

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    • profile image

      acreativethinker 4 years ago

      Simply adorable! Great lens and such a charming little cat. Thanks for sharing. Take care :)

    • profile image

      GEMNITYA5 4 years ago

      EXCELLENT LENS. As am also an animal lover. I love cats especially Persian cats. Never heard about calico cats, I think it little bit resemble Persian cats.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Love it! I have a calico and even learned a few things I didn't know. My Callie likes to sit on top of the refrigerator.

    • Michelllle profile image

      Michelllle 4 years ago

      I rescued our kitty too. You've created yet another beautiful lens. Amazing.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      We have a Calico. She's the sweetest cat in the world. She has such a gentle disposition and has given us much joy over the years.

    • tabster2 profile image

      tabster2 5 years ago

      I love her tiger coloring!

    • i Dia1 profile image

      i Dia1 5 years ago

      I love calicos. How lucky you were to find such a nice cat.

    • profile image

      glutenallergy 5 years ago

      What a beautiful cat! We had a calico when I was a child. They are lovely cats, in looks and personality. I especially like the mural you created of Mali, just at the right height for her to see it. Clever!

    • profile image

      Jomazz 5 years ago

      Adorable Kitty, loved reading about her adventures!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thank you for sharing. Mali sounds like a wonderful kitty. I'm not sure what breed of cat mine is but he does resemble a ragamuffin. It was a joy learning more about them through Mali.

    • profile image

      Lindrus 5 years ago

      I really enjoyed your cat lens, I just love everything about cats!

    • Coreena Jolene profile image

      Coreena Jolene 5 years ago

      I enjoyed reading your story of Mali. What a beautiful cat. She looks like she is very sweet. She has a nice big floofy tail too. I think it is great you get to take her outside a bit. I hope to do that with our next home in a better location.

    • profile image

      KarenCookieJar 6 years ago

      Mali is such a sweetheart! I loved reading about her.

    • Anthony Altorenna profile image

      Anthony Altorenna 6 years ago from Connecticut

      What a wonderful story, and Mali is certainly a lucky - and pampered - member of your family. We were visited by a stray cat about 10 years ago, and she hasn't left since!

    • naturegirl7s profile image

      Yvonne L. B. 6 years ago from Covington, LA

      What a wonderful story about an extra special cat. We have an orange cat who is also a water lover.

    • KarenTBTEN profile image

      KarenTBTEN 6 years ago

      Passing back through to to leave this lens a SquidAngel blessing.

    • ShariBerry profile image

      Sharon Berry 6 years ago from Michigan

      The story of Mali kept me captivated. It was heartwarming to read your story and see the pictures of this perfectly beautiful cat.

    • CruiseReady profile image

      CruiseReady 6 years ago from East Central Florida

      What a lovely "tail" of Mali, your calico. She sounds so precious! I am partial to tortoise shells myself, and have had two of them ... one lived for 21 years, and the other for 18. They were each very special.

      A special hello to Mali from Walker, Florida Feline... our very spoiled black kitty.

    • ellagis profile image

      ellagis 6 years ago

      I didn´t know the difference between a calico and a tortoiseshell cat, thank you!

      What a lovely face Mali has.... she´s really a lucky cat ;)

      I know what it means to deal with a rescued cat, because mine ("Madame Curie") is too, and she llkes tap water too. It´s so funny to see her moving the "stagnant" water of her bowl before drinking it, scared about other small animals!

    • EMangl profile image

      EMangl 6 years ago

      Little i know about cats, such a Lens is very helpful

    • Shoputopian profile image

      Karnel 6 years ago from Lower Mainland of BC

      What a beautiful cat you have...Great lens sure glad she found such a great loving home...

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      A lovely page about your Calico cat and thanks for explaining the difference between calico cats and tortoiseshells

    • JJNW profile image

      JJNW 6 years ago from USA

      This is such an adorable page!!! ***Blessed by a SquidAngel*** for original, fresh writing, great photos, and an all-around great page!

    • VladimirCat profile image

      Vladimir 6 years ago from Australia

      Can I come over for a visit?

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      This is a very pretty cat, the markings are so unique. I love stories like this about animals that find good homes, after being through many things. This touches the heart, because it comes from the heart. ~ Sweet!

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 6 years ago from Colorado

      Excellent lens! I have always loved calico cats. Mali is very fortunate and blessed to have found a home with you. Lots of great information here. Thanks!

    • darciefrench lm profile image

      darciefrench lm 6 years ago

      Lovely story- blessed and featured on Blessed Pets under happily ever after stories -:)

    • SafetySteph profile image

      SafetySteph 6 years ago

      Calico's are the sweetest and the cutest of kitty kats, we rescued one and she's the love of our life. Absolutely wonderful lens Thanks

    • Commandrix profile image

      Heidi 6 years ago from Benson, IL

      This is one lucky kitty. I wonder if somebody abandoned her; I had a cat once who must have been abandoned and "hitched a ride" in my mother's car. It was sweet of your son to rescue her.

    • Sydneyaus profile image

      Sydneyaus 6 years ago

      Many, many kisses for Mali, you guys are great!

    • Kiwisoutback profile image

      Kiwisoutback 6 years ago from Massachusetts

      Beautiful looking cat. Rescuing a cat is a great feeling-- I'm sure Mali appreciates it!

    • profile image

      kt_glasses 6 years ago

      Mali is so cute! She has successfully stolen my heart!

    • profile image

      tssfacts 6 years ago

      What a beautiful cat. I chuckled as I read her story. It reminded me of my tortoise shell calico cat from long ago. Lensrolling to that lens.

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 7 years ago

      Oh I love this lens and love Mali!!! what a precious cat! I'm glad your son rescued her...she resembles my cat, not in color but coat and body structure including her face...lensrolled to 'my feral cat named Kitty' and another Kitty lens of mine.

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Just came back to sprinkle some angel dusting. **Blessed by a Squid-Angel**

    • Bellezza-Decor profile image

      Bellezza-Decor 7 years ago from Canada

      Mali is beautiful and I can see how much she is loved.

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image

      Wednesday-Elf 7 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      Great photos of Mali - definitely tells her story! She really is a beautiful cat. I've had black cats, Siamese cats, gray cats, but never a calico. Very pretty. I enjoyed Mali's story very much -- very well written.

    • jolou profile image

      jolou 7 years ago

      What a beautiful cat, I didn't know cats could get acne. Love all your photos and videos.

    • jlshernandez profile image

      jlshernandez 7 years ago

      @anonymous: @GraceQ17, I share your sentiments completely about rescued animals picking us and not the other way round. The joy a pet gives us is so enriching.

    • profile image

      ShamanicShift 7 years ago

      My colleague the Tortoise Cat meowed, add this one to my list on "her" lens Tortoise-Cat-Tales!" On the block, she befriends doggies more readily than other cats, but here on Squidoo, she can safely approve of "Other Cats" without territorial issues getting in the way, heh heh,

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I have 7 wonderful rescue bunnies sharing my life and I often wonder how dull my life must have been with out them. You don't choose some inexplainable way I believe they choose us.

    • jlshernandez profile image

      jlshernandez 7 years ago

      @WildFacesGallery: I had never heard of feline acne until I took Mali to the vet. Having this cat around taught me a lot of things I never knew. Thanks for stopping by.

    • jlshernandez profile image

      jlshernandez 7 years ago

      @ajgodinho: Thank you for the nice compliment. We feel lucky to have such a wonderful resident pet. She has us trained well. :)

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Very beautifully done lens and Mali is lucky to have wonderful owners like yourselves. Loved all the wonderful pictures! :)

    • WildFacesGallery profile image

      Mona 7 years ago from Iowa

      Mali is a beautiful cat. I was a vet tech long ago in another life and I had no idea cats could get a form of acne. Nicely done lens. :)

    • LisaMarieGabriel profile image

      Lisa Marie Gabriel 7 years ago from United Kingdom

      Returning now I have my wings to Bless Mali and you lens :)

    • jlshernandez profile image

      jlshernandez 7 years ago

      @annieangel1: Thanks for stopping by. Mali has me trained very well.

    • annieangel1 profile image

      Ann 7 years ago from Yorkshire, England

      wonderful - Mali has joined my cat hit parade

    • jlshernandez profile image

      jlshernandez 7 years ago

      @LisaMarieGabriel: There is no denying that I love my cat and she knows it too. Thank you for visiting.

    • LisaMarieGabriel profile image

      Lisa Marie Gabriel 7 years ago from United Kingdom

      Beautiful lens! I love cats and your love for Mali just shines through here. Very well written, very well presented. 5* and linking to my cat lenses :)

    • LoKackl profile image

      LoKackl 7 years ago

      Images and information with "calico cat in the bag" is extraordinary. Squidoo Angel Blessed.

    • NanaTam LM profile image

      NanaTam LM 7 years ago

      I love calico cats. I used to have a couple of them, but had to give them away when we moved. I miss them a bunch. My neighbor has one and I'm often on her living room floor with the cats. Great lens.

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

      Mali is gorgeous, and clearly very much loved! She certainly found the right home with you. Beautiful lens, well done.

    • jptanabe profile image

      Jennifer P Tanabe 7 years ago from Red Hook, NY

      Thanks for introducing Mali the calico cat you rescued. She's wonderful!

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 7 years ago

      5*...what a great lens on a gorgeous calico cat named Mali! I had a Tortoiseshell in California, she was beautiful...will lensroll your lens to "my feral cat named Kitty" lens...stop by!

    • profile image

      yellow_duc 7 years ago

      Fascinating lens. Keep posting. Just love Mali.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I cannot believe you can actually walk a cat on a leash. Amazing. It is like herding cats. it is real funny to watch. Now I have seen it all!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      How is a calico cat different from a tortoiseshell cat?

      They look the same to me.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I like Mali. She is a unique cat, Very intelligent and lovable. The articles about calico cats are very informative and interesting. Readind them made my day

    • jlshernandez profile image

      jlshernandez 7 years ago

      @splendidbaker lm: Thanks so much Splendidbaker. Life is full of second chances.

    • jlshernandez profile image

      jlshernandez 7 years ago

      @anonymous: Thanks for the vote of confidence. A personal story seemed so much easier to write about.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      This is one of the best lenses I have seen. It is very personal and witty. Nice work!

    • splendidbaker lm profile image

      splendidbaker lm 7 years ago

      Awesome lens! I want to have Mali's lifestyle. She even has a mural or herself:) Thanks for sharing...keep those videos coming!