As noted above, people often call tortoiseshell cats “calico” and calico cats “tortoiseshell,” and some people assume these words mean the same. The confusion probably arises because both tortoise-shells and calicos have a mix of black and orange.

Calico cats, however, also have a lot of white—in fact, a mix of white, black and orange (or cream) in clearly defined patches—whereas tortoiseshells are black all over with the orange appearing as highlights all over. Put another way, calicos’ coats give the impression of being stitched together from various large scraps of white, black and orange.
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