The A-Z of Cats – Pedigrees of the World – The Ocicat

The Ocicat

The beautiful appearance and wonderful coats of Ocelots, Leopards and Jaguars have captivated feline enthusiasts for centuries but never before has there been a successful attempt to breed an entirely new domestic cat. Ocicats offer the beauty of wild cats yet retain the wonderfully predictable disposition of domestic cats.

The Ocicat is a popular new, but rare, cat breed, named for its resemblance to the ocelot.  They have spotted, short coats that shine and feel like satin. They are long-bodied, medium-sized cats and are quite muscular. Their eyes are spaced wide apart, and their ears are large and tufted. Ocicats have agouti patterns, which means every other hair alternates in colour and the tips of the hairs are tipped with a different colour. The most common colours are tawny (which is almost black), chocolate, cinnamon, and silver. Blue, lavender, and fawn are less common.  The Ocicat is a domestic cat which has been selectively bred to emulate and encapsulate the natural cat of the wild.  It has all of their virtues and none of their drawbacks.  There is no wild blood in this cat and it was not the intention of the founding cat breeder to produce a “jungle cat”.  Their broad genetic background leaves them less prone to disease than some breeds.  The lifespan is approximately 15 years, but some live to 18 or 19. Litter sizes average between 4 and 6 kittens.

The first Ocicat occurred by accident in Michigan, USA when Mrs. Virginia Daly attempted to breed an “Abyssinian-pointed” Siamese in 1964 but the surprising result in the second generation was a spotted kitten, Tonga, nicknamed an ‘ocicat’ by the breeder’s daughter.  Tonga, ushered the new breed into the world.  He was neutered and sold as a pet, but further breeding of his parents produced more spotted kittens.  The next step was the introduction of the American Shorthair which contributed body substance and the silver colour gene.

Ocicats are a very outgoing breed. They are often considered to have the spirit of a dog in a cat’s body as they can easily be trained to fetch, walk on a lead and harness, come when called,  sit or lie down on command and lots of other dog-related tricks.  They are very friendly and will typically march straight up to strangers and expect to be petted. This makes them great family pets, and most get along well with other animals. Ocicats make excellent pets for people who want to spend lots of time with their cat as they do require plenty of attention.  The Ocicat is fairly vocal, but never overly noisy. They get on well with children and enjoy their company.

It took over 20 years for official recognition of the breed in America but when it came in 1986 Ocicats became one of the most popular breeds in the USA.

 

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