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Norwich Bulletin - 8/27/2006

The Ocicat

A well spotted cat of medium to large size with an athletic appearance. This is how the Ocicat standard describes this well, muscled, graceful cat. A cat that was originally supposed to have an entirely different look, the Ocicat is more than what was expected in 1964 when Virginia Daly decided she wanted to develop a ticked pointed cat. Virginia bred a Siamese to an Abyssinian, trying to create a Siamese cat with Aby coloring on its head, tail, legs and ears.

The first breeding yielded all ticked kittens. From that litter one of the kittens was bred to another Siamese and the Aby pointed Siamese appeared in subsequent litter. However, there was a bonus kitten that showed up; a spotted kitten.

Virginia’s daughter called the kitten an Ocicat because he resembled a wild Ocelot. At first, there was no spotted cat breed being planned, but what happed was, well, cat history at its best. The breed began to develop and an American Shorthair was used to add the silver coat gene, and in 1987 both CFA and TICA granted championship status to the Ocicat.

Although they were originally supposed to be a cross between the Siamese and Abyssinian, the Ocicat ended up being a larger boned cat than either of the two parent breeds. They are on the heavy side, with females weighing up to nine pounds and males getting up to twelve and fourteen pounds. Their coat is especially distinct in that it is smooth and satiny like, tight fitting and sleek.

And yet it is not a short coat because it must be long enough to have the necessary bands of color. Similar to the Aby, each hair contains several bands of color. There are also large thumbprint shaped spots on the sides of the torso that form a bulls eye pattern. The Ocicat is also recognized in twelve colors by both CFA and TICA.

Besides beauty, the Ocicat have great personalities, as would be expected, considering the three breeds used to perfect this unique spotted cat. They love people and are happiest when they are helping their humans do whatever needs doing. Ocicats, in general, like to play fetch, walking on a harness and following in their owner’s footsteps.

While many breeds end up picking one family member and are more reserved with the rest of the family or visitors, the Ocicat tends to love everyone and seek attention from any available lap. They are also one of the breeds that are advertised to be good with children. Because they love attention and companionship, they will oftentimes play with children as long as the children are willing, and then snuggle up for a nice cat nap with them. Of course, we are talking about children who have been raised to respect their pets and are kind and gentle.

Ocicats require minimum grooming. A weekly brushing is pretty much all they need. But, they do need attention and are not a cat for people who are gone 14 hours a day with no time to interact with their pets. These cats crave human attention and friendship, similar to a dog. They are not destructive by nature, but they are inventive when it comes to entertaining themselves and can find a toy where there is none. They are also problem solving cats who think about how to do things and can end up opening doors or cabinets to get wherever it is they want to go.

Ocicats are strikingly beautiful cats with wonderful personalities and should only be gotten through solid, reputable breeders. You can find breeders on the cat association websites like www.tica.org, or through breed sites, such as www.breedlist.com. Like many of the minority breeds, you may have to get on a waiting list to get a healthy, well socialized kitten. In the end, it will be worth it to have a quality cat of this breed!

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