Last updated: February 18, 2017
Named for its resemblance to the wild ocelot, the Ocicat came about by accident and caught the attention of others. It’s prized as much for its resemblance to a wild cat as its delightful and very domestic personality.
The Ocicat is a medium to large sized cat. Males typically weigh 9 – 14 pounds and females are usually in the 6 – 9 pound range. Like their wild brethren, the Ocicat is an athletic cat. They should be of moderate build and bone but very well-muscled. The body sits on legs that are on the long side. The tail is slender, long and tapers to a dark tip.
The head is a modified wedge that sits atop an arched neck. The eyes are large and wide set. They are almond shaped and angled slightly upwards at the outer corners. They can be any color other than blue and need not co-ordinate with coat color. The ears are also relatively large and set at the corners of the head. They may have lynx tips.
The coat is long enough to carry several bands of color but would be classified as short to medium in length at most. It is thick, dense, fine in texture and close lying. Occasional brushing will keep it shiny and healthy but little active grooming is required. Each individual hair has several bands of color on it. The coat comes in twelve colors: blue, blue silver, lilac, lilac silver, fawn, fawn silver, cinnamon, cinnamon silver, chocolate, chocolate silver, brown (black), and brown (black) silver. The coat must have a distinctive pattern. Although kittens are occasionally born with a different coat pattern, they cannot be shown. There is an “M” on the forehead. The markings extend over the head and become a broken necklace at the neck. As you move backwards over the shoulders, the spots become distinctive, appearing in lines along the spine and across the body.
The Ocicat is one of those breeds born out of an accident. In the 1960s, cat fancier Virginia Daly of Dalai Cattery was trying to create a Siamese with Abyssinian colored points. To accomplish her goal, she was breeding Siamese cats to Abyssinians. In one of the litters, there was a male, ivory kitten with golden spots. Her daughter nicknamed him an Ocicat for his resemblance to an ocelot. The kitten was named Tonga, neutered, and sold as a pet. During correspondence with geneticist Dr. Clyde Keeler, she happened to mention Tonga. Dr. Keeler was intrigued with the kitten and Daly produced another litter in the hopes of producing a similar kitten that Dr. Keeler could use in his research. She then added in some American Shorthair in an attempt to increase the amount of bone and substance in the cats. Unfortunately, shortly after that Daly became responsible for an elderly relative and had to give up breeding.
Then, in the 1980s, some breeders returned to the idea of a spotted cat that resembled an ocelot. Picking up where Daly left off, they worked to create the Ocicat. Today, the Ocicat is quite popular in North America and becoming more widely known in the rest of the world.
Ocicats are generally healthy cats that usually live into their teen years. Their mixed heritage of Abyssinian and Siamese means there are some health issues that they are more prone to than would otherwise be expected. Renal or Hepatic Amyloidosis is one possibility. This disease involves an accumulation of amyloid in the kidneys or liver ultimately leading to organ failure and death.
Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency is also known to occur in Ocicats. Pyruvate Kinase (PK) is an enzyme involved in red blood cell energy metabolism. Deficiency in PK production can lead to anemia. It can be tested for with DNA testing and responsible breeders will make use of testing to avoid producing affected kittens. Affected cats may appear healthy and all cats that will be bred should be tested for PK Deficiency to avoid the possibility of producing affected kittens.
As with any kitten, it is important to research your breeder carefully and ensure that there is a written health guarantee that clearly outlines your and the breeders responsibilities should your kitten develop a genetic disease. Because genetics can be tricky and despite all the testing, there is always the possibility of something unexpected cropping up, it is always prudent to have a written health guarantee.
The Ocicat is a blend of two of the most personable breeds of cat, the Siamese and the Abyssinian. Perhaps it is no surprise that they are people loving, high energy cats that love to play and interact with their families. Despite having the looks of a wild feline, the Ocicat is all domestic and hasn’t a mean or shy bone in his body.
They are active cats although not quite as active as the Abyssinian. They love to play with toys, jump to new heights as they explore their environment and are eager to learn tricks such as fetch and walking on a leash. Their devotion to their owners is almost like that of a dog. The Ocicat is quite capable of amusing himself provided he has the basic tools, such as toys, to do so. Anyone willing to play with them is welcomed with open paws, including children, strangers, and other pets. The Ocicat is very intelligent and an ideal candidate for those interested in training their cat to do tricks or clicker training activities. They take a keen interest in everything and really enjoy puzzle toys as well.
This is an adaptable cat although they do not do well when left on their own for extended periods of time. If the family is absent from the home during the day, having a second cat or cat friendly dog to keep your Ocicat company is advisable. On the other hand, if the household is chaotically busy with young children that are eager to play with the cat, you’ve found a match made in heaven.
An Ocicat offers a bit of the exotic in terms of looks with all of the delights of a people oriented cat. They are a great choice for families or any home where someone is around to interact with them. If they cannot have human company, they will settle for the company of another cat or a cat friendly dog but company is a must.