Accicat, as is probably fairly well known, is the earlier and discarded name for the Ocicat, a name that stuck. Both names are based on good commonsense. Accicat is an amalgam of “accident” and “cat”. While Ocicat is an amalgam of “ocelot” and “cat”. Clearly Ocicat is the better name.
Both prefixes are derived from the history of the cat and are bound up with it, I think.
This cat breed is an accident. Well not quite, in truth. The original cat that prompted breeders to formally breed for the ocicat was indeed an accident that arose out of an attempt by Virginia Daley a well known breeder at the time (1964) to breed an Abyssinian pointed Siamese cat (Aby-point Siamese).
The resultant attempt (not sure how it was done – Siamese and Abyssinian? – the Ocicat Breed Council website does not say) produced an “ivory kitten with golden spots”.
This was at a time (1964) when there was the beginnings of an interest of creating domesticated cats with a wild cat appearance. Although well established now, at the time this was a new concept. The reason for this kind of breeding was no doubt in part financial but also it was claimed to highlight the plight of the wildcats, which were and still are in one way or another generally persecuted. It seems that that objective was not met. Other cats with a similar wildcat/domestic cat appearance that were bred at a similar time were:
- Bengal – 1975 but breeding by Jean Mill began in 1963 – of course this is an actual wild cat hybrid. The Ocicat and California Spangled are not but the objective is the same or similar: a domestic cat that looked like a wild cat.
- California Spangled – 1980s
Both the California Spangled and the Ocicat had faltering starts one way and another and so it seems the Bengal became the supreme wild cat/domestic cat. The Savannah cat is catching up.
But for the desire at the time to produce a cat with wild cat appearance and domestic cat temperament it could be argued that there would not have been any interest in the accidental ivory cat with spots. In other words the Ocicat was an accident + an underlying desire.
Above: Tonga the “first” Ocicat. I don’t know if this actual cat was the cat that was the accident – the Accicat. I don’t think he was although the timing (1965) indicates it is. The Breed Council is a little hazy on this it seems. He looks remarkably like a Bengal cat or even a Savannah cat; elegant with a “foreign” body conformation. I have published this photo from a 1965 publication and argue fair use on the grounds that the image is small, this site is both educational and for charitable purposes.
Above: Ocelot in Peru. To be fair I am not sure that any domestic cat breeding program can match the wild ocelot with its stunning coat. Its skin was and is much prized and it is its downfall. This picture was taken in the wild by a camera trap.
In case you came to this page before the Ocicat page and don’t want to stay, here is a modern Ocicat. I have no idea of this cat’s status meaning whether he/she is shown at cat shows or not but he/she is very similar to the original Tonga. A show cat is shown below at a Madison Square Garden CFA Iams cat show (2006):
Photo by semarr
Photos other than Tonga: Published under a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs creative commons License — this site is for charitable purposes in funding cat rescue.
Major source: ocicatinfo.com