FOCUS - F1 Savannah Kitten - Photo copyright Michael
What breeds are the spotted cats? People like spotted cats. They have become very popular. Perhaps this is because they look like wild cats. In some cases spotted domestic cats are wild cats! This page simply sets out a bare list of the spotted cat breeds for the record.
It is thought that the origin of the spotted coat in the tabby cat is through "selective variation of the Mackerel tabby coat pattern"1. Mackerel tabbies have stripes that are fragmented in part. "The gradual selection for larger gaps"1 led to spots.These comments come from Linda Case. I am not sure if she means that breeders developed the spots through selective breeding or if she is referring to the process of natural selection in nature - the process of evolution. For sure breeders develop cats that have the kind of tabby spots demanded of the breeds standards. These are normally high contrast but for the Savannah cat high contrast is not the objective.
A good number of visitors to this site have spotted cats that they think might have some Egyptian Mau in them. I think that is quite a complicated question or subject as the Egyptian Mau is said to originate from the African wildcat, which was domesticated by the ancient Egyptians some 3,000 years ago or more in the Nile delta. Over such a long time the original genes must have spread far and wide and therefore be in many domestic cats (see this article on the spread of domestic cat types).
The serval has deep black and high contrast fragmented stripes and the Savannah cat has a coat that should be very similar. It is not possible to totally replicate the serval coat, however. A Savannah cats spots should not be the same as the Bengal cat's spots. Some people might mistakenly believe that to be the case. The objectives are different for these breeds. The Savannah cat has a more wild and slightly less contrasty spotted coat while Bengal cat breeders seek high contrast, dramatic spots in fabulous patterns. The Savannah is more natural looking it could be argued. But that said there are some fabulously fancy coats on the small wild cats that beat anything we can do. I am thinking of the margay, ocelot and above all the clouded leopard but these coats are not simply spotted; just dramatic and high contrast. The margay for instance has rosetted spots (spots with holes in the middle - doughnuts) as does the clouded leopard. Rosetted spots are referred to as rosettes in the cat fancy.
Anyway back to the list, which is alphabetical:
Australian Mist - this Australian cat can be spotted but it is a veiled, misted appearance.
Bahraini Dilmun is a wild cat hybrid occurring naturally in Bahrain.
Bengal - wild cat hybrid - comes in spots, rosettes and swirls (blotched) all different forms of tabby coat patterns.
California Spangled - the wild looking cat that should have competed with the Bengal. Not a wildcat hybrid.
Egyptian Mau - said to be the only naturally spotted domestic cat. I am not sure what that means to be honest as moggie cats can have spots and these are natural spots.
Highlander - curled ears, wildish look.
Household pets - cat fancy language for moggies and moggies often have spotted coats (tabby coats). Moggie spotted coats are less contrasty and less uniform than purebred spotted coats as they occur naturally
Ocicat - not a wildcat hybrid but a glamorous looking cat that looks like a wild cat hybrid.
Pixie-bob - has faint spots and banding on legs. Just about one of the spotted cats.
Safari - high contrast spots on grey background. Can also be rosetted. A wildcat hybrid.
Serengeti - a rare purebred cat that mimics to a certain extent the wild cat appearance and one of the really nice spotted cats.
Serval - actually a wildcat but often domesticated in America, hence listed. Broken stripes and spots. High contrast on yellow background.
This list may be a bit controversial and someone might disagree with it! Fine, go ahead and disagree - please leave a comment. I like a bit of a discussion.
Of all these the best known spotted cats are the Egyptian Mau and the Bengal, then the Savannah in that order I would say.
Spotted Cats Note:
1. The Cat, Its Behavior, Nutrition & Health by Linda P Case