by Sue Threapleton
Ocicat - this is Nancy, a UK Champion. Photo copyright Sue & Paul Threapleton.
The Ocicat has a zest for life that makes it a joy to live with, providing you have the energy to keep up with it!!
Inquisitive to the point where it is usually under your feet, and always ready to play, the Ocicat needs a person, or family, that wants an interactive feline "member of the family" - the Ocicat is definitely not suitable if you want a quiet decorative lap-cat; a bored Ocicat will get up to all sorts of mischief!
The Ocicat is a medium to large cat, solid and substantial, of wild appearance, with a short spotted coat. They are graceful, well-muscled cats, effortlessly jumping long distances both vertically and horizontally. The Ocicat has expressive almond shaped eyes, acceptable in any colour except blue. Their head is a modified wedge, with a broad muzzle and moderately large ears, giving them their "wild" appearance and they also have a fairly long tail.
The Ocicat comes in 12 colours: Tawny, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Blue, Lilac and Fawn and the silver version of each of these, where the ground colour is mixed with silver hairs, giving a much lighter overall appearance.
Although the Ocicat is usually spotted occasionally a marbled kitten is born, with a pattern resembling the classic tabby. In New Zealand these are called Jungalas, but in this country they are still called Ocicats. Although they cannot be shown they are very pretty, make wonderful pets, and can still be used in breeding programmes.
The Ocicat has a wonderful temperament, not only bonding with the whole family but also greeting visitors with equal enthusiasm. They are easy to train, being very intelligent and eager to please. They love to play and can make virtually anything into an entertaining toy. The Ocicat is also happy to walk on a harness and lead if it means it can go outside with the family. They hate being left out of anything!
The Ocicat also gets on very well with other cats and dogs; they are so sociable that they love everyone and everything. They would not be a happy cat if they were the only pet and they were left totally alone for hours a day. Their exuberance for life makes them a total delight to have around, and it is rare for them not to be purring. They are extremely popular in the USA but still relatively unknown in the UK, which is a great shame - they are wonderful pets!
The Ocicat was originally created by Mrs Daly of Dalai cattery in America in the 1960s. Her intention was to breed an Aby pointed Siamese, but, in one of the experimental litters there appeared a beautiful spotted kitten. As her daughter thought the kitten looked like an Ocelot she chose the name Ocicat for the new breed.
Another mating produced his brother, and the breeding programme began. Using Abyssinians, Siamese and adding the American Shorthair, the breeders worked towards creating a medium to large cat, with the appearance of a wild cat, without the addition of any wild genes. The out-crossing between the three breeds has led to the Ocicat having a very wide genetic background, giving them hybrid vigour, meaning that they are particularly healthy and easy to care for. The Ocicat was finally accepted as a recognised breed in America in 1986, and was first imported into the UK in 1988. American Shorthair and Siamese are no longer allowed as out-crosses, although Abyssinians are.
Although I have the pleasure of owning a few cats, including a Bengal, some Egyptian Maus, some Serengeti cats, and my Ocicats, the Ocicat is my personal favourite, and I find it hard to imagine life without one! Be warned though - one is rarely enough, and owning an Ocicat is definitely addictive.
By Sue Threapleton of Aalspotz cattery