California Spangled Cat
As I have said that this cat breed is rare and is one of the exotic breeds. Exotic cats have became very popular over the past ten years. However, this breed, at least at the moment, has not followed the trend in the way that, for example the Savannah or Bengal has.
The idea for the California Spangled cat was born out of similar thoughts as the other exotic and designer cats, namely to allow the public to live with a cat that had the appearance of a wild cat, this time the Leopard. This would give pleasure and simultaneously remind the human companion of the plight of endangered wild cats including the Cheetah or Bengal tiger (new window). The breed originates from the 1980s, about the time when the first exotic cat, the Bengal was gaining ground in the popularity stakes. Whereas the Bengal and Savannah are the creation of a wild cat/domestic cat hybridization this breed is all domestic and a hybridization of various domestic cats such as the Abyssinian, American and British Shorthairs. Note though that a truly exotic and very much a designer cat, the Toyger, has also been created, exclusively, from domestic cats. The Toyger is one of the most attractive of all domestic cats, being breed entirely through careful and selective breeding.
This breed’s relative failure to take off in the manner of the Bengal may be due in part to a false start, when in 1986 the breed was launched by being an item in a well known mail order catalogue (Neiman Marcus). This was probably a step too far for the majority of people. This cat was being treated as a product which can still happen but this concept is not thrust upon the public in quite the same way these days. There is a degree of hostility from some quarters to the concept of exotic domestic cat breeds despite the good intentions of the breeders. Apparently the breed “died out” in the 1990s and there are now a handful of breeders and few customers. In my survey of the rare domestic cat breeds the California Spangled Cat came out as one the rarest. That said, this cat is no more wrong or right than the other exotic breeds and there is a lot of things that are right about them.
1971 – Breed’s founder Paul Casey returns from Africa with the idea of highlighting the plight of the reduced numbers of wild cats by breeding a domestic/wild cat lookalike. Jean Mill the Bengal cat founder had similar views. Paul Casey was a man of many talents, a polymath, I would say. Udana, a close friend, writes about him below and I will do the same in due course.
1986 – Breed launched in a mail order catalogue – bad move apparently
Current – Recognized by the American Cat Association (ACA) and The International Cat Association (TICA)
New: Detailed: The History of the California Spangled Cat
Question? Is this cat breed extinct?
The appearance is similar to the other exotic cats only it is probably fair to say that this cat is less well developed, which is probably due to the lower amount of interest in this breed. Less interest means less breeders and obviously less chance to co-operate in the breed’s development. The coat is a tabby spotted not dissimilar to the spotted Bengal cat. The body conformation is similar in being lean and athletic. She is obviously a medium sized cat, with all the usual attributes of the domestic cat. The coat in the picture looks ticked (i.e. the agouti gene banding gives this broken tabby rustic look). The classic special tabby coat is ticked coat of the Abyssinian cat. Nonetheless this is a handsome cat. Apparently breeders have created a California Spangled cat with a semi-marbled type coat similar to the King Cheetah: see King Cheetah pictures.
I am very pleased to say that I have received information about the California Spangled cat from Udana Power who was a close friend of the founder of the breed, Paul Casey. She has very kindly provided me with a lot of first hand information. For the sake of accuracy and as a matter of interest I publish the contents of her fascinating email below:
“Paul Casey was one of my best friends. I met him in the 70s when he was developing the California Spangled Cats. They didnt’ even have aname at that time. He was raising them in an apartment in Westwood, California, right above the Hamburger Hamlet. That is where he started writing his play “Juana.” I played Juana in a number of the readings and on a short video that we made together.
Paul was amazing in every way. A true visionary. A genius. He gave me a little pet whom I named “Ocea.” She a little bit of “ticking” on her fur like a squirrel and had a white tip on her back foot… so she couldn’t be shown… however, she was GORGEOUS (as you can see from the attached photo). We bred her. I have many photos of her off-spring. They are packed up somewhere with lots of other photos. Paul sold them for $3,600 for a while. I lived with a number of them for a long time. They were so smart. Just like dogs, except better. Could figure things out. They played jokes. We would play tag when I got home from wherever I was. Each of them had their own song and they would come when I sang their song.
I loved what you wrote about the California Spangleds. I was with Paul that first day at Neiman Marcus in Beverly Hills. Helped him take the cats in. Little did we know what was going to happen. He was so dedicated to them. I asked him how many there were at the time… he said only 4 in the whole world. The waiting list went on for years.
I still have the “His and Hers” gift catalogue from Neiman Marcus. I think it was 1984.
The reason that Paul told me they were like “the unicorn”… they came and they went was for a couple of reasons…. Paul was a writer. Didn’t have much money. Didn’t care about money. He bred these for the love. When people would bring their cats back to breed at the kennel he would expect them to have them checked by a vet. One fellow had a big “cat party” for his cat before he brought it to the kennel… had everyone bring their animals over… the Spangleds were like that. Very social. Anyway… Paul said that cat brought a disease into the kennel and the next 36 kittens died.
It was devastating for him. Emotionally. Financially. In every way. After that his mom got very ill and he had to take care of her… and then he became ill. He spent the last year finishing up his writing projects. I bred Ocea and he sold about 5 of the cats… but I was not licensed and was a struggling actress/writer. I had to move… was unable to continue breeding due to location so ultimately had to have Ocea neutered. It was difficult.
I can only say that these cats were miracles. I have photos of them. Amazing and beautiful guys. I also have a couple of copies of the calendar that Paul created for the Spangles in 1989. There are lots of gorgeous photos in it as well as his full story about how he did it. If that would be important for you, I would be very happy and proud to send you one of them. They are a treasure. He shot the photos himself. You’ll also see a photo of Katangi as well. That was one of the original cats that Paul used to breed the California Spangles. It took him 15 years. He started with the body. Used 8 different cats from 4 different continents. He said he got the body first and then added the spots last. The only thing that surprised him was the 8 different colors they came in.
I have found a photo of Ocea (see below). She was amazing. Solid muscle. And her fur was sleek and soft like a seal. When she strolled around the house she walked with a low slink… like a large cat in the wild… except she was a little house cat.”
Left: Ocea – copyrighted photo of California Spangled Cat. “Ocea” – She was a gift to me from Paul Casey in 1992. Ocea was an AMAZING cat. I was very blessed to have had her in my life.
She was a gift to me from Paul Casey in 1992. Ocea was an AMAZING cat.I was very blessed to have had her in my life….Udana Power. Udana intends to send me some more photos and one of the orginal Calendars. She says…”It was the only one made. Just that one year. I have a few of them. You can take whatever you want from there and put it on the site. There are lots of great photos and the whole story of the cats.
These are California Spangled Cat breeders listed on the first 3 pages by Google on a search, not including directory websites: None California Spangled cat breeders – Want to advertise on this site? Please inquire. California Spangled cat – Sources:
From California Spangled Cat to the Home page
I live in Oak Hills Ca. at the very top of the high desert. I had a wild cat living on the unfenced part of my property and slowly over a years time gained its trust. First it moved into my fenced in 1 acre area of the property and adopted the crawl space under a storage shed as its new home. After a few months it started slowly sneeking up to my roomates dogs food bowl in the middle of the night and stealing food a couple times a week. once I got it comfortable enogh to not run when it saw me. I started bribing it with food trying to gain more trust.
After a few weeks of that it finally took food from my hand. After a few weeks of hand feeding it I finally attempted to pet it. First two times it spooked and ran away. Then the next time I feed it. It ate the food then rubbed its head against my hand.
From that day on it adopted me. I can pick it up. Carry it around if I wish. It really did fall in love with me.
my house is on five acres with no other houses next to mine. I am pretty sure this is a totally wild cat possibly a California Spangled cat
Hi Corey. What a great story. Cat lovers will thank you for being generous and taking care of a feral cat. You gained his/her trust which is hard to do. It is unlikely that he is a California Spangled but more likely to be a tabby cat. Calif. Spangled cats were tabby cats. I would doubt that there are any Calif. Spangled cats anywhere nowadays. Well done and many thanks for sharing on my website.
I was randomly searching cat breeds and came across the California Spangled cat topic. I picked up my two cats (brother and sister) from a rescue shelter and thought they were very interesting looking. Every single behavioral characteristic of a spangled cat is dead on for these two kitties. They are most likely mixed with other cat breeds but thought they might be a descendent of a California spangled. Either way they are the best kitties ever! (Gorgio and Gracie are their names)
Hi Phil, you have two stunning tabby cats. The California Spangled is also a tabby cat. This is why they look similar. But it proves that the Calif.Spangled is not far removed from a random bred tabby cat.
It is unlikely but not impossible that Gorgio and Grace have some distant connection to the Calif. Spangled.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and a nice picture.
Thank you so much for the quick response.
The reason I thought I may have a “California Spangled” cat descendent was from this website…
The first two pictures may as well be my kitties. Thank you for the compliment about the kitties being stunning tabby cats. Even if they aren’t spangled, I’d like to think Mr. Casey would at least want to breed them (lol).
I attached a great pic of Gorgio, just so everyone can appreciate his kittyness.
Yes, I agree that Mr Casey could well have chosen a cats like Gorgio to breed from in creating the Calif. Spangled. He basically chose good looking tabby cats. The information about this breed on this site is the most comprehensive you’ll get and I say that not because I am boasting but because a lady who was a friend of Mr Casey provided me with first hand information in writing about the breed. No other site has that. The history page is based on first hand knowledge.
In the photo Gorgio looks like a wild cat almost. You can see it in the lithe feline shape and spotted/mackerel coat.
Hi. I too believe I may be privileged to owning a California Spangled (or at least by chance a decedent of one).I’m still questioning her coat pattern by all means, but it’s more her personality and temperament that has me SO convinced. I’ve never had a more affectionate, eager to please, and agile cat. Everything I’ve read about the California Spangled she fits the profile to a “T”. But her coat is extremely sleek like a seal and very soft. She’s extremely special. It’s hard to put into words how her personality truly shows, but if read anything about the breed…that’s her. As such, I have absolutely fell in love with this lost breed and would love to see it come back full tilt. Could someone please let me know if they think my Peepers might possibly be from the original blood line by chance?I can’t upload the picture of her, but I can send them via email.
Hi. I too believe I may be privileged to owning a California Spangled (or at least by chance a decedent of one).I’m still questioning her coat pattern by all means, but it’s more her personality and temperament that has me SO convinced. I’ve never had a more affectionate, eager to please, and agile cat. Everything I’ve read about the California Spangled she fits the profile to a “T”. But her coat is extremely sleek like a seal and very soft. She’s extremely special. It’s hard to put into words how her personality truly shows, but if read anything about the breed…that’s her. As such, I have absolutely fell in love with this lost breed and would love to see it come back full tilt. Could someone please let me know if they think my Peepers might possibly be from the original blood line by chance?
Hi Desire. Thanks for visiting and asking. Could you tell us a bit more about your cat – the history for example – with a photo. You can upload photos to comments (there is a button below the box). It is certainly possible that you live with a California Spangled and if you do, you are living with a rare cat. I can’t tell if Peppers might be from the original blood line on what you have stated, unfortunately. Thanks again for sharing.
I had decided my cat was an Ocicat from attempted internet research, however he just didn’t have tall enough ears, and a couple things were just a stretch, though he doesn’t really mind water, as they also seem to feel. Then again, with the population of Ocicats so much higher, it’s unsurprising there would be more observations of them than California Spangleds. Anyway, Barney looks just like these, much more so than he does the Ocicats. A friend of my family’s found him abandoned at a Home Depot near our home in the suburbs of Dallas, and we’ve been curious as to his breed, as he is quite the odd cat. He definitely stares, a lot. He likes high places…but he seems to be a bit of a scaredy cat when it comes to getting down, so he doesn’t make the ascension very often. In fact, he’s more likely to find a place where he can observe all the goings on and make a quick escape if anyone attempts to give him too much love. He needs a lot of affection, but with six people who adore him way too much, he has become spoiled and lets us know when he will let us pet him. He loves strangers though, and generally is on better behavior when they’re around. He can identify each of our vehicles (all six of us), as well as my boyfriend’s and those of my siblings’ friends. We had to let him become a partial outside cat because of all the extra energy; he’s much friendlier inside after he’s been outside for a while (We let him go in or out whenever; we are slaves to this cat’s wishes). He vocalizes rarely, but we all stop to adore him when he does. He started increasing his vocal activity when he realized how much we didn’t like the clawing and biting. He’s much more civil now. Anyway, I say all this to shed some light on California Spangled Cats, if Barney is one. He certainly looks the part. I’ve included a picture for your judgment. He…didn’t make out too poorly on Christmas. The cashier literally asked us if we only had one cat. He paid for it by wearing the costume for us, though!
Hi April, Happy New Year. Barney is a very impressive looking cat. He has a fabulous spotted tabby coat of high contrast on a grey background. Although, he is not a member of any particular cat breed, I am pretty sure of that. The Calif. Spangled is also a spotted tabby cat. The original domestic cat – the domesticated African wildcat – is also a spotted tabby. This is why Barney looks like the Calif. Spangled.
Don’t be upset by what I have written. Firstly some non-purebred cats are better looking and more healthy and better behaved than purebred pedigree cats. The non-pedigree domestic shorthair (DSH) as as good as any pedigree show cat. Cats of a cat breed in the West (N. America and Europe) have to be registered with a cat association. If Barney was registered we could confirm that he is a purebred cat but that is very doubtful.
Hi April – Barney is a beautiful cat – he has a really nice coat with those lovely spots. Be careful letting him out – it’s good to supervise if you are near a road. I lost my cat to a road and I am still very sad about it. Thanks for sharing 🙂
Thanks Marc. I wrote this page years ago. The interesting thing about this page is that the lasy “Udana” illustrated in the page was a close friend of Paul Casey the creator of the breed. She provided the history of the breed from first hand experience. It is unique page for that reason. Google does not get that. It should rank far better in search results.
Hi, I just bought our Lil Ash about 5mths ago. We was told that his breed was local tabby American Shorthair. However I was quite curious because my American shorthair doesn’t have that classic marble like coat. Instead, his personality & appearance are exactly the same like the California Spangled. I’m confused now. However, I would be blessed and happy to know if our Lil Cat belongs to the California Spangled breed.
Thank u 🙂
Hi Azleeha. Thanks for visiting and commenting. I am not sure if you have a purebred American Shorthair or an American cat that is a domestic shorthair with a tabby coat that is not marbled. I am going to guess your cat is the latter. If you have a tabby cat his coat could be spotted, striped or marbled. Each type is as good as the other. Your cat has a spotted coat.
However, your cat is not a California Spangled which is a spotted tabby coat. California Spangled cats are extremely rare. They have spotted tabby coats as do many other cats, both purebred and moggies. The spotted coat is a common coat type. I hope this helps and sorry to disappoint you.
my cat looks just the same.