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    Ocicat

    Ocicat

    Place of origin

    United States

    History

    As knowledge about the genetics of cat coloration grew in the mid-twentieth century, experimentation with crossing breeds became an increasingly popular activity with cat breeders. In 1964, a Siamese breeder crossed a large female sealpoint Siamese to a ruddy (usual) Abyssinian male toward the goal of creating an "Abyssinian Pointed Siamese." The first generation resulted in kittens who all resembled their Abyssinian sire, but when a female kitten from that breeding was bred to a Siamese male, in addition to producing the desired ticked-tabby pointed Siamese kitten, a striking cinnamon-spotted kitten, named Tonga, was produced. Tonga is described as being ivory colored with golden spots. The breeder's daughter nicknamed him an Ocicat because his pattern reminded her of a wild ocelot; the nickname name stuck and would later become the breed's official name

    At the time, there had been no intention of creating a new breed, and the possibility of creating ticked-tabby pointed Siamese had been demonstrated, so Tonga was neutered and homed as a pet. Geneticist Clyde Keeler became interested in Tonga after this unique cat was featured in a newspaper. He wanted to recreate a cat with the look of the extinct Egyptian spotted fishing cat and suggested Tonga be mated with his mother. By then, Tonga had been neutered so the mating of Siamese and Abyssinian was repeated and a tawny spotted male kitten was born.

    Having produced more of these attractive "dotted" kittens (as the founder preferred to call them), the breed expanded through the use of additional Siamese, Abyssinian, and American Shorthair cats. The American Shorthair created a more robust build and introduced silver colors into the mix. The CFA recognized the Ocicat in 1966, but personal issues meant the original breeding program was put on hold between 1966 and the early 1980s. Other cat fanciers became interested in these spotted cats and developed new lines. In 1986, TICA recognized the Ocicat. Two years later, the cat arrived in the United Kingdom in 1988 and was recognized there in 1997.

    Although the breed's name alludes to an ocelotlike appearance, the Ocicat has a wholly domestic ancestry. Some people have also called this breed the Accicat-for the happy accident that led to its creation. At the time the Ocicat appeared, breeders believed that the spotted pattern was separate from the ticked, mackerel, and classic tabby patterns. It became evident that the spotted pattern in the breed was due to the tabby markings being broken up. Mackerel tabbies, with their narrow stripes, were removed from the gene pool early on so that Ocicats would have larger, more dramatic spots. Classic tabbies therefore still occur in the breed.

    Physical description

    The Ocicat is a large, muscular, athletic cat; males weigh between 9 and 14 pounds (4–6 kg), females 6 and 9 pounds (3–4 kg). The conformation is semi-foreign on medium-length legs. The head is an elongated egg shape (a modified wedge), with large almond eyes, and the cat has a welldefined muzzle with a slight suggestion of squareness, resulting in a pleasant, but slightly wild, expression. The short and glossy coat has a bold pattern of thumbsize spots against a ticked background. The powerful looking Ocicat is the perfect choice of cat for an owner who wishes to have an exotic-looking pet with a completely domestic temperament, without any recent wild cat ancestors.

    Colors and varieties

    The Ocicat comes in six basic spotted tabby colors: black (tawny or ruddy), blue, chocolate, lavender (lilac), cinnamon, and fawn in both silver and nonsilver varieties. The black silver variety is also known as ebony silver. The spots are aligned in a circular pattern, indicating the underlying classic tabby pattern of these cats. As a result, ticked tabby and classic tabby-patterned kittens can be born to spotted parents. Tabby Ocicat variants are not recognized for competition in North America, but the variety is recognized under the name Jungala in New Zealand and Ocicat Classic in Britain. The classic tabby pattern is most striking in the silver tabbies. Reds, creams, and tortoiseshells are not permitted in either breed.

    The Ocicat and Jungala can be mated and progeny can be registered according to their pattern. Mating two spotted Ocicats together produces smaller spots, while mating a spotted Ocicat to a classic tabby Jungala can produce larger spots. The Jungala's name comes from the Sanskrit word for "jungle"; the Jungala is also known as the Classicat.

    Temperament

    The friendly and adaptable Ocicat breed combines the best attributes of its component breeds: the intelligence of the Abyssinian, the talkative and friendly nature of the Siamese, and the stable temperament of the American Shorthair. Ocicats are intelligent and playful companions who become devoted to their human families. There are a few cat breeds that seem to especially attract male owners in this female-dominated hobby, and the Ocicat is one of them. People who share their lives with Ocicats often compare them to dogs: they love to fetch, are toy-oriented, interact with other human and nonhuman family members, and go for walks on a leash. They are excellent (although sometime a bit noisy) travel companions, and they adapt well to change and to busy households.

    Activity level

    Moderate

    Vocal level

    High

    Special needs

    Use of a rubber brush to remove shed hair can help bring out the shine of the coat.

    Variations

    None

    Black and silver Ocicat

    Ruddy Ocicat

    From The Cat Bible, Copyright by Sandy Robins, licensed through ContentOro, Inc and used by arrangement with I-5 Press

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