The Ocicat is a fairly recent, man-made addition to the cat fancy. It is a medium-sized, well-proportioned and lustrous cat that has surprising weight for its moderate size. Ocicats are solid and well-muscled, with a noticeable fullness of body and chest. Their hindquarters are slightly higher than their shoulders when viewed in profile. The breed has powerful legs, strong paws, a triangular-shaped head, a strong chin and a straight, tapered tail that typically ends in black. The Ocicat's large, almond-shaped eyes tilt slightly upward at the outer corners. Blue eyes are not permitted in the show ring, but all other eye colors are and need not be linked to coat color. Ocicats have large, prominent ears that preferably are tufted and lynx-like. They are moderate in type, meaning that they are neither extremely chunky or cobby, or especially elegant or Oriental, in appearance. This breed gives you an instant impression of strength and power, much like that of the wild Ocelot cat after which it is named. Ocicat kittens resemble the cubs of wild cat litters and are especially endearing.
The coat of the Ocicat is short, soft and tight, with a distinctly satiny sheen. Ocicats should have well-defined spots that clearly contrast with their lighter base coat color when viewed from any angle. The spots run from the shoulder blades almost to the tip of the tail, and as far down the body and legs as possible. Each hair of the Ocicat - except for those at the very tip of the tail - is banded in various shades, with the end being the darkest in color. Ocicats are available in a wide range of colors, including the Black, Blue, Chocolate/Brown, Cinnamon, Lilac/Lavender and Fawn/Tawny. Silver-based varieties of each of these solid colors are also available, including the Black Silver, Blue Silver, Chocolate Silver, Cinnamon Silver, Lilac Silver and Fawn Silver. Some purebred cat registries also recognize the Red, Cream and Tortoiseshell Ocicat varieties.
The Ocicat has been described as being one of the glorious accidents in the cat fancy. It is the result of a chance breeding between an experimentally-bred hybrid Abyssinian x Seal Point Siamese female and a Chocolate Point Siamese male. The owner of those two adult cats, Ms. Virginia Daly of Michigan, was dabbling in hybrid crosses in the early 1960s, hoping to produce an Aby (or Ticked) Point Siamese. She first mated an Abyssinian with a Siamese, then took a female from that litter and bred her to a different Siamese male. Ms. Daly was successful in producing Tabby/Ticked Point Siamese kittens in that litter. However, she reportedly was even more fascinated with the wild appearance of one of the resulting kittens, which was a rich ivory in body color with evenly-distributed, glistening golden spots. She named this kitten Tonga. Because he fit no known accepted color or breed description, Tonga was neutered and sold as a pet.
However, based in part on a Detroit newspaper's commentary about the unusual kitten and also based upon the interest of a well-respected geneticist, Dr. Clyde Keeler, who expressed his desire to see a domestic breed that salvaged many of the characteristics of vanishing wild cat breeds, Ms. Daly decided to try and selectively create a new breed that resembled a small, graceful, spotted wild cat. She repeated Tonga's breeding. Eventually, other dedicated cat fanciers, including Mr. Tom Brown, joined the effort to develop, standardize and stamp in the temperament, markings and type of this new breed. They called the breed the "Ocicat." The name is thought to be some combination of "Ocelette" due to the cats' resemblance to the wild Ocelot, and "Accicat" because the breed was the result of an accidental combination.
American Shorthairs were introduced into the breed in the United States, to add size and introduce more color and pattern diversity. Shorthairs, Abyssinians and Siamese are still allowed in the pedigree by many registries. The Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) first recognized the Ocicat for purebred registration in 1966. It took more than twenty years for the breed to achieve full championship status by the CFA, which occurred in 1987. The first European Ocicat kitten reportedly was born in 1984, from foundation stock that was largely unrelated to that of the American Ocicats. Great Britain apparently recognized this breed in 1998.
Although the Ocicat appears exotic, it is a particularly healthy cat with no predominant health concerns. The broad gene pool of the breed gives it a great deal of what is called "hybrid vigor." Hybrid vigor refers to the increased productivity, healthiness and soundness of the first few generations of crossbred animals that come from the mating of dissimilar or unrelated parents or breeds.
The Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) profile for the Ocicat recognizes that "never before was there such an effort to develop an entirely domestic cat which can offer the spotted beauty of the wild cats, while maintaining the lovely, predictable disposition of the domestic cat." The Ocicat indeed does look wild. However, it is neither ferocious nor fierce in disposition, nor is it shy or retiring in temperament. This is an affectionate, loving breed that is unfailingly devoted to its owners. Ocicats are not overly demanding, pushy or clingy. They tend to be extroverted, self-confident animals that are friendly and outgoing, even with strangers. Because of their personable and highly social nature, Ocicats get along well with most other household pets – including cats and dogs. However, they are not well-suited to being left alone for long stretches of time, as they require companionship and attention. Ocicats usually can be brought into a household that has existing companion animals with little confrontation or adjustment. The intelligence and overall friendliness of the Ocicat are a testament to its close Siamese, Abyssinian and American Shorthair ancestry.
The Ocicat is an active, alert, agile and athletic animal. It is full of vim and vigor, yet still retains its natural overall balance and gracefulness. Ocicats are playful and inquisitive. They enjoy meeting and romping with new friends, almost as much as they do curling up on any available nearby lap. Ocicats make wonderful companions for people living in urban or rural environments.
Ocicats are smart and quite easy to train, compared with many other domestic cat breeds. They are known to retrieve, play fetch, happily walk on a leash and quickly learn to respond to a variety of voice commands. They are unusually adaptable and typically take very well to traveling. This breed's unusually exotic appearance, combined with its friendly personality and innate intelligence, make it an especially delightful feline companion.
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