California Spangled Cats

“House-Leopard” Bred for a Cause

The California spangled cat was intentionally bred to resemble a leopard.

Yet, despite its wild-looking appearance, the cat is extremely docile—preferring the companionship of family and often seeking attention and affection.

In spite of the breed’s popularity, it’s at risk of becoming endangered. Reports indicate that possibly 200 California spangled cats exist today.

California spangled cat

In 1971, renowned anthropologist Louis Leakey and animal activist and Hollywood writer-playwright Paul Casey teamed up to breed a cat that looked like a leopard. Their goal? To raise consciousness about leopard poaching by creating a household pet that looked like the wild big cat.

Leakey and Casey believed that people would be less likely to buy and wear leopard furs if their pet cats were wearing a similar-looking coat.

Casey began breeding the California spangled cat by crossing an Abyssinian, a Siamese, an Angora, an American shorthair and a British shorthair cat. In 1985, the “house-leopard” was perfected.

The California spangled cat got a great deal of attention when Casey introduced it on the 1986 cover of the iconic Neiman Marcus Christmas catalog. In an attempt to raise funds to protect endangered cat species in Central and South America, California spangled cats were advertised for $1400 each or $2500 with a personal, one-week training session with Paul Casey included.

The Neiman Marcus campaign became a public relations nightmare, though, when animal activists pointed out that the catalog was also selling fox, beaver and ermine fur coats. Cat fanciers also retaliated against yet another spotted cat breed like the ocicat and Bengal cat, and Casey himself upset Neiman Marcus executives once he vocalized his disapproval that the retailer was also selling fur coats.

None the less, the California spangled cat made such an impression that the demand for it ultimately slowed down the breeding development.

As a result, the California spangled cat remains at risk of being endangered itself. Both Leakey and Casey have since passed away. Today, a few devout breeders are trying to save this breed from extinction.

California spangled cat

Perhaps the only thing about the California spangled cat that isn’t wild-like is its personality. Known to be affectionate, gentle and sociable, this breed enjoys spending a great deal of time with its owners.

The California spangled cat is also a very playful cat, often choosing to perch in high locations and show off its acrobatic skills.

This cat breed does not fare well if left alone for long periods of time. It thrives on the company of its human companions.

California spangled cat

With its long, lean and muscular body and its low-slung saunter, the California spangled cat does resemble a miniature leopard.

The California spangled cat’s coat may be charcoal, black, silver, bronze, goal, brown, red, blue or white, with well-defined round, square, triangular, or oval spots.

Topping off the cat’s “wild” appearance are almond-shaped eyes, ears set back from the face and high cheekbones.

The “snow leopard” version of the California spangled cat has a white fur coat with black markings and blue eyes.

The California spangled cat is known to be a rather healthy cat; no serious hereditary health problems have been documented in the breed. Choosing a reputable breeder from which to purchase your pet will help minimize the risks.