Wild-Looking Cat is Tame Family Pet
With its big, pointed ears, a small, triangular face with large almond-shaped eyes and striking markings throughout its fur coat, the ocicat looks very exotic—and downright wild to most.
Fear not: This is a lap-hogging, blanket-hoarding, attention-seeking cat who doesn’t have a wild bone in its body.
The ocicat’s lineage is relatively recent: In 1964, a breeder named Virginia Daly crossed an Abyssinian cat with a Siamese cat in an attempt to create an Abyssinian-pointed Siamese breed. One kitten out of the ensuing second litter was born with spots.
Daly’s daughter nicknamed the kitten “Ocicat” after "ocelot" (a spotted wild cat of the Americas) and "cat." The name stuck and, using the same mix of breeds, the ocicat officially became a new lineage of cats.
Later on, the Cat Fanciers of America recorded an erroneous notation when the breed was registered, accidentally noting that the breed was also mixed with the American shorthair cat. As other breeders used this “recipe” to breed the ocicat, the American shorthair combination produced a lineage that was larger and a different color: silver.
Today, the ocicat can be found worldwide and is a popular choice of families due to its temperament.
Ocicats are known to be affectionate and outgoing. Sociable with a playful spirit, the breed can be trained to perform numerous “dog-like” activities such as fetch, sit, lay down, heel, and even walk on a leash.
The ocicat isn’t a shy cat, and will often ask for attention—nudging family and guests alike for a head rub when the need strikes them and purring with satisfaction. They get along well with children and other family pets and prefer to spend time in the company of their families. This is not the type of cat who will do well if left alone for long periods of time.
The ocicat is highly recommended as a family cat by cat fanciers, due in large part to their affectionate personality and high degree of tolerance.
The ocicat is a large cat with a muscular build, strong legs, oval-shaped paws and a shorthaired coat. The breed can weigh, on average, up to 15 pounds. It also has almond-shaped eyes and noticeable dark markings in its coat.
The ocicat’s coat can be one of 12 colors: tawny, chocolate, cinnamon, blue, lavender and fawn, and black—and then a combination of those six colors with silver (chocolate-silver, blue-silver, black-silver, etc.) to make the remaining six colors.
The ocicat is known to be a rather healthy cat. However, due to its Abyssinian, Siamese and American shorthair heritage, genetic issues could arise.
While these medical conditions are generally uncommon they are known to occur in the breed. Your ocicat will not necessarily develop any of the conditions listed below. Choosing a reputable breeder from which to purchase your pet will help minimize the risks.
- Cardiomyopathy: A disease of the heart muscle that often results in congestive heart failure, it is also life threatening and can result in blood clots that cause pain and acute paralysis of a cat’s rear legs. The cause of cardiomyopathy is unknown but hereditary factors are thought to play a role in development of the disorder in cats. You can have your ocicat tested for the heart condition by a veterinary cardiologist.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): This disease causes the rod and cone light receptors of the retina to deteriorate and slowly cease functioning, ultimately resulting in blindness. PRA has been diagnosed in kittens as young as three months. Currently, the disease is considered recessive—both parents would have to be carriers or one parent would have to be affected with the disease. Carriers of PRA may be totally asymptomatic, possessing normal vision throughout their lives. Currently, UC Davis Veterinary Genetics lab has a (DNA) screening test for PRA in ocicats so it is possible to screen for carriers.
- Renal amyloidosis, a form of kidney disease, has also been reported.
As with any pet, be sure to regularly consult a veterinarian for routine care and medical advice for your four-legged friend.