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What Is an Ocicat?

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  • Written By: Lainie Petersen
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 15 July 2014
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Despite its appearance, the ocicat is not a wild-domestic cat mix. Instead, the ocicat is an entirely domestic cat, but due to a happy breeding accident, its spotted coat and muscular body make it appear as if it is descended from wild cats. Ocicats are known for their easy-going natures, which stand in contrast to their non-domestic appearance.

The ocicat was originally bred in 1964, the result of cross-breeding siamese, Abbysinian, and American shorthair cats by Virginia Daly. Ocicats can be found in a variety of colors, most of them similar to those of their parent breeds, such as cinnamon, fawn, and blue. They do not require special diets or grooming. Ocicats are very social creatures, and they appreciate the company of humans and other animals, but do not do well if left largely to themselves. Ocicats are generally intelligent, and this, combined with their sociable nature, can make them easy to train. Some owners report that their ocicats follow voice commands, walk on a leash, and play fetch. Ocicats are considered loyal to their owners, but also personable and curious with strangers.

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The original breeder of the ocicat. Mrs. Daly, known as an innovative cat breeder, intended to breed an Aby-point Siamese, but instead produced Tonga, the first ocicat. Mrs. Daly sold him as a pet, but a newspaper story on the beautiful spotted cat caught the attention of a geneticist, Dr. Clyde Keeler, who became fascinated by this domestic cat that looked so much like many endangered wild cats. Eventually, Mrs. Daly began to breed more of the cats, naming the breed ocicat at her daughter's suggestion due to its resemblance to the ocelot, a wild cat native to Mexico, South America, and Central America.

The breed was slow to catch on, however, as Mrs. Daly's personal life kept her from championing the cat within the cat breeding community. While the Cat Fancier's Association (CFA), a widely recognized cat breed registration organization, gave the ocicat registered status in 1966, it wasn't until 1987 that ocicats became a recognized championship breed. As is true for all championship breeds, a strict breed standard exists that defines the markings of a good ocicat. Mrs. Daly herself supported the breed standard that preserves the ocicat's angular head and strong chin, as she wanted the cat to maintain its wild appearance. The championship standard also promotes a fairly long tail and distinctive, well-defined markings on the cat's body.

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