Imagine the grace and the beauty of a wild cat, but in a smaller, lithe form. The Ocicat is the solution for cat lovers who desire the attributes of larger feline in a domesticized body. If you adore nature shows then there’s no doubt that you’ll love this cat breed!
The Ocicat’s body is riddled with spots the size of your thumb and arranged in a bulls-eye pattern. Random spots may appear on the cat’s coat on either a silver or non-silver background, adding to the exotic look. The curious name was added as a tribute to the Ocelot, a wild cat that lives in the Central, South and Southwestern part of the U.S. and in Mexico. You may be surprised to know that the Ocicat shares virtually no genetic DNA with its wild cousin!
This breed is testament to the ideas of cat lovers who wanted to collect the remarkable spots of the wild cats and transfer it to a seemingly docile, domestic cat. Once an Ocicat appears on a show, they immediately steal the limelight. More than that, this cat possesses a good-natured, people-centric personality that’s sure to win their owner’s hearts in no time!
History of Ocicat
The first records of the breed started out in Berkley, Michigan with an individual named Virginia Daly. The Ocicat was the result of a crossing between Abysinnians with color points, i.e., on their face, tail, paws and ears to produce Siamese offsprings. The breeding programme succeeded, and on top of that there was a pleasant surprise in the form of an ivory kitten that sported gold-coloured points.
Virginia’s daughter dubbed the kitten “Ocicat”, and the name stuck. Tonga was the very first of its kind to be neutered and sold as a domestic cat. A Detroit newspaper caught the story and published it, and Dr. Clyde Keeler, a geneticist wanted to see the unusual cat for himself. Both breeder and geneticist tried to replicate the results with success! And thus, the Ocicat breed was born.
The cat breed was formally inducted into the Cat Fanciers Association and moved to Champion status in the 1987 showing. Other national registries quickly followed suit. Popularity grew, and soon the exotic cat spread all over the world.
Size of the Ocicat
Males of this cat species tend to be larger and heavier than the females. The males stand anywhere between 15 lbs. or more while the females top out at around 9 lbs.
Ocicats are large and very active. A strong musculature and big boned structure support their lifestyle. The coats are short, shiny and proudly show off those fine muscles and spots in the best light.
A glance at the breed gives one the impression that they are strong and powerful. Moreover, these cats appear heavier than they weigh.
Personality of the Ocicat
Don’t let its wild looks fool you. The Ocicat may move and look like the wild cat they’re named after, but they have the heart of a true kitty cat. The breed’s temperament mostly comes from the Abyssinian and the Siamese, which are both social creatures who aren’t averse to meeting strangers. You’ll quickly find that your cat is talkative, highly confident and loves to move around whenever he or she can. Your cat will usually be the first one to greet family members and guests alike. They welcome an inviting lap or a person who will have the time to play with them.
Ocicats are more like dogs than cats in personality. Surprisingly, this cat breed can be trained to do things a dog does, like sit, lie down, play dead, speak, come over, fetch and walk with their owners on a collar and leash. They aren’t afraid of water and do play with streams coming out of faucets or the bathtub every now and then.
These cats are agile enough to reach the highest places in your house. Buy your pet a cat tree and he or she will spend hours up there, watching going-ons with interest. When not surveying all those around him, this cat can be seen playing with his or her toys.
Don’t be overwhelmed by cuteness in a litter of kittens. Here’s how to choose the best one for you.
Have the owner get them out and focus on the kitten that displays curiosity towards you. That same feline should have no fear or reservations, and has to be energetic and playful at the same time. Then, pick up the kitten and look for the reaction. A bit of squirming should be good but there shouldn’t be any nipping or hissing. If you have kids, allow them to interact with one another and find out which kitten is most attentive.
Finally, ask the owner for papers and records of vaccinations. Take a moment to listen to the history of health and meet the cat’s parents, if possible.
A reputable Ocicat breeder raises the litter right in his or her home. Moreover, they should have a written health guarantee. Most of these catteries allow their kittens to be sold only after 14 weeks. It pays to be patient- you’ll get rewarded if you wait for the right kitty at around 6 months or so. Advance research should allow you to make the purchase through your preferred breeder.
The breed is hale and hearty in general, but you should keep an eye out for health issues that can come down from the parents. Some of the more notable ones include hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, pyruvate kidney disease, renal or liver amyloidosis and periodontal diseases.
Amyloidosis is a disease that can be passed down by heredity. Amyloids, or insoluble proteins, can build up and stick in the liver or the kidneys, causing dysfunction, lesions and organ failure if untreated.
PK, or Pyruvate Kinase is an enzyme responsible for metabolizing energy in red blood cells. Cats that have PK can develop anemia. This condition is caused by a recessive gene, and can be removed via DNA testing.
HCM is a common heart disease usually found in cats.
Testing for HCM and PK deficiency can be taken out via selective breeding. With the help of informed and responsible breeders these diseases can soon be a thing of the past.
Care of the Ocicat
Ocicat breeds are highly intelligent. Owners should make sure their pet’s minds are occupied with a variety of toys that captivate the mind and the senses. You can also try teaching your cat new tricks and reward with treats he or she loves. You’ll find that their attention is focused when they play with toys or with challenging puzzles.
Owners should be especially attentive to their pets. These cats are very sociable and it pains them when no one’s around the house most of the time. The lifespan varies between 12 to 18 years with an average of 15 years. Environmental factors, food, diet, amount of exercise and activity level will largely dictate how long your pet will live.
Litter Box Training
Ocicats, like other felines are very particular when it comes to litter boxes. One box should be allotted to each cat and cleaned each day. Accidents could happen, but this is a matter of asking “what changed?” and rectifying the situation to get your cat on the litter box again. Seek immediate medical care from a qualified vet if you suspect something wrong with your cat’s health.
Your Ocicat deserves a high quality diet that meets all their nutritional needs at the stage of their lives. Whether you choose wet, dry or a combination of the two, always make sure they contain enough nutrition and are up to your cat’s palate.
Many cats don’t drink enough water to supplement a moist diet. The wet food you give should have adequate meat and water content for a well-rounded meal. This can solve the hydration problem that plagues most cat owners.
Pure Ocicats will always display a short coat and the famous dark oval spots. All in all, there are 12 variants that are approved by most cat registries. For example, the Cat Fanciers Association lists the following colors as acceptable- cinnamon, chocolate and tawny, with the dilutes being ebony silver, blue silver, fawn silver, lavender and fawn, blue, lavender silver and cinnamon silver.
While the breed is known for the trademark spots, other patterns such as pointed, solid, classic tabby and ticked are acceptable. However, tabbies are disqualified from entering competitions.
Brush your pet weekly to keep the short hair shiny and healthy. Go over the coat with a curry brush to distribute the natural skin oils and remove dead hair. Other grooming requirements include regular brushing of teeth, ear cleaning and nail trimming. The nails should be looked at once a week. Check the ears for redness or for rank odors, then clean as necessary using a cotton dabbed with a gentle cleanser. Your cat’s teeth should be brushed using a pet-safe toothpaste. Regular visits to the vet is also a must.
Children and Other Pets
Ocicats are the darlings of families because they love to be social and aren’t afraid to give or receive affection. Moreover, they tend to do quite well even if there are other pets around. But make no mistake- this breed still needs TLC from you, the owner and should not be left alone for long periods of time.