Ocicat: Cat Breed Profile

Characteristics, History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

Ocicat standing on grass
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The ocicat is a wild-looking feline with domestic origins, bred from a combination of Abyssinian, Siamese, and American shorthair breeds. Despite its exotic appearance, ocicats are completely domestic, social, and playful.

Breed Overview

Weight: 6 to 15 pounds

Length: About 16 to 18 inches

Coat: Short

Coat Color: Blue-spotted tabby, blue/silver-spotted tabby, lavender-spotted tabby, lavender/silver-spotted tabby, cinnamon-spotted tabby, cinnamon/silver-spotted tabby, fawn-spotted tabby, fawn/silver-spotted tabby, chocolate-spotted tabby, chocolate/silver-spotted tabby, silver-spotted tabby, and brown-spotted tabby

Eye Color: All colors, appearing rimmed with mascara

Life Expectancy: 10 to 15 years

Characteristics of the Ocicat

Affection Level High
Friendliness High
Kid-Friendly High
Pet-Friendly High
Exercise Needs High
Playfulness High
Energy Level High
Intelligence High
Tendency to Vocalize High
Amount of Shedding Low

History of the Ocicat

The first non-intentional ocicat, Tonga, was born in 1964 as a result of experimental breeding by Virginia Daly; she attempted to create an “Abypoint" Siamese—a Siamese with the same color markings as the Abyssinian. A ruddy Abyssinian male, named Dalai Deta Tim of Selene, was bred to a seal point Siamese named Dalai Tomboy Patter, resulting in a litter that was considered Abyssinian. Dalai She, a female from that litter, was bred to a chocolate point Siamese, Whitehad Elegante Sun, and their offspring resulted in Siamese kittens with Abyssinian points. After a repeat breeding, an ivory kitten with golden spots named Tonga was born; Daly’s daughter mentioned Tonga looked like an ocelot and said it should be called an ocicat. However, Daly was not interested in creating a new breed, so Tonga was neutered and given to a new home.

Geneticist Dr. Clyde Keeler took an interest in an ocelot-looking domestic cat. He wanted to see a domestic cat that could resemble some of the vanishing wild cats, specifically the Egyptian spotted fishing cat. Daly repeated the match, which produced a tawny spotted male she named Dalai Dotson for use in the new project. The next step was to introduce the American shorthair to the mix for the boning and substance and to introduce silver. Daly's work was replicated by others and new lines of ocicats were developed.

The ocicat was recognized for registration by the Cat Fanciers' Association in 1966. The breed also received championship status in August 1986 from the International Cat Association. And the ocicat is acknowledged by the American Cat Fancier's Association and Cat Fanciers' Federation.

Ocicat Care

The ocicat’s short dense coat requires little grooming; brushing with a rubber curry comb will do. Polishing with a chamois cloth brings out the sheen. Nails should be trimmed regularly—it is best to train a kitten early on to accept that—and a scratching post or cardboard scratcher (more than one, preferably) will keep the nails well-honed, and save your furniture.

These cats have solid, muscular bodies and medium-length legs to support their athletic body. Since an indoor life is preferred for ocicats, as well as any cat, provide a tall cat tree for climbing, access to outside views, and plenty of toys to channel their energy. Cats need vertical space as well as horizontal space.

The intelligent, high-energy ocicat might also enjoy exploring the outdoors safely, which it can do when trained to walk on a harness or walking jacket and leash.

Ocicats are said to have a dog-like personality and are quick to socialize with family members and visitors. They are happy in a busy household and prefer not to be left alone for a long time.

Common Health Problems

Responsible breeders screen their cats thoroughly for any health problems, known and unknown, associated with the breed. Ocicats may be susceptible to several health issues:

  • Liver or renal amyloidosis, a possible hereditary disease that occurs when an insoluble protein called amyloid is deposited in organs such as the kidneys or liver. It results in lesions, dysfunction, and eventually, organ failure.
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a common heart condition affecting many cat breeds, causes the heart walls, specifically the left ventricle, to thicken.
  • Periodontal or gum disease

Be sure to have an established veterinarian on hand and schedule regular checkups.

Diet and Nutrition

An ocicat's strong, athletic body needs a species-appropriate diet to sustain their health and energy. Grain-free foods are often preferred as are raw diets. Do not be afraid to feed a variety of foods–it prevents a cat from becoming finicky and avoids a nutritional deficiency that may occur from feeding them only one brand. Do your research and discuss your cat's nutritional needs with your veterinarian. 

Pros

  • Completely domesticated cat with wild, exotic look

  • Playful, energetic, and dog-like personality

  • Social, gets along well with other cats and dogs

Cons

  • Prone to conditions affecting the liver, kidney, heart, and gums

  • Does not like to be left alone for periods of time

  • May prefer a specialized diet of grain-free or raw proteins

Where to Adopt or Buy an Ocicat

You may be able to find a purebred ocicat through a breeder in your area, but if you would rather adopt from a rescue organization, check out:

More Cat Breeds and Further Research

When choosing an ocicat, or any other purebred cat, be sure to do your research. Get to know the breeder. It’s often recommended that you visit the breeder’s home before reserving a kitten (breeders often have waiting lists).

You may be able to find local breeder connections through Facebook. Breeders have created their own Facebook pages and take part in groups dedicated to sharing their experiences. Do not let distance be a concern. There is an active network of people who transport cats around the country and even the world.

If you like the ocicat, check out the following similar breeds:

The Cat Fanciers' Association, which holds cat shows all over the country, recognizes 42 different cat breeds. Explore some cat breeds before you decide which one is right for your home.