Ocicat: Breed Profile, Characteristics & Care

Appearance, Personality, History, Care, & Helpful Information for Pet Owners

Side profile of an ocicat on a plain yellow background

photo by Volchanskiy / Getty Images

The ocicat is a wild-looking feline with domestic origins, bred from a combination of Abyssinian, Siamese, and American shorthair breeds. Despite their appearance, ocicats are completely domestic, social, and playful. They grow to be about 15 pounds, much like a large house cat, and they have a muscular build with a short, low-maintenance coat. Their patterns, which include variations of spots and tabby stripes, give them a wilder appearance than most domestic cats even though they possess no wild DNA.

Breed Overview

Personality: Affectionate, social, playful, and vocal

Weight: Up to 15 pounds

Length: Up to 24 inches

Coat Length: Short hair

Coat Colors: Blue, silver, lavender, cinnamon, fawn, chocolate

Coat Patterns: Tabby, spotted

Eye Color: Gold, green

Lifespan: Up to 15 years

Hypoallergenic: No

Origin: USA

Ocicat Characteristics

Ocicats have such social and friendly personalities that they will often greet strangers at the door. They love to play and get involved with whatever is happening around the house, but they are also happy to snuggle when it's nap time. Because they are extremely intelligent—and equally curious—they are willing and able to learn tricks and seem to enjoy performing. Even with all of their energy, ocicats have a stable temperament that makes them easygoing companions in bustling households.

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 ocicat, named Tonga, was born in 1964 as a result of experimental breeding by US cat fancier Virginia Daly.

In an effort to create an “Abypoint Siamese" (a Siamese with Abyssinian colorpoints), she bred a ruddy Abyssinian male to a seal point Siamese female, An Abyssianin-colored female from the resulting litter was bred to a chocolate point Siamese, and their offspring resulted in Siamese kittens with Abyssinian points.

After a repeat breeding, Tonga was born—an ivory kitten with golden spots. Daly’s daughter said that Tonga looked like an ocelot and should be called an "ocicat." Daly, uninterested in creating a new breed, dismissed the idea, neutered Tonga. and gave her 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. So, Daly repeated the breeding that produced Tonga and came up with a tawny spotted male for use in Dr. Keeler's project. The next step was to introduce the American shorthair to the mix for the desired physical stature and silver coloration. 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 of 1986 from the International Cat Association. Today, 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 and polishing with a chamois cloth will bring out the sheen. Nails should be trimmed regularly (it is best to train a kitten early on to accept trimming), and a scratching post or cardboard scratcher will also help keep the nails healthy while saving your furniture.

Indoor life is recommended for all cats, including ocicats. Since there are fewer opportunities for exercise indoors, providing a tall cat tree can encourage safe climbing and access to outside views that all cats love. Toys can also help channel an ociocat's "wild" energy into playing.

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 one of the few breeds that are eager to learn tricks and skills, and clicker training is a great way to teach them.

Common Health Problems

Responsible breeders screen their cats thoroughly for any health problems, particularly those associated with specific breeds. Ocicats may be susceptible to several health issues:

Be sure to schedule regular checkups with your veterinarian to catch health issues before they become severe.


Ocicats are not huge cats (up to 15 pounds), but they have solid, muscular bodies that benefit from exercise and athletic challenges. Their short coats are dense and shiny with a variety of possible colors, including blue, silver, lavender, cinnamon, fawn, and chocolate with tabby and spotted patterns.

Diet and Nutrition

An ocicat's strong, athletic body needs a species-appropriate diet to sustain its health and active lifestyle. Grain-free foods are often preferred as are raw diets, but consult your veterinarian about the potential problems associated with certain plant-based diets that may also lack sufficient taurine (an amino acid essential to healthy vision in cats).

Where to Adopt or Buy an Ocicat

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. Don't let distance be a concern; there is an active network of people who transport cats around the country and even the world.

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:

Ocicat Overview

Ocicats are said to have a dog-like personality and are quick to socialize with family members and visitors. Even after they mature, around one year of age, they remain playful and active. They are happy in a busy household and prefer not to be left alone for a long time.

  • Completely domesticated cat with wild, exotic look

  • Playful, energetic, and dog-like personality

  • Social, gets along well with other cats and dogs

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

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

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

More Cat Breeds and Further Research

If you’re interested in similar breeds, check out:

Otherwise, check out all of our other cat breed profiles.

  • Do ocicats make good pets?

    Ocicats are friendly and outgoing, so they make good pets for families and get along well with other pets, too.

  • How much do ocicats cost?

    Depending on the quality, an ocicat can cost between $800 and $2,500 (breeding quality cats usually cost the most).

  • Are ocicats completely domesticated?

    Ocicats look wild, but they are completely domesticated cats with no wild DNA.