Ocicat: Cat Breed Information, Characteristics and Facts
Playful, loving and with a larger-than-life personality, the Ocicat has the wild looks of a less than tame animal yet makes the ideal feline for the busy home. This simply gorgeous spotted cat is large and athletic but likes nothing better than the company of their human pack. A relatively recent breed, the Ocicat is named after the wild Ocelot cat. And, as the only spotted domestic cat selectively bred to resemble the cats of the wild, the Ocicat is an absolute head-turner, with a loving, intelligent and at times mischievous personality to match.
You will need to keep this spotted beauty entertained and is best as an indoor cat, but in return, you will have a devoted feline that enjoys your company and will become a much-loved furry member of your family.
History of the Ocicat
Known for its spotted fur, large ears and strong, athletic appearance, the intelligent and friendly Ocicat reflects its Siamese, Abyssinian and American Shorthair ancestry.
The first Ocicat arrived in 1964 and was the unexpected result of experimental breeding by US cat breeder, Virginia Daly, from Michigan. An original mix of Siamese and Abyssinian cats, Daly had been trying to achieve Abyssinian points in her Siamese cats. One of the litter was ivory-coated and dotted with golden spots, which Daly’s daughter declared an ‘Ocicat’ as it resembled a wild Ocelot. Named Tonga, the kitten was neutered and sold on as a pet, but his unique looks caught the attention of geneticist, Clyde Keeler who saw the opportunity to create a domestic cat that had some of the characteristics of what were fast becoming rare wild cat species. The breeding was repeated, with a later additional cross with an American Shorthair to add to the breed’s size as well as bring in a silver color to the coat combinations and the Ocicat came into its own.
The Ocicat was officially recognized by the Cat Fanciers’ Association in 1966, eventually going on to gain championship status in 1987 and become a regular on the champion breed showing stage. While predominately a US breed, the Ocicat has since been exported to other countries. The popularity of the Ocicat breed continues to grow and is a highly sought-after pet, thanks to its unique combination of stunning wild looks and friendly, intelligent temperament. The Ocicat is now officially recognized by both the American Cat Fanciers’ Association and Cat Fanciers’ Federation.
Quick Facts About the Ocicat
Thanks to its striking looks and sociable, confident and loving personality, the Ocicat is one of the most popular cat breeds in the US. Here are just few ‘did you know….?’ facts that show just why we are wild about the Ocicat:
- Size and build
The Ocicat is a solid and well-muscled, medium-sized cat that exudes athleticism but is not too chunky or ‘cobby’. Weighing between 6-15 pounds, the typical weight of an adult female is around nine pounds while a male will tip the scales at between 9-14 pounds. When it comes to the Ocicat’s facial features, they have large and expressive almond-shaped eyes which are typically golden, green or copper in color and a triangular-shaped head. They also have distinct and large ‘lynx-like’ ears, with some Ocicats having tufts of hair extending vertically from the tips. A long, black-tipped tail and eye pencil-like markings around the eyes are also a feature of the Ocicat.
The coat of an Ocicat is a rather beautiful thing. Single-coated, it is soft, short and tight, with a stunning satin sheen that shows off the Ocicat’s spots and musculature. The coat of the Ocicat mirrors its ancestor, the Abyssinian in that it is called an ‘agouti’ – which means that each hair has several bands of shaded color, excluding the black tip of the tail. While the Ocicat was predominately bred for its spots, the coat can also come in four other patterns – classic tabby, solid, pointed and ticked.
- Ocicat colors
The Ocicat comes in an impressive range of 12 colors, which, with the familiar spotted coat, all feature the dark, thumb-print sized marks on a lighter background. The 12 approved colors for the Ocicat breed are chocolate, tawny, blue, lavender, cinnamon, fawn, silver, chocolate silver, cinnamon silver, lavender silver, fawn silver and blue silver. The colored spots typically run along the spine, with more scattered across the shoulders and rear end, cascading down the legs to create a wildly beautiful effect.
- He’s one smart cat
Despite its fierce looks, the Ocicat is, in fact, a big softy and loves nothing better than being part of his human family. His playful, inquisitive and non-aggressive nature means the Ocicat is well-suited to life with children and cat-friendly dogs and he loves being at the center of attention. His intelligence means that the Ocicat can also be trained and loves to perform tricks and play with his toys. However, as a smart cat, he needs to be stimulated otherwise he can border on mischievous and his social nature means he will crave companionship, so if you work long hours, he may well need another Ocicat buddy.
- They are water babies!
As one of the most curious breeds, the Oci is also very bold and is fascinated by anything that moves, including running water. They enjoy being in and around water – you may see them playing splash with their water bowl or hopping into your shower so remember to keep the bathroom door closed!
Things You Should Know
With their wild looks, gorgeous personalities and easy-to-care-for traits, the Ocicat could well be the perfect feline pet for you and your family. But, before you take on an Ocicat, you need to do your homework so you can be sure you provide him with all the care and attention he needs. With the average cost to buy an Oci between $700-$1000, here are the day-to-day essentials you need to know about your potential new fur baby:
The Ocicat is a pretty hardy breed and has a life expectancy of anything up to 15-17 years. And the beauty of the Oci is that they are generally very healthy and not prone to obesity and with few hereditary diseases to be concerned about. But that is not to say your Oci cannot develop health conditions and as a breed, they do have the potential for certain health problems you should be aware of.
Ocicats can be prone to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which is the most common form of heart disease in felines and their Siamese/Abyssinian heritage may leave them more predisposed to renal or liver disease. Some incidents of progressive retinal atrophy, which leads to blindness, have also been reported in Ocicats but it is not thought to be a major problem for the breed, so if you have any concerns about your cat’s eyes do go and see your vet.
However, Ocicats are known to be prone to gingivitis – or gum disease – if correct dental hygiene is not followed.
Strong and athletic, the Ocicat needs a quality diet to feed his energy and health needs and to keep him in tip-top Oci condition. They are not known to be fussy eaters and enjoy their food so choose a cat food that contains quality meat protein and all the nutrients they need, including taurine for eye and heart health. Due to their naturally muscular body, Ocicats can respond well to a grain-free or raw food diet but do discuss with your vet first before making this diet change.
As Ocicats are not prone to obesity, some owners ‘free-feed’ their pet – this means the cat has access to dry food all day. But if your Oci is going to be an indoor cat then we recommend managing their diet with two meals a day. And treats are ok, just manage the amount and make it more of an occasional thing. Even if they are kept indoors, your Ocicat is still going to be active, as they love to play so it is also essential that they have access to clean, fresh water throughout the day.
He may be a glamorous and wild-looking thing, but the Ocicat is relatively low maintenance and ‘easy to do’. However, his unusual looks and super-friendly personality may be his downfall when it comes to going outside so it may be an idea to keep him indoors, so he doesn’t go home with anyone else! Seriously, Ocicats work well as indoor cats and, despite his athletic looks, he doesn’t need any special or extra exercise. An Oci will typically be more active, but as long as they have access to plenty of toys, space and human attention, will have everything they need to be physically happy and healthy. Company is also important for the Ocicat, so other cats or cat-friendly dogs in the house will work well and help to keep him stimulated and active throughout the day.
When it comes to a regular care routine for your Ocicat, keep it simple and consistent. Always ensure his litter box and food bowls are clean to prevent any germs upsetting your cat and keep him from getting stressed. Regularly cleaning his teeth will help to prevent gum disease, daily if possible but if not, at least once a week. Also, check his ears and eyes and if dirty, give them a gentle clean using a soft, damp cotton wool ball. And, particularly if your Oci is to be an indoor pet, he will need to have his nails regularly trimmed to keep them neat.
That gorgeous wild patterned coat of your Ocicat actually needs little maintenance although you will need to get into a regular grooming habit to keep it shiny and healthy. Although a short-coated cat, your Oci will have some shedding so it is a good idea to brush him once a week to keep it looking in its prime. A rubber or natural bristle hand brush is perfect for the job and start by brushing his back before moving to his sides, tummy and chest. As the Ocicat is such an attention-seeker, he will love this pampering session as it also gives him quality time with his favorite human.
The occasional bath is also recommended, which for a water-loving cat such as the Oci will not be too much of a hardship! Then a final dry and wipe down with soft chamois cloth will put a gorgeous gloss on your handsome cat’s coat.
For a cat that looks like it would be at home in the wild, the Ocicat is in fact a big softie and loves the company of humans and other pets, including cat-friendly dogs. Non-aggressive, they are notably playful, curious and highly intelligent although they do crave fuss and company and are not good at being alone for long periods.
Although they are not the clingy type, Ocicats like to be center of attention and are very vocal when others are in the room. Not known for their shyness, they will also make any house guests feel very welcome! Often likened to a loyal dog, the Ocicat’s temperament is loyal and will become devoted to its main humans, trailing you around the house of hopping on to your shoulder for a quick lift. They also travel well and are quick to adapt to new places and situations.
Their intelligence means the Ocicat can be easily trained and are known to be able to learn tricks as they play, so are good family pets where there are children to keep them entertained. Toys and playthings are also important for an Ocicat as they need that extra stimulation, and they will improvise with your furniture and belongings if they don’t have access to their own. They are also adept at puzzles and are capable of working out how to open doors and latches so just be on your guard. And one final word of caution, a bored or unstimulated Ocicat can lead to more mischievous behavior although nothing a good play session or quality time with his human can’t fix!