by Shana Otis-Kuhnert

"OH, WOW! Look at this, Spots! Is it wild? Is this cat yours?"

After the few short years (nine) that I have owned and exhibited Ocicats, this is still the reaction that I most hear and see. It still makes me proud to answer, "Yes I belong to them."

The Attraction

The innate human desire of somehow co-existing with an animal in the wild or to live like Tarzan and Jane with an array of jungle animals, has at one time or the other surfaced in the dreams of most people. I confess that I have never quite outgrown this yearning for the exotic. The Ocicat, with it's wild and dramatic appearance fulfills my desire for a jungle cat without the worry of losing life or limb or of endangering vanishing species.

The Ocicat is special because it is a cat descended exclusively from pedigreed domestic ancestors that were selectively bred to resemble a jungle cat. Even though the Ocicat looks wild, it has absolutely no crosses to feral cats.Because of this, you the new owner will never have to worry about wild tendencies (tell that to your husband when three of them gallop across your bed at five in the morning.)



Oh, those wonderful accidents! The originator of the breed, Virginia Daly, didn't start out to create an Ocicat, but rather an Abyssinian - pointed Siamese. As fate would have it, some time later Mrs. Daly was in correspondence with Dr. Clyde Keeler of Georgia University who at that time had an interest in recreating a similar cat to the now extinct Egyptian spotted fishing cat. This "new breed" possibility rekindled Mrs. Daly's desire to breed Ocicats as a unique and distinct breed.

The Ocicat was put on exhibition in cat shows in Detroit and soon after, in the Minutes of a CFA annual appeared the words (paraphrased): "The Ocicat is a breed to be recognized for registration and is made up of Abyssinian and American Shorthair." which was not the correct combination so, when advised of the error, CFA simply added "Siamese." The results of this "error" was to add the beautiful silver color, prominent in American Shorthairs, to the gene pool. In 1966 on the verge of provisional status with CFA the drive imperative to such a task was rerouted. Mrs. Daly became the sole supporter of her Aunt who was in poor health, and by necessity the Ocicat had to take a back seat. There were only 99 Ocicats registered with CFA between the years 1966 and 1980.

In 1984 a new Ocicat breed club, Ocicats International, formed and due to its members efforts Provisional status with CFA was granted in 1986 and Championship status followed a year later. With Provisional status granted in 1986, the registry closed to Siamese and American Shorthair out-crosses, although Abyssinians are an allowable out-cross until 2005.


Disposition and Character

The Ocicat only looks wild! Its temperament is anything but ferocious. The Ocicat has a personality somewhat like a dog -people oriented, devoted and easy to train. The first Ocicat I bred, GC Saga Calamity Jane, taught me how to fetch when she was only four months old, and because of her desire to see the outdoors she made it clear that she was also adaptable to the leash. Ocicats dote on positive reinforcement and readily adapt to household rules. A sharp word or a small squirt from a water bottle can train them to stay off cabinets and shelves.

This breed loves human companionship so much that they will follow you from room to room. They love to watch their "people" doing even the dullest of activities, which for me is laundry. I feel a little more like "Jane" and less like "Hazel" with my small Pride of spotted felines following me around. They love to sit on your lap or beside you if there is another in that favored position. They do not do well if left alone, on a regular basis, for long periods. Their sociable nature makes them less suited than some of the other breeds for this but makes them a good choice for a household that already has other cats and dogs. It also makes them a good choice for families with children.


Wild Looks

Above all else the Ocicat is a spotted cat. Its short coat has a sheen like satin stretched over rippling muscles.

The physic of the Ocicat is imposing. They are muscular and lithe with the suggestion of a stalking animal capable of great speed. The females weigh between 7 and 11 pounds and males average up to 15 pounds or larger. The Ocicat is a medium to large cat that feels heavier than it looks because of its good boning and dense muscle. Many CFA Judges remark, when taking the Ocicat from the judging cage, on his surprising weight and because of this (and its looks) are very pleased that this breed is amiable to handling. It is alert to its surroundings and shows great vitality. In the Show Ring if the Judge does not bring "the toys" out fast enough, a seasoned show Ocicat will often go looking for them himself.

The Ocicat Show Standard is broken down equally between points given for Head, Body, Coat, Color, and Pattern.

The head is a modified wedge framed by moderately large alert ears. The almond-shaped eyes are large and slant towards the ears. The trademark of the breed is a well developed square muzzle that makes the Ocicat look as if it would be right at home in a Tarzan movie.

The body of an Ocicat should be solid and rather long-bodied with depth and fullness. The back dips behind the shoulder and rises over the hips, giving the animal a very athletic appearance. The tail is fairly long with a slight taper from base to dark tip.

The coat on an Ocicat is tight, close-lying and sleek with a good sheen. It is an agouti coat and where the bands of color, or ticking, lie form the pattern. The difference in shading of each band of color form a beautiful contrast between the ground color and its darker spots.

The Ocicat comes in 12 colors. Tawny, Chocolate, and Cinnamon each have their own color class. There is also a Silver color class; Chocolate-Silver , Cinnamon-Silver, Silver, Blue-Silver, Lavender-Silver, & Fawn-Silver as well as a dilute color class for the other 3 colors; Blue, Lavender, & Fawn.

The pattern on an Ocicat is made up of thumb-shaped spots and other tabby markings. There is an intricate, often broken, tabby "M" on the forehead extending over the head. Rows of spots run along the spine from shoulder blades to tail. Spots and brushstrokes are scattered across the shoulders. There are broken bracelets on the lower legs and broken necklaces on the throat. Large well-scattered spots swirl along the torso forming a bull's eye - a spot circled by spots.



The pattern and its contrast give a very dramatic appearance. As a breeder of Abyssinians in 1987 this is what first attracted me to the breed. I bred Abys because of my desire to have a little Mountain Lion in my house. When I first saw an Ocicat I too went, "Oh, Wow!" and realized that here was even a wilder looking creature with the pelt of an Ocelot and the size and presence that made these domestic cats more closely resemble their distant cousins. Rare, wonderful, romantic, exotic - these are all words used to describe this intelligent breed of cat. The Ocicat clearly answers the wish many cat fanciers have for a large, imposing cat: one that resembles the spotted cats of the wild yet displaying the gentle temperament of a domestic cat. The Ocicat fulfills our dreams with the answer to the question, "Oh, wow, is that cat yours?"

Pet & Show Quality Kittens Available With Health & Temperament Guarantees!

Southern California

Shana Otis-Kuhnert

Phone: (909) 737-7372
Fax: (909) 737-1447
E-mail: oksaga@earthlink.net

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