Ocicats are cute little cats that look like they belong in a cartoon – but it is important not to be fooled by their seemingly innocent looks.
They also happen to be very intelligent animals, with some being trained to perform tricks and follow orders – scientists believe that these cats are even capable of learning complex tasks such as playing video games or solving puzzles using a method called “trial and error”.
This means that they try out several solutions before finding the correct one, and is a testament to how smart these felines truly are.
Overall, these are fascinating creatures, and learning more about them is time well spent – which is exactly why we have put together everything you need to know about the humble Ocicat!
History Of The Breed
Ocicats as we now recognize them were originally the result of the breeding of an Abyssinian-pointed Siamese in 1964, by Virginia Daly in Berkley, Michigan.
On her first attempt, the kittens resembled their Abyssinian ancestors closely, but by the second generation, the emergence of an Abyssinian-pointed Siamese was apparent, alongside a curious spotted kitten, who was named Tonga.
The breeder’s daughter christened the furry feline with the moniker “Ocicat”, and he was then neutered, and sold to his new family to live out his days as a happy housecat.
The breeder then returned to Tonga’s parents for more kittens, and the next generation contained a number of other spotted kittens, who then became the basis of a specialist breeding ground to create more of the Ocicat.
Over time, other breeders emulated the recipe, breeding Siamese with Abyssinian, and the resulting offspring with Siamese. Later down the line, the American shorthair also entered the chain, resulting in the addition of silver to the range of colors available, and introducing larger bones to the breed.
In the modern-day, the Ocicat is a popular breed found across the globe and famed for a wild-looking appearance combined with a docile, domestic temperament.
An ideal Ocicat should have almond-shaped eyes, a large, powerful body, muscular legs, oval-shaped paws, and long ears. The head is a long, narrow wedge shape, and is narrower than it is long, with ears that tilt at a 45-degree angle.
The body is large, strong, and well-muscled; there is a definite aura of power and strength that surrounds Ocicats, and this is derived from the introduction of the American Shorthair into the breeding history of the breed.
As a rule, males tend to weigh between 9 and 15 pounds, while females weigh around 6 to 9 pounds.
One of the most striking elements of the Ocicat is the large spots that cover the coat – these are shaped almost like a thumbprint, and help to make this a very distinctive and attractive breed.
The majority of registries have approved and recognized a total of twelve color variations for the Ocicat – while the standard shades tend to be a tawny color, cats may also come in cinnamon,
chocolate, lavender, fawn, blue, ebony silver, black silver, blue silver, cinnamon silver, chocolate silver, fawn silver or lavender silver.
Ocicats are known for their friendly, curious, and dominant temperaments, and are thought to have inherited a number of personality traits from both their Abyssinians and Siamese ancestors.
Both are breeds that have been domesticated for the last several thousand years and have subsequently formed a strong bond with humans. Ocicats are very similar and tend to be super sociable, friendly, and keen to greet any guests or visitors to your home.
Many pet owners find them to be welcome additions to their homes, and, for the most part, they are happy to fit into family life, living peacefully with other pets and children who are patient and gentle.
The friendly nature of the breed has also seen them being compared to dogs in many situations, and this is particularly relevant when their intelligence is considered and studied.
Many Ocicats can be trained to fetch objects, walk on a leash, come when called, talk, sit, lie down, and other dog-like tricks – some even take readily and easily to water.
They’re also known for their amazing agility and tend to be motivated by playing with toys. Given these characteristics, the Ocicats require more attention from their owners than most breeds.
Overall, this is a sociable breed, known for getting along well with people, and will appreciate a feline friend or another animal companion to help keep them company if their owner is planning to be out of the house for an extended period of time, as they can get lonely quickly, and enjoy company.
Another aspect of the ocelot that makes them a good family pet is their reluctance to stray far from home – while they have retained many of the habits of their ancestors, such as hunting, chasing, and pouncing, they tend to stay close to home, and will be more than content pottering around a well-fenced garden or yard.
As with any breed, ocelots are sadly susceptible to a number of conditions and health issues, and it is important to be aware of these before you invest in a kitten and fall in love – having a sensible understanding of health issues helps you to be prepared, spot warning signs, and obtain the necessary insurance.
Some of the main issues that tend to impact ocelots include:
Amyloidosis may be hereditary. It occurs when a substance called “amyloid,” an insoluble protein, accumulates in organs such as the kidney or liver and can cause dysfunction, lesions, and, in the long term, organ failure.
Pyruvate Kinase is an important regulatory enzyme in the energy metabolic pathways of red blood cells. In some cases, cats can become deficient in the enzyme, and this can result in anemia.
This is a hereditary condition, and is the result of a recessive gene being able to enter the breeding pool – the gene can also be removed from the gene pool using simply DNA testing.
There is a move amongst breeders to prioritize testing for pyruvate kinase, and breeding away from it – in the long-term, this will help to eliminate the disease altogether.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM)is the most common form of heart disease that tends to present itself in cats and can cause hypertrophy, or thickening, of the muscle of the heart.
A heart ultrasound, known as an echocardiogram, can confirm whether a cat suffers from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
Don’t buy from breeders who claim to be free of HCM – there is no way to guarantee that your cat won’t ever develop hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and so they are selling you a false promise.
Cats that will be bred should first be screened for HCM. If they test positive, they should be removed from breeding programs to help reduce the risk of the disease.
Ask the breeder to show proof that the cat’s parents are checked annually to ensure they don’t have heart murmurs. If you want to be sure that you’re buying from a reputable breeder, it’s always wise to buy from one who provides a written health warranty.
Caring For Your Ocicat
One of the most important things you will need to do for your pet is to ensure that they are groomed regularly – this helps to keep your cat free from knots and tangles, and will reduce the risk of them becoming sick with hairballs or other blockages.
The Ocicats’ short coat is easy to groom. Use a rubber curry brush weekly (or even daily) to remove dead hair and redistribute skin oils across your cat’s coat.
This will help the coat to shine and remain free from tangles, while the natural oils will help to keep your cat healthy.
Baths are rarely necessary unless you plan to show your cat. However, if you do decide to bathe your cat, look for a cat shampoo that will enhance his gorgeous coats: bronze-toned for brown, chocolate and cinnamon spotted tabbies; pearled-toned for blue, lilac, and fawn cats, and white-toned for silver Ocicats.
These options will help to bring out the natural shine of the animal, and allow them to look and feel their very best – as an added bonus, many
Ocicats are not that fussed about water, so you should emerge from the situation with most of your skin still intact!
There are a few other steps that you can take to keep your kitty happy and healthy; nail trims can be carried out weekly, or as needed, and the ears should also be checked weekly for any discharge or redness – this, along with an unpleasant odor, may indicate an infection.
If the ears look unclean, clean them out with a cotton swab dipped in an ear cleaner recommended by your vet. You should get into the habit of brushing your cat’s teeth, using a pet toothpaste that has been approved by your vet – this helps to maintain fresh breath, good overall health, and dental wellbeing.
Scheduling a regular clean with the vet is also a good idea. Start getting your cat used to grooming as a kitten by trimming nails, brushing, and cleaning their teeth early on to get them into good habits.
Ocicats are wonderful pets, especially when matched well with suitable owners. They make great family companions and are extremely popular around the world.
The biggest problem people face when choosing their Ocicat is picking the right breeder – ask lots of questions, check credentials, and only purchase from a breeder you trust.