Similar to something you would see in the wild, the Ocicat is an agouti spotted cat with a strong, athletic build. Like an Ocelot, its short and soft coat has rows of spots that run along the spine from the shoulder blades to the tail, and large thumbprint-like spots across the side of the torso. And while the ideal Ocicat is large, it can also be medium in size.
There are twelve colors approved for the ocicat breed: tawny, chocolate, cinnamon, blue, lavender, fawn, silver, chocolate silver, cinnamon silver, blue silver, lavender silver, and fawn silver.
Looks can be deceiving. As such, the Ocicat is not wild, but rather warm and affectionate. An intelligent cat, it can be taught to recognize its name and come and go at your command. It is also a great cat for people who own other pets, as it is very social. The Ocicat can even use its agility to tap dance on the table or play various games with toys and objects around the house.
The original Ocicat was the unexpected result of a breeding experiment. In 1964, a cat breeder named Virginia Daly sought to create a Siamese with Abyssinian color points. To accomplish this she mated a Siamese female and an Abyssinian male, which produced Abyssinian-looking kittens. She then crossed a half-Abyssinian with a purebred Siamese and achieved the desired result. However, there was one unusual kitten with golden spots and copper eyes in the litter. It was later named Tonga, and nicknamed “ocicat” by Daly's daughter because of the similar-spotted wild cat: the Ocelot.
Daly realized she had unwittingly produced a new breed. And though Tonga was neutered and sold as a pet, further breedings of his parents would later provide the base for a breeding program.
The first Ocicat was exhibited in 1965, and by 1966 the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) recognized the breed. Unfortunately, the CFA made an error and listed the parent breeds as the American Shorthair and Abyssinian. For a short time the American Shorthair breed was introduced into the Ocicat’s bloodline, changing its color, shape and body structure.
Despite its early popularity, the Ocicat did not reach championship status until 1987. However, it can now be seen at many cat shows across the United States. A few Ocicats have even been exported to other countries, where it is also achieving much success.