Ailurophiles

 

Cat Lovers have long admired the beauty, grace and athleticism of the wild cats, while secretly harboring a desire to make one a family pet.  The latter is impractical to say the least, yet there is now a way to bring a little of the jungle into your home.  A serendipitous breeding between two different varieties of domestic, pedigreed cats created the first "spotted" living room leopard---

the Ocicat (pronounced Ah-see-cat).  Possessing the temperament of a lap cat and the look of a "wild thing," the Ocicat breed has captured the fancy of ailurophiles (cat lovers!) everywhere.

 

 

Wild Beginnings

 

It was in 1964 that Mrs. Virginia Daly, while breeding an Aby-Siamese hybrid female, Dalai She, to a chocolate-point Siamese male, Ch Whitehead Elegante Sun, found an unusual little spotted ball of fur---a male kitten with golden spots on an ivory background!  It wasn't until after this spotted beauty named Tonga was neutered, that Mrs. Daly decided her spotted companion was also a treasure.  She abandoned her experimental breeding program to create Abyssinian pointed Siamese cats, and turned her attention to breeding the spotted kittens that reminded her daughter of the Ocelot.  Thus the name and the spotted breed of Ocicat was born.  

 

She soon decided she needed to add bigger bones, a wider head, and a muscular body to this new spotted hybrid, so she chose an American Shorthair to add into the breeding program, creating a man-made hybrid of three separate and distinct domestic pedigreed cats.  This addition added the classic pattern to our breed, which is now registered in the UK. Originally there were 3 dominant colors of Tawny (black), Chocolate (brown), and Cinnamon (orange), but the second gift from the gene pool of the American Shorthair, the silver inhibitor gene, increased the potential spotting colors from the 3 dominant colors to 6, producing a cat resembling a Snow Leopard!  What is interesting to note, is that the spotting pattern is actually a banding of the hair shaft, giving the illusion of a spotted pattern.  There are no spots on the skin.  The presence of a dilute recessive gene, expressed from both parents, results in the potential expression of 6 more colors of spots, for a total of 12 registerable colors.  

 

How could Mrs. Daly have imagined that her creative breeding efforts would produce a spotted breed of cat, bred without the help of a feral or wild cat gene pool---and without a correspondingly wilder temperament?  Instead, with only domestic cat bloodlines, the Ocicat possesses the best of both worlds---a companionable, loving, playful, intelligent temperament---and, the athletic, muscular, spotted look of a wild cat.