Getting to Know Your Ocicat

This week in our series on Getting to Know Your Cat Breed we are featuring the Ocicat. The Ocicat received its unusual name because of its distinct resemblance to the wild Ocelot.

Life expectancy:  10-15 years

Size:  Ocicats are a large and athletic looking cat ranging from 6 to 15 pounds.

Color:  Their coats may vary in color from a tawny or chocolate to a light silver color, but they all possess the distinctive thumb-shaped spots running along their flanks and spine.  

Origins:  Ocicats are a recently developed breed and the results of a happy accident. A breeder (Virginia Daly of Michigan) was breeding an Abyssinian with a Siamese in the hopes of tweaking the appearance. After several cross breedings, an ivory cat with spots was born. This first Ocicat was named Tonga. But since this was not the original intent of the breeding program, Tonga was sold as pet and neutered.

Eventually other breeders became interested in the spotted cat and Ms. Daly repeated her original breeding program to produce the spotting and the Ocicat was born. They were recognized by Cat Fanciers in 1966.

Personality: They may look similar to a wild animal, but their looks are deceiving, they are actually quite docile and loving. They enjoy being part of the family and welcome new visitors to the home. Lap sitting is enjoyed as well.  They can be dog-like in their devotion to family.

The Ocicat is also very intelligent, some say one of the smartest cats. They can be taught their name and to come when called as well as to play games such as fetch and to walk on a leash. They enjoy being mentally challenged, so be sure and offer games that intrigue them.

Health Issues:  Ocicats are generally healthy but have exhibited some susceptibility to the following:

  • Amyloidosis, a hereditary disease that affects the liver or kidneys.
  • Pyruvate kinase (PK) another hereditary condition related to the development of anemia.
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) or a type of heart disease and periodontal disease.

Native foods for the Ocicat:  Native foods for the Ocicat are foods found in the United States and include: rabbit, deer, trout, salmon, apples, cherries, potatoes.

Good foods to feed your Ocicat: Based on the Ocicat’s origin, here are a few foods that contain some of the key ingredients that the original Ocicats would have likely eaten. This list is not meant to be exhaustive, but rather provide ‘food for thought’.

Fun facts about the Ocicat:

The Ocicat won their first CFA Championship in 1987.

Ocicats are natural born leaders and will quickly become the head of your pet household.

Visit for a website devoted to this breed.


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