What is an Ocicat?
Q) – An Ocicat is a cross between an ocelot and a domestic cat, right?
A) – No! Ocicats are an entirely domestic cat breed. Ocicats look like wild cats but have absolutely NO wild genes!
Q) – Okay, so how did they come about?
An American lady, Virginia Daly accidentality created the Ocicat. She was intending to develop a Siamese with the same colour points as an Abyssinian. First of all Mrs Daly mated an Abyssinian to a seal point Siamese female. The resulting kittens looked like Abyssinians. She kept a female from this litter and named her ‘Dalai She’. Then Mrs Daly mated Dalai She with Whitehead Elegante Sun, a chocolate point Siamese. The litter from this mating included Siamese and Abyssinian points. She repeated this breeding. To her surprise, the litter included a male kitten coloured ivory with golden spots. This male kitten was named Tonga. Mrs Daly’s daughter declared that Tonga looked like an Ocelot, She wanted to call him Ocicat, as a result, the breed was named.
Tonga was neutered and sold as a pet. However, a well-known geneticist, Dr Keeler, heard about Tonga from Mrs Daly. Dr Keeler became very interested because he wished to create a cat that was similar in looks to the extinct Egyptian Spotted fishing cat.
As Virginia Daly could not use Tonga she, therefore, re mated his parents. It produced a yellow-spotted male, which she named Dalai Dotson.
Throughout the 1960s Mrs Daly worked on her new breed but progress slowed in the 1980s when she became unable to continue her work in the same way.
Other breeders took up Mrs Daly’s work and became fascinated by the spotted cats and wanted to develop new lines.
To bring in the silver colour, American Shorthairs were introduced in the breed. The American Shorthair also increased the muscularity of Ocicats. Eventually, the breed moved forward and TICA granted the Ocicat championship status in August 1986.
Ocicats in the UK
The first two Ocicats brought into the UK were Mr Smith and Miss Jones. They were both Tawny. They arrived in 1988 from the Catoninetail Cattery, Indiana. Unfortunately nothing much came of them. Then due to caring for them whilst they were in quarantine (that was before an effective rabies vaccine was available) Mrs Rosemary Caunter (Thickthorn) got, as she herself says, the Ocicat bug. Very soon she had her first two pairs of Ocicats. These were a Tawny male, a Cinnamon Ocicat Variant, a Cinnamon Female and a Chocolate Silver female. A short time later a Catoninetail Male and a female from L’Belle cattery followed.
Several other breeders helped to develop the Ocicat breed in UK., With Thedallco, Launmeadow, Winnothdale and Nwella, being early prefixes.
In 1997 the GCCF awarded Preliminary Recognition to the Ocicat breed. GCCF granted Ocicats Provisional Status in 2001. Then in October 2004, GCCF granted Ocicats Championship Status, this took effect in June 2005.
In order to improve the Ocicat gene pool, GCCF breeders are able to use the Abyssinian breed (one of the foundation breeds) as an outcross to Ocicats. This practice is also allowed in the CFA and GCCF
Often called dogs in cat’s fur because of their devotion and confidence, Ocicats love their families. Ocicats are highly interactive cats who always want to know what you are up to. Easily trainable, they are also very agile and enjoy a good play session – especially if it involves chasing after their favourite toy.
Ocicats are highly agile cats. Owners therefore often finding an Ocicat peering down at them, from the highest spot in the room.
Ocicats are neither demanding nor clingy cats. They love to be with their humans as much as possible. However, an Ocicat isn’t above nudging you for a bit of attention.
They have a distinctive and happy purr. They use their purr often and generously. Ocicats are great talkers after the fashion of their Siamese ancestors. Many owners report their Ocicats will actively engage in conversation, answering and commenting with great sincerity. Ocicats often, therefore follow their humans from room to room to get the last word.
The Ocicat Classic Breed
Around the years 1999 to 2004 more and more Classic Tabby patterned Ocicats were being born in litters in the UK. In 2006, Mrs Monika Maudlin approached an Ocicat breeder, for a Classic Patterned Ocicat for the purpose of breeding Classic Tabby Ocicats. Following that, the Ocicat BAC decided to approach the GCCF to recognise the Classic Tabby Patterned Ocicat as a separate breed. The Ocicat Classic gained provisional recognition at the GCCF Council Meeting of October 2008. Provisional recognition meant Ocicat Classics could be shown for Merit Certificates, as soon as it was practical for Show Managers to include the breed in their Show schedules. The first show where this was possible was the Short Hair Cat Society Show on 10th January 2009.
The Ocicat Classic gained GCCF champion status in 2013. Ocicats can now be shown in competition.
The GCCF name for Classic Tabby Patterned Ocicats has, since then, been changed to ‘Aztec”. That Aztec name can be confused with the original Aztec cat (also called the New Mexican Hairless). They are, however, unrelated.