Are you planning on bringing in a new cat friend? Maybe the Ocicat will be something for you. An Ocicat is particularly known for its special, wild stains pattern and social character. This cat is one of the most popular spotted cats in the world. Especially in the US this cat is very popular, but it is already greatly appreciated by many people in Europe. Would you like to know more about this special appearance? Curious about the origin of this ‘wild’ domestic cat? Then read on!
The origin: a cat from the United States
The first spotted Ocicat originated in the United States in the early 1960s. When an American breeder crossed a chocolate point Siamese with an Abyssinian, thinking of breeding point cats, she discovered a kitten in the litter that differed from the rest. This kitten was named Tonga and is recognized as the very first Ocicat in the world. So, the Ocicat actually came into being by accident. It was named after the Ocelot, a South American wild cat. Afterwards it was also crossbred with the American Shorthair, resulting in sturdier, bigger cats in all kinds of beautiful colours. By crossing the Ocicat with an American Shorthair, the beautiful spotted pattern came even better to the fore.
In 1966 the breed was officially recognized in the USA by the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) and in 1987, when the breed was developed far enough, it received championship status. Not until 1992 that the cat was recognized as a breed by the European cat association Fédération Internationale Féline (FIFe) and the cat became very popular in Europe. The Ocicat was first seen in the Netherlands in 1995. So, the Ocicat is a relatively new breed.
The character: intelligent, playful and friendly
Before buying an Ocicat, it is of course also important to know what the typical characteristics of this breed are. Although this cat resembles a wild cat, its character and temperament is just like any other domestic cat and the opposite of ‘wild’. This breed is very friendly, energetic and good with children. An Ocicat can also adapt very well to its environment. They love to live in a large house with a garden in which they can play, but the Ocicat can also live in a smaller house. In the second case it is important that the cat can use its energy, a scratching post and plenty of cat toys are very welcome.
The Ocicat is sweet, curious, affectionate and intelligent. Would you like a cat that can teach you tricks? Then an Ocicat is a good choice. They are so smart that you can teach them to open doors and drawers. They can also be taught to fetch and walk on a leash. In addition, this breed is very attached to its owner. Because of its social character, an Ocicat can become your best friend, but also needs a lot of time and attention. This breed is therefore not suitable for families who are away from home for a long time. An Ocicat cannot be left alone for a long time.
To give this cat enough company you can also choose to take in another animal. An Ocicat can get along well with other cats as well as dogs because of its gentle nature. Of course, it is important that he gets used to other pets from an early age. On the other hand, an Ocicat can also be very dominant. They have a staring look which they use to dominate. Because of this you can’t just put them together with any other breed because they can appear threatening. If you want to give your Ocicat company by putting them together with another animal, it is best to ask the breeder what the best combination is.
The appearance of the Ocicat
The Ocicat is a medium to large sized cat with an athletic, well muscled and firm body. Because the body and legs are quite long, he looks limber, slim and elegant. When the cat is lifting it is heavier than you expect, this is due to its considerable bone and muscle development. The cats weigh between 3,5 and 5 kilos on average, males can weigh between 6 and 8 kilos.
To support the firm, hard and rather long body of this cat, he also has four sturdy legs. These are medium long, muscular and in good proportion to the body. The feet are oval and compact, with the front feet having five toes and the back feeding four. The muzzle of the Ocicat is broad and seems a bit square, from the side the muzzle is fairly long. In addition, the Ocicat has a firm chin and fairly large ears that are wide apart. The eyes are large, slightly slanted and almond-shaped. The eyes of the Ocicat are mostly amber or green. The head of this cat is moderately wedge shaped, with a slight curve visible from the muzzle to the cheek. The tail of this cat is relatively long and tapered, the tip of the tail always has a dark colour. The coat of this cat is one of its most striking characteristics, the spotted pattern gives the cat a special and wild appearance. It is reminiscent of the big feline.
The coat and coat colour of the Ocicat
The Ocicat has a short and shiny coat that lies tight on the body of the cat. The coat is smooth and feels very soft. Important with the coat of the Ocicat is that the colours are beautiful and bright and that there is a clear pattern of spots visible. The lightest colours of the coat can usually be found on the face, near the eyes, on the chin and at the bottom of the jaws. The tip of the tail of the Ocicat is the darkest part of the coat.
Special about the Ocicat are the different patterns that run over its coat. The most striking pattern is the one on his torso. Nice contrasting spots run in rows along the spine from the shoulders to the tail. These spots are darkest in the middle and show a nice contrast with the light background of the coat. slightly more on the side of the torso are spots that are slightly larger and well spread. These spots give the suggestion of a more classic tabby pattern. The belly of the Ocicat also contains a good number of spots. On the lower legs and neck of this cat, broken rings are visible. On the forehead of the Ocicat there is a streaky tabby pattern, this has the shape of the letter ‘M’. These markings can also be found on the rest of the head and turn into small spots on the neck and shoulders. On the head the eyes are bordered with a dark colour after which it immediately changes into the lightest colour, also called ‘mascara’ markings. The tail of the Ocicat has another pattern, namely horizontal rings that extend all the way to the end of the tail. The tip of the tail is dark. These rings can be interspersed with spots.
The Ocicat comes in 12 different colour combinations and in most cases has a silver or light basic colour. The staining pattern of the coat can occur in the following colours:
In the tawny variant the cat has black or dark brown spots on a reddish or bronze background. The nose is red with a black border. The soles of the feet are black, and the tip of the tail is also black. This is the only colour that does not occur with a silver base colour. The black variant only occurs with a silver base colour. With all other colours the coat can be either warm ivory or silver. The different colour combinations also include different colours of the tip of the tail, the nose leather and the soles of the feet. For more information about the different colour combinations it is wise to take a look at the breed standard.
The upbringing: socialising is important
To build an optimal bond with your cat, it is important to socialise it from an early age.The socialisation of your kitten takes place in the first 14 weeks of his life. During this period kittens learn to deal with all the stimuli around them. They start copying their mother’s behaviour and interacting with brothers and sisters. Because this is essential for a healthy upbringing of a cat it is very important that the kittens stay with their mother for the first two months. After these 8 weeks the socialisation period between humans and animals starts.
When buying an Ocicat, it is important that it gets used to people around it from an early age. A kitten that immediately comes into contact with different people and animals will become a more sociable and curious cat. You can get your cat used to human touch by picking him up and stroking him from time to time. Once your kitten gets used to humans, grooming will also be much easier.
It is also important that the Ocicat gets used to other animals and sounds during his kitten period. An Ocicat can be quite dominant, therefore a good bond between your Ocicat and other animals is very important. If the cat is not socialised well, this can lead to behavioural problems. For example, a cat can behave very aggressively. There can also be anxiety and stress complaints, which can affect your cat’s health. Of course, you don’t want this, so make sure you socialise your kitten well!
The care of the Ocicat
If you let a kitten get used to human touch at a young age, it will also be much easier to take care of her. Think about cutting the nails, brushing the teeth and brushing the coat. The Ocicat’s coat is easy to groom. To keep it in good condition it is sufficient to brush the cat once a week. The Ocicat loves attention very much, so make brushing a nice moment for your cat. The Ocicat does not need any special care.
The nutrition an Ocicat needs
When you pick up your kitten from a recognised breeder, you will often be given nutritional advice. To prevent problems such as diarrhoea, it is important that this advice is followed during the first period. Usually, the kittens get high quality food from breeders, such as Royal Canin.4 This food is often a bit more expensive. If you would like to give your cat another food, it is important that he gradually gets used to it.
How much food you feed your adult cat depends on how active he is. If you have a large garden around your house where he can climb and clamber, your cat will probably need more food to replenish his energy level. Is your cat less active? Then it’s safe to give him a little less food. It’s important to ensure that your cat doesn’t become under- or over-feeding. The water bowl and dry food should be left on day and night so your cat can eat or drink whenever he wants
Common diseases in the Ocicat
The Ocicat is a fairly new breed, so it is not really clear, yet which diseases are common in these cats. Because an Ocicat originated from the Siamese and Abyssinian, unfortunately he has taken over two diseases that are also common in these breeds. One of these diseases is amyloidosis, an abnormality in the protein metabolism. Because of this disease, the functioning of an organ or cells can be lost. In addition, the eye disease PRA also occurs frequently. This eye disease causes the retina of the cat’s eyes to deteriorate, as a result of which he can become completely blind. You also have to watch out for a disturbed energy metabolism of the red blood cells, because this can cause the cat to die at a very young age. So, it is important that you have your Ocicat regularly tested for these diseases at the vet!
How old can an Ocicat get?
The average age of the Ocicat is between 15 and 18 years. How old your cat gets also depends on the care and health of the cat. How your cat feels emotionally plays an important role in its health. If you give him sufficient attention and he has a clear sleeping, eating and playing rhythm, then the chance that your cat will grow older is also much greater!
What to look out for before you take an Ocicat in your house
Of course, a cat is not a small purchase, it is a living creature that needs a lot of love and attention. That is why it is important that you take a number of things into account when purchasing an Ocicat. First of all, just like with any other breed of cat, it is important that you buy your Ocicat from a recognised breeder. Also, with cats there is unfortunately so-called bread breeding. Do you want to know if you make a safe choice? Make sure you choose a breeder who does not breed ten different breeds. If he does, he will probably only breed for the money. Good breeders are interested in the future of the breed and are usually members of a breed club. In addition, the bloodline of a breed is distinguished by the use of titles such as Grand Champion (GC), National Breed (BW) and Agility Titles (AC).
It is also important that you know for sure that the kitten stayed with his mother for the first 8 weeks. If you have to wait a long time for your kitten, that is often a good sign!
Also, the mother queen can be a good indicator if the kitten is healthy or not. If the mother queen has a social character, there is a big chance that the kitten will have this too. The mother queen may have lost weight by giving milk, but a healthy mother queen still looks fresh and clean.
When you are going to see the kitten, it is important to make sure he looks healthy. For example, you can check whether the eyes are clear, the ears and nose are clean and whether the coat is shiny and clean. All these little things are indicators of a cat’s health. It is also important that you ask the necessary questions. Are the kittens dewormed at 3,5 and 7 weeks of age? Have the kittens received vaccinations at 9 and 12 weeks of age?
Besides health, it is also important to pay attention to the social behaviour of the kitten. A kitten should be playful and curious. If you notice that the kitten is blowing at you or that you find it annoying that you want to pick him up, chances are that you have a kitten that is less social. If you are really looking for a cuddly cat, it is best to avoid that.
Another thing to pay attention to when buying the kitten is the environment in which he was born. Not only the kitten, but also the environment has to be clean. This means that the kitten’s food has to be clean, but also the water bowls, the litter tray and the house itself. Why is the environment also very important? The environment will tell you a lot about how the kitten grew up. The first 9 weeks are crucial for the kitten, they will then learn to deal with people. If the house is not clean, the kitten may not be well taken care of. This can cause anxiety and stress problems for the cat. The kitten also has to learn that household appliances like a hoover are not monsters.
In the Netherlands there are a number of breed clubs dealing with everything related to the Ocicat. There is the working group Oci-Minded and Ocicat Club Holland. Internationally, the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) also provides a lot of information about this breed.