Unlike the shadowy origins of the Abyssinian, the Ocicat history is very clear. It was the accidental outcome of an experimental mating between a Siamese and an Abyssinian back in 1964! This mating was originally undertaken by Virginia Daly in Michigan USA, in an attempt to produce an Aby-pointed Siamese! The second generation of this breeding programme included one golden spotted kitten she named Tonga. Her daughter said that Tonga looked very much like an Ocelot and nicknamed him an Ocicat!
Tonga was neutered and therefore was not truly the beginning of the breed, but he takes credit for being the cat that whetted the appetite of possibility!
Mrs Daly began corresponding with Dr. Clyde Keeler of Georgia University, Dr. Keeler had a particular interest in developing a breed similar to the long extinct Egyptian Fishing Cat and Mrs Daly felt that Tonga fitted the bill! Subsequently a repeat of the original mating was carried out, and in this way the Ocicat came into existence.
The three base colours are tawny (black), chocolate and cinnamon, and the dilute colours from these three are blue, lilac and fawn respectively. Then there is the 'silver' version of these six colours, the silver was introduced by a permitted outcrossing to the American Shorthair. The silver colours are; black silver, chocolate silver, cinnamon silver, blue silver, lilac silver and fawn silver, giving 12 possible colours overall.
The breed should exude the look of the wild cat, both in its stunning markings and in its stance. The uncanny likeness to the liquid movements of a stalking lion, or hunting leopard can be seen best when the Ocicat is absorbed in a serious bug hunt! This wild look is probably the most precious quality of the Ocicat, and embodies the unique essence of the breed.
The Ocicat is a medium to large breed, muscular and heavy for its size. The head should be wedge shaped with a broad squarish muzzle. Large almond-shaped eyes which should not be blue, are dark rimmed with wishbone markings extending onto the brow and cheeks. The tail should be fairly long with no taper, in proprtion to the body and showing banded markings. The tail tip is a solid colour and determines the true colour of the cat. There should be a true 'tabby' M pattern on the head, with the head markings breaking up into clear spots as they continue down the neck and onto the shoulders.
Since its origin in 1964, the Ocicat has grown in popularity and been exported around the world, coming to the UK during the 1980's. Having gone through all the stages of recognition with the GCCF full championship status was finally achieved in June 2005.