The ocicat was an unexpected bonus produced from a breeding programme to create abyssinian pointed Siamese back in 1964. The original recipe devised by Mrs Virginia Daly, was a mating between an abyssinian stud to a seal point Siamese. The resulting progeny were all aby ticked as expected. A female from this mating was mated to a chocolate pointed Siamese. The resulting litter produced the desired Aby Pointed Siamese, but also seal, chocolate and lynxpoints, classic tabby, and a cinnamon spotted male kitten which was to be named Tonga. Tonga never produced kittens, but by repeating the mating that produced him, resulted in the foundation of the Ocicat breed we see today.
The American Abys and siamese of the 1960´s were heavier and larger than today. American Shorthair Cats were later used to introduce the silver gene to the initial tawny (black), chocolate, cinnamon and dilute colours blue, lilac and fawn.
The classic pattern also appears in some lines of Ocicats. This beautiful pattern is not eligible for champion status in Ocicats, as by definition the Ocicat is a SPOTTED cat. Classic patterned cats appear to improve the size and positioning of the spots in their progeny, as well as being spectacular in their own right. Most New Zealand Ocicat breeders are keen to see the classic patterned Oci´s renamed "Classicats". Classicats will hopefully be given their own breed, standard, and championship status. It is intended that the Ocicat and Classicat will be interbreedable as the Siamese and Oriental are.
So what are Ocicats like?
A medium to large breed of cat, with males weighing 6-8kgs at maturity (2yrs), and females 4-6kg.
"The cat should have an athletic appearance; well muscled and solid, graceful and lithe, yet with a fullness of body and chest. Alert to its surroundings, showing great vitality".
Distinctive spotting gives the ocicat its special jungle look. Ideally four lines of broken spots should run down the cat´s spine. Thumbprint shaped spots grouped into 'rosettes' should cover both sides of the cat´s body. Lines of spots or barring are less desirable than 'rosettes'. The tail is ringed with a spot between each ring. As with all agouti breeds, there should be a letter 'M' on the forehead. There is a thumbprint on the tip of each ear. All Ocicats have spotted tummies! The background colour in non-silver Oci´s should be warm no matter what colour the spots are. The spots should be obvious from which ever angle the cat is observed.
Ocicats seem to have inherited the best from the foundation breeds. A people oriented cat that enjoys human company in a dog-like fashion. Very affectionate, enjoying family activities rather than being a constant lap cat. Oci´s tend to enjoy greeting visitors, rather than hiding. Oci´s are known to enjoy carrying objects and toys, often leading to them being 'taught' to retrieve. Two Oci kittens are often happier together (rather than one on its own) in homes where owners are away from home for most of the day. Oci´s enjoy other 'family' especially children and dogs. The size and personality of Oci´s often win over the hearts of men who don´t normally consider themselves 'cat' people.
The skull is a modified wedge showing a slight curve from muzzle to cheek, with a visible, but gentle, rise from the nose to the brow. The muzzle is broad and well defined with a suggestion of squareness and in profile shows good length. The chin is strong and the jaw firm with a proper bite. The moderate whisker pinch is not too severe. The head is carried gracefully on an arching neck. An allowance is made for jowls on mature males.
Alert, moderately large, and set so as to corner the upper, outside dimensions of the head. If an imaginary horizontal line is drawn across the brow, the ears should be set at a 45 degree angle, neither too high or too low. When they occur, ear tufts extending vertically from the tips of the ears are a bonus.