Ocicat: Just Another Bengal Wannabe?
Ocicats Are Very Attractive Faux-Bengals
Let's face it. There are some advantages in breeding a cat exclusively from domestic stock. You don't have to wait generations until the males become fertile. You don't have to carefully manage the breeding program so that the wilder characteristics don't resurface and turn into viciousness or ferocity. It's overall an easier and more rational way to breed domestic cats.
The downside is that you cannot reproduce the wild cosmetic and personality characteristics that are so sought-after by the exotic domestic cat fan. You're just mixing up genes of what everyone already knows, and the outcome is unlikely to be jaw-dropping or stupendous.
That's the tale of the Ocicat, a very handsome and attractive kitty with a lovely cat personality. However, there are very few people who would even remotely assume that there is any lineage from the Ocelot or any other wild cat. The Ocicat is a really nice tabby with dotted-line markings masquerading as spots. In all fairness, though, some of the latest Ocicats do a really good job at mimicking a Bengal's spots.
Years before Jean Mill began her Asian Leopard Cat program which culminated in today's Bengals, Michigan breeder Virginia Daly had bred an Abyssinian with a Siamese and ended up with a somewhat spotted kitty they named Tonga. Although they ended up neutering Tonga and selling him as a pet, further breedings of the same parents produced some more "spots" and they became the ancestors of today's Ocicat, along with some Silver American Shorthair Tabbies that were added for color and markings.
Ocicats come in quite a few interesting colors: tawny, chocolate, cinnamon, blue, lavender, fawn, silver, chocolate silver, cinnamon silver, blue silver, lavender silver, and fawn silver. Some of the more golden varieties will give a Bengal vintage 1995 a good run for their money, but unfortunately (for the Ocicats anyway) they are bereft of glitter.
Although Ocicat breeders will insist that their kitties demonstrate a lot of the same behaviour patterns as Bengals, including their love for water, my own experience does not bear that out. I've yet to come across an Ocicat who will do anything but run away from getting wet.
An Ocicat makes an excellent pet and is generally less expensive to buy and to maintain than a Bengal, as it lacks the Bengal proclivity for intestinal problems. Ocicats truly are lovely kitties... and besides... don't they say that mimickry is the best flattery?