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The California Spangled cat has a wild cat appearance and a personality characterised by high energy levels and athleticism. These ‘house leopards’ also love playing games. As a result, you’ll find them pouncing on pretend prey or showing-off their superb hunting skills.
The California Spangled cat is medium sized with a lean and muscular body shape. They move gracefully with a low slung walk just like big cats when they move in to kill their prey. Exotic looking, their short spotted coat was bred to resemble that of a wild cat – with distinctive spots that can be triangular, square or oval in shape. In addition, they have sculpted cheekbones and almond shaped eyes which are usually pale amber to deep copper in colour.
In the 1970s, Hollywood scriptwriter Paul Casey decided to develop a domestic cat breed which resembled a miniature leopard. This idea came to him after a trip to Tanzania where he saw the plight of leopards and other spotted cats who were illegally poached for their fur. After that, he set out to breed a ‘house leopard’ to raise awareness and save the lives of these magnificent wild cats. He was convinced that people would stop buying expensive fur coats if the fur resembled their beloved pet.
Eight domestic cat bloodlines were used in the breeding program including: Siamese, Abyssinians, Manx, American Shorthairs and British Shorthairs, plus spotted cats which came from Egypt and Malaysia.
In 1986, the breeding program was successful and the California Spangled cat breed was introduced commercially. The breed made its debut on the front page of the American mail-order catalogue, Neiman Marcus in December 1986.
In their Christmas catalog, the California Spangled cat was advertised as a ‘His and Hers’ gift idea. They were described as “leopards for your living room… a purring, affectionate pet with the look of the wild. A jaguar whose natural habitat is your lap, not the jungle.”
However, whilst there was initially strong interest, the breed was slow to takeoff. With only 58 California Spangled cats ever registered, they remain a rare and exotic cat breed. The worldwide population peaked at 200 cats. Following the death of Paul Casey in 2007, the breed is no longer recognised.
California Spangled Cat Personality
With an affectionate, intelligent and playful personality this is a cat who enjoys taking an active role in family life. They enjoy play sessions and entertaining family members with their stalking and pouncing games which show-off their superb hunting skills.
They are known for their high energy levels and athletic ability, and because they’re intelligent this means they can easily be trained to walk outside on a leash. Like the leopard of the wild, California Spangled cats will actively seek out any high places. For instance, they love to climb trees, cat towers or your shoulder where they can survey their territory from above.
They also make gentle and loving pets. They form close bonds with their family and will happily enjoy cozying up on the sofa with you, day or night. Naturally friendly, they also get on well with other cats.
Did You Know?
It is thought that the popularity of two other lookalike wild cats – the Bengal and the Ocicat, overshadowed the development and establishment of the California Spangled cat as a popular breed.
Certainly, the high price tag of US$800 – $2,500 makes this an expensive breed, and has likely also impacted their popularity.
Caring for Your California Spangled Cat
California Spangled cats adapt well to life as an only pet, because they are independent by nature. They are a strong breed and because of this have no known hereditary health problems. Their short short sleek coat is easy to maintain and weekly grooming will keep it in good condition. With any active and intelligent breed, boredom can be an issue, so daily interactive play sessions are recommended.
Have you ever met a California Spangled cat?
We received this young female from the animal shelter in San Pedro. She is a real people- pet and full of energy. She likes to sit on my shoulder and really loves to play. But, with her sharp, little claws I usually wind up the loser. Rather than meowing she tends to ”chirp” and seemingly communicates when we speak to her. This is the most unusual & entertaining cat I’ve ever had, lots of fun.
We live in California and my human and I have been to dozens of cat shows… and I’m not sure we have ever seen a California Spangled!
I have never heard of this breed. Very cute cats,