The California Spangled Cat was bred specifically to mimic the appearance of spotted wildcats such as leopards and ocelots. Though still extremely rare, it has acquired a dedicated following.
This unique cat also has an unusual history that sets it apart from other cat breeds.
History of the California Spangled Cat
Paul Casey, a physicist, writer, psychic, mystic, and animal advocate, was inspired by a conversation with renowned anthropologist Louis Leakey to develop the California Spangled cat breed. Upon hearing that a rare African leopard had been killed by poachers in the area, Dr. Leakey and Casey considered the possibility that people might be more motivated to support big cat conservation if there were domestic cats that looked like small leopards. Also, people might be more averse to wearing fur if it looked similar to that of a beloved pet.
Despite the California Spangled’s wild appearance, no wild cats were used in Casey’s 11-generation breeding program, which included a Traditional (Applehead) Siamese female and a male silver spotted Angora, followed by a British Shorthair, an American Shorthair, an Abyssinian, and a spotted brown Manx tabby. Next, a spotted Egyptian street cat was thrown into the mix, and this cat added not only the desired spots but also a pleasant, friendly temperament. Another shorthair, this one a domestic Malayan cat, was also added. Both spotted cats were quite muscular, and the latter had a soft, velvety coat.
By the mid-1980s, the breed was developed, and Casey began to promote it, using the unprecedented strategy of advertising this new breed in a Neiman-Marcus Christmas catalogue, wherein the cats were featured as his-and-hers gifts at $1,400 apiece. This was a controversial approach for a number of reasons. First, the catalogue also advertised fur coats and Casey was outspoken in his opposition to wearing fur. Second, animal-rights activists opposed deliberately breeding domestic cats. And finally, cat fanciers did not feel that another spotted breed was needed, given that there were several already.
The controversy had the effect of increasing exposure for this otherwise obscure new breed. Many California Spangled cats were purchased, so many, in fact, that the breed’s development was slowed due to depletion of breeding stock.
Given that there are very few California Spangled cats (only about 200 worldwide), the breed has not been accepted by the majority of cat associations, though devoted breeders are working to increase its numbers. Currently, only The International Cat Association (TICA) and the American Cat Association (ACA) recognize the breed.
The California Spangled cat is more popular abroad than in North America, with two International Grand Champions in Europe.
California Spangled Cat Appearance
The California Spangled cat’s spots may be square, round, oval, or triangular, and may be grouped in rosette patterns. The cat also has tabby stripes on its head, throat, and legs.
The California Spangled’s short coat is available in a broad array of background and spot colours, including black, blue, bronze, brown, charcoal, gold, red, and silver. There is also a “snow leopard” variant with white fur, black markings, and dramatic blue eyes.
In addition to its wild-looking spots, the California Spangled cat has a lean, long, muscular body. Its long tail is encircled with dark rings and finishes with a dark tip.
The California Spangled’s face has sculpted prominent cheekbones, a strong jawline and chin, well-developed whisker pads, and a broad muzzle. Ears are set high on top of the head, and eyes are wide-spaced, almond-shaped, and slightly sloping, ranging from gold to brown in colour.
California Spangled Cat Personality
The California Spangled Cat tends to be curious, sociable, affectionate, lively, and very intelligent. These cats are highly active and athletic, and love to perch in high places.
California Spangled cats are known for both their amusing acrobatics and their hunting prowess. These cats appreciate toys and games that enable them to simulate the hunt. However, despite their exuberance, California Spangled cats tend to be quite gentle with people.
The Cost of California Spangled Kittens and Cats
California Spangled cats remain quite rare, with long waiting lists and high prices. A California Spangled kitten costs at least $800 and may go for $2,500 or more. The second most expensive cat ever sold was a California Spangled, at $24,000.
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- Choron, S.; Choron, H.; & Moore, A. (2007). Planet Cat: A CAT-alog. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Company.
- Helgren, J.A. (2010). “Choosing a California Spangled Cat.” PetPlace.com.
- PetMD. (2008). “California Spangled Cat.” PetMD.com.
- The Furry Critter Network. (2010). “California Spangled.” FurryCritter.com.