An Exotic-Looking Cat with a Very Tame Personality
Shane Sykes - Last Updated on April 19th, 2021
Appearance Matters. What does the California Spangled look like?
Ideally, the California Spangled looks like a miniature leopard. With a short, sleek coat, it is long, lean, muscular, and "low-slung," with a stride that is reminiscent of a jungle cat. It has spots that distinctly resemble those of the leopard. These pets may have dark spots with a lighter-colored coat, but can be any of the following: gold, blue, bronze, red, chocolate, black, white, or silver. They have high cheekbones and whisker pads that are light and large. While they feature an exotically wild look, they are completely domesticated. In adulthood, these cats average 8 to 10 pounds for females and 12 to 15 pounds for males.
The markings can be distinctive in that the spots can be blocked or rounded, appearing on the back and sides of the body. They may be grouped together into "rosette" patterns, with the top of each foreleg demarcated with a dark "bar" of hair. Eyes are large, almond-shaped, and expressive.
It's all Personal. The California Spangled Personality
Intelligent, gentle, and energetic, this “savage beast” is actually very tame. Although an extremely affectionate animal, this intelligent feline also knows how to get its own way. California Spangled cats are very athletic, and can easily jump to great heights. In other words, don't think that priceless vase is safe on that upper shelf. Although not always, these cats can be vocal – so if you want a talker, be sure the kitten you choose is responsive in this fashion.
California Spangled cats get along well with other animals – although not rodents or other "prey" animals as is typical of any cat. They do like animal "buddies" if they are introduced early enough, although they don't mind being king or queen of the castle and the only pet in the household, either.
Caring for your California Spangled Cat
The California Spangled is quite healthy with no known health problems. Life expectancy is generally 9 to 16 years.
With the short, sleek coat, grooming is easy, and should be done similarly to that of any domestic shorthair cat. A thorough brushing several times a week will remove loose hair and prevent hairballs. Bathing is generally not necessary.
Feline History. Where does the California Spangled Cat come from?
When anthropologist Louis Leakey was horrified to learn that leopards were being killed by poachers, he inspired a man named Paul Arnold Casey, Jr. of California to breed a small, completely domesticated cat that resembled a leopard specifically to emphasize that it was important to protect such precious, exotic creatures.
Casey was a Hollywood playwright, scriptwriter, physicist and author. He went to Tanzania with Louis Leakey, and while he was working at the Olduvai digs in Africa in 1971, he found out that one of the last leopards in the area had been killed by a poacher. It was then that he and Leakey decided to create a cat that would be completely domesticated but would resemble a mini leopard. They hoped that this would encourage widespread affection for the breed and thus preserve – and conserve – the wild leopard.
After Casey returned, he wrote the novel “Open the Coffin.” That book records his journey to Africa and details the breeding that led to the California Spangled. He began by creating an 11-generation blueprint, which included a female Siamese and a spotted silver, long-haired Angora. From this was born a male that was silver with block-shaped spots. After that, Casey added American Shorthair, British Shorthair, Manx that was a spotted brown Tabby, and the Abyssinian. This created the original core bloodline, and then each breed was introduced specific to the original blueprint. The mating results were recorded on computer, with the final generation including street cats from Egypt and Malay to give the California Spangled a "wild" look.
In 1985, the look was achieved, and cat fanciers began to take notice. Casey formed the California Spangled Cat Association, which was developed in part to protect all wild species of cats that were endangered and to promote the California Spangled.
Ideally, the cat is supposed to look like a small leopard, or a "House-Leopard." Interestingly, Casey's motivation was in part to prevent people from wearing leopard fur, in that they would never want to wear coats that resembled their pets' fur.
In 1986, the California Spangled was introduced on the cover of the Neiman Marcus Christmas catalog. Casey sold the breed in that catalog for $1400 each, but animal activists protested because the catalog also sold ermine, beaver, and fox coats. Perhaps in part because of this controversy, the California Spangled became a breed in high demand, and while it helped Casey with his conservation message, it depleted his stock completely.
Today, breeders are trying to make the California Spangled more popular, but only about 200 of these cats exist at present; you'll have difficulty finding the California Spangled if you want one. It has become a more popular breed abroad than in the US. The International Cat Association may soon give it Championship Status, and the American Cat Association has accepted it for New Breed and Color status. Two International Grand Champions have been crowned in Europe, and a Grand Champion California Spangled won Best of Show in Paris in 1994.