The California Spangled Cat is a new breed with markings similar to the great spotted cats such as the leopard or cheetah, so admired for their beautiful coats. The Spangled Cat’s creator, Paul Casey, a physicist and screenwriter from Los Angeles, developed the Spangled with the wild look in mind.

A conversation with the late anthropologist Dr. Louis Leakey inspired Casey to create the Spangled Cat. When he was on assignment at the Olduvai digs in Africa in 1971, Casey was dismayed to hear that one of the last breeding leopards in that territory had been killed by poachers. In their conversation, Dr. Leakey and Casey explored the idea that if people had a domestic cat that looked like a mini-leopard, they would have a concrete reason to relate to the conservation problem.

Early in the 1970s Casey drew up an 11-generation blueprint, beginning with a female Traditional Siamese (also called the Old Style or Apple head) and a longhaired spotted silver Angora. Using this combination, Casey produced a silver male with block-shaped spots, exactly as he planned. The Angora also softened the fur type, since Siamese are noted for their coarser fur and Casey wanted a soft, close-lying coat to show off the dynamic spots. Casey then added British Shorthair, American Shorthair, spotted brown tabby Manx, and Abyssinian to create the “core” bloodline. Each breed was introduced in a precise order to provide a specific characteristic to the cat, and each litter and mating was noted in a computer program designed to record the bloodline. The breed’s development has some similarities to the development of another spotted breed, the Ocicat, in that Siamese and Abyssinian were used in the bloodlines, but the spotted silver Angora was combined directly with the Siamese to add the Angora’s soft fur type. The Abyssinian wasn’t added to the mix until later.

In the final generations, Casey added street cats from Malaya and Egypt that possessed the feral, primitive look he wanted. The Egyptian street cat, Casey claims, is a descendant of the original spotted cat worshiped in ancient Egypt. The cat had traits Casey wanted for his spotted breed: a domed forehead, heavy musculature, wide-set eyes, wide ear set, and well-defined whisker pads. The Malayan cat added musculature and a short, soft, velvety coat to counteract the Siamese coat’s coarser texture.

By 1985 Casey had the look he wanted, and had also attracted a small group of breeders to help promote the California Spangled. At that point he formed the California Spangled Cat Association (CSCA), not only to further the California Spangled but to work toward protecting the endangered wild cats.

In 1986 Casey introduced the Spangled Cat to the public via an advertising campaign in the Neiman-Marcus Christmas catalog, offering them for $1,400 each. The promotion was controversial, particularly since the same catalog featured items such as fox, beaver, and ermine coats. Animal rights people criticized the promotion and the breed itself, and some cat fanciers were not too thrilled about the idea, either. The three existing spotted purebred breeds, fanciers felt, should be enough for anyone, thank you. Casey even managed to anger the Neiman-Marcus people by saying people shouldn’t wear furs; however, Casey felt the exposure would benefit his work afterward. Casey has since used the publicity to further conservation causes, the most dramatic of which exposed and shut down a jaguar, ocelot, and margay poaching operation in South America.

Despite the controversy, response from the public was tremendous. Neiman-Marcus received hundreds of inquiries about the cats and took more orders than Casey could possibly fill. Perspective owners were interviewed to ensure that they would provide an appropriate home for a Spangled. This publicity helped Casey spread his message of conservation, but the demand for the cats also depleted his stock, which in turn slowed the process of the breed s development. Currently, breeding stock is limited and scattered throughout the world, sometimes requiring breeders to send their cats great distances to be bred. Worldwide population of the Spangled is less than 200 at the time of this writing.

The Spangled Cat is slowly working its way toward Championship status with TICA and the ACA. To achieve full acceptance, the numbers of cats and breeders must increase and owners will have to show their cats more diligently. Ironically, the breed has received more show acceptance in other countries than it has in the United States. The breed now boasts two Inter-national Grand Champions in Europe. In 1994 a Grand Champion Spangled named Lassik won Best of Show at the summer competition in Paris.

Despite the wild look California Spangled Cats are affectionate, social, and devoted to their humans. Noted for their energy and athletic abilities, they often perch at human eye level to get a good view of the action. They have strong hunting instincts and are easily intrigued by anything that moves. Known for their well-honed intelligence, Spangled Cats find ways to get what they want and make you love them for it.

The California Spangled resembles a little leopard with its well-defined spots, low-slung gait, and strong, muscular body. The forelegs are carried at a nearly 90-degree angle at the elbow, allowing the body to ride low, heightening the hunter-like quality to its gait. Ultimately, however, the spots set the breed apart. Blocked or rounded spots are preferred. Round, square, oval, or triangular shapes are permissible, while crescent, eyelet, or fish scale markings are considered faults. The spots should be in sharp contrast with the background color so that they are clearly visible and dramatic. Several new varieties of Spangled Cat have emerged since the breed began. The Snow Leopard, resembling the central Asian great cat by that name, is born white and develops markings as it becomes older. This kind is not a true color variety, but is rather a “recessive phase” color that can occur when two cats that carry the recessive gene are bred together. Genetically, it is akin to the pointed colors, and the eyes are therefore always blue.

  • N/A      Activity
  • N/A      Playfulness
  • N/A      Need for Attention
  • N/A      Affection
  • N/A      Need to Vocalize
  • N/A      Docility
  • N/A      Intelligence
  • N/A      Independence
  • N/A      Healthiness and Hardiness
  • N/A      Grooming needs
  • N/A      Good with children
  • N/A      Good with other pets

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