With its wild cat looks and active, engaging personality, the California Spangled Cat is a special kit indeed. In fact, the breed is a rarity, making them a much sought-after pet. Originally bred to resemble a leopard, this house feline boasts an impressive heritage, and is a mix of no less than six cat breeds. But his personality belies his wild appearance, and he is actually a big softy.
We explore what makes the California Spangled Cat shine when it comes to being a super-friendly pet and how, if you are lucky to find one, he could enhance your home.
History of the California Spangled Cat
The story of the California Spangled Cat sounds straight like it came straight out of movies. In the 1970s, Breeder and Hollywood scriptwriter, Paul Arnold Casey, decided to develop a domestic cat that looked like a miniature leopard. He came up with the idea after a trip to Tanzania, where he was struck by the plight of wild leopards and other spotted cats, who were being illegally poached for their fur.
Casey’s idea was to produce a domestic leopard-look-like cat to help raise awareness of how vulnerable the wild leopards were becoming. In fact, he was convinced that if he bred a cat that had the same leopard fur, then cat owners and others would stop buying real leopard fur coats.
In 1971, Paul Casey teamed up with the world-famous anthropologist, Louis Leakey to create what would eventually be known as the California Spangled Cat. Eight different cat breeds were used in the breeding program, including the Abyssinian, the Siamese, the American Shorthair, the British Shorthair, and the Manx, as well as the Angora.
The leopard-like look of California Spangled Cat as it is known today was perfected by the early 80s, and the purely domestic breed was formally introduced to the public in 1986. The first California Spangled Cats were sold to also raise money for wild cat protection and anti-leopard poaching projects, attracting high prices which made them desirable pets for many.
However, it was overshadowed by the more popular – and more widely available –spotted cats breeds, the Bengal and the Ocicat.
Following the passing of both Louis Leakey and Paul Casey, only a few breeders have continued with the program, which means the California Spangled Cat remains a rare cat breed indeed, leading to long waiting lists and a high price tag for any new California Spangled kittens that may become available.
It is thought that only 200 California Spangled Cats currently exist today.
Quick Facts about the California Spangled Cat
As an introduction to this remarkable ‘house leopard’, here are some must-know facts about the Spangled Cat to whet your appetite:
- A substantial cat, the adult Spangled can weigh between 9-15 pounds and reach up to 10 inches tall.
- The California Spangled Cat is a good choice if you are looking for a more hypoallergenic pet as they are not massive shedders and require minimal grooming.
- With its very sharp hunting skills, the Spangled is a breed of cats that adore playing and enjoy games. And that means he needs plenty of stimulation, attention, and toys to direct his at times wild energy!
- Although the breed is much sought after, the California Spangled Cat is extremely rare and is considered at risk of becoming an endangered breed.
- So rare is the California Spangled Cat, that the Cat Fanciers’ Association no longer offers a breed standard.
Things You Should Know About the California Spangled Cat
This gorgeous cat breed is super-rare, so if you are lucky enough to own one, then understanding how to care for them is a must. Here are the essentials you need to know about the California Spangled Cat.
Medium to large-sized, the California Spangled Cat has a muscular body shape which enhances its wild appearance. And as it was bred to resemble a wild leopard, the Spangled also has a distinctive low-slung walk which makes it look as if they are hunting their prey. The result gives you an initial impression of a domestic cat resembling something so much wilder; like your very own small leopard.
But it is the gorgeous spots on the coat – which can be either triangular, oval, or square spots– that truly sets California Spangled Cats apart. Fine haired with a soft, plush coat, the fur can either be gold, bronze, white, brown, charcoal, black, red, silver, or blue. Whatever the coat color, it is the defined spots and stripes that make this domestic leopard more than your average cat.
The head and face of the Spangled are as distinguished as its coat, with almond-shaped eyes, large whisker pads, and incredibly sculpted, conspicuous cheekbones. His eyes are mesmerizing too and are typically pale amber or a deeper copper in color tone. Less commonly, you can also get Spangled Cats with green eyes. However, white-coated California Spangled Cats – also known as the Snow Leopard California Spangled Cat comes with the most gorgeous blue eyes.
The good news about California Spangled Cats is that they are pretty robust when it comes to their health, with no specific hereditary health problems associated with this cat breed. They also have a decent life span and can easily live to around 16 years of age.
To keep your California Spangled Cat in good health, a regular flea and worming program is a must. And it’s a good idea to be mindful of some of the most common conditions and illnesses that all domestic cats are susceptible to, including cancer, heartworm, diabetes, ringworm, and upper respiratory chest infections.
Keeping your California Spangled Cat at a healthy weight is also essential, especially if they are a house cat and so not as active as a kit that spends time outside. And annual checks with your veterinarian will help to keep your California Spangled in good, all-round health.
As a highly energetic and athletic cat, the California Spangled needs quality protein to support their on-the-go lifestyles. Sufficient protein will provide all the essential amino acids this cat breed needs to support their energy levels, as well as for healthy muscles and immune systems.
Whichever brand of cat food you choose for your Spangled, ensure it has a high-quality protein as its number one ingredient and is nutritionally complete and balanced for your kit, their activity levels, and life stage.
The California Spangled is an active, energetic cat and so needs a home with plenty of space. While they do like to be outside, this breed is much sought-after and so it is best to be kept as a house pet. But if you can create a safe, enclosed space in your yard where they can explore, this could be the ideal way to care for your kit.
The Spangle has impressive athletic abilities and loves to play, climb, and jump so do provide a cat tree or shelving where they can safely elevate themselves, as they are also prone to accidental acrobatics!
Don’t forget to provide a few cat toys either, as this breed has a well-honed intelligence and sharp hunting skills. And, with their short but thick coat, this is also a breed that is adaptable to most climates, as long as they have access to plenty of fresh, clean water.
With the short, spotted spangle’s coat, the California Spangle doesn’t require too much grooming, with a weekly brush enough to keep their fur clean, healthy, and in tip-top condition. And, as California Spangled Cats love fuss and attention from their human, a leisurely grooming session could become one of their favorite things!
Other than their coat, you also need to regularly check your Spangled’s ears for dirt or wax build-up as well as signs of any infection that may need treatment. And always make sure they have access to a scratching post so that your kit can keep their claws nice and neat.
Yes, they do look like they have a wild side, but despite their muscular body, the California Spangled is a big softie and the breed really does make loving pets. Loving and sociable, they are also big fans of play meaning you will get plenty of interaction and active fun with your new feline member of the family.
But they do also have a gentle side and will bond well with their family, loving nothing more than to cozy up with you or your little ones on the sofa. And they get on well with other pets, including dogs and other cats, and are a joy to have with children.
However, their affectionate, company-loving and extremely devoted personality also means they are not too good when left on their own for long periods and can start exhibiting stress and worry behaviors when they start to get too lonely.
Considering how rare California Spangled Cats still are, then it will come as no surprise that this wild-looking breed also comes at a wildly expensive price. Their rarity, coupled with their popularity means you should expect to pay at least $800 for a California Spangled kitten, with prices often rising to $2,500.
The Last Word
The ‘house leopard’ may look a little on the wild side, but the California Spangled Cat was bred to be completely domestic. And his distinctive wild cat looks certainly set him apart, making him one of the most sought-after breeds.
Affectionate, devoted, playful, and fiercely intelligent, in many ways, the California Spangled Cat is the ideal domestic cat. Great with children and other pets, they love to play but are then happy to settle down with their humans at the end of the day.
But some of their wild traits are just beneath the surface, as this breed has exceptional hunting skills, high energy levels, and a playful curiosity that needs an outlet. This is why he is well suited to an active or young family.
However, the California Spangled Cat is becoming increasingly rare and so can command a premium price. And that means if you are lucky enough to have a Spangled, you will have a very exceptional cat indeed.