When you decide to invite a cat into your family, it is important to choose the right breed for you. Each cat breed differs in terms of their physical characteristics and personality traits. Therefore, not every cat breed is suitable for every family, and you should find out as much as possible about a breed before making your decision. Finding out this information will help you to decide if the breed is the best choice for you and your lifestyle. Of course, there is also a matter of personal preference, as some breeds will appeal more than others. One of the lesser-known breeds that you might not have considered is the Sokoke. Here are 20 things that you might not know about the Sokoke cat.
1. It is a Natural Breed from Kenya
The Sokoke is a natural domestic cat that originates from Kenya. This breed is derived from the free-roaming feral cats of Kenya, which are called khadzonzo or kadzonzo. They are typically found in the Arabuko Sokoke national forest or on the city streets. It is currently the rarest domestic breed in the world. Some believe that the Sokoke cat was the sacred cat of the native Kenyan Giriama tribe and that the tribe addressed the breed with fond affection.
2. The Sokoke has Several Other Names
According to Wikipedia, the Sokoke is also known by several other names. It was previously called the African Shorthair, and some people continue to refer to this breed using that name. Its long name is the Sokoke Forest Cat, although most people simply shorten this name to the Sokoke. The name Sokoke is taken from the Arabuko Sokoke national forest, which is this breed’s natural habitat.
3. An Artist Discovered the Breed
The Sokoke was discovered in 1978 by wildlife artist and horse breeder Jeni Slater. However, the locals were already aware of the existence of these cats. Slater found them near the Watamu coconut plantation. She began to rear kittens, and their tameness disproved the theory that the Sokoke was potentially a hybridization of domestic and wildcats. Her breeding was the basis for developing the standardized breed of Sokoke from the khadzonzo landrace of feral cats.
4. The Breeding Program Extended to Denmark in 1983
In the late 1970sand early 1980s, the breeding program remained in Kenya and was completely controlled by Jeni Slater. Her close friend, Gloria Moledrop, bought a pair of Slater’s cats in 1983, then returned with them to her home in Denmark. It was a deliberate decision on Slater’s part to send the cats to Denmark, as she feared that they would not survive as a native cat in Kenya. Later, the breed was introduced to Europe and the United States after they were exported from Kenya by Jeannie Knocker, an Englishwoman who lived near Slater in Kenya.
5. They Are Probably Related to Several Other Cat Breeds
It is thought that the Sokoke cat is probably related to several other natural cat breeds. One such breed is the Lamu cat, which is an island-dwelling breed from further north off the Kenyan coast. It is thought that the Lamu cats are descendants of ancient Egyptian cats, says the Lamu Animal Welfare Clinic. There is some evidence that they are also related to the Egyptian Mau, which is a breed that was domesticated in the Fertile Crescent more than four thousand years ago.
6. They Were First Recognized as a Breed in 1993
Although they are potentially a native breed that is native to Kenya and have been bred since the late 1970s, Sokoke cats were not recognized as an official breed until 1993. The first organization to recognize the breed was the Federation Internationale Feline, which is based in Belgium. It was a demonstration of the consistent development of the breed at a cat show in Denmark that led to the breed’s inclusion on the breed registry.
7. The Sokoke is Now Recognized by Four Organizations
Since they were first recognized as an official cat breed, a further three organizations recognize Sokoke cats as an official breed. Therefore, there are now four organizations that include them on their lists. In addition to the Federation Internationale Feline, they are recognized by The International Cat Association (https://tica.org/) in the United States. This organization allows Sokoke cats to enter their events in the Preliminary New Breed class. The other two organizations that recognize Sokoke cats as an official breed are the Canadian Cat Association and the UK Governing Council of the Cat Fancy. These are some of the biggest cat fancy organizations in the world.
8. They Are a Medium-Sized Breed
A Sokoke cat’s body size is classed as medium-sized, and they have a lean and athletic appearance. However, they are long and thin with long legs, so they are slightly taller than the average medium-sized cat. An interesting fact is that their back legs are longer than their front legs. Compared to their bodies, Sokoke cats have a comparatively small head. There are some variations in Sokoke cats’ size and weight, and females are usually both shorter and lighter than males. Check with your vet the healthy weight range for your cat based on its breed, height, and gender. To ensure your cat maintains a healthy weight, make sure it eats a healthy and balanced diet, and gets lots of exercise.
9. They Have a Unique Gait
One of Sokoke cats’ most notable features is their unique tip-toe gait, which differs from the standard walk of most cat breeds. This gait is partly due to them having longer back legs and partly due to them having a straighter stifle.
10. The Sokoke Has Some Distinctive Physical Characteristics
The Sokoke cat has some distinctive physical characteristics that set them apart from other cat breeds. One of their most notable physical characteristics is their long ears, and another is their tapered tail. According to Vio Vet, Sokoko cats have a wedge-shaped face, and their eyes are either amber, light green, or shades between these two colors.
11. Most Sokoke Cats Are Brown
The Governing Body of the Cat Fancy says that most Sokoke cats are a modified Brown Tabby. They come in various shades of brown, and they have well-defined tabby markings. On the patterned areas of their coat, they have ticking. The blotched tabby pattern is distinctive from the markings of other tabby cat breeds. There are also Snow Sokoke cats, and these have a paler body color. They also have darker markings, but they are restricted to their points. Some Sokoke cats have a lynx point pattern. Although shades of brown are the most common colors for Sokoke cats, there are also some rare examples of different colors. These include blue, melanistic, and seal point lynx.
12. They Have a Short Coat
Sokoke cats have a short coat that is coarse yet lustrous. One of the main features of their coat is that they have hardly any undercoat. It is likely this is because they are native to Kenya, which is a warm country. Due to their short coat, Sokoke cats are easy to groom, and they do not shed a lot. However, there are also some long-haired specimens, but these are extremely rare. Like many short-haired cat breeds, the Sokoke may struggle in extremely cold conditions, although they can become acclimated to colder climates.
13. They Lively Cats That Are Keen Climbers
Each cat breed has different personality traits and enjoys different activities. One of the favorite activities of Sokoke cats is climbing. Those who have owned a Sokoke cat say that they will climb anything they possibly can if given the opportunity. Due to their passion for climbing, you should provide your cat with some fun toys that enable them to climb, such as multi-level scratching posts, cat trees, and cat playhouses. Sokoke cats are also a lively breed that likes to keep active. Therefore, they do not fit in with the stereotypical image of cats sleeping for most of the day.
14. Sokoke Cats Are a Vocal Breed
Another notable trait of Sokoke cats is that they are very vocal. They like to ‘talk’ to their owners by vocalizing in different ways. Similarly, they are very vocal with other cats when they socialize. Some cat owners find this personality trait endearing, while others find it annoying. Therefore, it is a matter of personal preference to decide if you want a vocal cat breed or not.
15. Male Sokoke Cats Help Raise Their Kittens
In most mammal species, including felines, it is typical for females to fully take on the caregiver role to their offspring. In the wild, male mammals usually have the role of hunter and provider. Male Sokoke cats differ from other species of felines as they take on some of their litter’s care. They will often take a turn of sitting in the nesting box with their litter to bond with the kittens, keep them warm, and give the mother a break from her maternal responsibilities. This behavior is unusual amongst cats. It is also worth noting that a mature Sokoke cat will typically have two litters of kittens per year.
16. They Have Limited Resistance to Illnesses
Sokoke cats have limited resistance to New World cat illnesses that are common in catteries and homes with multiple cats. Therefore, it is recommended that they live in a controlled environment. There are no specific illnesses linked to this cat breed, and the average lifespan is typical of purebred domestic cats, which is around 15 years. However, due to the breed’s rarity, little is known about the health of Sokoke cats during their later years.
17. Sokoke Cats Need Company and Stimulation
Although Sokoke cats are fine left alone in the house during the day while you are at work, they do need company at some point in the day, says Your Cat. Leaving them alone for extended periods will upset them as they enjoy human or animal company and do not like being alone for too long. One way around this is to have more than one cat, as they can keep each other company. You should also make sure that they have cat toys to keep them entertained during your absences.
18. They Get Along with Other Animals
Some breeds like the company of other animals, while other cat breeds prefer being the only pet. Sokoke cats enjoy the company of other cats, and most can also get along well with other animals. Although the sterotypical image of cats is that they do not get along with dogs, most Sokoke cats are quite happy to live in a household with dogs and will curl up next to them for company. However, you should always supervise early interactions between different species to see how the get along. Just because your Sokoke cat likes your dog, it does not mean that the dog will feel the same way.
19. Sokoke Cats Are Not a Good Option for Babies and Elderly Cat Owners
Due to their sociable nature, Sokoke cats are a good fit for many types of owners and family situations. If you have older children living in your household, then a Sokoke is a good choice. However, they are not ideal for homes with babies or younger children. Their lively and energetic nature also means they are not the best breed choice for senior cat lovers.
20. They Have Some Dog-Like Traits
There are huge differences in the behavior of cats and dogs that define each species. While dogs usually adore their owners, cats are often regarded as being aloof. However, there are differences between each cat breed, and some are more friendly than others. Those who have Sokoke cats say that this breed possesses many dog-like traits. For example, they follow behind their owners, just like dogs.