How Many Spotted Cat Breeds are There?
Rusty-spotted cats are an independent species, according to HowStuffWorks. With that said, the term “spotted cat” refers to domestic cats with spotted coats in most cases. Several cat breeds have consistently spotted coats. Simultaneously, several cat breeds can have spotted coats but aren’t guaranteed to have spotted coats. Put together, more than eight spotted cat breeds exist.
Where Did Spotted Cat Breeds Come From?
Cats became domesticated thousands and thousands of years ago. Curiously, International Cat Care and other sources have stated that modern cats have remained much the same as their wild ancestors in a genetic sense. Said situation is unusual because most domesticated animals undergo much more dramatic transformations. Cats seem to have avoided this because humans didn’t direct cat breeding until recent centuries. Instead, cats had more freedom than other domesticated animals subjected to more control in this respect. Still, cats didn’t remain the same throughout the world before cat breeders came onto the scene.
As PetHelpful points out, cat landraces exist worldwide. Essentially, landraces are varieties of domesticated species that have adapted to their local environment on their own. Thanks to this, they tend to be more genetically diverse than their counterparts that have undergone human-guided breeding. This can be both bad and good from a human perspective.
Genetically-diverse domesticated animals are bad because they don’t consistently exhibit the characteristics that humans want. To name an example, different chickens in a genetically-diverse flock will lay eggs at different rates. Some birds will lay more while other birds will lay less. That is a problem if a chicken farmer wants to maximize egg production. The upside is that genetically-diverse domesticated animals are more resistant to a wide range of potential threats. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, they are just more adaptable. Those who are struggling to make sense of this should imagine a scenario in which the aforementioned flock of chickens has caught a disease.
A genetically diverse flock is likelier to survive even if individual chickens succumb. In contrast, a less genetically-diverse flock might succumb because what works against one chicken is likelier to work against all the chickens. Abyssinians, Egyptian Maus, and Maine Coons are examples of cat landraces. People might recognize these names as cat breeds. This is because cat breeders turned a lot of cat landraces into cat breeds. Therefore, spotted cat landraces are one source of spotted cat breeds. Besides these, cat breeders have also created other spotted cat breeds by breeding different cats with one another. Some of these descend from just domestic cats. Others descend from both domestic cats and wild cats.
1. American Bobtail
The American Bobtail’s most notable physical feature isn’t its coat. No, that would be the shorter than normal tail, which is natural rather than a result of docking. Coat-wise, these cats can have just about every color and every pattern, which includes spots. Interested individuals might come upon stories claiming that American Bobtails have some bobcat in them. Fortunately, that isn’t the case. American Bobtails have their bobtail because of a dominant mutation. That means that they are also unrelated to Japanese Bobtails, which have their bobtails because of a recessive mutation.
Bengals have no connection to the region of Bengal. If anything, they have a stronger relationship with California because a California woman named Jean Mill was the first individual to breed them. What makes Bengals unusual is their descent from leopard cats native to South Asia, Southeast Asia, and East Asia. The scientific name of leopard cats is Prionailurus bengalensis, thus explaining why Bengals are called Bengals. Physically, these cats are notable because of their coats, which can have spots, rosettes, and even marbling. Mentally, these cats are both smart and playful, though their energy level varies greatly. Please note that some jurisdictions restrict the ownership of both Bengals and other hybrid cats with wild cat heritage. Often, closeness to that wild cat heritage means more rules.
3. California Spangled
Louis Leakey was a very influential anthropologist. His work provided evidence that humans became humans in Africa. Similarly, he was the one who encouraged Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Birute Galdikas to study primates in their natural habitats. The creation of the California Spangled isn’t as well-known as these two things. Nonetheless, Leakey was the one who inspired it. As the story goes, he was very upset when he heard that poachers had killed a leopard. In response, Leakey wanted domestic cats that looked like leopards, which would make their cat owners uncomfortable with the poaching of leopards and other big cats. Eventually, Paul Arnold Casey, Jr. created the California Spangled after he returned from Tanzania where he had been working with Leakey. Sadly, the California Spangled is less popular than the Bengal and the Ocicat, meaning that it isn’t as well-known.
4. Egyptian Mau
Ancient Egypt is rightly famous for its love of cats. However, they didn’t necessarily love cats in the same way that we do. For instance, Ancient Egypt Online mentions how the ancient Egyptians didn’t give their cats individual names. Certainly, there were exceptions, which received the same kind of affectionate names that their descendants do nowadays. For the most part, though, ancient Egyptian cats were just called Miu meaning “cat.” Some might wonder whether this was a peculiar quirk of ancient Egyptian pet ownership. If so, the World History Encyclopedia makes it clear that this wasn’t because the ancient Egyptians always named their dogs. Indeed, some of those dogs even had their names engraved on their precious collars.
Anyway, the Egyptian Mau might be one of the oldest varieties of cats to come into existence because of ancient Egypt’s longstanding relationship with cats. At the very least, it contributed to more than one cat breed on this list. Egyptian Maus have coats marked with spots and stripes. On top of that, they are supposed to have a distinguishing mark on their forehead. Sometimes, that mark looks like an “M.” Other times, that mark looks more like a scarab beetle, which was once a symbol of life, death, and rebirth. Nowadays, the Egyptian Mau is said to be somewhat rare, though they are far from being at risk of dying out. If nothing else, the landrace is still around in Egypt and the rest of the Middle East.
Many people will be able to guess that the Ocicat was named for the ocelot. In short, that is a wild cat from the warmer parts of the Americas with a longstanding relationship with humans. For proof, look no further than the fact that Salvador Dali once said that his pet ocelot Babou was just a domestic cat that he had painted over. Amusingly, while Ocicats look like ocelots, they have no ocelot in them whatsoever. Instead, these cats are 100 percent domestic cats.
Specifically, cat breeders created Ocicats by breeding the Siamese cat and the Abyssinian cat together. Furthermore, these cats have some American Shorthair in them because of a mistake in their records. Supposedly, the original crosses between the Siamese and the Abyssinian showed no spots. It was the second generation that started exhibiting spotted coats. Soon enough, these cats had become so popular that cat breeders started breeding for them. Their work has produced a friendly, even affectionate cat that is surprisingly robust. As such, while the Ocicat has a touch of wild glamor from its spotted coat, its temperament is fundamentally domestic.
In 1985, a woman named Carol Ann Brewer started a breeding program around a female cat named Pixie. She was a kitten born between a male cat with a bobbed tail and a female cat with a brown spotted coat. Brewer believed that the male cat was a natural hybrid between a bobcat and a domestic cat. As a result, she and her collaborators brought in more cats believed to be natural hybrids between the same species. By the 1990s, they succeeded in getting the Pixie-Bob recognized as a new cat breed by the International Cat Association. The funny thing is that DNA analysis says these cats have no bobcat in them. Even so, the Pixie-Bob remains popular.
Naturally, the Pixie-Bob has a bobtail. Other than this, their most notable characteristic would be their spots. Conveniently, both short-haired Pixie-Bobs with spots and long-haired Pixie-Bobs with spots exist, meaning that there are more options for interested individuals. Reputedly, these cats form strong relationships with their family members. They even enjoy spending time with their humans. If people want a feline companion that hangs around, they should consider the Pixie-Bob.
The Savannah is another example of a spotted cat created by breeding domestic cats with their wild counterparts. It descends from the serval, a spotted wild cat from Africa. These wild cats exist in both North Africa and the Sahel. However, they are much more common in sub-Saharan Africa. Servals are adaptable animals that can survive in a wide range of environments. Still, they prefer places that offer concealment. One example would be wetlands with their tall reeds. Another example would be savannahs with their tall grasses. As such, the Savannah is named the Savannah in recognition of the latter.
Regardless, the Savannah is either the biggest or one of the biggest cat breeds. After all, servals are medium-sized cats even though they can conceal themselves in tall vegetation. Fortunately, this shouldn’t be a huge issue for Savannah owners. The Savannah is a loyal creature that sometimes follows its owner from room to room. If there is an issue, it would be the skittishness in some of these cats. This is particularly likely in first-generation kittens, though even then, it isn’t necessarily a permanent problem.
Many Savannah owners have reported success in helping their kittens overcome their skittishness through proper socialization. That said, interested individuals will need to put in the effort if they want this problem to disappear. Like the Bengal, the Savannah faces ownership restrictions in some jurisdictions. For example, it is outright banned in Australia because the Australian government believes that feral Savannah cats could put its ecosystems at greater risk. Similarly, other jurisdictions might have stricter rules for Savannah cats more closely related to their serval ancestors.
Serengeti cats look a lot like Savannah cats. Despite that, they have no descent from servals. Instead, Serengeti cats look like servals because they are supposed to look like servals. One could say that these cats have some wild cat heritage in them. This is because cat breeders created Serengeti cats using Bengals and Oriental Shorthairs, meaning that Serengeti cats have some distant descent from leopard cats. In any case, these cats have several physical characteristics reminiscent of servals. One example would be the spotted patterns on their coats. Other examples include both their long legs and their long, round-tipped ears. Personality-wise, Serengeti cats are both very friendly and very energetic. Be warned that there is a potential issue in that they are also very talkative in a way that many cats are not.
Are There Other Spotted Cat Breeds?
These are not the only spotted cat breeds out there. A lot of people find spotted patterns pleasing. As a result, cat breeders have created many cat breeds that exhibit these patterns either consistently or occasionally. This is a good thing for people who want a spotted cat. More spotted cat breeds mean a better chance of finding a spotted cat perfect for them. Besides these, interested individuals can also find plenty of spotted non-pedigree cats. Even now, pedigree cats make up a very small percentage of the total cat population, meaning that people have even more options to choose from if they look beyond pedigree cats.