History of the Ocicat
The Ocicat originates in a deliberate mating in 1964 between an Abyssinian and a Siamese. The breeder, Virginia Daly was attempting to develop an 'Aby-point' (Ticked Tabby Point) Siamese. The first generation produced only Ticked Tabbies due to the genetics involved. However, the second generation included not only the desired Aby-points, but also a tawny spotted kitten whom the Dalys named Tonga. Virginia's daughter pointed out Tonga's resemblance to the wild Ocelot, and the 'Ocicat' was born.
Tonga was never actually used in breeding, but a subsequent mating between his parents produced another of the same colour and pattern, and this boy became the foundation stud for the breed. Future matings repeated the cross between Abyssinian and Siamese, but also introduced the American Shorthair, which contributed the additional bulk and athletic 'substance', which the Ocicat exhibits, and the Silver and Classic tabby genes. Official recognition took twenty years, but was finally achieved in the USA in 1986.
The first pair of Ocicats to arrive in the UK came in during 1988, but for some reason nothing came of them. However, during their time in quarantine, they were cared for by Rosemary Caunter (Thickthorn Ocicats, in Hampshire), who, in her own words "caught the Ocicat bug" and brought in four breeding animals of her own - two male, two female. In 1989, only four Ocicats were registered by the GCCF, and this had only risen to 27 by 1993. However, once Rosemary and other breeders formed the Ocicat Club in 1994, the breed began to progress, and was accepted for Preliminary status under the GCCF in 1997. During that year 50 new Ocicats were registered. Provisional status followed in 2001 and full Championship status was granted in 2004, for the show season starting in June 2005. Since 2004, over 100 Ocicats have been registered each year, with a peak of 125 in 2007.
Rosemary is still absolutely instrumental in the Ocicat breed today, and I think you'd be hard-pushed to find a UK-bred Ocicat without a Thickthorn in their lines. Although the two girls we bought, Breckin and Kia, were not from Rosemary herself, both had at least one Thickthorn parent, as did our neutered girl, Tßrmus!