Wildcats are some of nature’s most beautiful creatures. These spotted, striped, banded, or tabbied felines can be found throughout much of the world, living a mostly solitary life and hunting to survive. Of course, most wildcats such as the ocelot, serval, margay, and leopard are much too savage to bring home. However, a history of crossbreeding has resulted in some domesticated breeds that look exotic but have a tame temperament -- a perfect combination for cat lovers who want to take a walk on the wild side.
The Abyssinian is one of the oldest known breeds. These cats have large ears, almond-shaped eyes, and an elegant, muscular body that resembles that of their earliest ancestor, the African wildcat. Abyssinians are very intelligent cats, and though they usually do not conform to the behaviors of the “lap cat,” they are faithful, people-oriented pets that like to be involved in family life.
The American Bobtail has a distinctive wild appearance with a natural bobtail that resembles that of the bobtailed wildcat. A sprightly yet easygoing breed, the Bobtail enjoys playing games, walking on a leash, and cuddling up with their owners at the end of the day. In some of the Bobtail’s behaviors you will get a glimpse of their wild hunting instincts -- these cats love to chase insects and stalk their toys.
The sleek, black Bombay is often mistaken for a miniature panther. Though bred to resemble this famous wildcat, there is no wild blood in the breed. The Bombay is an outgoing, perceptive, and loving breed that likes to play, can be trained to walk on a leash, and adapts easily to lifestyles that include children, the elderly, or other pets.
The strikingly exotic Egyptian Mau is a long, spotted breed that has retained several characteristics of their early wild ancestors. These include the galloping gate of the Cheetah and a loose flap of skin that extends from the flank to the hind leg, allowing the Mau range and agility in jumping and twisting. The Mau is a spirited and friendly breed, though they tend to be cautious with strangers and connect most closely with one “special person” in the family. These are affectionate cats, but on their terms and with their people.
The Ocicat originates from interbreeding the Abyssinian, Siamese, and American Shorthair breeds. They are the only spotted domesticated breed selectively bred to emulate cats of the wild. This large and active breed has a dog-like personality, enjoying regular interaction and becoming dedicated to their owners. Though bred for spots, the Ocicat can also have one of four other patterns: classic tabby, ticked, solid, and pointed.
The Somali (pictured above) is best known for their full plume tail that gives this breed the appearance of a wild fox. The breed came about as the result of a recessive gene in the Abyssinian cat. The Somali is a medium-sized cat with a soft and satiny coat that requires little grooming. With a lively, intelligent, and genial personality, these cats quickly become members of the family.
More on Cat Breeds
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