Thought to have developed in the 1970s on the return of Paul Casey – an author and cat enthusiast – from Africa, where he had witnessed the dreadful poaching practices undertaken against spotted cats such as leopards. Appalled by the needless killing of such majestic animals, Casey determined to develop a breed that closely resembled the leopard in order to raise public awareness of conservation issues. By selectively crossing various breeds of domestic cat including the Abyssinian, the Siamese, both the British and American Shorthairs, and several cats with spotted markings from Malaysia and Egypt, the California Spangled was born. Unlike most cat breeds that are first introduced at cat shows, the California Spangled was advertised in the 1986 Nieman Marcus Department store Christmas catalogue. Interest in this ‘novelty’ breed, though large to begin with, soon dwindled and the California Spangled is now considered a rare breed.
Developed foremost to look like a leopard, the California Spangled is a distinctive and handsome breed boasting long legs, an athletic frame, slightly oblique eyes, triangular ears, and a smooth, close-fitting coat. Many describe the ‘wild’ look of the cat with its characteristic hunter gait and its lean body structure. This keen hunter physique is not necessarily a reflection of its character, as the California Spangled is far from predatory but rather, enjoys interacting with its human family and showing loyalty and affection. The eyes of a California Spangled are usually amber to copper-coloured and are somewhat oblique in shape. Typically, the spotted coat is short and is permissible in a range of colours, from bronze and gold to black, brown, silver, blue and white.
This breed is both independent-minded and dependent on its owners for constant love and attention. It is not unheard of for a California Spangled to want to participate in activities around the home, and it will often take high ground to observe the comings and goings of its family. A highly intelligent and inquisitive breed, if housed indoors the California Spangled should have plenty of space to play and roam, interactive toys and scratching posts, and plenty of companionship. In general, a healthy California Spangled will weigh 8-10 pounds, with an average life expectancy of 10-15 years.
Due to the relative rarity of the California Spangled, any breed-specific or genetic health conditions are difficult to determine. It is generally thought that the breed is very healthy and resilient.