Popularly known in China as the Li Hua Mao, meaning ‘Fox Flower Cat,’ the breed has a very uncertain history. Believed to have existed for centuries in the wild, the Dragon Li effectively domesticated itself and has subsequently been developed as a breed. Unofficially, the Dragon Li is considered the national cat of China and is very rare outside its native country. Precious little is known about how or when the cat came into existence, although it is believed to be a breed of antiquity, having evolved naturally – quite possibly from the Chinese Mountain Cat, as opposed to being selectively bred. Formally recognised as an independent breed by the Cat Fancier’s Association based in the United States.
The Dragon Li is a compact and muscular breed with a distinctively wild appearance. The sturdy body structure give the impression of strength and resilience, while the facial expression and countenance reflects a mild-mannered cat with tenderness and curiosity. Possessing a relatively short tail, with straight legs, a wide, rounded head, pointed ears with or without tufts, and bright green or yellow eyes. Another characteristic trait is the black-tipped tail. The Dragon Li coat is generally short and close, requiring minimal grooming. Colours and patterning that are typically observed in the breed include tabby or brown and gold broken mackerel (broken striped). In China, the Dragon Li is still highly revered for its hunting and retrieving capabilities.
If you are fortunate enough to find a breeder, the Dragon Li is a wonderful breed choice for families with young children or a dedicated sole owner. Possessing a gentle, affectionate and friendly temperament, this cat is highly social and enjoys the company of its master, family and other house pets. Due to the intelligence of the breed, a Dragon Li will benefit from a variety of interactive toys, scratching posts and plenty of companionship in its everyday life. It is recommended that this cat be housed indoors in order to protect it from harm or theft. On average, a fully-grown Dragon Li will weigh 9-12 pounds, with a life expectancy of 12-15 years.
Thought to be a healthy and resilient breed, the Dragon Li is not known to suffer from any genetic or breed-specific conditions. However, this is difficult to accurately determine due to the breed’s relative rarity.