|This article does not cite any references or sources. (March 2008)|
|Sokoke, neutered male|
|Hybrid cat (Felis catus × F. silvestris lybica)|
The Sokoke is a more recently developed natural breed of felid hybrid domestic cats, recognized by two major cat pedigree registry organizations as a formal cat breed. It is named after the Arabuko Sokoke, the environment of the Kenyan Khadzonzo landrace it was developed from.
The original Khadzonzo landrace
The distinctive, free-roaming feral cats of the Kenya coastal area – found from city streets to the Arabuko Sokoke forest – were "discovered", in the Western cat fancy sense, by horse breeder and wildlife artist Jeni Slater in 1978. This original landrace variety, the defining traits of which the Sokoke breed was later developed to formalize and preserve, was locally named Khadzonzo by the Giriama people of Kenya, who had known of the variety for a considerable time, possibly centuries before the intervention of Western fanciers and breeders. Khadzonzo means 'look like tree bark' in the language of the Giriama; the marbled tabby pattern of its coat (much like the marbled variant of the Bengal) has an appearance reminiscent of tree bark.
With recently published DNA data from the Cat Genome Project, it has been concluded that these cats, along with those of nearby Lamu Island, are part of the Asian group[clarification needed] of domestic cats, and have Arabian wildcat genetic origins as well. As such it is a felid hybrid. The wildcat and the two domestic hybrids share regional and genetic similarities but are very different in coloration and structure when looked at closely.
The formal Sokoke breed
Gloria Moeldrop, a friend of Jeni Slater's, brought some of the cats home with her to Denmark to breed, because Slater feared for the survival of the cat in Kenya. In 1990, Moeldrop imported more cats from Kenya to strengthen the breeding stock. The cats were first shown in Copenhagen in 1984. The formal breed was officially recognized by the Fédération Internationale Féline (FIFe) in 1993, under the name Sokoke, for the Sokoke forest. The Sokoke is also currently registered by The International Cat Association (TICA), based in the United States, in which it is eligible to be shown in the Preliminary New Breed class at TICA-sanctioned shows, as of 2011[update].
Their bodies are long and thin, with long legs. The back legs should be longer than the front legs, similar to those of a wildcat. They also have a unique tip-toe gait, in part due to a straighter stifle as well as the longer back legs.
Sokokes have blotched tabby coats in shades of brown, with amber to light-green eyes. The centers of the patterns are hollow-looking due to the agouti gene producing a "salt and pepper" look. Their coats are short and coarse, with little to no undercoat. Recessive colors and traits are rare. Noted so far (and not accepted for showing) are seal lynx point, melanistic (black), and blue (i.e. bluish-gray) colors, with one long-haired kitten also known. A special pattern trait is agouti body-ticking that can extend all the way to the tip of the tail. "Chaotic", "chained", and "clouded" marbling patterns have been seen recently, with deviation away from the typical modified classic tabby pattern.
Sokoke cats are very active and enjoy climbing. They tend to be vocal toward human keepers and other cats they cohabit with. They bond deeply to each other, as well as their owners. This trait makes re-homing harder for them, with a longer adjustment period expected in adult cats and older, already-bonded kittens.
The Sokoke does best in a controlled environment, because of their limited resistance to common New World cat illnesses, often found in catteries and multi-cat homes. Like all of the short-haired Asian group of cats, they do not thrive in extreme cold temperatures for extended periods of time. However, contrary to previous reports, they can be acclimated to colder climates, and do not require special housing any more than similar short-haired, Asian-group cats.
Their expected lifespan is the same as any purebred domestic cat, with 15 years an average old age.
It is typical for the male to help raise the kittens . If left together, the mother will often wait months to wean her kittens, even though their development is fairly rapid once they leave the nestbox . Breeders expect one to two litters per year, per breeding pair. Sometimes two litters may come closely in a row, with a longer period of time before further reproduction. Sexual maturity is usually reached at around eight to ten months of age.
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (July 2010)|
- SokokeCat.org[clarification needed]