The Ocicat appeared as the unexpected result of crossing a ruddy Abyssinian male and a seal point Siamese female. In 1964 the breeder Virginia Daly mated these two breeds in order to achieve the Siamese with spotted coat of the Abyssinian. However all kittens from the litter looked similar to the Abyssinian and Virginia decided to keep a female, which she was subsequently bred to chocolate point Siamese. Finally she attained her goal and received Siamese-like kittens with Abyssinian points.
Inspired by this success Virginia repeated the crossing. This time the litter included an ivory white kitten with gold spots. Virginia’s daughter noticed its likeness to an Ocelot and suggested to name it an Ocicat. Despite the appealing look of this kitten its appearance was a pure accident so the breeder called it Tonga, neutered and sold as a household pet.
However, it was just the beginning of the story. In one of her correspondence with a geneticist Clyde Keeler Daly portrayed Tonga in details. At that time Keeler was engaged in the project of reconstructing the extinct Egyptian Spotted Fishing Cat and proposed breeding Tonga to its mother. Evidently it was impossible but Daly replicated her breeding experiment, which produced another kitten with such a unique coat. Later on the American Shorthair was also added to the mix in order to introduce greater size as well as the silver colour.
Gradually other breeders demonstrated interest in the Ocicat and initiated separate breeding programs. The Cat Fanciers Association granted its full recognition to the breed in 1987. It was recognised by The International Cat Association in 1986.