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California Spangled Cat: Info, Pictures, Temperament & Traits

Elizabeth Gray

By Elizabeth Gray

california spangled Cat lying

Height 9 – 15 inches
Weight 9 – 15 pounds
Lifespan 9 – 16 years
Colors Bronze, gold, brown, black, charcoal, silver, red, blue, white, all with dark markings
Suitable for Individuals and families looking for a friendly, social cat who loves to spend time with their people
Temperament Playful, intelligent, social, energetic

With one of the more unique origin stories of any cat breed, the California Spangled cat is a gorgeous, affectionate feline who makes a loving pet for nearly anyone. Unfortunately, these beautiful animals are so rare that they are no longer recognized by the most well-known international purebred cat registries and are in danger of disappearing entirely. Because they were developed to draw attention to the plight of endangered big cats in the wild, it’s ironic that they now find themselves in a similar predicament. Keep reading to learn more about the history, personality, and day-to-day care of the “mini leopard” cat, the California Spangled.

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California Spangled Kittens


California Spangled cats are rare and therefore hard to find for sale. If you can find a breeder, chances are you’ll need to get on a waitlist to purchase a kitten.

If you prefer to adopt rather than shop, you may need to exercise extreme patience to find a California Spangled cat. Breed-specific rescues are scarce to non-existent, but you may be able to find a California Spangled for adoption through a general purebred cat rescue or at your local animal shelter.hepper single cat paw divider

3 Little-Known Facts About the California Spangled Cat

1. They are a relatively new breed.

The development of the California Spangled cat breed first began in 1971. The original breeders crossed many popular breeds, including the Siamese, Abyssinian, and British and American Shorthairs, as they perfected their new cat. It wasn’t until 1985 that the California Spangled made its debut.

2. If you think they look like miniature leopards, that’s on purpose.

The California Spangled breed was originally developed to draw attention to the issue of leopard poaching for fur. The founding breeders hoped that if people had a “mini leopard” snuggling up to them at home, they might be less likely to buy leopard fur products.

3. The original cats were bred for a bigger purpose.

Breeders sold their first kittens at a higher price than usual because they were attempting to raise money to help support endangered wild cats. Because of this, the price was much higher than was common at the time, starting at $1,400.

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Temperament & Intelligence of the California Spangled

They may look like wild animals but there’s nothing fierce about the California Spangled cat’s temperament. Friendly and social, they are true family cats. The California Spangled most resembles their wild relatives when it comes to their intelligence and athletic ability. Energetic and playful, they love to climb, run, and hunt down their toys.

Are These Cats Good for Families? 👪

California Spangled cats generally make wonderful family pets. Their playful nature and robust size are ideal for serving as a friend and companion to kids. As with any pet, children should be supervised when interacting with the California Spangled, especially when they are too young to understand how to respect the cat’s boundaries.

Sociable by nature, California Spangled cats love to spend time with their humans and thrive on attention. Because they are so social, however, this breed doesn’t do well if left alone for long periods. They’re not the best choice for busy individuals and families who spend little time at home. Lonely California Spangled cats may develop behavioral issues.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?

The friendliness of the California Spangled typically extends to other four-legged family members as well. They get along well with other cats as well as with other cats.

Dogs and cats usually do best if raised together, although, with careful supervision, adults can also learn to co-exist peacefully. Use caution if you own a dog breed with a high prey drive—such as a terrier—as their hunting instincts may surface without warning, endangering the cat.

To ensure harmony among feline housemates, make sure they all have plenty of space to spread out and stake out their own territory. Providing an appropriate number of litter boxes, food bowls, and toys will help eliminate the need for competition and help your cats get along.

California Spangled cats do not make good housemates for small exotic pets, who will most likely be viewed as prey and treated as such. Even if you take precautions to keep the cat separate, the smaller animals may become stressed, threatening their health.

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Things to Know When Owning a California Spangled:

Think you have room in your home and heart for a cat who looks like a leopard? Here’s what you need to know before owning a California Spangled cat.

Food & Diet Requirements 🐡

Healthy California Spangled cats typically don’t require any special diet. They should maintain well on any nutritionally balanced cat food, canned or dry. Commercial diets are the easiest to feed, but some owners may prefer to prepare a homemade diet, with the help of their veterinarian.

California Spangled cats are active and not overly prone to obesity, but any pet can become overweight if they eat too much. Your vet can help you calculate how many calories your cat needs per day, including food and treats. Provide plenty of fresh water for your cat as well.

Exercise 🐈

Energetic and athletic, California Spangled cats need plenty of opportunities for exercise daily. They are especially fond of climbing and a cat tree or cat shelves are recommended for this breed. California Spangled cats love to play and will appreciate a range of toys, including interactive options like teaser wands.

For the California Spangled, playtime should not only be a chance for exercise but an exercise in social bonding. These affectionate cats won’t be happy if they are left to play on their own all the time. Plan to dedicate time daily to play with your California Spangled.

Training 🎾

Intelligent cats who bond strongly with their owners, the California Spangled is a breed that should take to training better than many. While training cats isn’t as common as it is for dogs, kitties are certainly capable of learning.

Patience and persistence are key to training a California Spangled. Positive reinforcement and food rewards are generally the most effective methods to use. Avoid punishing your cat for misbehavior and instead try redirecting them to more appropriate actions.

Grooming ✂️

The California Spangled cat is a short-coated breed with no undercoat. Because of this, they don’t shed much and have only minimal grooming requirements. A quick weekly brushing will help collect any loose hair and keep the coat in good condition.

Aside from this, this breed should receive regular nail trims and dental care, such as brushing. Check their ears regularly as well and clean as needed. Getting your California Spangled kitten used to a grooming routine early will make it easier to keep your adult cat looking neat.

Health and Conditions 🏥

Because they are such a rare breed, California Spangled cats don’t have any known inherited health conditions.

Like all cats, they are susceptible to infectious diseases, like feline distemper and rabies, and should receive all recommended vaccinations. Yearly or twice-yearly checkups at the vet will help keep your cat healthy and catch any brewing medical conditions early. As your cat ages, your vet may recommend more advanced health screenings like bloodwork or x-rays.

Minor Conditions
  • None
Serious Conditions
  • None

Male vs Female

Male California Spangled cats tend to be a little bigger and heavier than females. Unneutered males also spray and may be more likely to show aggression toward other cats, especially other males. Female cats go into heat about twice a year and may become vocal and moody during those times.

Once spayed or neutered, both male and female cats have similar personalities. It generally costs more to spay a female cat, which is a point to keep in mind as you decide which gender is best for you. Some people simply prefer one over the other based on previous experience.

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Final Thoughts

Bred to help save wild cats, the California Spangled is now in need of saving itself. As we’ve learned, this breed has so many endearing qualities, including their beautiful coat and bond with their owners. Only time will tell what the future holds for this rare breed, but their charm is undeniable. Before you begin the process of acquiring a California Spangled cat, make sure you’re prepared to make the lifelong financial and care commitment required.

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Featured Image Credit: RavenEyePhoto, Shutterstock

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