Sokoke cat
Cat Breeds

Sokoke Cat

Never heard of me? No worries, most people haven’t. That’s ’cause I’m one of the rarest cat breeds in the world.

But that’s not the only reason most humans do a double-take when they finally get the opportunity to catch a glimpse of me. You see, I am the proud owner of an absolutely unique coat.

While other felines have a simple tabby-patterned coat, mine is highlighted with with an array of blotches that give it the appearance of tree bark.

Some call it my distinctive ‘wood grain’ pattern. Others call it an African tabby pattern. I simply call it gorgeous.

Sokoke cat

Breed Snapshot

Breed: Sokoke cat
Size: Medium, 5 to 10 lbs
Energy Level: 3/5 (but with bursts of activity).
Talkative: 3/5
Coat: Short, dense and very close to the body with an African tabby pattern.
Hypoallergenic: No
Seeking: Sensitive yet playful humans looking for commitment.
Child Friendly: Yes
Personality: Extremely attentive to and sensitive to the feelings of my humans, intelligent and playful, sociable but needs time to warm up.

sokoke cat breed info

My Breed Looks

This wondrous coat of mine is also shiny, very short and elastic, lying close to my body without an undercoat so as not to obscure my springy, athletic physique.

This is a lucky thing, since I have the sort of graceful build that deserves to be observed. Especially when I move – everyone tells me I am a marvel to watch in motion, combining the competent power of the cheetah with the fluid glide of a dancer.

But my body’s not just nice to look at. I’m exceptionally athletic and can easily break into a dash whenever I feel like and climb up to heart-stopping heights without a fuss.

Sokoke Cat breed info

Don’t be too impressed – it’s not that hard with legs like mine.

These long, willowy beauties are a testament to my wildcat lineage and provide whatever oomph I need to dominate my surroundings.

Interestingly, I naturally walk with a very distinct tiptoe where I raise my paws ever so slightly as if ready to pounce at a moment’s notice. Which I am.

As for the rest of my looks, I have a long, elegant neck that perfectly complements my small, triangular head.

sokoke cat breed

And my face is as model-like as my body, with sharp features that include a strong nose, well-sculpted cheeks and a keen chin that lends me an air of sophistication and inquisitiveness all at the same time.

All that’s topped off by a pair of what must be among the most unique ears in the world of cat fancy. They are prominently spread out on the top of my head as if I’m perpetually eavesdropping and shaped like those of a puma’s or leopard’s.

To complete the wildcat look, my ears are also scattered with tufts of hair. Absolute purrfection.

My Breed Personality

Although my lineage originates from the wild, I have the disposition of a friendly, sociable domestic cat. It’s easy for me to get chummy with humans and other pets and as such, I’m considered one of the sweetest cats in all the feline world.

Wild cat looks with domestic cat charm – I am truly the best of both worlds.

The thing about me, though, is that I am not easy and I do take my time in warming up to you and my new environment. But once I do, I am in for good.

And as an extremely people-oriented cat, that means I love to get in on everything my guardians are doing. So expect to have me settle in your lap as you watch your favorite TV shows, follow you around when you’re busy with household chores and even clamber up the counter to be closer to you when you’re whipping up something in the kitchen.

I won’t even hesitate to sidle up to show you gestures of affection when I think you feeling blue. Those might come in gentle pats or kneads with my paws but if you’re really lucky, I might even engage you in a discussion. Especially if I think you need conversation or a funny story to brighten up your day.

Yes, I can be a chatty cat at times, but the good news is that you’ll never find my voice irritating since I prefer to communicate in soft meows and purrs. Although there will be instances from time to time that I will raise my voice a bit, it’s only when you’ve neglected to do something really important, like refill my food or water bowl.

When I’m not occupied with my humans, I let my playful, active nature loose and usually go for a run around the house, chasing anything that catches my fancy and even climbing curtains, cabinets and scaling wall ledges. You’ll see me jump and pounce to my heart’s content whenever I get the urge to stretch my limbs.

Oh, and FYI: I’m not opposed to putting on a show or two for you and your guests. Especially if I’ve got toys that allow me to show off my acrobatic skills. Even better if it’s something interactive that lets my human play with me, like balls, kitty lasers or poles with feathers tied at the end.

Just one or two will do for me. Unlike other cat breeds, I am not materialistic at all, usually preferring just one or two toys that remain my favorites well into adulthood.

My Ideal Human

Now while I am generally a nice cat, I m not a feline that is ideal for every fancier, especially total newbies or people looking for a quiet, lazy companion cat. My energy levels can be off the charts at times, which can be a bit tough to handle for newbies and older fanciers. However, if you already have experience rearing a cat and looking to “upgrade” to a much more challenging breed to take care of, then I am the feline to go for.

Even if you’ve got kids. I am very patient with little humans and you won’t find me easily getting irritated when I get picked up or handled roughly. Instead of being fast with my claws, I simply walk away and play somewhere else if things get too rugged for my taste.

Oh, and I also get along easily with other pets and won’t mind having their company when my humans are away.

My Roots

Our lineage hails from the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest Preserve, right in the heart of Kenya’s coastal zone, located between the regions of Malindi and Kilifi, the territory of the Giriama tribe. We are a naturally occurring breed and have been thriving in the forest for as long as the natives of the area can remember.

The native Giriamas call us Khadzonzos in the local dialect, which translates to “pretty one” and have been living with my ancestors for a very long time. But despite our history together, there is no available timeline for how we came to be as a breed or how we proliferated so well in the forests.

Very little is actually known about the history of my breed before we became well-known in the world of cat fancy so the exact details of my roots remains quite a mystery.

What we do know for sure is that the Sokoke breed started to gain popularity in 1978 when a horse breeder by the name of Jeni Slater came across a litter of wild-looking kittens on her coconut plantation in the proximity of what is now the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest Preserve. Slater decided to keep two of them, a male and a female, as pets when she noticed that their coats were very luxurious and fascinatingly-patterned.

Much to Slater’s surprise, the kittens were rather docile when they got older and acted very much like domestic cats instead of being savage. The cats eventually mated when they became of age and successfully produced a litter. Gloria Moeldrup, one of Slater’s friends and a cat fancier, fell in love with the kittens and asked to bring two of them back home to Denmark in 1984 to set up an experimental breeding program.

Several more Sokoke kittens have been imported to various places since then, particularly the Netherlands and Italy, which subsequently established the “Old Line” foundation of Sokokes. Our breed was officially recognized by the Federation Internationale Feline (FIFe) in 1994 and granted our Championship status soon after.

Apart from FIFe, the Sokoke is also accepted by the United Feline Organization (UFO), the Canadian Cat Association (CCA) and The International Cat Association (TICA).

I should also mention that Jeannie Knocker, a British-Kenyan living in the Watamu region, an area that’s not far from Jeni Slater’s property, managed to get hold of Sokokes sporting coats that were slightly different in terms of coloration. Rather than being predominantly rich brown or chestnut, they also had splashes of grey and silver on their coats. These cats are known as the “New Line” of Sokokes and were also duly recognized by TICA. They were given their Preliminary breed status in 2008.

How To Keep Me Happy And Healthy

It doesn’t take a lot to keep me as healthy. Coming from a wildcat lineage, I am quite hardy against diseases and won’t need more than just a weekly careful grooming to maintain my coat’s luster and smoothness.

Moreover, I don’t require any special diet and will happily eat anything that any other pedigreed feline would feast on.

Fun Facts

  • The name of my breed is a nod to the place where Jeni Slater first discovered the litter of Sokoke kittens she kept as pets.
  • Now while interest for my breed is massively growing, we are still extremely rare in and around Europe and North America. It can be very difficult to get hold of a Sokoke kitten these days and the wait list can be quite long as well so it helps to be patient and persistent if you want to get with one of us.

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13 thoughts on “Sokoke Cat

  1. I feel so lucky to have a beautiful pair of these kitties in North America! One looks just like this pictures and loves water, his coat is as described with distinct spirals on his sides. The sister has matching patterns and softer fur with Siamese coloring like a shadow of the boy.

    1. You are seriously lucky! These cats are beautiful and very rare – where did you find yours?

  2. I just got a kitten at a humane society shelter, with unique markings . I believe I have one of these cats. He is beautiful and has all the characteristics described here. He is 3 mos. Old and has been fixed. I don’t think they realized his rarity.

  3. OMG are these cats ok for people with allergies?

  4. I have been very blessed,to have mine,I named him Tiger and he came from my cousin,someone dropped off a present female and she is very allergic to cats but she raised 6 by hand because mama cat got hit by a car,anyway he was the only one in the litter and no one wanted him.My cousin was going to have to take him into the pound and it was breaking her heart,I already have 2 cats but when I seen him we became one and I call him my magical cat.

  5. My husband and I just adopted a very frightened little red kitten from the Dumb Friends League via one of the Denver Petsmarts and when he came out of his shell later that night, we saw that his red coat was striped longways with the little clamshell loop on his sides! I looked his markings up and he matches this breed! How unusual! I wish I could post a picture, he’s dark copper red with normal tabby orange stripes and talks to us all all over the house. He’s adorable and we’re so lucky.

  6. I believe this type of cat is found down the East coast of Africa from north of Kenya to Durban, South Africa. They result from natural selection crosses between Felis silvestris cafra and Felis catus (Tabbies) and usually end up in feral cat colonies near human habitation. They can grow large and if not captive bred and socialized from birth, they are intolerant of handling. As pets and socialized, they bond with one family member, are jealous of him/ her and are unusually intelligent. Ours is named Skelm (Rascal), and is a 6 year old indoor cat, although we live in a Conservation area she prefers indoors and has mock fights through glass doors with visiting Vervet Monkey troops. DIRK REZELMAN, MTHUNZINI, ZULULAND, SOUTH AFRICA

  7. I have a 2 matching orange/beige short-hair Sokoke’s, boy and girl, and she just had her first 4 kittens…these cats are the best…friendly, talkative, clean and playful. Mine are a year old and have been a delight of have…

  8. I have a Sokoke. I found him in the local animal shelter. I was looking for a new cat after my cat of 20 years sadly passed away. My requisite only included 2 things. 1: he was verbal (he meows when I meowed at him and 2: he likes to cuddle (he went right into my arms after they released him from a small cage that he shared with another cat). I thought he was a tabby but had swirls instead of stripes. I was concerned because his hips and back legs were a bit different, slightly longer in the back legs with really strong hips. He’s really fast and likes run at night. He sounds like a herd of horses and slides around the corner and is off again before he completes his slide. If they could hold cat races then mine would win. I am happy to discover the Sokoke hybrid looks just like my kitty and has the same attributes except my cute kitty isn’t shedding and I’m very happy about that.

  9. I think we also have one of these. Picked her up at the vets, amongst a litter of kittens being given away. Looks exactly like a sukoke, acts like one and a silky smooth coat like a seal. She will climb and chase anything and can outrun all of our other cats.

  10. I believe we also lucked out and got a Sokoke (or a mix) at the animal shelter. We’ve had him for 5 years and he’s simply the best! He follows us–mostly my husband–around the house. LOVES to be held, again, mostly by my husband. In fact, he will sleep in his arms for hours. He’s so loving and fun and beautiful. Can’t believe we found him….

  11. I have a Sokoke, and the difference is that my little girl owns the room when she walks in. She loves all attention on her and isn’t too shy to let guest know.

    She has a meow that sounds like a tiny roar. So people often think she’s angry when she begins chatting up to them and she will continue talking to them even after they’ve ended the conversation.

    Her cute meow is reserved for when she’s complaining about something. Which can be frequent at times.

    She has warned us of high fevers and seizures in my youngest son. She changes her behavior by following him around like Velcro and then make strange noises if he has fever spikes and will not leave his side. She will hiss and head bump you if you move her away but she never, ever scratches or hisses no matter what you do to her. (Except playing!)

    I would love another one. Sokoke are just too wonderful!

  12. I adopted a cat from the humane society many years ago. It was very strange and wouldn’t tell me anything about her except it was a caged cat.
    I had her 8 years and my former weekend neighbor took her.
    I just found out she was a Sokoke and it makes a lot of sense now. She was very dog like and played fetch and went for walks. She was also not affraid of loud noises like thunder and loud pusic. Also stoid her ground and protected my little black cat. Also ate what she killed.
    Well I am kind of upset my neighbor must have known what she was, but I’m happy to know she was taken and didn’t just walk off and die.

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