Like the Bengal, the California Spangle Cat is an "engineered" breed, which came to being from much the same intent: to publicize the cause of wild cats killed for their pelts. Unlike the Bengal, however, there is no wild stock in the genetic makeup of the California Spangle cat. This breed with the wild look was developed with a carefully planned program, using existing breeds selected for appearance as well as personality, and augmented with "street cats" from Cairo and Malaya.
The initial impression is of a little leopard, with a long, lean, but muscular body, a low-slung gait, and of course, those remarkable spots. Although "blocked" or rounded spots are preferred, oval, round, square, or triangular spots are also acceptable. The California Spangle coat may be bronze, gold, blue, brown, charcoal, red, black, silver, and white. The spots are well-defined, in dark contrast to the coat color.
Aficionados of the breed describe the cat as "affectionate, curious, social, and devoted to their humans." They are lively and energetic, and love nothing more than interactive play with their human companions. Despite their exotic appearance, Spangles are not "trophy cats," but cats you will want to make a treasured and active part of the family. Your reward will be years of unfailing devotion.
The idea of the breed originated with writer-director Paul Casey's visit to Africa in 1971, where he was stricken by the plight of dwindling numbers of the wild cats there. Upon his return to the U.S., he decided to create a breed of domestic cat with the look of the wild with the hopes that people would not want to wear furs that resembled their own pets. He set upon his mission, using a 10-year plan of breeds chosen for their markings, body type and personalities in his breeding program.
Casey's efforts eventually produced exactly the kind of cat he had envisioned: a low-slung, graceful, cat with the long, lean look of a hunter, complete with leopard-like spots. In 1986, the California Spangle was introduced in possibly the flashiest manner ever known to the cat fancy: in a Nieman Marcus catalog. While this publicity eventually raised funds for the cause of endangered cat species in Central and South America, it did not come without controversy.
To quote an excellent PetPlace.com article,
- "This advertising strategy managed to anger just about everyone, from the animal-rights people, who were against deliberate breeding of domestic cats, to the cat fanciers, who felt that the three spotted breeds already accepted were plenty. Even the Neiman-Marcus folks were mad; they weren’t pleased that Casey was speaking out against wearing furs."
Since then, the breed has struggled to survive, with just a a handful of breeders determined to give the California Spangle the attention this beautiful breed deserves, along with promoting their conservation efforts. Fans of the breed say that it confines its stalking to the parlor, and its hunting to toys, and that it is a highly intelligent and companionable cat.