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Sokoke Cat

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Sokoke Cat

Sokoke Cat | Breed History | Breed Description

The Sokoke is a breed of cat. The original name of the breed was Khadzonzos. The Khadzonzos cats were discovered in the Arabuko Sokoke forest, on the Kenyan coast, by Jeni Slater in 1978. Gloria Moeldrop, a friend of Slater’s, brought some of the cats home with her to Denmark to breed. In 1990, she imported more cats from Kenya to strengthen the breeding stock. The original name of the breed was Khadzonzos.

This name was given to the cat by the local people, the Giriama tribe, who had known of the cat for a considerable time. It is speculated that this breed of cat had been around for possibly centuries before the intervention of the West. “Khadzonzo” means “look like tree bark” in the language of the Giriama people and it is plain to see why. The coat of this cat is a modified tabby (a marbled appearance much like the marbled Bengal), which looks like tree bark.

  

The Sokoke is a breed of cat. The original name of the breed was Khadzonzos. The Khadzonzos cats were discovered in the Arabuko-Sokoke forest, on the Kenyan coast, by Jeni Slater in 1978. Gloria Moeldrop, a friend of Slater’s, brought some of the cats home with her to Denmark to breed.

The Khadzonzos cats were discovered in the Arabuko-Sokoke forest, on the Kenyan coast, by Jeni Slater in 1978. Gloria Moeldrop, a friend of Slater’s, brought some of the cats home with her to Denmark to breed because Jeni Slater feared for the survival of the cat in Kenya. In 1990, she imported more cats from Kenya to strengthen the breeding stock. The cats were first shown in Copenhagen in 1984. The breed was officially recognized by the FIFe in 1993, with the name changed to Sokoke, after where they came from.

There has been some speculation as to whether this is a domestic cat or a descendant of a wild cat that has domesticated itself. DNA testing has confirmed no wild genes however. The Sokoke appears to have been a feral domestic cat.

Sokoke cats (or African Shorthair) originated from the Sokoke Arabuke forest in Kenia and became known in Europe in the 20th century. In 1978 a Kenyan farmer found a litter of kittens in a coconut plantation. They were very special with a “blotched tabby” pattern and “foreign” body type. Like many African species, these cats are virtually extinct in the wild. Sokokes have blotched tabby coats in shades of brown, with amber to light green eyes. The center 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. Accordingly they have felt the cold when exported to Denmark.

Their bodies are long and thin, with long legs. The back legs should be longer than the front legs, similar to an ocelot. Sokokes are very active and enjoy climbing and “talking” to their people. They are healthy cats although they did suffer illness initially apparently after being exported to Denmark. This breed is now bred in Denmark, Norway, USA and Canada.

In 1990, she imported more cats from Kenya to strengthen the breeding stock. The cats were first shown in Copenhagen in 1984. The breed was officially recognized by the FIFe in 1993, with the name changed to Sokoke, after where they came from. The first Sokoke cats were imported to Denmark in the 1980’s. Records of them and their offspring have been kept very carefully. Sokoke cats were accepted by FIFe only in 1993. This breed preserves unique genes that are unknown among the traditional cat breeds.

They remain a real feline mystery, because they could belong to an unknown genus or may be a mixture of an African wild cat and a European domestic cat. Some scientists consider the Sokoke cat to be the missing link to the emergence of the classic tabby pattern in the majority of all domesticated cats. Sokokes have blotched tabby coats in shades of brown, with amber to light green eyes. Their coats are short and coarse, with little to no undercoat. Their bodies are long and thin, with long legs.

The Kenyan tribes differentiate three wild genera of these cats and several domesticated ones. In ancient times these cats were part of the diet of the Giriama tribe and were eaten in preference to the domestic stock. The Giriama name for Sokoke cats is “Katzonzo,” which means: “look like tree bark.” The back legs should be longer than the front legs, similar to an ocelot. Sokokes are very active and enjoy climbing and “talking” to their people.