Cat Breeds 101: Sokoke

Cat Breeds 101 - Sokoke
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Photo: Wikipedia – lic. under CC 2.5

The Sokoke is one of the rarest cat breeds in the world. In fact, at last count, there were less than a hundred of them around. That’s quite a shame because this hardy, low-maintenance, sociable, and very eye-catching cat makes a wonderful family pet. [1]

What is the Sokoke? It’s a domesticated forest cat, a native breed that naturally developed in the forest preserves of Kenya. Its coat is light, coarse, and decorated with a camouflage pattern. It’s got large and sensitive ears, strong leaping legs, a densely muscular body and quick, agile movements.

In other words, the Sokoke was built for independent survival. But for all its tough exterior, this cat also has a soft – even esoteric – side. (It is, after all, a cat.)

Whenever you leave the house, you can expect your Sokoke to patiently wait for you to come home. When you arrive, it will cajole you for caresses. This is a loyal and affectionate cat that bonds strongly with its humans. Some Sokoke owners even swear their cat can empathize with their emotions. [2]

Although these “soft” traits seem to negate the Sokoke’s wild façade, these two sides of the Sokoke are actually very much complementary. After all, to survive in the wild, you need a mixture of brute strength, soft skills, and perhaps even some extrasensory perception.

Because the Sokoke breed developed outside of human civilization, we still do not know the exact point in time when this cat first appeared. What we do know is that it was only in 1978 when wildlife artist Jeni Slater discovered Sokoke kittens in Kenya, and this event eventually led to the Sokoke’s being introduced to the Western world. [2]

Today the Sokoke breed is recognized by The International Cat Association (TICA), the Canadian Cat Association (CCA), and the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF). TICA says the Sokoke cat must have a brown modified classic tabby coat to be accepted, but there are also Sokoke versions (not accepted) that come in blue, melanistic, and seal point colors. [2]

The Sokoke’s coat is not just attractive; it is also very easy to maintain because the Sokoke has no undercoat. A weekly stroking with a grooming glove does the trick. But remember that this lack of undercoat also means your Sokoke could easily get chilled in winter. This breed is adapted for warm climates – so take care to keep it from cold. [1]

In terms of disease, there are no known health issues that this cat breed is especially susceptible to. If properly cared for, the Sokoke has an expected lifespan of around 15 years. [3]

[1] Sokoke. Animal Planet.
[2] Sokoke. The International Cat Association.
[3] Sokoke.

Sokoke Cat Video: