California Spangled Cat: They Give You a Taste of the Wild

Close-up image of a California Spangled cat
Martha Harvey
Written by Martha Harvey

Did you know that there are over 50 cat breeds in the world and that the Cat Fanciers Association recognizes only about 41 breeds? Well, there more existing cat breeds than you realize, which is why deciding on which breed to adopt is so difficult. You can narrow down your options by focusing on certain desired traits, though. For example, if you want a beautiful and low-maintenance cat, the California Spangled cat is a great pick. This isn’t a common breed, so you’ve probably never heard of them. And when you look at their picture, you wonder how they are different from their more popular cousin—the Bengal.

The Spangled cat is an adorable pet. They are smart, loyal, easy to train, and quite playful. You will love having them around as a pet in your home. Their spotted coat might remind you of the Bengal cats, but they are smaller in size, and thus take less time to groom and bathe. Despite their petite body, they’ve got so much love to give. You’ll never feel lonely if you keep this cat as company.

California-Spangled-Cat head picture

This article contains all relevant information about the California Spangled and is thus a good read for people looking to adopt this rare and exotic cat breed. In this article, you will find dozens of facts about the Spangled cat, a little history of how the breed came to be, the cat’s characteristics, personality, feeding schedule and, other basics that might be helpful.

Breed Characteristics

  • Adaptability: High

  • Grooming: Relatively Low-Maintenance

  • Health: Very Healthy

  • All-Around Friendliness: Very Friendly

  • Exercise Needs: High; Very Athletic

Cat breed groupShort-Haired, Crossbreed
SizeAverage, on the slender side
WeightMales: 12-15 pounds

Females: 8-10 pounds
Lifespan10-15 years

The California Spangled cat came about in the early 1970s as a result of a careful crossbreeding experiment done by author and cat enthusiast Paul Casey. He wanted to reduce illegal wildcat poaching by introducing a new cat breed that bore appearances similar to that of wild cats. As a result, the spotted coat and short hair of the California Spangled are typical of how a leopard looks.

Because of their short and velvety fur, spangles are easy to groom. One just needs to be keen with the brushing—particularly during spring as they tend to shed a lot. Regular bathing is not recommended as it tends to dry the cat’s skin. However, you need to clean the ears frequently to prevent ear infections.


These cats are very social and are fond of their human companions. Due to this, you need to try and pet or even massage them as much as you can to keep them from getting bored and distressed. They are pretty active and dynamic. The Spangled cats like to survey their domain from above—a characteristic that is similar to that of their wild cat cousins—so you’ll do well to invest in a cat tree for them.

These cats come with minimal health concerns. Given that this cat has little to no known allergies or sensitivities to foods, you are free to explore different varieties of cat food. But ensure that the food you give them is nutritious. Take note also that the Spangled cat is independent and can thus adapt to any environment whether in the company of other family pets or as an only pet. But if you want to keep them as an only pet, make sure you’re not away from home too often as these cats get lonely very easily.

Main Highlights

  • They were developed in the early 1970s by a Hollywood scriptwriter and author, Paul Casey, and introduced to the market in the mid-1980s.

  • The primary motivation behind the development of the Spangled cat was to help prevent the poaching of spotted wild cats for their fur.

  • They look like a mini leopard at first sight.

  • They sport a long, lean, masculine, and well-sculpted body and they also move like their wild cat cousins (leopards).

  • The cat features a short, spotted coat that has bronze, gold, silver, red, black, blue, and charcoal highlights amongst other colors. The coat is easy to groom.

  • Spangles are intelligent, curious, active, and energetic. They have a high preying drive.

        • These cats can eat anything as longs as it contains the necessary nutrients. This means that maintained costs are quite low since they are also easy to groom and they come with minimal health concerns.

        • The resulting Spangled cats from Casey’s development were received with mixed reactions, and they faced harsh competition from the Bengal and Ocicat breeds which were quite popular at the time.

  • Very few purebred Spangled cats remain, and this has made them quite an expensive cat breed to buy or even adopt.

Breed History

The history of the California Spangled is quite an interesting one. The breed is thought to have been developed in the early 1970s by a Hollywood scriptwriter and cat enthusiast, Paul Casey, after his return from Tanzania, Africa.

Paul, during his stay in Africa—and while working closely with the late celebrated anthropologist Dr. Louis Leaky—was astonished by the rampant poaching of leopards for their skin. It was this act that motivated and led him to come up with the idea of developing a cat that resembled the spotted big cats as a means of generating awareness among people on the conservation of big cats in the wild.

California Spangled Cat lying on a white background

The idea then was that if people owned a spotted cat as a pet, they would discontinue wearing fur from other spotted cats. But then, it wasn’t until the mid-1980s that Paul Casey was finally able to develop the California Spangled breed by crossbreeding many different cats, i.e., the Siamese, Angoras, Manx, and the American and British short hairs.

The resulting cats from this breeding gained initial popularity but were not received with the expected enthusiasm by most cat fanciers. Today, very few of these cats are available, and that is why they are considered rare.


The California Spangled was developed to be a long, lean, and masculine feline. The cat is medium-sized as it weighs an average of 12 to 15 pounds for the males while the females weigh somewhere from 8 to 10 pounds.

Cute California Spangled Cat

Even though the Spangled cats came into existence as a result of the intermixing between domestic breeds, their movements cannot be distinguished from that of their wild cat cousins, due to their grace and fluidity.

Personality and Character

California spangles look very much alike with their wild cat cousins. Nonetheless, they have a different personality and character. The California spangles, to begin with, are affectionate felines. They love attention and enjoy to be caressed and cuddled by their owners. This is why most of its owners are often advised not to leave their Spangled cats alone for long hours as they easily get lonely and stressed.

The Spangled cats are an energetic lot. These cats love their toys, and they can spend hours on end stalking and hunting them. Due to their energetic and vibrant nature, the California spangles like to jump and perch on high places. In your home, you will find them on top of your fridge, cupboards, or even rooftop. They will also occasionally jump on your shoulders and rest there.

a Cute California Spangled Cat exercise on a wheel

It is also worth noting that this breed is brilliant and curious. If you intend to own a Spangled cat, then it is most advisable that due to their acrobatic nature, you keep them away from great heights and moving objects. You might also want to keep fragile items away from the cat as their curiosity might lead to severe damages.

Health and Potential Problems

Even though no breed lacks a weakness, concerning their health and any potential health problems, we can confidently say that the California spangles are a healthy breed. Due to their highly mixed ancestry, they are not genetically predisposed to developing hereditary diseases.

California Spangled Cat playing in the yard

Provided that they are well fed, well groomed, and generally well cared for, they can be a worthwhile pet for you and your family. Nonetheless, as an owner, you will occasionally experience cases of vomiting and tapeworms as these are a common disease among felines. Because of this, you should visit a vet and get your cat vaccinated against any potential health risk as soon you adopt or buy them.

Care Features

California spangles are quite active and energetic. Because of this, owners are advised to try and properly channel their California spangle’s energy to help them stay fit both mentally and physically.

In fact, it is recommended that as a Spangled cat owner you try to engage the cat in active games which you should also partake in. This is because if the cat is left to play alone without toys or their owners then they will quickly get bored and this can cause them to get destructive.

Also, because of their active nature and love for play, these cats require adequate space within which they can explore their curiosity and various skills. Therefore, to ensure that they are safe at all times, you might want to arrange for a large enclosed area where the cat can play around freely, or you might want to install a cat door so they can go outside when they want to.

California Spangled cat sitting in the sun

We also mentioned that this breed of cat is intelligent, social, and affectionate. As such, they enjoy a little cuddle here and there. Doing this will not only keep them happy but will also help them learn to return your affection and thus allow you to enjoy an excellent pet-owner relationship.

Grooming is also a significant part of the Spangled cats’ care features. Because they feature short coats, these cats don’t need too much grooming. A weekly brushing is enough to help keep the fur clean and shiny.

Feeding Schedule

Unlike other cat breeds whose feedings must be restricted, the California Spangled can eat anything at any time because they are generally not sensitive. You can choose to feed them with ready-made food or get natural food for them.

close-up of head of a California Spangled Cat

But even so, you must ensure that the food you provide is well balanced with essential nutrients which include proteins, fiber, carbohydrate, fat, and vitamins. Obesity is generally not a threat—it’s the opposite that’s true. These cats are naturally slim, so they tend to be underweightAlso, when feeding the cat, remember to give them lots of water to drink as this is essential for digestive health.

Coat, Color, and Grooming

It is without a doubt that the Spangled cat was developed to look like a leopard and indeed, when you see them for the first time you would think that they are a mini leopard. The spangles’ short and velvety fur occurs in a variety of colors including bronze, charcoal, gold, black, blue, brown, white, red, and silver.

The spots nonetheless are dark and defined. Most of the spots will be round in shape while others look rectangular. Sometimes you may find some spots that are arranged into rosettes while other cats may have triangular and oval markings on their body.

Image presenting the coat and colors of a California Spangled Cat

While weekly brushing is good enough to keep a Spangled cat clean and shiny, an increase in the brushing intervals during spring is essential to aid with the shedding. Bathing is recommended, but it shouldn’t be made regular. You should only bath the cat when necessary to avoid drying their skin.

Cleaning of the ears and the trimming of nails should also be made a part of the California Spangled’s cleaning routine. This will help reduce ear infections as well as help to avoid injuries that can be caused by the cat’s sharp and long claws. Routinely, you might even want to check their entire body to ensure that there are no diseases, injuries, or anything unusual with the cat.

Children and Other Pets Compatibility

The California Spangled is a gentle cat that is also affectionate and social. The cat’s curious, intelligent, and active nature also means that they love to be a part of events in the family. But in as much as they are adorably affectionate, we must tell you that the Spangled cat is best suited for families with older children. Children younger than 6 will find a more suitable companion in a less temperamental cat.

A California Spangled kitten in a competition

What good about this cat, however, is the fact that they get along well with other animals—particularly those that are bigger than them. But for pets smaller than the cat, care must be taken as the Spangled cat’s hunting instinct can be risky and intimidating for smaller pets.

Wrap Up

As we wind up, we must acknowledge that the California Spangled is an intelligent cat that can easily be trained and that quickly adapts to new environments. California spangles are adorable, and they enjoy having quality time with their owners. They make excellent pets for those that love cats with a wild demeanor.

A California Spangled Cat in a library

So, did you enjoy this read? If yes, we would love to hear from you. Please share your thoughts and comments below. Do you believe a California Spangled cat is the right one for you? Or do you have some other cat breeds in mind? Those who are already living with a California Spangled cat, we would love to hear all about your experience too!

About the author
Martha Harvey
Martha Harvey

Martha Harvey is a skilled veterinarian and a member of American Veterinary Medical Association from Greeley, Colorado. She has 20 years experience of working in Animal Hospital. Martha loves all of her patients, but her favorite one is the Russian Blue cat Stitch, who lives with her.