The Sokoke is a rare and beautiful domestic cat breed believed to originate from the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest of Kenya’s coast. These longhaired beauties are elegant yet sturdy cats known for their rich chestnut coats and striking green eyes.
In this comprehensive guide, we will uncover facts about the history, physical features, personality, care, and availability of the uncommon Sokoke breed. Whether you’re curious about this forest-born feline from Africa, hoping to add one to your home, or aiming to help conserve the rare pedigree, read on to learn all about the marvelous Sokoke cat.
Table of Contents
Breed Overview and Characteristics
The Sokoke (pronounced “So-KO-kay”) is a natural breed, meaning it developed traits over centuries naturally rather than through human breeding interference. These cats earned their name from the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest that borders Kenya’s coastline.
The Sokoke breed exhibits signature features including:
- Medium-long dense coats of glossy chestnut brown
- Striking large green eyes with black liner
- Long tapered tails perfect for balance
- Muscular but elegant bodies averaging 8-12 pounds
- Highly agile with ability to climb trees adeptly
- Short fur around the neck that grows progressively longer along the body
Their beautiful coats resemble mink which contributes to their luxe appeal. But these cats are built for rugged forest life. Now let’s trace the origins of this pedigreed wonder.
History and Origins of the Breed
The Sokoke cat comes with an air of mystery fitting of an enchanted forest origin story. While not much is proven, their history is believed to unfold something like this:
- Natural landrace breed developed in Kenya’s Arabuko-Sokoke Forest over past centuries. The dense forest provided isolation that shaped their traits.
- Named after the forest home of the indigenous Subdue people who revered the cats.
- Roamed as feral cats until the 1970s when a Danish woman, Jeni Slater, took an interest in their conservation. She worked to establish the breed.
- Slater bred forest cats she acquired to create the foundational Sokoke pedigree. She exported cats internationally to establish breeding programs.
- The Sokoke breed earned preliminary recognition from cat fancier organizations in the 1980s and full recognition by the 1990s.
- Sokokes remain scarce worldwide, numbering only a few thousand. Breeding programs aim to preserve the distinct Sokoke lineage.
While some details are uncertain, the Sokoke clearly originated as a landrace forest variety that captivated fans committed to their preservation as a formal breed. Their story continues today through dedicated breeders.
Sokoke Cat Personality and Temperament
Sokoke cats earn praise for their friendly, social personalities along with their striking looks. They tend to exhibit traits including:
- Highly intelligent and communicative
- Bond deeply with their families
- Often chose a favorite person
- Have a ready purr and enjoy snuggling
- Playful and energetic throughout adulthood
- Love climbing cat towers and perching up high
- Most adapt well to leash walks and adventure
- Enjoy interacting with polite children
- Get along well with cat-friendly dogs
- Very active and love playing fetch
- Remain slender and muscular their whole lives
Sokokes form close attachments and thrive when included as part of daily family life. Their athleticism means they require ample space to run and climb. Keep them entertained with puzzle toys. With proper care, these cats live 15+ years.
While Sokokes adore their families, they remain shy and wary around strangers. It takes time and gradual introductions for them to warm up to newcomers. If socialized young, they become more outgoing overall.
Grooming and Care Needs
The Sokoke’s signature long brown coat requires significant grooming to remain beautiful and tangle-free:
- Daily brushing is essential – Use a slicker brush and metal comb to catch tangles, remove dead hair, and distribute skin oils that condition their coat. Work slowly and patiently to avoid scratching the skin.
- Bathing: Only bathe when truly dirty. Use a cat-safe shampoo sparingly on dry coat then rinse thoroughly. Avoid wetting their skin unnecessarily. Groom post-bath to realign the coat and remove excess moisture.
- Nail trimming: Trim claws monthly using special cat clippers. Avoid the pink quick area with has nerve endings and blood vessels. Only trim what you can see.
- Ear cleaning: Check and wipe ears weekly using a cotton ball with veterinarian-approved cleaner to prevent infections. Never use cotton swabs inside ears.
- Dental care: Brush cat’s teeth regularly with a kitten-sized toothbrush and cat toothpaste. Annual veterinary cleanings are also recommended.
Regular at-home grooming prevents painful matting and keeps the Sokoke coat luxurious. Schedule annual vet checkups plus any needed vaccinations to maintain good health.
The active Sokoke cat thrives best on a meat-focused diet rich in protein.
- Feed a high-quality canned or raw cat food diet. Ensure at least 40% of calories come from protein.
- Supplement with freeze-dried raw foods for texture and nutrition.
- Provide constant access to clean, fresh water. Consider adding a cat drinking fountain.
- Limit corn, wheat, soy, byproducts, artificial preservatives and colors.
- Use scheduled mealtimes rather than free-feeding to prevent obesity.
- Adjust portions based on your cat’s age, activity level, and if overweight. Kittens need more calories.
Consult your veterinarian for exact dietary recommendations to keep your Sokoke robust and healthy.
Sokoke Cat Lifespan and Health
Thanks to their natural origins, Sokokes represent one of the healthier pedigree breeds. They commonly live 15-20 years with excellent care.
- No inherent genetic diseases – Sokokes have great genetic diversity thanks to their landrace roots.
- Few congenital issues – Occasional cases of heart murmurs but usually grow out of it. Kittens sometimes have folded ears at birth that straighten as they mature.
- May be prone to – urinary tract infections, diarrhea from dietary sensitivities
- Rarely contract – upper respiratory infections, stomach issues
Sokoke’s athleticism also helps prevent obesity-related illness. Seek prompt vet treatment for any conditions. Overall, these are naturally hearty, vigorous cats.
Enrichment and Entertainment
To keep their bodies and minds engaged, Sokoke cats benefit from:
Interactive Toys – Teasers, treat puzzles, fetch toys, catnip kickers. Rotate frequently to prevent boredom. Have solo toys and toys you interactive with.
Outdoor Enclosures – Let them safely access fresh air and sunshine via “catios” or screened-in porches. Supervise time outdoors.
Cat Furniture – Provide high cat trees, perches and scratching posts. Ensure ample vertical space to climb and lounge.
Leash Walks – With training, many Sokokes enjoy adventure on a cat leash and harness outdoors. Always supervise walks closely.
New Experiences – Keep things interesting by offering new surfaces like bath mats, boxes, cat grass. Introduce toys slowly.
Challenge their bright minds daily through play, training and environmental enrichment. A bored Sokoke can get into mischief!
Availability as Pets
Given their elite status as a rare breed, Sokoke kittens are in very limited supply and come with premium pricing. Average costs are $2000 to $5000 per kitten.Here are some tips for finding and bringing home a Sokoke cat:
- Locate an ethical, preservation-focused Sokoke breeder through cat fancier organizations like the International Cat Association (TICA).
- Expect to be thoroughly vetted about your ability to care for such a special breed. Breeders aim to place kittens in nurturing lifelong homes.
- Be prepared to travel outside your immediate area or even out of state to adopt a Sokoke kitten.
- Ask to see parent cats and health/genetic testing results. Request references from other Sokoke owners.
- Expect a waitlist of 6 months up to 2 years for available kittens. Litters are small.
While the process takes patience, it’s rewarding to provide an amazing life for one of these rare beauties. Reach out to Sokoke rescues as another adoption option.
Some cat breeds share similarities with the regal Sokoke:
The African Wildcat – The wild ancestor of all domesticated cats. Sokokes resemble these cats of Kenya’s forests.
Havana Brown – Another cat breed originating from the UK that likely used Sokokes in foundation stock. Also boast rich brown coats.
Korat Cat – Hails from Thailand. Their single blue coat and green eye coloration resembles the Sokoke.
Pixiebob Cat – Believed to be bred from wild North American bobcats. Shares the Sokoke’s muscular build and thick coat.
Ocicat – Bred to resemble the wild ocelot. Features spotted markings on a tawny coat akin to the Sokoke.
While no breed perfectly replicates the Sokoke, these cats share some comparable traits.
Fun Facts About the Sokoke Cat Breed
To wrap up this complete Sokoke cat guide, here are some intriguing trivia tidbits:
- The Sokoke breed takes its name from the forest and indigenous Subdue people of Kenya who revered them.
- Sokokes remain scarce – only around 350 exist worldwide. Most reside in Europe where breeding began.
- A British breeder named Gloria Moeldrop was essential in establishing the Sokoke breed in the 1980s.
- Sokokes can climb remarkably fast even up sheer surfaces thanks to strong claws and leg muscles.
- Some Sokokes enjoy playing fetch more than most felines or even dogs!
- The dense Sokoke coat has four distinct lengths of fur from short neck fur to long fringe on the tail.
- Sokokes have “M” markings on their foreheads reminiscent of an M for Moeldrop who founded the breed.
- Some Sokokes exhibit oyster shell patterning in their coats with bands of alternating light and dark fur.
- Early breeders thought the cats originated on the Arabian Peninsula before genetic testing confirmed Kenya as the foundation origin.
The exotic Sokoke remains mysterious and alluring, much like the forest of their birth. May this rare breed continue to be cherished for generations to come through dedicated preservation efforts.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Sokoke Cat.
If you’re considering adding one of these exotic beauties to your home, here are answers to some common questions:
Are Sokoke cats hypoallergenic?
No cat is truly hypoallergenic. But Sokokes shed less than some breeds thanks to their light undercoat. Their long fur also traps more dander. Some report less reaction to them.
How big do Sokoke Cat get?
The typical fully grown Sokoke is medium in size, averaging 8-15 pounds. Their slender build paired with long legs and tail give the illusion of extra size.
Do Sokoke cats like to cuddle and sit in laps?
Most Sokokes form a very close bond with their chosen person. They crave physical affection and enjoy snuggling up on laps for pets and quality time.
How expensive is pet insurance for a Sokoke cat?
As a rare breed, Sokoke kittens cost more upfront. But their excellent health means pet insurance remains affordable, averaging $20-$60 monthly. Get quotes from multiple providers.
I hope this guide provided a comprehensive introduction to the striking Sokoke cat. Let me know if you have any other questions about these special felines.