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15 Things to Know about the Sokoke Cat 2024 (With Pictures)

While there are many breeds of kitties that are classified as “rare” or “exotic”, few compare to the stunning looks of the Sokoke cat. This elusive kitty may surprise you with its charming personality, beautiful coat, or quirky antics.

Sokokes can definitely be listed among the more expensive cat breeds. The Sokoke cat price is thanks to their rarity and the unique Sokoke cat personality. There is much to know and love about this very mysterious breed, so come along as we discover all there is to know about the Sokoke.

two sokoke cats


Things You Need to Know About Sokoke Cats

1. Where Is Sokoke: History and Background of the Sokoke Cat Breed

While many cat breeds have distinctive, convoluted backstories, including royalty (looking at you, Khao Manee), the Sokoke cat is much more down-to-earth. There’s nothing too fancy or obscure in the history of this clawed kitty, but perhaps their mystery has something to do with their rarity.

The first Sokoke cats were found in the greater Arabuko-Sokoke forest of Kenya in 1977. A wildlife artist and horse breeder named Jeni Slater discovered a litter of the cuties in her backyard. They were clearly domestic, as they were quite bold and used to human interaction.

She then hand-reared a few of the kittens with some help from her staff. Later on, Slater’s friend took some over to Europe, as well as imported a few extras. The breed found its way to some of the world’s most beautiful cities.

This formed the initial foundation that the Sokoke cat breed was built on.

2. How the Rare Sokoke Cat Got Its Name

As mentioned above, the Sokoke cats got their name from the forest where they were discovered. Sokoke cats have also gone by “African Shorthair” and “Sokoke Forest Cat” over the years.

The forest is in the coastal area of Kenya, near Mombasa, and was home to a local Kenyan tribe called the Giriama. Some people believe the Sokoke was the sacred cat of the tribe and that they were very affectionate towards the kitties. While the forest is a far cry from the European cities you’ll likely find Sokokes in these days; they’re still treated like the sacred beings they are.

tigger sokoke cat

3. What Cat Breeds Are Sokoke Cats Related to?

As distinctive as the Sokoke may be, it is quite possible that they are related to several other super cool cat breeds as well. One of these relations is the feral Lamu cat, which is an island-dwelling feline from further north up the Kenyan coast. Interestingly, these cats played an important role in understanding trade across the Indian Ocean.

Another close relative of the Sokoke cat breed might be the beautiful Egyptian Mau, with their spotted leopard-like coats.

4. Sokoke Cats Are a Natural Breed

The Sokoke is a natural breed of kitty, which means they were freely bred and “created” through natural means. They were not designed or created from specific breeds, like the Minskin breed or the Toyger breed.

 They are descendants of a breed of free-roaming feral cats of Kenya and are one of the world’s rarest cat breeds.

two sokoke cats nibbling

5. Why Is the Sokoke Cat Rare?

They are currently known as one of the rarest breeds of domestic cats in the world because of their limited breeding and relatively unknown status. These purr-fect cats are the epitome of “wild mystery”.

They were first recognized as an official breed in 1993 by the Fédération Internationale Féline, but today they are fully recognized by four organizations. These are some of the top cat fanciers across the globe, and include:

  • TICA – The International Cat Association
  • FIF – Fédération Internationale Féline
  • CCA – Canadian Cat Association
  • GCCF – Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (UK)

Now you might be wondering, “how many Sokoke cats are there in the world?” And believe me, the answer shocks most people. It is estimated that there are only around 100 Sokoke cats in the whole world. Crazy, right?

6. Sokoke Appearance: Pretty on the Outside

The Sokoke has quite a striking quality to its appearance. They are not your average kitties since they do have a bit of a “wilder” look to their coats and patterns. This is thanks to their origins in the forest.

The locals in Kenya called them Kadzonzo, which in English means ‘tree bark’. This is because of the quaint, ring-like markings that cross over their bodies. They also have some unusually long ears, as well as a tapered tail.

Sokokes have a few common trademarks that distinguish them from the general cat populace. These Sokoke cat characteristics, combined with their high cheekbones and light green or amber-colored eyes, give them quite a striking facade.

If you were to compare them to other breeds, they have similar markings to Bengal cats and Egyptian Maus, two of the other unique cat breeds with exotic coat patterns.

7. Sokoke Cats Are Easy to Groom

Generally speaking, their coats are quite short, with minimal undercoats (thanks to their warm origins in Kenya). This makes them a breeze when grooming. While Sokokes aren’t on the list of hypoallergenic cats, shedding season won’t bring too much sneezing and allergies.

The Sokoke is mostly brown in color, with well-defined tabby markings and a variety of patterns and shapes that can adorn their coats. A soft cat brush would be the perfect tool to help groom them, giving you a chance to bond with your fancy feline.

two sokoke cats black and white

8. Sokoke Cat Size

Sokokes are a medium-sized breed of claw monster with a lean and athletic build. Their bodies are quite thin and long, with long legs and a rather small head. They definitely look the part of an “exotic hunter,” and you can often see them stalking some invisible prey around the house.

They are lithe cats, very agile on their feet, so be prepared to be pounced on quite often! Sokoke cats are pretty active and are definitely on the list of cats that you should keep away from potted plants and other “knock-over-able” home decor.

9. Sokoke Cat Personality – Pretty on the Inside

Quirky does not even begin to describe these silly cats, as they have some seriously wonderful personality traits combined with crazy antics. The Sokoke has a unique outlook on life, and it’s definitely something to be prepared for when you are bringing one home.

Despite their wild origins, Sokoke cats can be tamed (and trained) easily. Your Sokoke kitten won’t typically seek out love and attention. Instead, they’ll show you love by following you around the house.

sokoke cat on scratching tower

10. Tip-Toeing Into Your Heart

One of the funnier aspects of their special brand of coo-coo is their gait. They don’t walk around like most cats. Instead, they tip-toe around the house on their long legs. This is quite a sight to behold and can warrant a giggle when they’re walking around the house.

This prancing can be quite adorable to watch, so be sure to treat them to a lovely snack to show your appreciation.

You might enjoy reading my article on the Scottish Fold Munchkin.

11. So (koke) Glad to Meet You!

These felines are very much the social Sallys of the cat world. They absolutely love being around their owners and in the heart of the action at home. Sokoke cats are a loving breed and make fantastic family cats. They can often be seen fetching their humans at the door with a chirpy greeting. Yes, they are vocal kitties and love talking to their family or even other cats. It is easy to fall in love with them, as they are very charming. Before long, you’ll be completely wrapped around their tail.

tigger sokoke cat
tigger sokoke cat

12. Stimulation Station: A Cat’s Playground

Their dog-like exuberance makes them a joy to have in the house, just as long as you are prepared to entertain them. They are inquisitive cats and will explore anything and everything. They will need some extra stimulation during the day because of this curious persona.

Toys, wands, balls, puzzles, and other interactive cat gadgets are your best bet at keeping them (and you) sane and happy. Since they are such a high-energy breed, it is best to adopt them only if you are able to keep up with their zoomies and other silly antics.

sokoke kittens

13. Sokoke Cats Love Climbing

When it comes to climbing, it seems like Sokokes and Bengals have to be very closely related. Sokokes, just like their leopard-spotted cousins, are avid climbers and absolutely love exploring every inch of your house, vertical or horizontal.

Their athletic build allows them quite a bit of jumping potential, so multi-leveled cat trees or some cleverly spaced shelves are essential to keep them happy. Remember, even if you don’t provide these types of “height-stimulation”, your Sokoke will still seek it out. Thus, don’t be surprised to see them on top of the kitchen cabinets or the fridge.

A great way to get them going is to have a playroom for them to go bonkers in. You can add a variety of toys, gadgets, cat trees, and platforms for them to tackle. Unlike most cats, who you’ll find snuggled up in their favourite sleeping positions for most of the day, Sokoke cats need plenty of stimulation.

Tip: It does not have to be anything fancy, special, or expensive. Installing just a few basic shelves (spaced out to provide maximum fun and platforming) is plenty to have your kitty jumping and roaming around.

sokoke cat tigger
Tigger the Sokoke Cat

14. Sokoke Kittens Are Cared For by Their Fathers

As is common with most mammal species, it is commonplace for females to provide the main parental role. However, when it comes to the Sokoke, the father of the litter cat can be quite hands-on (or is that paws-on?) with the kittens.

They can often be seen nesting in the box with their litter and bonding with the little ones. They share this responsibility, so the mothers can take a break and recuperate. It is an adorable thing to witness, as they are genuinely affectionate towards the kittens and keep them warm and safe.

It is quite an uncommon thing, especially for cats, for the males to help raise the kittens. It is also worth mentioning that, if left with the kittens, the mother can often wait several months to wean her kittens. These daddy-cats definitely deserve the award for cat-dad of the year for their amazing contribution to the family.

sokoke cat yawning

15. Are Sosoke Cats Good With Children?

Moving on to children, generally, Sokokes are very mild-mannered and will fare splendidly with young kids. They love the attention and games that come with the younger humans, so your Sokoke will be more than happy to play along.

Just remember to take note that they are a high-energy breed. With all the crazy antics, playfulness, and need for social interaction, these cats can be a bit much for some people.

Especially in households with small babies or very young children, it can be tough to have such a spitfire in the house.

The same can be said for elderly owners; a Sokoke cat would not be the recommended cat for them. It’s always recommended that older people opt for more tranquil cat breeds. That way, both the cat and their owner will be happy.

One awesome thing to know is that they do love companionship. Other pets like cats, dogs, or otherwise fur-covered are all perfect playmates for a silly Sokoke cat.

The Sokoke – Man’s Best Cat

So there we have it: everything you need to know about Sokokes, from “why are Sokoke cats rare?” to how to keep a Sokoke cat entertained. This beautiful breed with wild origins is a cutie that can climb into your heart with ease and elegance.

Sokoke cats will become the center of your home in no time. Keeping up with their silliness is just another wonderful aspect you can expect with this cooky cat.

So, if you are ready to bring a Sokoke into your home, be prepared for a zany bundle of fun.

No matter the breed, looking after a new kitten can be daunting, so be sure to read up on some useful tips and tricks to make it easy. Once you get that sorted, all you need to do is bring Mr Mittens home!

sokoke cat with teeth out

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George C Card

Thursday 3rd of November 2022

I'm pretty sure I'm luck and have a sokoke cat, though he is big. I feed him well and he is newtered, so I think that is why.His body without tail is 30 inches and he is 34 pounds. The markings are perfectly sokoke as are the traits. I just want to share how smart this cat is. I have a full attic that is his play room and I open the door and let him up there. He used to me-ow to get me to open the door, but that changed. He noticed that when people come to my door they say "hello". Now when he wants the door opened he says "hello". He also learned what "no" means, and he respects it-but he also says "no" when he means it. He definately doesn't like his travel cage or traveling in a car and when I go to put him in the cage he is repeating "no". He is trying to say other words too and sentances, but he has a hard time with some sounds like the h sound, but I can tell he is trying to say something. He loves watching tv. And he is very easy to train. I also have many exotic and very expensive pet finches worth hundreds of dollars each, but he knows they are off limits and will not bother them-yet if a mouse ran under a cage he would get it. He does go for the wild birds though. I'm thinking of renting "The birds" by Alfred Hitchcock for him to watch, but that might be tramatic for him. I also used to have a large hollowed out tree in the yard and a giant crow that stood close to 5 ft high used to come after the squirls in that tree. Some people call it a firebird, but it is a rare crow only found in the swamps in Ma north east of Providence RI that hunts for prey in eastern Ct. There are 3 of these birds that are stuffed and on display at the library. Buddy (thats the cats name) is very cautious so I don't think I need to worry.

I also want to caution other owners. I also have a lot of rare plants, some of which are poisonous and he is attracted to them-he likes the smell. And yes he ate some. So, far the only thing that happened is that he throughs up and seems to be fine after that. But I'm going to reserch my plants and get rid of the poison ones. I don't want to lose him. He is such an affectionate cat. The people I got him from had 2 great danes that used to terrorise him and he used to hide all the time. Now that I've rescued him he is right beside me much of the time-but yes he can be a missile in the air from my refrigerator to the front door which is 30 ft-and fast. Still he can land on a dime and never knocks anything over. He does climb the curtains sometimes, but stops when I say no. He likes very much to be back and forth and all over the counter when your cooking, so I advise keeping them out of the kitchen when cooking-he does know the stove is hot and stays away, but he is curious about everything you do. I do wire wrapping and weaving as well as some cord weaving/braiding and he loves to help with that too, especially the real gold wire. He does not try to scratch or bite, but his claws are long and sharp and he can give a good scratch without meaning to-just a light brush and you are bleeding, but fortunately healed in a day-but I've learned this often happens when he is reaching out affectionately and I can tell when he is about to-and if I say no or be good he stops. I am lucky to have such a nice cat.

Lisa Hanks

Sunday 22nd of January 2023

@George C Card, my sister just rescued a cat of this breed and I discovered it by looking up its markings. So beautiful and rare. She is already a companion and super social with her other cat. She is long bodied and sleek! Had a talkative and loving nature since day one in her new home. She seems to know she is safe and loved already. It’s nice to hear your story. I’m happy for you and my sister to have such amazing 4 legged family members. Thanks for sharing the details of your precious cat.

Amanda OBrien

Wednesday 16th of November 2022

And it sounds like Buddy is lucky to have such a nice owner! Thanks for sharing. kind regards Amanda

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