Skip to main content



Section 4 – FOREIGN – Group 3

The rarest breed of domestic cat in the world – the Sokoke is a lean, medium sized, ticked modified classic tabby cat. It is found as a naturally occurring native breed inthe greater Arabuko-Sokoke Forest Preserve area in the coastal zone of Kenya, Africa. A peace-loving, keenly aware and intelligent shorthaired breed, the Sokoke is playful and family oriented, forming close bonds with both feline and human family members.

The Sokoke is unique in that it has a see-through ticked tabby pattern, with ticking in both the ground color and pattern itself, even including the tail tip. This camouflaged pattern can also include outlining over the shoulders and below the spine. They have a tip-toe gait in the rear that becomes more pronounced when they are excited. Leggy, with large upright ears and lithe, graceful movements, they are moderately active and easy to keep.


The Sokoke gets its name from the Arabuko Sokoke rain forest in Kenya, very near to Mombassa. The local tribe called the cats Kadzonzo which means “looks like tree bark”, because of the distinctive ring patterns on the sides of the cats. This unique pattern has been naturally developed and is now being preserved by human intervention. The cats are almost extinct now in the wild.

In 1978 horse-breeder and wildlife artist Jeni Slater found a litter of these domestic type cats in her garden on her coconut plantation. She realised that they were unusual, so she took a pair from the litter and with the help of her staff she hand reared them. As the kittens grew they remained very different from other cats. She decided to take a pair to Europe and then she imported 3 more Sokokes forming the foundation of the breed outside Kenya. Additional cats were brought to Europe from Kenya in the early 1990s to strengthen the breed-lines.

Preliminary Recognition was granted by GCCF in 2015.

Appearance and Colours

The Sokoke is first and foremost a tabby cat. Most Sokokes are a modified Brown Tabby – with well defined classic tabby markings. The distinguishing feature of a Sokoke is that the tabby marking should be muted by ticking throughout the patterned areas. A few Snow Sokokes exist – which have a much paler body colour, with the darker markings restricted to their points, but still retaining clearly visible tabby markings throughout.

The head is a modified wedge, appearing small in relation to the body. The top of the head should be almost flat in profile, and the length of the head should be slightly longer than the width at the temples. The cheek bones should be high and well defined. The nose is broad with a relatively abrupt end to the tip. The profile shows a softly curved bridge with a straight nose of medium length. The whisker pads are well defined and not pinched. There may be more definition to the rear of the whisker pads, giving the frontal view a smooth look with gently rounded contours. The chin should be strong & broad, in line with the tip of the nose in profile. The ears are medium to moderately large. The eyes are moderately large, set wide apart, slightly slanted towards the base of the ears. Slightly almond in shape. Brilliant and expressive. The colour varies from greenish amber in the Sokoke to blue in the Snow Sokoke.

The body is medium long, slender, lithe and graceful, with well-developed chest, level back and rounded rib cage. The neck is slender, medium to slightly long in length, yet strong & muscular. These cats look fine and delicate, but, when lifted should be surprisingly solid and give the feel of strength. Males can be significantly larger than females.

The legs are long and slender with medium or fine boning. The position of the hind legs gives a “tip-toe” gait that is very characteristic of the breed. The feet are oval and medium to small in size. The tail is medium to long, and with a firm, muscular feel. Tapers, whip-like to a narrow pointed tip.

The coat is very short, close-lying and glossy, but not silky. There is little or no undercoat.


Sokokes do not show much personality change when entering a new home. They should adapt within a few days to their newliving space. They go out of their way to meet new people. Owners find it very cute that the cat will interrupt whatever it is doing to greet new visitors at the door. Owners that are looking for a best friend will love this breed. The Sokoke loves to spend all the time it can with its owner! Sokokes are good for homes with children, or for owners who already have a dog or two. Owners have said that their Sokoke will often comfort them after a bad day. They are extremely playful – and are ready to play at almost any moment in the day. Energy is not a problem for the Sokoke – at times it can appear to have an endless amount! Not many cats are as smart as this one. The Sokoke is one of the most intelligent cats in the world.


Sokokes are healthy cats, strong and athletic. ICC reports no known health problems with the breed.