July 31, 2013 PetGuide
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  • Height: 7-8 inches
  • Weight: 6-10 lb
  • Lifespan: 9- 15 years
  • Physique: Athletic, medium-sized
  • Best Suited For: Families with children and other pets.
  • Temperament: Easily leash-trained. Intelligent, curious, interactive and loving
  • Comparable Breeds: Peterbald, Devonshire Rex

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The Sokoke is an old, but rare breed of domestic cat from the Arabuko Sokoke Forest in Kenya. DNA testing has proven the cats are not a hybrid cross with wild cats as once believed, but are descended from Asian cats that are themselves the descendants of wild cats from Arabia. The first Sokokes to leave Kenya were two kittens, a male and a female, taken to Denmark by Gloria Moeldrop in 1978. More were subsequently exported, and in 2001, Jeannie Knocker began researching the breed for a planned documentary. When financing for the film collapsed, Knocker shared the information she had gathered on Sokokes living in Kenya with breeders in Europe and the U.S. who then strengthened their breeding programs with these “new lines.” The International Cat Association accepted the Sokoke for registration in 2004.

The Sokoke is one of several cat breeds that are said to have dog-like personalities.

sokoke-1The Sokoke is one of several cat breeds that are said to have dog-like personalities. Generally this means they will fetch, or can be leash trained. The Sokoke will do both, but it will also rush to the door to greet you enthusiastically at the end of the day, which is very rare in feline personalities. Enthusiastic and intelligent, the Sokoke bonds deeply with his humans and doesn’t like to be far away from them at any time. They get along well with other pets and children. Since they don’t like to be left alone for long periods, it’s best for these unique and engaging cats to be part of active households. The Sokoke has a tendency to be territorial, and reputedly has an ability to read human emotions and to talk softly and soothingly when their humans are upset. They play in short, intense bursts and then will abruptly be “done” until they next game occurs to them.

A medium-sized cat with an athletic, lithe body and lean good looks, the Sokoke stands on slender, elegant legs. The hind legs are higher than the front giving them a walk that is described as a “tiptoe gait.” This becomes more pronounced when a Sokoke is excited. Then, he almost seems to prance. The long tail tapers to a point, and the paws are oval shaped. The wedge head looks small in proportion to the body, and the straight nose sits above a firm chin. The medium ears are rounded at the tip and set high back on the head and beautifully erect. The Sokoke’s eyes are arresting shades of amber to green, oval in form, and widely set.

sokoke-2Sokokes have thin, short coats with no undercoat. The only coloration is a blotched brown tabby pattern that somewhat resembles tree bark. The pattern obviously evolved as a form of camouflage, and can also feature distinct outlining below the spine and over the shoulders.

The Sokoke coat is thin, and with no undercoat, not given to shedding. These cats are very low maintenance, and generally tend to themselves quite nicely.

Photo credit: Jomegat/Wikimedia Commons; Berinka/Wikimedia Commons; Fabian Köster/Wikimedia Commons

Comparable Breeds

Go to Peterbald


  • Height: 8-10 inches
  • Weight: 6-10 lb
  • Lifespan: 12-15 years
  • Physique: Long, slender
  • Best Suited For: Families with children and other pets, pet owners that are willing to bathe their cats regularly, singles with pets, experienced cat owners
  • Temperament: Loyal, affectionate, social, intelligent
  • Comparable Breeds: Oriental, Sphynx
Go to Devonshire Rex

Devonshire Rex

  • Height: 10-12 inches
  • Weight: 8-10 lb
  • Lifespan: 9-13 years
  • Physique: Small, short bodied
  • Best Suited For: Families with other pets. Don’t do well without companionship
  • Temperament: Affectionate, active, intelligent. Require room to play. Bore easily
  • Comparable Breeds: Sokoke, LaPerm