A glaring Sokoke cat outdoors, showcasing its bark-like coat.
(Photo Credit: guppiecat / Flickr / Creative Commons License)


The Sokoke is a cat breed known for their distinctive appearance, charming personality, and fascinating origin. Hailing from the coastal region of Kenya, East Africa, these cats have garnered attention for their wild appearance, resembling the elusive African wildcat. Despite this, they maintain the endearing qualities of a domestic companion. The Sokoke cat characteristics may be rooted in this wild sort of temperament. In particular, these cats adore climbing. They will happily scale any surface they can, and will happily perch in the highest place they can find. They are also very vocal and form deep bonds with their loved ones. This bond extends beyond their human companions. They often bond with their feline household siblings as well, which makes rehoming incredibly difficult for this breed.

The origins of the Sokoke cat trace back to the Arabuko Sokoke Forest, a coastal reserve in Kenya. Believed to have lived in the wild for centuries, these cats adapted to their natural environment, developing the distinctive coat pattern that helps them blend into the dappled sunlight and foliage of their native habitat. While they were once considered a rare and indigenous treasure, efforts to preserve and protect the breed have led to their introduction to the international cat community.

When considering a Sokoke, it’s advisable to prioritize adopting from rescue organizations or shelters to provide a loving home to a cat in need. However, if you decide to purchase a Sokoke kitten, it’s crucial to choose a reputable breeder. Conduct thorough research to ensure that the breeder follows ethical practices and prioritizes the well-being of their cats. Reputable Sokoke breeders prioritize the health and temperament of their cats, conduct necessary health screenings, and provide a nurturing environment for the kitties. This active approach ensures that you bring home a healthy and happy kitty while discouraging unethical breeding practices.

Quick Facts

  • Origin: Arabuko-Sokoke National Forest, Kenya
  • Size: Medium
  • Breed Group: Shorthair
  • Lifespan: 15-20 years
  • Coat: Short, dense, and coarse with a “wood grain” pattern, typically in shades of brown, brown tabby, or silver tabby
  • Temperament: Intelligent, playful, affectionate, loyal, active, independent
  • Exercise Needs: Moderate to high
  • Training: Easy to train, enjoys learning tricks
  • Grooming: Weekly brushing
  • Health: Generally healthy, but some potential for genetic health conditions.
  • Sokoke cats are nearly extinct in the wild.
  • This is one of the rarest domestic cat breeds in the world.
  • Sokoke cats have a tip-toe gait, due to their longer back legs.
  • They were initially given the name “Kadzonzo,” which translates to “looks like tree bark.”

Sokoke Cat Pictures

Sokoke History

The story of the Sokoke has been pinpointed back to the Arabuko Sokoke Forest in Kenya. It’s believed that a couple of kittens were taken from Kenya to Denmark in the late 1970s, which helped bring the breed to Europe.

When a documentary maker named Jeannie Knocker started to research the breed in 2001, she wound up letting breeders in the United States and Europe know about the cat, which helped put the Sokoke firmly on the cat map.

The Sokoke was officially accepted for registration by the International Cat Association (TICA) in 2004. These days, you may find Sokokes in shelters or in the care of rescue groups. So make sure to consider adoption if you decide that this is the breed for you!

Sokoke Size

The Sokoke is a medium-sized cat. As is always the case, exact size standards might vary.

Most Sokokes weigh in at six to ten pounds. Many can be smaller or larger than average.

Sokoke Personality

In terms of the Sokoke’s overall personality, this is a feline who’s often compared to a dog. That means the breed is adept at being trained to learn tricks and will even have fun playing fetch games. Oh, and just like many canines, the Sokoke is often fond of playing with water!

Sokokes also have a reputation for being very loyal to the people they live with and often like to stick close to wherever the family is, whether that’s for lounging sessions or play times. You’ll need to ensure that your cat isn’t alone for long periods of the day.

This breed does best in a busy family environment where there’s always someone available for company or fun. As a final consideration, be aware that the Sokoke likes to be active and is very inquisative, so you’ll need to provide a living space where they can climb around to satisfy their instincts.

Sokoke Health

Sokokes are generally considered to be healthy cats; although, it’s always important to schedule regular wellness visits with your cat’s vet.

There aren’t any breed-specific health problems associated with the Sokoke, but always keep an eye out for signs that your cat might be in distress or pain.

Sokoke Care

As with all cats, it’s important to keep up your Sokoke’s regular veterinary checkups to detect any health concerns early. Your vet can help you develop a care routine that will keep your cat healthy.

Beyond scheduling yearly wellness visits with your vet, make sure that you pick up a scratching post for your Sokoke cat’s living environment. This can help promote healthy scratching and keep the cat’s nails in good condition. The cat’s ears should also be examined regularly for signs of dirt building up or possible infection. Talk to your vet about starting a regular teeth brushing regime that will suit your Sokoke. Your vet can advise you about specific brands and techniques.

Finally, because the Sokoke is a cat with lots of energy, it’s recommended that you add at least one cat tree to your home. This is also a cat who takes well to being walked on a leash, but make sure you take appropriate safety steps before adding the activity to your cat’s routine.

Sokoke Coat Color And Grooming

The Sokoke has a short coat, and their fur is usually described as being thin. They sport a brown tabby pattern that many owners like to say looks like the bark of a tree.

When it comes to grooming, the Sokoke is a low maintenance cat. Brushing the feline once a week should suffice and will help lessen the chances of any mats taking root. In terms of climate, most Sokoke cats definitely prefer a hotter rather than a colder environment. You should also always make sure that there’s enough shade and fresh water available during the hotter months.

Children And Other Pets

The Sokoke is generally a really good fit for families with young children. Just make sure that early socialization takes place and boundaries are properly set on both sides. Supervise early interactions between kids and cats.

When it comes to other household pets, the good-natured Sokoke usually fares well with many domestic animals. But always make sure to supervise early interactions between the new cat and existing pets. Sometimes these relationships are very much dependent on the individuals pets’ personalities. Ultimately, early socialization really pays off with this breed. Make sure to reward your Sokoke for good behavior when you bring them home to your family!

Sokoke Rescue Groups

It may be hard to find a breed specific rescue for Sokoke cats because they are a somewhat uncommon breed. However, you may want to try shelters and rescues that cater to all types of cats, including Sokokes, as well as your local shelter. Here are some nonprofit rescues you can try:

Life Span
9 to 15 years
6 to 10 pounds
Country Of Origin
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