A Beginner’s Guide to the Sokoke

The Sokoke is one of the rarest and most intriguing cat breeds in the world, hailing from the Arabuko Sokoke Forest in Kenya. While it may not be as widely known as the Siamese or Persian, the Sokoke holds its own with a fascinating history, unique appearance, and lively personality that makes it a beloved pet for those lucky enough to own one.

Origins and History

The Sokoke breed’s history is both mysterious and enchanting. Originally discovered in the dense, coastal forests of Kenya, these cats were initially known as “Khadzonzo” by the local Giriama people, which translates to “looks like tree bark.” This name references the cat’s distinctive tabby coat that camouflages seamlessly with the natural environment. It wasn’t until the late 20th century that the breed caught the attention of the Western world, thanks to Jeni Slater, a British expatriate who began breeding them and promoting their unique qualities. The Sokoke was later recognized as a natural breed, meaning it developed without human intervention, and has since gained recognition from various feline registries around the globe.

Physical Appearance

What sets the Sokoke apart is its striking physical appearance. These cats are medium-sized with a slender build, high-set legs, and an elongated body, giving them an elegant, athletic look. Their coat is short and glossy, featuring a distinctive pattern known as “blotched tabby.” The color shades vary from dark brown to light gray, all beautifully accented with darker stripes and swirls. Their almond-shaped eyes can be green or amber, adding to their exotic allure.

Personality and Temperament

Sokokes are known for their highly active and energetic nature. They are incredibly agile and love to climb, often found perched at the highest points in a home. Despite their wild origins, they are very affectionate and bond closely with their human families. However, they do maintain some of their ancestral instincts, such as a strong hunting drive, so they enjoy interactive play and stimulation.

Sokokes are also quite vocal and communicative, known for their range of interesting chirps and meows. They use these sounds to express their moods and desires, often engaging in long conversations with their owners. This makes them an excellent companion for those who enjoy the lively banter of a talkative pet.

Living with a Sokoke

Due to their active nature, Sokokes need a stimulating environment to thrive. They are not the type of cat to be content lounging around all day. Instead, they require space to explore and climb, as well as interactive toys and regular playtime sessions with their humans. For families, the Sokoke can be a wonderful addition as they get along well with children and other pets, provided they have been properly socialized from a young age.

However, potential owners should remember that the Sokoke’s rarity means they can be difficult to find and may require joining a waiting list. Additionally, because of their limited genetic pool, it’s important to acquire a Sokoke from a reputable breeder who follows responsible breeding practices to ensure the health and wellbeing of their cats.


The Sokoke is a marvel of the feline world, embodying the wild beauty of its African roots with the charm and affectionate qualities desired in a house pet. Owning a Sokoke is a unique experience that brings a touch of the wild into your home, accompanied by a lively personality that enriches the lives of those around them. For the cat enthusiast seeking a rare, exotic, and engaging pet, the Sokoke offers a connection not just to a new animal, but to an ancient heritage that continues to thrive in the modern world.

Our Core Values

Why Catipilla? Every product and idea we have is built around these core values.

Cat health and well-being.
Cats deserve the best. They deserve to be active, to be entertained, to stretch, to climb and to rest. To play out all of their natural instincts where they feel safest – at home. Our range has been designed to cater for these instincts and provide the most enjoyment possible.

High-quality, space-saving additions to your home.
Every unit we design is built to last. We want you to have the confidence that our products will stand the test of time. We also want to ensure that cats feel secure on our units and have the freedom to roam wherever they please.

Sustainable products that last a lifetime.
All of our Catipilla products are made from 85% recycled material and we actively work to reduce our energy footprint by sourcing materials close to home.