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The Dragon Li, also called Li Hua, Li Hua Mau, Li Hua Mao (in pinyin) and 狸花猫 (in Chinese character), or simply Li Mao 狸猫 is a Chinese Cat breed originating from nascent Chinese folklore and dynastic culture.
The Dragon Li displays a unique golden brown, broken mackerel (also known as broken striped) tabby pattern, distinctive ear tipping, large round almond shaped luminescent yellow/green eyes, and a strong full bodied stature reminiscent of its wild nature. The Dragon Li is valued for its unmistakable intelligence, an uncanny cognizance in relation to its surroundings, and its ability to interact perspicuously with humans.
The eponymous Dragon Li is thought to be a natural self-domesticating breed by way of the wild cat subspecies, Chinese mountain cat (Felis silvestris bieti). While this theory is still somewhat controversial, it has also not been scientifically disproven, and is therefore widely accepted as the origin of this breed within established breeding sources in China. The Chinese character interpretation is based on a legendary description rather than a fully accurate contemporary portrayal of the Dragon Li, and as a result, the breed has been confused with that of the wild fox by the Chinese. For this reason the literal translated characters for Li Hua Mao read as 狸 as in fox (狐狸), 花 for flower pattern, and 猫 for cat. This Chinese character description was and is based on what was believed to be the best interpretation before modern western feline terminology became the standard, i.e. a 'flower pattern' versus a tabby pattern.
Although Li Hua Mao is the more prevalent name for the breed in China, more recently, the name Li Hua and Dragon Li have been utilized internationally to reflect the symbolic nature of China relevant to the mythical Chinese dragon.
In 2003 the Dragon Li debuted as an experimental breed class in Beijing, China December 30, 2003 - January 6, 2004  Allbreed Judges Dolores Kennedy & Barb Belanger of the American Cat Fanciers Association (ACFA) were guests of the Cat Aficionado Association (CAA) and judged the event.
In 2005 an ideal male example ('Needy')  presented by its owner Da Han, was shown and won its class as 1st place CAA champion per an official breed standard. The event was judged by John Douglas Blackmore of the ACFA. In February 2010 the Li Hua was accepted for showing in the miscellaneous class with Cat Fanciers Association (CFA). Since gaining international recognition, and due in part to its limited availability, the Dragon Li / LiHua has now become a focus of attention the world over. In popular culture, the Chinese literary legend "Li Mao Huan Tai Zi" utilizes a Li Hua Mao as its central theme, and has more recently served as the basis for a China based television series.