Abyssinian Cat Breed Profile
Abys, Bunny cat
The Abyssinian is often considered to be the cat that the Ancient Egyptians worshipped, as it looks similar to mummified cats that have been discovered. It certainly comes from the right area, as the earliest Abyssinian type cats were imported from Abyssinia (now Ethiopia), although these first specimens may have looked a little different from the attractively ticked and regal looking cat that we now see. There is no question that the Abyssinian resembles the African wildcat ancestor of the domestic cat however.
9 - 15 years
Average Litter Size
The Abyssinian is not a prolific breeder, and generally will have only three or four kittens in a litter. The Abyssinian kitten is born with a dark coat that gradually lightens as it grows. It may take a long time for the final coat colour to be established. The ticking is not present at birth, and develops over the first few weeks of life.
General Physical Description
Abyssinians are medium-sized cats. They are very elegant, regal-looking cats with strong, lithe bodies and long, slender legs. Their paws are small and oval. They have round, wedge-shaped heads with distinctive tuffed tips to the ears which are large and pointed and set wide apart. Their eyes are large and almond-shaped and they have short, close-lying coats with at least double ticking. Their tails are fairly long, broad at the base and tapering to a point.
Weight Height Range
Although most Abyssinians are healthy cats there are a few hereditary diseases which are known to appear in the breed. Progressive retinal atrophy has been reported, and may be detected from a few months of age in some cases. Cats with symptoms of PRA should not normally be used for breeding. Neurological storage disease has been reported in this breed and renal amyloidosis, a form of kidney disease, has also been seen. There is also some speculation as to whether the Abyssinian is prone to developing psychogenic alopecia, a stress related disorder which leads to hair loss through overgrooming.
Physically the Abyssinian should have a medium build of foreign type without cobbiness. It is firm, lithe and muscular, and high set on long, slender legs with oval paws. The neck is arched and elegant and the tail long and tapered from a broad base. The head is a moderate wedge shape with wide set tufted ears and a definite chin. There should be a gentle rounding towards the brow in profile, and the nose and chin should form a straight vertical line. The eyes are wide set, large, almond shaped and bright, and either amber, hazel or green with a lively expression. The coat should be fine, short and lying close to the body, with two, or preferably three, bands of colour on each hair. The darker hair colour should extend up the back of the hind legs, be solid at the tail tip and be present as a line around the eyes. There should not be barring on the legs, chest or tail, and no unbroken band of colour around the neck. White should only be present around the lips and lower jaw; too much white in this area, or white elsewhere on the body is a fault.
Country Of Origin
Compatibility With Other Cats
Compatibility With Other Animals
Suitability For Children
Character & Temperament
The Abyssinian is intelligent and curious, but this is tempered with a cautious streak. It is extremely loyal, and will become very attached to its family; in fact it will pine if deprived of their company. The male will generally tolerate other cats well, but the female may be a little prickly and prefer to be the only cat in the family. Both sexes can form strong attachments to dogs. The worst thing that you can do to an Abyssinian is deprive it of human company, and it is important that it lives in a household where people are usually at home. It also hates being confined, and needs plenty of space. It is a good climber, and will appreciate a garden full of trees and high places. This cat is not much of a talker, but will still let its owner know exactly what it wants.It is playful and inquisitive but also sensible and will not rush into situations recklessly. After a game it will be happiest sat on its owners lap being stroked and petted.
Playfulness As An Adult
Grooming & Upkeep
The Abyssinian's coat is relatively easy to care for. Brush and comb through the coat occasionally and then polish with a damp chamois leather to bring out the shine. When moulting, use a rubber grooming mitt to remove the dead hairs from the coat.
Usual or Ruddy is the best-known and most common coat colour in Abyssinians. Also seen is sorrel, blue and fawn. Silver Abyssinians are a separate group which includes black silver, blue silver, fawn silver and sorrel silver. Not so common colours are tortoiseshell, red, cream, chocolate and lilac.t>t>t>t>
History And Uses
The history of the Abyssinian cat is a little obscure, although it is fairly certain that the wife of an English Army officer, a Mrs Captain Barrett-Leonard, brought the original specimen back to Britain from Abyssinia in 1868. Other members of the army may have also brought these cats back from what is now known as Ethiopia around this time. It is known that the first mention in a book was in 1874, the breed was recognised in Britain in 1882 and the breed was shown at the Crystal Palace in 1883. The first Abyssinians to arrive in North America were probably exported in the early 1900's. It is also possible that very similar cats were brought to Britain from Southeast Asian and the Indian Ocean coast, and genetic studies may indicate that the modern Abyssinian is closely related to cats that are found in these areas. The early Abyssinians were crossed with British Shorthairs, and later with oriental breeds. In America the Abyssinian tends to have a more rounded and shorter head shape, and efforts are being made in Britain to prevent further lengthening of the face so that there is not too much of a foreign appearance. Long haired Abyssinian kittens have been found in litters for many years, and since the 1970's they have been developed as a separate breed, the Somali. Since 1957 the Red or Sorrel colouration has been recognised as a breed, and the Blue Abyssinian was recognised in 1975. Other colours have since been developed, and more are being recognised.
Suffers From Allergies
Tendency to Cause Allergies