Abyssinian cat


The Abyssinian cat belongs to one of the short-haired domestic cat breeds. These cats were named by this name in relation to Abyssinia (Ethiopia, now), due to the popular belief that it may be a place for the origin of this breed. Outwardly, the Abyssinian cat is characterized by a unique spotted sympathy, characterized by different distinctive colors.

Abyssinian cats are one of the oldest types of domesticated animals, which coexisted with humans throughout history, as archaeologists found mummified remains of cats in ancient Egyptian shrines that bear the same features of the modern breed. Despite its relative marginalization in the past compared to other breeds, Abyssinian cats are currently ranked among the five most popular cat breeds around the world.

Thanks to its distinctive external appearance, both in terms of length, slender and consistent body, and its distinctive fur color compared to other cats, it is often likened to the appearance of human models. In terms of behavior and intelligence, these cats appear active and curious, as they often follow their owners and urge them to play, so Abyssinian cats are seen as "clowns of the cat kingdom." This breed is also characterized by dog-like characteristics and behavior, such as showing a sense of affection and a desire to interact.

History of the Abyssinian Cat

Contrary to popular belief, the origin of the Abyssinian cat breed is not Abyssinia, from which it derives its name, nor even Egypt, in which traces were found proving its presence there since ancient times. Rather, it is likely that its original origin is Southeast Asia, along the edge of the Indian Ocean between Singapore and Sri Lanka. However, these cats may be descended from an ancient African race. Where could the Abyssinian cat be the heir to the sacred cat of ancient Egypt.

The first cat of this breed introduced to Europe was the cat "Zola", a male, brought from Abyssinia (present-day Ethiopia) by the year 1868 by Marshal Sir Robert Napier, an English diplomat who was on a mission to Addis Ababa (the capital of Abyssinia). For this reason, this dynasty was called Abyssinian. As the breed of the Zola cat coming from Abyssinia was then new and unparalleled, so it was called the name of the country from which it was brought.

This breed was historically domesticated and improved upon in England. Breeders perfected this by crossing it with the British Shorthair cat, and worked especially to obtain a thin appearance and improve the coat. The thing that prompted the Abyssinian cat to be named later as the “rabbit cat”, because of its coat similar to that of a wild rabbit.

After a few years of crossbreeding, the Abyssinian cat was shown for the first time at the Crystal Palace in London in 1871. Eleven years later, exactly in the year 1882, the breed was finally recognized outside Great Britain. With the arrival of the year 1889, arbitration standards were set for this breed and the surrounding matters. But soon this strain was on the verge of extinction by the early years of the twentieth century.

By 1909, the Abyssinian cat finally arrived in the United States, but it did not become popular there until the 1930s, preceded by the official recognition of the breed by the American Cat Fanciers Association in 1917.

The French, for their part, did not discover the breed until 1927, when the French Federation of Cats finally recognized this breed. The first club dedicated to Abyssinian cats is called the "Abyssinian Cat Club". In France, a bi-monthly booklet entitled “The Abyssinian Boom” is published periodically, which follows the various activities of Abyssinian cat breeders. The rate of breeding of Abyssinian cats was known on the European continent during the years of World War I slowed down significantly, but soon resumed after that.

Throughout history, the Abyssinian cat breed has known rapid and continuous development, until today it is the fifth most popular cat breed in North America, and it is in particular one of the ten favorite breeds in the United States. Until today, this strain continues to evolve, both in terms of external shape and head shape.

Abyssinian cat specifications

The Abyssinian cat is often referred to as the "miniature form" of the mountain lion or compared to the wild cat because of its appearance. Female cats weigh between 2.5 to 4 kilograms, and males from about 3.5 to 5 kilograms on average.

the body

The Abyssinian cat has a slender body, with fine bones and a medium to long body. In terms of motor performance, he is agile and flexible with very developed muscular strength. When touching the cat's limbs, the presence of these muscles can be felt. The ideal type is a combination of a well-proportioned petite body and a slender body. Proportion and general balance are taken into consideration more than size. The chest is slightly rounded, and the back is slightly arched with a slender loin. With small, rather compact and oval feet. When observed, it appears as if the cat is only standing on tiptoe.


The Abyssinian cat's head is at the end of a long neck. The head takes the form of a triangle with slight rounding, without straight lines. The head of the Abyssinian cat consists of slight curves at the level of: the forehead, the nose, the skull, and the occiput. It is noticeable within the same lineage that there are two forms of the head; The English Abyssinian cat, which has a somewhat elongated head (the eastern type), and the American Abyssinian cat, which has a round head.

The Abyssinian cat has large, almond-shaped eyes that are bright and expressive. The eyes take on a uniform hazel-green color in all its shades. The eyelids are circled in black, with a dark line on the eye above the base color of the coat, giving the impression that Abyssinian cats are wearing make-up.

The ears are large, set far apart and directed forward. Something that makes the cat look like it's on alert. The ear is cup-shaped with a wide base. The hair on the ears is very short and slanted, with clear color markings. Some Abyssinian cat breeders seek to develop a tuft of hair at the tips of the ears similar to those of the lynx.

poncho and fur

The Abyssinian cat has short fur, with a distinctive color pattern in which each hair has two lines of markings. The fur hairs are slightly longer towards the spine, and rapidly shorten towards the sides, legs, and head.

The fur coat is shiny, soft to the touch, supple to the touch and flat to the body. With an undercoat that is neither woolly nor gray in appearance. The color and quality of the Abyssinian cat's coat are the main strengths of this breed. There are many other colours, but the marked tabi style remains the most common. Only the hair on the belly, chest, neck and inside of the paws is unmarked and is the cat's base color. The backbone and tail are slightly darker than the rest of the body, while the chin and upper neck become lighter.

In total there are 28 color patterns for the Abyssinian cat, including:

Rabbit pattern (normal or blush): It is the original and most common color in this breed, which gives a coat similar to the appearance of a wild rabbit, which earned the Abyssinian cat the name “rabbit cat” that was used to describe its first breeds in Great Britain. Hair coloration consists of alternating bi-colour bands called takii (marked) patterns, a reddish-orange-yellow color near the skin, and dark brown or black at the ends of the hairs; The more strands there are in the hair, the more accurate the color will be. The belly is a normal apricot colour. The throat and neck are lighter (creamy) than white. 

Sorelic (cinnamon): It is a very warm, fiery, subtle color close to the color pattern of the mountain lion; It is a mixture of yellow stripes of apricot-orange color, intertwined with bands of brown or dark yellow, reddish and white, giving the Abyssinian cat a special touch. The tip of the tail and the eye area are also surreal, while the thumb markings on the ears, belly, inside of the legs and underside of the tail are apricot-buff.

As for the skin of the nose, it is of Aguri color surrounded by brown or reddish yellow. Abyssinian cats of the Sorel color do not possess, in any way, the genes that give the red and cream color that characterizes domestic cats.

Other color patterns: The Abyssinian cat's fur can take a range of other colors, such as burgundy, cream, chocolate brown, lilac, in addition to the bright white silver color that is dark orange, as well as the tortoiseshell pattern.

Abyssinian cat behaviour

Abyssinian cats are widely popular due to their distinguished and developed personality that is characterized by extraordinary intelligence. Abyssinian cats are also very curious and energetic cats to the point of restlessness, as they are constantly noticed in a state of movement. She is also participatory and loves to play with humans and live with other cats, so specialists do not advise keeping her alone; It is said that she can become depressed without constant activity and in the event that her owners do not pay attention to her. Veterinarian Joanne Joshua writes that the bond that Abyssinian and Burmese cats build with their owners makes these two breeds more dependent on human contact. Something that contrasts with the simple "tolerant acceptance of human society" in return for the "comfort" that many other breeds display.

Due to their constant interest in playing with their owners, and the curiosity they show, Abyssinian cats are known as "the clowns of the cat kingdom." Despite this, and in contrast to their active and open nature, they tend to be quiet cats. This is evident through the sound of their modest meowing.

Abyssinian cats, when living with other cats, can occupy a dominant position, but they often remain social. There are several known cases in which mothers of Abyssinian cats were seen raising their offspring together.

Abyssinian cat breeding

The female Abyssinian cat gives birth to an average of about 3 kittens at a time, which is a very low percentage compared to most other domestic cat breeds, which give birth to approximately 5 kittens at a time. Immediately after birth, kittens are two-coloured, dark and light. The distinctive coat color of Abyssinian cats begins to appear, starting at the age of six weeks. To gain its final color after a year or a year and a half.

Abyssinian cat health

Abyssinian cats can be prone to gingivitis, which can lead to serious periodontitis. This strain can also be exposed to certain genetic diseases, such as pyruvate kinase deficiency and progressive retinal atrophy leading to blindness due to mutations in the rdAc gene. However, a decrease in its prevalence rate was observed from 45% to less than 4% in 2008 in Sweden. In addition, there is also amyloidosis that affects cats; It is a genetic disease that leads to the gradual deposition of amyloid in the body, leading to irreversible kidney failure. This disease has threatened the breed for several years because, unfortunately, there is no screening test that can detect it, and symptoms that appear late (after the age of 5 years) are difficult to detect in this strain. However, the warning of breeders who performed autopsies on cats that had died of kidney failure or under suspicious circumstances allowed the disease to recede.

Under normal circumstances, the life expectancy of an Abyssinian cat can range from 13 to 16 years.

Diseases of the Abyssinian cat

Abyssinian cats are susceptible to certain genetic diseases, such as pyruvate kinase deficiency and progressive retinal atrophy, in addition to feline amyloidosis. It is a genetic disease that leads to the gradual deposition of amyloid in the body, leading to irreversible kidney failure. This disease has threatened the breed for several years because, unfortunately, there is no screening test that can detect it, and symptoms that appear late (after the age of 5 years) are difficult to detect in this strain. However, the warning of breeders who performed autopsies on cats that had died of kidney failure or under suspicious circumstances allowed the disease to recede.


The Abyssinian cat has a gene called Ta. The T stands for tabby or tabby (color pattern) and the a stands for Abyssinian or Abyssinian. It is a gene for the Abyssinian cat, but it can also be found in the Somali cat and the Singapore cat. The Somali cat is actually a breed resulting from a cross-breed with the Abyssinian cat. As for the Singapore cat, even if it has the same gene as the Abyssinian cat, it cannot be certain that the Singapore cat resulted from a mating process with the Abyssinian cat.

At the chromosomal site in which the Ta gene is located, other genera may have two more genes: the tb gene, which gives broad stripes, or the T gene, which gives narrow stripes. Thus, when an Abyssinian crosses a cat with marbled fur (broad stripes), the offspring will get marked coats (the Abyssinian trait) because the ta gene will be dominant over the tb gene. But when an Abyssinian cat mates with a cat that has narrow stripes, we will get a cat with a bad coat Abyssinian that shows fairly extensive stripes on a marked background, which indicates that Ta is not completely dominant over the T gene.

Abyssinian cat in ancient monuments

The Abyssinian cat is similar to representations of cats in ancient Egyptian antiquities. However, it has not been established whether the breed of Abyssinian cats is the same as that shown in these ancient drawings and carvings. This similarity may be the result of the work done by the breeders of this strain until it evolved into what it is now, but even this fact cannot be confirmed.

The Abyssinian cat is also known as the "Blue Nile cat", which reinforces the hypothesis of its descent from Ethiopian origin.

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