Abyssinian Cat Breed

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About The Abyssinian Cat Breed

The Abyssinian, affectionately referred to as the Aby, is described in some cat registries as a medium-sized cat, while others describe it as a medium to large one.

The body type also is classed as medium, medium long or rather long, again depending on which cat registry standards you are referring to. 


The Abyssinian Cat Breed

A Delightful Abyssinian Cat


Just as all domestic dog breeds share the wolf as its common ancestor, all of the domestic cat breeds share the same common ancestor, the African wildcat. A wild looking cat, Abyssinian’s are believed to be one of the oldest breeds of domestic cat in existence, but not without some controversy.

With its distinctly almond shaped eyes, graceful arched neck, large ears and lean, muscular body, Abys maintain a distinct resemblance to the ancient Egyptian cats that are portrayed in all of the art from statues to paintings to drawings on the walls of the great pyramids. Though paintings of them have been found in ancient Egyptian art, their exact origins are unclear.

Although Abys are a result of the cross breeding between various silver and brown tabby cats with the British “Bunny” ticked cats, they were called Abyssinians. During their first showing at British cat shows, a news article at the time mistakenly reported these beautiful animals as being from Ethiopia, which at the time was a country called Abyssinia.

Even though the breed was refined in England, it is actually believed that they originated in India and were brought into the country by merchants who stopped to trade at the city of Calcutta, which was the major port in the Indian Ocean at the time.

Reportedly, one of the earliest examples of this breed of cat was a subject of a taxidermist that was purchased sometime between the years of 1834 to 1836 by the Leiden Zoological Museum in Holland, where it remains on display to this day.

Abys later appeared on the North America continent for the first time when they were imported from England in the early nineteen hundreds. A late comer to the new world, today’s American breeding program for Abys didn’t really get off the ground until the 1930s when several high quality Abys were exported from England for the express purpose of breeding.

The Abyssinian Cat Personality Traits

Abys have been described as one of the best “people cats” that has ever been bred. Though not typically considered to be lap cats, these highly intelligent animals love to be with people and are very good at training their owners to do just what they want them to do. Abyssinians are described as very independent and intelligent. They are not considered lap cats and hate being confined, but Abyssinians are sociable creatures that will get along well with humans and other pets.

They are highly curious, a trait common to most cats, but more than that, they love to be wherever you are. They want to know what you are doing. They want to help, and as long as they are with the people they love, they are happy and contented cats.

Though they purr when content, Abyssinians are not ‘talkative cats’ and have a soft purr. Abyssinians are high-energy cats and enjoy running and jumping to high places. They also enjoy playing with water and will entertain themselves with nothing more than a running faucet.

This breed does tolerate human handling, but is probably not the best choice for children, due to their independent nature. Children may enjoy the activity level of the Abyssinian but will be disappointed when it does not want to play with them.

When you own an Abyssinian, you will find that you have a wonderful companion that, in its own way, seems to understand you in every way. People who own Abys firmly believe that there is no other breed of cat in the world that is more loyal than their Abyssinian, and they are possibly right.

Abyssinian Cat Health

Abyssinians are generally healthy; however, they do have some genetic health concerns. They can develop patellar luxation, renal amyloidosis (a kidney disorder), and retinal atrophy.

Some Abyssinian may also have sensitive stomachs making them more likely to vomit but this can be controlled through diet. They are also prone to gingivitis, but brushing their teeth can help prevent this.

The Abyssinian Cat Appearance:

An Abyssinian should have a rounded rib cage – not flat sided, a very slightly arched up back, and a quite straight flank that is not tucked upwards. The Abyssinian is a sporty, muscular and very majestic cat in its general appearance, and it proportions have a graceful look.

The Abyssinian should appear to stand tall upon its legs almost as if on tiptoes, and arches it’s back up when it stands alert. This stunning cat almost seems as if it has only just strolled out of the forest, with a look reminiscent of its wild origins of so many years ago.

The best known feature of the Abyssinian cat breed is its ticked and richly colored coat, which is devoid of markings on its neck, tail and legs, but has lovely tabby markings that are restricted only to its face. The coat is resilient, dense and silky and has a lustrous sheen to it.

The Abyssinian should have a medium length of coat, which will have four or six alternating bands of light and darker color right along the length of its hair. This banding is called the “ticking” and is what gives the striking translucent effect to the Abyssinian coat.

Preferably, the color at the root of each hair is quite bright, and it will match up with the under-color on the cat’s belly and also on the insides of the legs. Because of their gorgeous ticked coat, the Abyssinian cat has been called a ‘hare cat’ and a ‘bunny cat’ as their coat appears very similar to the fur of a rabbit. It is only once the Abyssinian is around one and a half years old, that the stunning ticked coat shows up in its full glory.

The Abyssinian cat’s head should be a modified, slightly rounded wedge shape with no flat planes. Their large, almond shaped eyes can be hazel, gold, green or copper colored. It has large ears as well, and they are wide at their base, cupped shaped and with moderate points on their tips. The ears should be placed so as to give the cat an alert and listening appearance. The Abyssinian’s eyes, ears and head, must compliment each other in a non-extreme fashion, and should be in balance with the rest of the cat.

The complete, overall look of the Abyssinian is strikingly like that of the Lynx; it has quite the wild-cat appearance.

The Abyssinian comes in colors of ruddy, red (also called sorrel), fawn and blue, lilac and cream, silver and chocolate silver, blue silver and fawn silver.


Abyssinian Kittens

A Litter of Abyssinian Kittens


As the Abyssinian matures, it becomes a more magnificent sight. Once they are fully mature, their coat, coat color and muscle tone are fully developed and they really are a regal looking cat.

For a cat fanciers seeking the look of the wild outdoors coupled with an active, independent, yet very loving pet, then this rather ancient breed – The Abyssinian cat – could be exactly what they are looking for. These wonderfully cheeky and lively cats with their gorgeous, sparkling coat are destined give years of fun, enjoyment and much love to any family. It is very easy to see why this breed shares a high spot among the top most popular breeds with pet owners across the globe.

There is also a semi-long-haired Abyssinian type, which is known as the Somali Cat.

TheAbyssinian Breed Standard:

A cat “Breed Standard” is the document in which the “perfect specimen” of a particular breed of cat is described. Among other things, it includes general appearance, size and shape of body parts, coat color and pattern of markings, coat length and texture. The Breed Standard is what cats are judged against at cat shows. Breeders of purebred cats strive to breed animals that closely fit to their particular Breed Standard.

A cat Breed Standard of any particular breed may vary from one cat registry or cat council to another, and from country to country. What may be allowable and even preferred in some registries may be described as a fault in others.  

 CFA Breed Standard – Abyssinian

The official breed standard by which Abys are judged in CFA shows.

American Cat Fanciers Association – Abyssinian Standard

The ACFA Abyssinian Standard

Canadian Cat Association – Abyssinian standard

The Canadian Cat Association recognizes Abyssinians in 4 colours. (1) Ruddy: with its rich orange brown base coat and dark brown or black ticking. (2) Sorrel: with its warm sorrel-red to rich cinnamon base coat and chocolate brown ticking. (3) Blue: with its warm blue grey base coat and slate blue ticking. (4) Fawn: with its warm pinkish buff base coat and deeper pinkish buff ticking.

Fédération Internationale Féline :: Abyssinian Standard Abyssinian Cat Standard

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One Response

  1. Nevena March 15, 2019

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