Type: Natural/Standard Breed
Size: Small to medium
Coat Length: Short hair.
Body Type: Slender.
Appearance: The Abyssinian is a graceful medium-sized cat with a gorgeous, thick, short-haired coat. Typically each hair is stained with different colours. Its original colour is warm reddish-brown with black ticks, but it could be also cinnamon or lighter coppery with chocolate brown ticking or even pure silvery white with black, blue, cream or sorrel ticking. The ears are pointed and disproportionately large compared to the head size. The eyes are almond shaped and depending on the coat colour could be gold, green, hazel or copper.
Grooming Requirement: Every few weeks.
Activity Level: Very high.
Affection: Very Affectionate.
Time Alone: Can spend 4 to 8 hours per day alone.
Attention: Needs lots of attention.
Temperament: The Abyssinian is an extremely active, playful, curious cat, more so that most cat breeds, it is also generally extroverted, which makes it a really good companion. Without its owner’s constant attention this feline can become deeply depressed. Like most Oriental cats, the Abyssinian is very quiet with a gentle, soft voice. Typical for the breed is a timid presentation with stranger but friendliness to anyone it knows
Interesting Facts: This breed’s name “Abyssinian” refers to Ethiopia, where it was first thought the cat came from. More recent research indicates that the breed actually originated near the Egyptian coast of the Indian Ocean.
Behaviour Toward Other Animals and Children: Abyssinian cats can live in harmony with other animals of its kind. Because of their high levels of activity and huge desire to play Abyssinians also live well with dogs if they are raised together. The cat is also suitable for families with children over 6years of age.
Common Health Problems: Gingivitis, which can lead to periodontitis, familial renal amyloidosis or AA amyloidosis, a kidney disorder, hereditary retinal degeneration causing blindness.
Lifespan: Average 9 to 15 years.
The true origin of the Abyssinian cat is still unknown. Researchers believe the modern breed has descended from a cat called Zula, brought to the United Kingdom from Alexandria by a British soldier in the 1860s. Abyssinians were exhibited as early as 1871, and all bloodlines of this breed lead to the United Kingdom.
Today most feline historians believe Abyssinians are related to the cats, bred in Ancient Egypt for hunting and as pets. Egyptians worshipped those cats and even mummified them upon death. Genetic records point to a possible origin on the coast of the Indian Ocean and parts of South-East Asia, with the breed spreading through kitten purchased by local traders
The standard Abyssinian cat is a medium-sized animal with a balanced structure. It has a muscular body with a short but not soft coat. The hair around the eyes is pale, the tips of the ears – darker than the base colour. There are 28 recognised colours, including golden brown (also known as “usual”), chocolate, blue, lilac, sorrel, and fawn.
Etymology of the Breed Name
Although “Abyssinian” means “Ethiopian”, the name of the breed refers to its origin in 19th century Europe rather to its true birthplace. At the time, the British Empire lead an expedition to the lands of Abyssinia to rescue several missionaries, imprisoned by Emperor Tewodros II of Ethiopia. Upon return home, some soldiers brought the unusual cats with them, effectively starting the breed.
Abyssinian cats do not require any specialised care but they do need a lot of love and affection. There are also some health problems you need to pay attention to.
Abyssinian cats are a perfect choice for families with kids, as they are very people-oriented breed. The cats are very playful and always look for fun new activities to participate in. They are also very intelligent and need attention and company – you need to engage their minds as well as their bodies. Abyssinian cats enjoy running but should be kept indoors or in a secure run.
An adult Abyssinian cat should be fed two times a day. As most cat breeds, Abyssinians enjoy a mixed diet of red and white meat, cheese and vegetables. Some Aby cats are allergic to fish, thus it is not a recommended food. Always pay attention to both the quantity and the quality of the food.
- Red meat: always choose good quality pet meat, such as gravy beef, lamb hearts, and kidney. Make sure the food is chopped—your cat can grow irritated if the food is minced instead.
- White meat: chicken and rabbit are high quality and very nutritious food for your cat – just make sure to remove any bones first.
- Fish: in general, fish is considered food to avoid. Some Abyssinian cats are allergic to it and will sneeze and react with flu symptoms.
- Vegetables: supplement your kitten’s diet with vegemite toasts, boiled or steamed corn on cob, pumpkin, and steamed carrots.
- Fat: give your cat fatty meat chunks once a week to keep their skin and coat in good condition.
Unfortunately, all Abyssinians – both mixed and pedigreed, are prone to some health problems you should keep an eye for. If you suspect your cat has health issues, always contact a veterinary first. Make sure you provide all the necessary inoculations and vaccines to your kitten.
- Renal amyloidosis is especially dangerous, as it causes the body to deposit protein called amyloid in the kidneys and other organs, eventually leading to kidney failure;
- Early onset of periodontal disease;
- Hyperesthesia syndrome (excessive grooming and hair loss);
- Patellar luxation (mild or severe dislocation of kneecap);
- Progressive retinal atrophy;
- Pyruvate kinase deficiency (PKD);
Abyssinian cats have a fine, short coat that is easy to take care of. Regular combing and brushing is not required – usually a quick comb once a week, combined with skin oil application, is enough to get rid of the dead hair. During the shedding period, bath may be required.
Brush teeth weekly to prevent peridontal disease, and wipe the corners of the eyes with a soft, damp cloth to remove discharge. Use a clean area of the cloth for both eyes to prevent spread of any infections.
Keep the litter box clean – all cats are particular about bathroom hygiene and Abyssinians are even more so. A dirty box can force them to use other items and places in your home.
Abyssinians are not an outdoor cat as they are not used to the weather conditions in the UK. Keep them indoors to prevent the spread of diseases, parasites and attacks of other cats, dogs and foxes.