About the Abyssinian Cat Breed
The origins of the Abyssinian cat have long been the subject of great controversy and debate. Resembling the sculptures and paintings of cats found in ancient Egyptian artifacts, some speculate that the modern Abyssinian is either the same breed or a direct descendant of the felines that the ancient Egyptians prized and worshipped.
Modern-day Abyssinian cat owners are usually quick to tell you that the Abyssinian cat possesses that regal bearing that such a position might require. In all the world, there is no other quite like this ruddy-coated mystery cat.
Abyssinian Cat Breed Facts:
Origin: Southeast Asia or Egypt
Weight: 8-10 pounds
Average Litter Size: 3
Grooming Needs: Low
Life Expectancy: 9-15 years
Good With Kids: Yes
Good With Other Animals: Yes
Abyssinian Cat History
No one is truly sure where it was, exactly, that this mysterious cat first originated. Strongly resembling the cats depicted in the artwork and hieroglyphs of the ancient Egyptian people, it is often thought that the Abyssinian is the very same animal or, at the very least, a direct descendant of the ancient Egyptian felines. Even the modern-day Abyssinian still retains the appearance of a feline known as “felis lybica,” which was the wild African ancestor of all modern domestic cats.
Others argue that the Abyssinian cat came into existence when imported cats were crossed into the bloodlines of various brown and silver tabby cats, who were then interbred with the English “Bunny” ticked cats. Reportedly, however, the breed earned its name simply because the first cats of this variety ever shown, were supposedly imported from the country of Abyssinia (now Ethiopia). The January 27, 1872 issue of “Harper’s Weekly” reported on the 1871 Crystal Palace cat show in which 3rd place honors were awarded to the Abyssinian cat, who had supposedly been “captured in the late Abyssinian War.”
Even the British book, “Cats, Their Points, and Characteristics,” by Gordon Stables (published in 1874), made mention of the Abyssinian cat, showing a colored lithograph of one of these unique animals and listed it as having been “brought from Abyssinia at the conclusion of the war…” With the ending of the war being May of 1868, it suggests that the Abyssinian cat made his way into England at this time, though there are still further arguments.
Perhaps the most convincing proof of origin would be the results of recent studies performed by geneticists, who suggest that the origin of the Abyssinian cat might be along the coast of the Indian Ocean and into sections of Southeast Asia.
Coinciding with these claims is that the earliest identifiable Abyssinian cat, to date, is a taxidermy specimen on display at the Leiden Zoological Museum in Holland. Purchased between 1834 to 1836, this reddish-colored cat was labeled simply as “Patrie, domestica India.”
While the Abyssinian, as we know it today, may have been cultivated and refined in England, some say that it may have been purchased in Calcutta, a major port in the Indian Ocean, and then brought into England along with other trade goods. This was how many breeds of dogs were introduced into Europe, so the idea is not unheard of.
The first Abyssinian cats were imported to America, from England, and made their way to the new world during the early 1900s. It wasn’t until the late 1930s, however, that quality breeding stock would make the trip overseas and help to form the modern-day Abyssinian cat breed foundation. Any Abyssinian lover will be sure to tell you, though, that it was well worth the wait.
Abyssinian Cat Appearance
The Abyssinian cat is a very unique individual – lithely built with a very hard and muscular body, he is known not only for his distinctive ticked coat, but also for his regal bearing and consistent body type. A medium-sized cat, they are firmly built without appearing coarse or cobby, yet do not possess the fragile look of the oriental breeds. For many, he is the perfect mixture of the different body types, resulting in a perfectly proportioned and balanced feline.
The Abyssinian coat possesses a beautiful sheen and is silky and soft in texture. Of medium length, it is long enough to carry the required 2-3 bands of ticking that make up the Abyssinian’s unique color, without delving into the realms of the long-haired cats. The breed is recognized in four stunning shades: the ruddy, the red, the blue, and the fawn. All varieties are expected to possess proper ticking and richness in color, and the Abyssinian may have eyes of either a brilliant emerald green or rich molten gold.
Abyssinian Cat Temperament
The Abyssinian is very much a “people cat,” and delights in being close to people and observing everything that they do. This is not to say that they are a lap cat, however – quite the contrary, the Abyssinian wants to be a part of everything that their owners do and is sure that, by winding around your legs and poking his head in wherever he can, that he is most definitely helping you get the task done. How ever could you have managed without an Abyssinian to point out the important things and make note of the little flaws.
Playful well into their adult years, the Abyssinian cat can often be viewed as a bit of a mischievous prankster and troublemaker. He is the cat that believes there are no such words as “can’t” and “don’t.” Sure to find a way up to the highest perches within your home, as well as squeezing his way into the tiniest of crawl spaces, he is on constant patrol, parade, and ever at play. Be sure to put your breakables away when an Abyssinian is on the prowl.
Abyssinian Cat Grooming Requirements
The Abyssinian is generally a rather low-maintenance breed of cat. For the most part, a gentle hand rubbing is generally about all your feline friend will ever need, although some do enjoy being stroked with a soft bristled brush or grooming cloth. This will help to remove some of the dead hair and dander from your cat’s coat, as well as distributing the natural oils of his skin along his coat, but it is still more for his enjoyment than anything else. Consider his weekly brushing as quality together time that can be spent while you relax together in the recliner and watch a little television.
Some breeders recommend giving your Abyssinian a bath during the shedding season. This can be done using any quality cat shampoo and warm, but not hot, water. Paying attention not to get soap or water into your cat’s ears or eyes, he should be soaped up, thoroughly rinsed, and then given a gentle toweling off.
After that, your Abyssinian can be left to drip-dry, but keep the “drowned rat” comments and snickering to a minimum, so as not to hurt his feelings or insult his pride. Bathing your Abyssinian should be started at a young age and, to protect yourself and your kitty, should always follow a nail clipping.
Abyssinian Cat Health Concerns
The Abyssinian cat, or Aby, is generally a very robust and healthy breed of cat. Like many purebreds, however, they are still prone to a few genetic problems. Some of the health concerns of the Abyssinian cat include:
Additionally, many Abyssinian cats tend to be susceptible to gingivitis and there are some who suffer from sensitive stomachs, who require special diets to reduce vomiting.
Is an Abyssinian Cat or Kitten Right For You?
The Abyssinian is a very regal and intelligent cat who enjoys a very active cat. If you are looking for a contented lap cat, the Aby may not be the breed for you but, if you want a cat who will follow you around the house and involve himself in everything you do, these wonderful cats do make incredible pets.
Additionally, the Abyssinian does get along with other animals though, be forewarned, he will probably attempt to get them involved in mischief (and then finger them for the crime if at all possible). Abyssinian cats generally do well with children as well, making them a very good, if somewhat busy, all-round family cats.