The Abyssinian is an intelligent, playful and constantly exploring cat. Taking into account its energetic nature, it becomes a fun, mischievous family member who loves to be at the center.
The Abyssinian is one of the world’s oldest cat breeds and there are many exciting stories about its origins. When the Abyssinian first appeared in English cat shows in the late 19th century, it was said that the breed originated from Abyssinia in present-day Ethiopia. And the resemblance to the cats depicted in the pyramids and temples of neighboring Egypt, often in the form of goddesses with cat heads, is undeniable. Today, however, there is genetic evidence that the first Abyssinians came to Europe from parts of Southeast Asia and the coastal areas of the Indian Ocean, such as India and Indonesia. The breed probably got its name from the country Abyssinia – the first Abyssinian exhibited at the Crystal Palace Cat Show in England, Zula, is said to have been imported from there.
Other breeds that probably occur in the Abyssinian pedigree are Siamese, Burmese and Russian blue. The characteristic, beautiful fur with so-called ticking (several colors on each hair) was also found in cats that were taken to England by the Romans.
The Abyssinian (sometimes referred to as “aby”) is certainly not a sleepy toddler. Whoever buys an Abyssinian gets a curious and very intelligent cat who loves to play and interact with his surroundings. It really lives life to the fullest and loves to play, hour after hour. Sometimes it can be perceived as a bit too energetic and inventive, but it is also a constant source of entertainment for its owner.
Clicker training, tricky tasks and learning tricks are exactly what this adventurous cat needs. Or why not take a walk on a leash in the park if you live so that the cat can not walk freely outside? It climbs and jumps a lot and happily, as it likes to be as high up as possible to keep an eye on the surroundings.
The Abyssinian does not mind being the only pet in the family – as long as it gets lots of attention. Playful children or adults will be the cat’s besties. If you spend a lot of time away from home, this may not be the cat for you.
Despite its Southeast Asian origins, the Abyssinian most closely resembles a small African feral cat. The head is wedge-shaped and slightly rounded with large, wide ears and large, almond-shaped eyes in green or gold. The eyes are surrounded by dark lines, almost like eyeliner. The Abyssinian’s medium-sized body is muscular, graceful and athletic with narrow, slender legs, small, compact paws and a long, tapering tail.
The coat has alternating bands of light and dark colors on each hair, so-called ticking, which gives it a warm, almost shimmery look. The Abyssinian is available in four main colors – wild-colored (reddish-brown / black), sorrel (copper-red / brown), blue (blue-gray / apricot) and fawn (cream-colored / pinkish). The colors can be combined with silver (white).
The Abyssinian’s fine, short coat is easy to care for. One comb a week with a steel comb is enough to remove loose hair and keep the coat shiny and fine.
Special characteristics of the breed
This breed differs from other cat breeds in many ways. Some behaviors are more reminiscent of the dog. It is a smart, athletic and very social cat that can be extremely playful and mischievous. In English, Abyssinians are often called “Aby-grabbys” because they like to grab things that have caught their interest. Abyssinians are also known for “educating” their owners, for example by putting their favorite toy in front of you or patting your hand with their paw if they want you to do something.
They do everything to attract attention, monitor everything you do and are happy to come up with “suggestions” on what to do. Make sure you have plenty of exciting and challenging toys at home, and get at least one large and tall cat tree to satisfy your climbing needs.
Abyssinians can suffer from a hereditary disease called pyruvate kinase deficiency. The disease involves an affected metabolism in the red blood cells, which can lead to anemia (anemia). Abyssinians can also suffer from the eye disease PRA, progressive retinal atrophy. The disease affects the retina and leads to blindness. Other diseases that occur within the breed are patellar dislocation, where the patella is displaced from the normal position, as well as hip dysplasia, a developmental disorder in the hip joint which can lead to osteoarthritis.
As with other cats, feeding should be based on age, size and activity level. It is an advantage to feed the cat a varied diet, where soft food is an important component. Always consult your veterinarian if you are unsure about which food is best for your cat.
5 fun facts about Abyssinian cats
- The Abyssinian is one of the world’s oldest cat breeds.
- These cats love to climb and jump – invest in a real climbing tree to reduce the risk of using bookshelves as lookouts.
- The Abyssinian cat is a very instructive cat who also possesses the ability to teach you as a owner one thing or another.
- In the Abyssinian cat you get no couch potatoes, but an enormously playful, intelligent and fun friend.
- The unique fur gives it a beautiful, wild cat-like appearance.