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The Abyssinian



This cat is one of the oldest domesticated cat breeds. The Abyssinian is a lively, athletic and very inquisitive cat.The Abyssinian cat breed is one of the oldest breeds of domesticated cats but little is known about its real origins. Some think that it is a descendant of the first cats of Egypt as the Abyssinian looks like the cats in Egyptian art and some believe that British soldiers brought a cat from Abyssinia (now known as Ethiopia) with them at the end of the Abyssinian war in 1868.

This cat breed was further developed in Britain from 1896 and the first Abyssinian arrived in the USA in the early 1900’s. In the 1930’s the breed was even further developed and it became one of the favorite breeds of cat in the USA.


The Abyssinian cat breed looks like a small mountain lion with an expressive face and a ticked coat that shimmers. These cats are athletic, very active and graceful. The Abyssinian is a short-haired cat with a coat that has a warm color produced by the Agouti ticking. This means that each shaft of hair has bands of alternating color. The coat comes in cinnamon, blue, ruddy, chocolate, lilac and fawn colors.  The ticked pattern is a dominant tabby gene and the first color recognized in the breed was a brown tabby.

The head is a modified wedge shape with large ears that arch forward. The Abyssinian’s eyes are large and can be gold, amber or green with a dark ring around it. The Abyssinian is medium sized with a graceful and muscular body.

They appear to stand on tiptoe, but that is due to the slim long legs with oval-shaped feet. A typical male Abyssinian weighs 8-10 pounds with the female weighing 6-7 pounds.Do not consider this cat breed to be a lap cat as they are extremely active and love to explore their surroundings. They like to sit up on a high perch to watch comings and goings and are very 

curious about what is going on.

Activity level:

Abyssinians are energetic athletic and playful with their owners. They also have been described as being quiet, shy, gentle, reserved and somewhat aloof with strangers. Abys thrive in an indoor living environment and typically provide hours of daily amusement to their owners. They are highly social and sociable, and they require a definite role in the family unit. This is not a breed to be left alone for long periods of time, as they can become bored and destructive. Even as adults, they remain playful and rotate between periods of frenzied activity and total relaxation.

As hunters:

These are known to be perfect hunters.

Intelligence and behaviour:

The Abyssinian is highly intelligent and likes to interact with its owners. They are a playful breed of cat that likes to play games that involve lots of jumping and running.The Abyssinian cat breed is low-maintenance, but there are some health issues that good breeders should be aware of and should be able to inform you about.  

A pyruvate kinase deficiency causing intermittent anaemia is carried as a recessive trait but there is a genetic test available for this.  Patellar luxation or slipping kneecaps, retinal atrophy and renal amyloidosis (deposits in the kidneys) may also be found.

Abyssinians are extroverted, extremely active, playful, willful and intelligent. They are usually not "lap cats", being too preoccupied with exploring and playing. They are popular among breeders and owners, and can be very successful show cats. Not all Abyssinians are shown, however, because the color and type standards are very exacting, and because some are shy towards strangers and timid in public. They have quiet, engaging voices.

"Abys", as they are affectionately referred to by their fans, need a great deal of love and interaction with the family to keep them happy and can get depressed without daily activity and attention. They generally get along well with other cats, although they need their space and the females can sometimes be irritable around other cats. Abyssinians are known for their curiosity and enjoy exploring their surroundings, including heights. They are sensible cats that do not take unnecessary risks. As one might expect from such an intelligent and physically capable breed, Abyssinians are known to be formidable hunters. They adore toys and can play for hours with a favorite ball. Some play fetch.

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