Origins of the Abyssinian Cat – breed history
Abyssinian cats are thought to have been the direct descendants of the scared Temple cats of ancient Egypt.
Modern cats have been compared to the mummified remains of cats from the tombs and also to the painted frescoes in the tombs and the evidence seems to support this belief.
Soldiers are said to have brought over the cats to Great Britain in the 1860’s on returning from Abyssinia; the popularity of the breed grew quickly.
During the two world wars lack of suitable food and feline leukaemia reduced the numbers severely in the UK.
Abyssinian cats are particularly popular in the United States.
Characteristics of the Abyssinian cat
Abyssinian cats have a long, lithe and slender and natural cat body shape.
They have large, very beautiful eyes which are almond-shaped, in a clear deep shade of amber, green or hazel.
The ears are prominent, erect and set wide apart, well cupped, and furry on their inner edges; ear tufts are desirable.
The tail is long and tapered and the paws are egg-shaped, the head is rounded with medium sized nose. Abyssinans are beautiful and regal cats.
The cats have a rich, golden brown coat (known as ‘usuals’) with a dark brown or black ticking; the tip of the tail is also dark brown or black, the hind legs also being darker, the paw pads are black.
Abyssinians may also have a ruddy, red or blue tinged coat.
In more recent years many other new colours have been introduced to the breed. These include fawn, chocolate, lilac, sex-linked red and cream, many new silver combinations, and even torties, although at present most of these do not have Championship status.
Common faults in the breed include: stocky body, spots and markings on the body and white upon the neck.
Personality of Abyssinian cats
Intelligent, gentle, inquisitive, very active and agile these cats make lovely companions.
Abyssinians often attach themselves to one member of the family and may take more time than some cats to form bonds with people.
They need a lot of stimulation and benefit from daily play and access to the outdoors. The cats love to climb and need to be able to jump and play; they need attention and may become sullen if they feel neglected.
Care of Abyssinian cats
Daily grooming i.e. rubbing the coat with a gloved hand should be sufficeint.
Pregnant females may need additional care as they remain very active; a litter of three to four kittens is usual. The kittens start life with darker markings which disappear after a few months.