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Highly intelligent and always active – Abyssinian cats are curious little animals that will always keep you entertained. As they are very friendly, they make great family cats. Lovingly known as ‘Aby,’ an Abyssinian cat is very adaptive to any changing situation.
These cats are popular for their ‘ticked’ coat pattern, which means each hair has multiple colors on it. They love to climb, so make sure to have a cat tree ready before you get one. For more fun tidbits on this lovely breed, keep reading!
As it is one of the oldest known cat breeds, the true origins of an Abyssinian cat are vague. There are several theories about the cat’s first appearance and origins.
Owing to the name, some researchers suggest that Abyssinian cats come from Ethiopia, which was called Abyssinia in the old times. Some others prioritize their looks over the name and say that these cats come from Egypt. This is because Abyssinians resemble ancient Egyptian cats and their descendants.
The gods Egyptians worshipped 4000 to 6000 years ago were believed to have a physical manifestation as cats. This is why ancient Egyptian temples, murals, and sculptures had cats heavily present on them. The depicted cats looked a lot like Abyssinians.
However, recent genetic studies indicate that Abyssinian cats are closely related to cats from Southeast Asia and the coast of the Indian ocean. Leiden Zoological Museum has a taxidermized cat from India. This cat has the same ticked hair and color as Abyssinians. So, this is the most plausible origin.
Whatever the origin maybe, today, these felines are one of the most popular shorthair cat breeds worldwide.
Abyssinian cats are believed to be imported into England around the end of 1868’s Abyssinian war. The oldest recorded account of an Abyssinian cat was in 1871 in Europe, in a cat show named the Crystal Palace Cat Show. There, an Abyssinian cat named Zula was presented. The cat finished third at the show.
Zula’s owner is said to have claimed that the cat has been imported from Abyssinia. However, the pictures and videos from the cat show indicate that Zula looks quite different in appearance from today’s Abyssinian cats.
During World War II, these cats were nearly wiped out from Europe. Only about 10-15 cats were remaining. But some Abyssinians had been gradually imported to the United States starting from the 1900s. There, the cats started being bred in the 30s.
This saved them from getting extinct – slowly growing in numbers and popularity. Another theory maintains that the breed that was originally believed to be the Abyssinian cats died out. The brits recreated them using British Bunny cats, who have the iconic furs Abyssinians are known for.
The coat of this breed is arguably what makes them so loved. Their coat has a ticked pattern, as mentioned earlier. This pattern is a genetic variant of another common cat pattern, tabby.
Each hair shaft contains bands of alternating colors, usually 3 to 6 in total. The coat is short and fine, with a shimmery finish. They are dense, which gives the cat a lustrous glittery body.
Abyssinian cat has a distinct muscular body. They are slender and lithe, which gives their movements a graceful aura.
Usually, the body is of medium size. The muscles give the body a stocky look. Male cats weigh between 3.5 to 4.5 kilograms, and female cats weigh between 2.5 to 3.5 kilograms.
The tail is thick at the base and tapered at the tip. It is usually quite long.
Ears are an Abyssinian cat’s most striking feature. Whenever you look at one of these cats, the large, pointed ears are bound to catch your attention. Relatively larger than their face, the ears multiply their cuteness by a lot. The ears have very short fur.
The most common color of an Abyssinian cat is a warm red-brown base adorned with black ticking. Apart from that, blue and fawn colors can be seen, too.
Abyssinian cats look a lot like wild cats such as cougars and mountain lions because of their head shape. They have a prominent brow ridge and a slightly rounded wedge. Their muzzle is not overly pointed or square-shaped. The entire face is gently contoured, including brows, cheeks, and side profile.
The muscular body is accompanied by long legs and flat, small paws. The paws are oval-shaped, containing 5 front toes and 4 back toes.
Abyssinian cats have the dreamiest-looking almond eyes. The eyes are large and expressive. Often accompanied by a dark line that looks like nature’s eyeliner, the eyes are neither too round nor too oriental shaped. Because the eyes are large, the green, hazel, or gold color looks mesmerizingly deep and rich.
Abyssinians are brave, high-spirited, and curious cats. In contrast to many popular cat breeds, they are not the type to cuddle with you and sleep all day. Instead, these little athletes can be found running around, playing, and exploring your house all day long.
By now, it should be clear to you that these are high-energy cats. They are known for being climbers, so keep your curtains away! Cat trees are perfect for these cats.
Far from being lap cats, Abyssinians express love in their own way. They will sit next to you as you browse TV channels. They will even follow you around the house, both because they are curious to see what you’re doing and because they are devoted pets.
Always running around and exploring, Abyssinian cats need plenty of playtimes every day. Even if you are not actively playing with it, you will find the cat chasing imaginary objects and getting into random household objects to see what’s inside. Close your cupboards extra tight if you have an Abyssinian cat!
Meowing is uncommon in this breed, as they are not that vocal. Usually, they will stay quiet most of the time and express their happiness by purring.
If not stimulated enough, an Abyssinian is very likely to act out. These cats do the best in households that already have another cat, as the other cat can keep them busy all day long. If you stay out all day and are unable to get a playmate, adopting an Abyssinian might not be a wise decision.
Abyssinian cats love to spend time with people, children and adults alike. As long as you are keeping the cat busy by playing with it, it will gladly spend time with you. Using wand toys is ideal for playtime because the cat loves to chase, stalk, and catch these.
If you are leaving the cat with a child, make sure to let the child know not to cuddle the cat. As stated before, Abyssinian cats are not your typical lap cats. Instead, tell children to play with the cat.
Social by nature, Abyssinian cats get along great with other pets and cats.
Luckily, Abyssinian cats are known to be very healthy. Judging by their athletic build and muscular shape, it would be an irony if they were sickly. That being said, there are some health concerns that are common in this breed. They are –
If dental hygiene is overlooked, Abyssinian cats may get infections in the gums of their mouth. This is also called periodontal disease. Before the infections happen, the cat will get gingivitis in its mouth. Keep an eye out for that.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy
This is an eye disease that causes the cat to progressively lose sight. Initially, the cat becomes night blind. As the disease progresses, losing sight during the day starts to occur. The cat may even turn fully blind.
Unfortunately, this is not a treatable condition. However, if the environment and surroundings stay the same, the cat will adapt to its limited sight like a champ. This condition does not cause any pain or discomfort to the cat.
This is a hereditary condition. It is an orthopedic condition impacting the knee joint of the cat. The kneecap gets dislocated, making it hard for your little buddy to walk, jump, and run. Luckily, this condition can be treated through surgery.
Grooming and General Care Requirements
Fur and Nails
As far as grooming goes, Abyssinian cats are low maintenance. Their fur is fine and short that does not shed too much. So, daily grooming is not necessary. These cats should be groomed once a week. The frequency of deshedding may increase in the shedding season.
If it is a house cat, you should trim its nails every 1-1.5 months. You should start the shedding and nail trimming early on when they are kittens, or else the cat may not cooperate later. Another tip is to bathe the cat during shedding season with specialized shampoo and conditioner.
Bathing them with deshedding shampoos helps loosen the fur, making the brushing process easier.
Ears and Eyes
Make sure to check their pointy ears weekly for signs of infection. Inflammation, redness, or unusual smells are indicators of ear infection.
The ears should be cleaned if you notice wax build-up or dirt. But do not use cotton swabs for this as they can be harsh. Soft cloth, ideally made of cotton, is ideal for this. Cotton balls are great, too. Use a pet-friendly cleanser to dampen the cotton before wiping.
Check their eyes for infection and clean out any gunk regularly, too.
Good oral hygiene is a must for Abyssinian cats, so do not overlook this part of your furry friend’s grooming routine. If ignored, the cats can easily develop oral diseases. Daily brushing is ideal, but if that is not possible, try to include raw steak or chicken necks into their food 2-3 times a week.
Even if you cannot brush the cat’s teeth daily, try to do it as frequently as you can. 2 – 3 times a week or even once a week is better than nothing. This would go a long way in preventing oral diseases. Also, never use human toothpaste on cats. Use specific pet-friendly products only.
Try to give the cat the same feed their shelter or breeder gave, as the cat will be accustomed to it. If you want to change the type of food the cat is used to, introduce the new type gradually. Doing it abruptly may result in an upset tummy.
As for their dietary needs, these highly active pets require a high protein diet to supplement their active lifestyle. Make sure to consult a vet before building a food routine for your cats to ensure they are getting all the nutrients needed for growth.
Keep a good balance of wet and dry food. Like many cats, Abyssinians are prone to not drinking enough water. So, you have to fulfill their water needs by including wet food in their diet.
However, keep in mind that wet food is more likely to lead to dental issues. So, good oral hygiene is a must if you feed the cat a lot of wet food.
Also, avoid overfeeding just because they are energetic cats. Obesity is a big problem for pets, and it brings a lot of trouble. Believe me, you do not want that for your beloved companion.
Pros and Cons
Here are the pros and cons of owning an Abyssinian cat in short –
Having an Abyssinian cat is a truly rewarding experience, as the cat seems to never run out of ways to entertain the people around. These cats are the perfect pet for a family, as they are social, friendly, and will never turn down an offer to play.
If you can counteract the cons, then do not think twice before adopting one. You will fall in love with the little explorer in no time!