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Updated on August 27, 2020
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  1. The Abyssinian Cat
  2. History
  3. The appearance of the Abyssinian
  4. The character of the Abyssinian
  5. Health and well-being of the Abyssinian cat
  6. Feed an Abyssinian
  7. breeding

The Abyssinian Cat

The big eyes and ears "at attention" already reveal a lot to us about the character of this feline breed, very close to a man and with a very curious personality.


Although the name connects it directly to what is now Ethiopia (ancient Abyssinia) and although many see it as the descendant of the animals venerated in Egypt by the pharaohs, recent studies seem to indicate that it comes from South East Asia instead. This has been revealed by modern genetics: a mutation of the Tabby gene, present only in this breed, does not appear at all in Egypt and East Africa but occurs in cats from the Indian Ocean coast between Singapore and Sri Lanka, which have their colour.

Other clues are evident in old images of a 19th-century English cat magazine where there is a cat similar to the current Abyssinian who is called "Asian cat".

Hare ticked cats were supposed to have been brought to West Asia, East Africa and Europe by British traders and from there with British troops, who left East Africa in 1868, they came to England.

Here, in the 19th century, the systematic breeding of the breed began, which aroused much interest for its showy colouring called "Agouti". So already in the Feline Exhibition of the Crystal Palace of 1871, the Abyssinian cat was presented. And only a short time later, in 1882, the breed was officially recognized. Harrison Fair, the then president of the British Feline National Association, set the Abyssinian breed standard.

Shortly afterwards, this cat breed also reached the USA and, in 1911, the Abyssinian breed was officially registered here by the CatFanciers' Association (C. F. A.).

During the two world wars, the number of Abyssinians dropped considerably, also because the small numbers of litters constituted an aggravating factor: statistically the majority is made up of 1 - 4 kittens, but mostly only two kittens are born. In the 1960s an epidemic of feline leukosis caused further decimation of the breed.

Since 1970 the number of Abyssinians has been stable, but it does not come close to that of the best-known cat breeds.

The appearance of the Abyssinian

No wonder the Abyssinian is often called "Mini-Puma" because this cat with long and slender legs has an athletic and lively appearance! It is also one of the lightest cat breeds: the female weighs a maximum of 4 kg and the male 5 kg.

Its sociable and curious character is reflected in its muzzle: the Abyssinian cat has large amber, green or light brown almond eyes with eyelids that seem to be made up by a black line. The big ears reveal that the Abyssinian is a good listener, always interested in what happens in the surrounding environment and his human family. The ears are wide at the base and spaced apart. The wedge-shaped head has a soft outline and rests on a graceful and slender neck. The long legs end in oval feet and the elongated tail completes the appearance of this agile and active feline.

Due to the poor undercoat, the Abyssinian's fur is fine and soft. However, it has a well-developed ruff, even if on the back the hair is a little shorter.

The Abyssinian has a very showy coat, similar to that of a wild rabbit. The "Agouti effect" is due to the so-called ticking: each individual hair is divided into 2 - 4 bands which end in a dark point. Only the hairs of the head, the back, the tail and the external part of the legs have ticking; on the contrary the abdomen, the chest and the internal part of the legs have the basic colour.

This showy colouring is completed by the stripes on the back and the dark streaks are often evident also on the hind legs and reach up to the heels.

Ticking is a fixed component of the Abyssinian breed standard. The colouring occurs from the sixth week of life, but it becomes complete only when the cat is two years old: at that point, the fur has a uniform pattern, similar to that of a wild hare.

Breeders associations only accept eumelanin-based colours, a pigment that ensures strong light absorption by favouring dark pigmentation. The breed standard accepts the colours Hare, Blue, Sorrel and Fawn.

  • Hare: the original colour of the Abyssinian. It has a warm brown hue and the basic colour ranges from dark apricot to orange with black ticking. All other colours derive from the colour Hare. In common language, it is also called ruddy, usual, tawny and lièvre.
  • Blue: does not indicate so much blue as several intense shades of blue-grey colour. In reality, this colour is the dilution of the Hare, caused by the mutation of a gene that is responsible for the intensity of the colouring. The blue Abyssinian has a grey-blue hair and the individual hairs have a steel blue - dark grey ticking.
  • Sorrel: the Abyssinian with warm cinnamon-red colouring and tawny ticking is called Sorell, but sometimes also cinnamon or red. In addition, the Sorell colouring should not be confused with the actual red colour. Sorrel derives from mutations in the gene responsible for the black hair.
  • Fawn: is the dilution of the Sorell. The Abyssinian Fawn has a soft pinkish beige base colour with a warm cream-coloured ticking. The surface of the nose is pink.

There are also other colours such as Chocolate and its Lilac dilution, but so far they are not recognized by all breeders' associations.

From the 1950s, especially in England, long-haired subjects continued to appear in Abyssin's litters. These cats became the ancestors of the Somali cat, a variant of the medium-long haired Abyssinian. Somalis and Abyssinians have the same breed standard.

The character of the Abyssinian

The Abyssinian is in all respects an oriental cat, with an attentive, playful and lively character. Very curious, he follows the master step by step and observes every gesture. He is considered a very intelligent cat and therefore his intellect must always be stimulated. Intelligence games for cats, training with the clicker and even small tricks: the curious Abyssinian is really ready for anything, especially if it is playing with his master! It is a sociable animal, tied to the family, who is unwillingly alone.

However, his best companion is another feline and therefore the ideal would be to keep another cat at home. Often in the coexistence between cats the Abyssinian cat turns out to be the dominant one, therefore early socialization often makes coexistence easier. The brothers belonging to the same litter form a good team: when you visit the kennel think if it is not the case to immediately offer a house to two sweet kittens instead of just one, surely they will be grateful!

The Abyssinian, being a very active cat, is not very suitable for living in an apartment. A secured garden or a balcony with many climbing possibilities better satisfy his need to move.

Health and well-being of the Abyssinian cat

Although for Abyssinian we cannot speak of over-breeding, this breed has a certain predisposition for hereditary diseases, among them the "neonatal Isoerythrolysis" (FNI). The underlying cause is the incompatibility between the blood groups of a mother cat and her kittens in the event of the previous mating of a male with blood group A with a cat with blood group B. After birth, kittens take antibodies with breast milk against blood group B and this causes excessive elimination of haemoglobin and leads to acute anaemia. Unfortunately, FNI is always fatal and can only be prevented with thoughtful and responsible mating.

Abyssinians may also be affected by progressive retinal atrophy. Night blindness may be the first symptom indicating that the retina of the eye is compromised by local disturbances of tissue metabolism. In the case of degenerative forms, which are transmitted in a recessive form, cats suffer from visual disturbances starting from the second year of life. However, the disease can begin to manifest itself even up to the sixth year of age. For this reason, regular veterinary checks are required for purebred animals, which should take place annually up to the sixth year. The formulation of the DNA test is still being worked on to select specimens that cannot transmit this pathology.

Equally common is the pyruvate kinase (enzyme) deficiency in red blood cells which causes anaemia due to the reduced life span of the red blood cells themselves. Blood transfusions can save his life, but there is no therapy for pyruvate kinase deficiency. This disease is also inherited in a recessive form. The carriers do not get sick, but kittens affected by a deficiency of this vital enzyme will be born from the crossing of two carriers.

The Abyssinian is a simple cat to manage. Its short coat does not require much care, but, like other purebred cats, it must be subjected to annual veterinary checks and above all, if it loves to stay away from home to run around, it must be vaccinated against certain infectious diseases. Housecats also benefit from immunization from certain diseases.

Administering quality and balanced foods is the best guarantee for long and healthy life. As carnivores, cats need a protein-rich diet, the best source of which is fresh meat. They are able to assimilate only a small percentage of vegetable carbohydrates.

So pay attention to the list of ingredients and always choose cat foods that contain a lot of meat.

Feed an Abyssinian

Giving your cat premium food is the best guarantee to keep him healthy and long.

As carnivores, they derive essential nutrients from meat. Carbohydrates and fibre can digest them but only in very limited quantities.

Are you looking for food for your Abyssinian? Discover our assortment of cat-free croquettes for cats! If your feline is suffering from any pathology, to assist the treatment you can give him dietetic food for cats. In our cat shop, you can find those suitable for the most common feline diseases.


Hereditary diseases show how important responsible and professional breeding is for animals. So never buy a cat from one of those breeders who offers "cheap undocumented purebred cats". The deal often has a catch: the cat's health could be compromised.

The serious and ambitious breeder who cares about the well-being of their animals gives importance to the health of their breeding specimens and their kittens. As a member of a breeders' association, he mates them responsibly in order to prevent hereditary diseases such as progressive retinal atrophy and pyruvate kinase deficiency, and remains available to his animals 24 hours a day, even after their adoption.

Breeding is an activity that requires time and investment and this is also demonstrated by the purchase price of cats at the best breeding farms. However, with the purchase contract, you will have not only the cat's documents but also a part of the breeder's know-how.

These, ideally, allows the mother to cat a rest after each litter, so that she can again take care of the kittens at their best, and with new energy. The puppies move to their new home at least 12 weeks after birth, a period in which they learn everything there is to know.

An Abyssinian with documents has a minimum price of 700 Euros.

Adult cats excluded from breeding are often sold at a cheaper price.

Alternatively, there are catteries where many cats, even purebred, are waiting for a new home in which to be loved!

Whether you choose a breeding cat or a cattery cat, we wish you much happiness together with your Abyssinian!

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