One of the oldest breeds, Abyssinian cats are natural athletes with a lust for life; inquisitive and playful they make wonderful, lovable companions
Scientific name: Felis catus
Higher: classification: Cat
Eye color: Green, Gold
Length: Short, Medium
Male :, medium: 8-12 lbs.
Female: medium: 8-12 lbs.
Tendency to Shed : Low
Longevity Range: 9-13 yrs.
Social/Attention Needs: High
Any owner will tell you that Abyssinian are natural performers, and will keep you amused with their antics, from perching on shoulders, to crawling under the covers. They are also very affectionate and their favorite, endearing trick is headbutting you. Alongside that they are natural athletes and no closed room or cupboard is fully safe from their agile paws and inquiring minds. They generally only keep still when they are tired out from all the play. The Abyssinian has been known in this country for more than 100 years, and it is one of the oldest established breeds. It is also one of the top ﬁve most popular breeds worldwide, according to the GCCF website. Its origins are not precise as the early breeders were not meticulous in recording details. Mr H. C. Brooke, in his booklet published for the then newly formed Abyssinian Cat Club in 1929, lamented the fact that he had been unable to gather any evidence as to the breed’s origins despite a lot of appeals. The ﬁrst documented ‘Abyssinian’, so-called, was a cat named Zula brought to England in 1868 by Mrs Captain Barrett-Lennard when British troops returned from Abyssinia present-day Ethiopia – at the end of the Abyssinian war. An illustration of Zula appears in a British book published in 1874 by Gordon Staples and shows a cat with a ticked coat pattern and a remarkable absence of tabby markings from the face, neck and paws. But there the trail runs cold for there is no evidence to show that early Abyssinians were ever related to Zula or to any other similar ‘imports’. Instead it is widely believed that the breed originated through crosses of shorthaired silver and brown tabbies with native ticked tabbies or ‘bunny’ cats. Indeed, judges and breed fanciers of the late 19th Century chose to refer to these cats as ‘Abyssinian-type’ and for a time they were called ‘British Ticked’. It is tempting to believe that because the Abyssinian’s unique ticked ‘agouti’ fur and its elegant lines very much resemble Felix Libya – the African wildcat – said to be the ancestor of all domestic felines, and because the cat bears such a striking resemblance to felines depicted in Egyptian art, the breed could actually have been created on the banks of the Blue Nile. However, the GCCF report that DNA testing has shown it is likely to have originated on the coast of the Indian Ocean. The well-known GCCF judge Mrs. Edith Menezes concluded in 1972: “It is a certainty that the Abyssinian we know today is the result of careful cross-breeding with selected native British cats.” She began breeding Abys in 1948 and was considered a great authority on the breed. The only sure connection the breed has ever had with the Kingdom of Abyssinia is by way of a stuffed cat in the Natural History Museum of Leiden University in Holland which was identiﬁed by Dr. Damsteeg as an Abyssinian look-alike and could be accurately dated between 1833 and 1882 when it had been sold to the museum by a dealer in wild animals known to have connections with Abyssinia. More recent thinking, based on genetic studies, suggests however that ticked tabbies of this kind originate from South East Asia – not Africa – and there very easily might have been the introduction of such specimens to England via India’s capital Calcutta at any time up to 1912 when it was the seat of government of British India. Prior to World War I, Abyssinians were extremely popular and were often seen at cat shows, particularly those held in the south of England. During the war years of 1939-45, many of the lines, along with other breeds, disappeared due to the great food shortages with many breeders no longer able to afford the care that was necessary. It was left to dedicated breeders such as Edith Menezes (Taishun), Florence Bone (Nigella) and Iris Wiseman (Contented) to ensure the breed’s future. By the 1960s there appeared a grand renaissance in the Aby world, with more than ever before being seen on the show benches. There were many magniﬁcent ruddy-colored Abyssinians and several of the colors that had apparently disappeared re-appeared to excite the breed’s followers. These included Sorrels, Blues, Chocolates, Lilacs, Silvers and even a range of sex-linked colors. Described as ‘foreign type’, the Aby should not be confused with ‘oriental type’. In simple terms, this is a breed which while elegant and slim, is far less elongated than the Oriental Shorthair or the Siamese but is decidedly much, much slimmer than the average portly British shorthaired cat. Today’s Abyssinians are cats of substantial medium build and should never be really large although individuals, as with all breeds, vary in size. The most distinctive characteristic is that unmistakable ‘agouti’ ticked tabby, close-lying short coat.
Everyone who has ever met an Abyssinian agrees these cats have exceptional personalities. They are very people-orientated and will get involved in just about anything their human companion is doing. Being just a lap cat is not generally top of an Abby’s agenda. It’s much better being interactive. The typical Aby has the look of a jungle cat with bright, expressive eyes and large ‘listening’ ears. They will be alert and interested in everything around them. Abys are very intelligent, independent animals who like exercise and will spend long periods outdoors if allowed freedom. The trill of their greeting, quite unlike the normal meow, is a special characteristic. For most people, the usual Aby with its feral look, is still the most striking, though it is now possible to get an Aby in almost any color. However, the most important feature, whatever the color, is the ticking, for without the ticking it isn’t an Aby. With a soft, chirrupy voice, an Aby is a good conversationalist – a lively companion suitable for all age groups and lifestyles. New owners are advised to buy at least one scratching post and provide an exercise area that, if out of doors, should be safely cat-proofed.
It has been said there is no cat more loyal than an Aby and although friendly and playful, they thrive on companionship. They prefer not being left alone so two Abys rather than just one come highly recommended. Abys are loving, loyal and will love to be involved in every aspect of your life. They will become your friend and devoted companion who loves you totally and unconditionally.
Kittens are usually available from breeders around 12 to 16 weeks of age when they have completed their course of primary vaccinations and are fully weaned, in good health and completely house-trained. To avoid disappointment, it’s advisable to start looking for a kitten in good time by approaching breeders for information or visiting a cat show where exhibitors will be pleased to show you their cats and answer questions. Once you have decided that an Aby is for you, you may wish to place a reservation with a reputable breeder particularly if your heart is set on one of the rarer Abyssinian colors.
BODY – Lithe and muscular, of medium build with a substantial body, rounded rib cage and a straight back. A special feature of the breed is the arched swan-like elegant neck. HEAD – Gently rounded contours forming what is known as a ‘medium wedge’, wide between the ears, gradually tapering to a slightly-rounded but not too narrow muzzle. In side proﬁle there is a gentle roundness to the brow with a slight nose break. Line from nose-tip to ﬁrm chin should be straight. EARS – Well cupped and set wide apart on the skull, the large ears are well pricked with desirable, although by no means essential, ear tufts. EYES – Expressive, fairly large and almond-shaped. A slight, almost oriental, slant to the setting, suggesting there is some eastern connection somewhere in the breed’s origin. Eye color can be any shade of amber, gold or green – the richer the better to
match the ‘deep shade’ demanded by the standards. TAIL – Fairly long and tapering, the tail is long enough to reach the cat’s shoulders but not ‘whippy’ like a Siamese. COAT – Short, ﬁne but not soft, dense in texture and close-lying. Examination of the coat will show that each individual hair of the Abyssinian is ticked or ‘banded’ with several bands of color. This is also referred to under the name of ‘agouti’ and can be truly appreciated only by parting the fur. Banding is best seen in adults. Two and three bands of color are common although some will have four or even more. The roots of the coat must be the color of the base hair, never grey or black, with the tips of the fur ticked in an even, contrasting tone. On the Aby’s face there are attractive pigmentation lines the color of the ticking, with dark pigmentation around the eyelids. All the markings should be symmetrical. The backs of the ears are darker at the tips. The ticking color should extend from the back of the head, along the back and down the tail where it ends in a solid- colored tail tip – the hallmark of every true tabby cat.
Certainly low-maintenance but, like all cats, your Abyssinian requires regular grooming. Ears should be checked and kept clean and nails trimmed with special cat nail trimmers. Hand-grooming and the occasional comb or use of a rubber brush is all that is needed to remove any loose hairs, and daily stroking will help maintain a glowing sheen. Owners of Abyssinian show cats warn against intensive use of rubber brushes as this can strip out the all-important undercoat and for those intending to show, extra grooming or bathing may be beneﬁcial.
This is a medium-size byssinian cat weighing 6 to 10 pounds.
Ruddy, Red, Blue, Fawn, Cinnamon, Lilac, Tortoiseshell, Cream, Sorrel Silver, Usual/Ruddy Silver, Blue Silver, Chocolate Silver, Lilac Silver, Red Silver, Cream Silver, Tortie Silvers, Usual or Ruddy, Blue, Sorrel, Fawn,
Pattern : Ticking
Less Allergenic: No
Overall Grooming Needs: Low
Rich coppery brown ticked with chocolate with a base fur of apricot. The tip of the tail should be chocolate.
Pinkish dove grey ticking – the dilute of the chocolate – on a pinkish cream undercoat. The tail is tipped with a deeper dove grey.
These combine a mixture of red or cream with all of the basic coat colors. Both symmetrical and random markings are allowed. Red (above) – With an undercoat of reddish apricot, this color is one which is described as genetically ‘sex linked’, giving a warm red appearance ticked with deep red which also tips the end of the tail.
The genetic dilution of red, this appears as soft warm cream, ticked with darker cream, a dark cream tail tip and a cream undercoat. Sorrel Silver – Cool silvery-white with chocolate ticking gives this color a peachy appearance. The tail tip is a solid chocolate
Cool silvery-white with chocolate ticking gives this color a peachy appearance. The tail tip is a solid chocolate
Silver ticked with black. The undercoat is silvery white without any brown or yellowish tinge and the tip of the tail is black
Overall a silvery blue with a deeper, steel-blue grey ticking and, like all silvers, it has a silver-white undercoat. The tail tip is dark blue
Dark chocolate ticking on a silver-white base gives a cool silvery-brown look. The tail has a dark chocolate tip.
A silvery dove grey ticked with pinkish dove grey on a silver-white undercoat. There is a dove grey tip to the tail.
Fawn Silver (called Beige-Fawn Silver in FIFe)
Ticked with fawn on a silver-white base with a solid fawn tip to the tail.
An overall silvery red color with a solid red tip to the tail.
General silvery-cream appearance, the ticking is a darker shade of cream. The tail tip is a dark cream and the undercoat, as with all silvers, a contrasting silvery-white.
Show a mixture of color ticking with either red or cream on a silver base. these, all except the Chocolate, Lilac, Red, Cream and Tortoiseshells and the Red-related Silvers have Championship status with the GCCF. In the FIFe, Champion, Premier and International titles are granted to Ruddy, Blue, Sorrel and Beige-Fawn and their silver variants, whereas the Chocolate, Lilac, Red Cream and Tortie varieties remain unrecognized.
Usual or Ruddy
Probably the most common and popular of all the Abyssinian colors, called Ruddy in FIFe and Usual in the GCCF. The body color is a rich ruddy brown, ticked with black. The undercoat or base fur is orange or apricot and the tip of the tail is black.
The genetic dilute version of the Usual/Ruddy. The coat is a soft warm blue, with a mushroom-colored undercoat and deeper steel blue-grey ticking. The tip of the tail is solid blue
Lustrous copper-red ticked with chocolate brown. The undercoat is bright apricot and the tip of the tail is brown
The dilute version of the Sorrel with the overall appearance of a warm fawn ticked with a deeper fawn. The undercoat appears as ivory or – as described by the GCCF standard – as ‘fawnish cream’, the tail being tipped with darker fawn.
abyssinian cat pictures