The Abyssinian cat is a peculiar breed that, thanks to its unique, ticked coat, is often said to resemble the wild cats found all over North America. These gorgeous, energetic cats are impressive athletes of sharp minds and charming personalities. The confident Aby is always on the go, on yet another mischievous mission. For this and many more reasons, today we are excited to introduce to you the Miniature Cougar of the cat world – the Abyssinian!
The Abyssinian is a skilled and graceful athlete. It has slender, lean and strong body. Their legs are long and with oval paws. They have large, pointed ears set on a moderately wedge-shaped head. The nose and chin should form a straight vertical line when viewed in profile. The Abyssinian coat is short, silky and recognizable for being uniquely ticked. It can vary in color from ruby red and fawn tones to silver-blues. The ticket or agouti effect is the breed’s trademark and it’s a genetic variant of the tabby pattern. The breed is characterized by wide and expressive eyes which are golden, green, hazel or copper.
The Abyssinian is said to be one of the oldest cat breeds out there. For a long time, it was believed that these cats originated from ancient Abyssinia (today Ethiopia). The story has it that the breed was developed in Great Britain where it was, allegedly brought by British soldiers from Abyssinian. The word spreads one of the soldiers brought home a cat named Zulu who later became the foundation of the graceful breed we all love so much. More recent genetic studies, however, suggest that South East Asia (the coast of Indian ocean to be precise) is more likely to be their place of origin and not Ethiopia. Based on the genetic markers found in the Abyssinian cat, common for both South East Asia and Western Europe, it is likely that cats from both Asia and Europe were used to create the breed we know today. The breed was recognized by the Cat Fanciers’ organization in 1979, long after they’ve pawed their way to America.
Notorious for their intelligence and agility, the Abyssinian is considered to be one of the most intelligent, athletic and agile breeds of the cat world. Usually, Abys are not laid-back, cuddly cats. These cats are climbers, hunters and jumpers. They thrive in environments where they can explore and climb trees or simply enjoy a good play with their hoomans and fellow cat friends. Among its numerous other nicknames, this cat is also often referred to as “the clown” of the cat-world because of its playful and mischievous personality.
Health and care
Some published studies have recognized the Abyssinian cats, among several other breeds, to be at a higher risk from Diabetes mellitus (Cooper RL et al, 1997-2007)(Ohlund M et al, 2015). Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a metabolic disorder in which blood sugar levels remain high for long periods of time. This occurs when there isn’t enough insulin being produced in the body or the body isn’t responding to it.
Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) has also been associated with the Abyssinians, as well as Somali and Ocicat breeds. PRA is a genetically determined condition that causes blindness in mid to late life in cats. Two genes related to this condition have been identified in these three breeds.
Some other health issues associated with the Abyssinian breed are periodontal disease (gingivitis), hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), pyruvate kinase deficiency (PKD), psychogenic alopecia (stress-related hair loss) and patellar luxation (trick knee).
Fun facts about the agile breed
1. They are one of the earliest cat stars. There are many cats out there who starred in famous shows, books, museums and movies. The Abyssinian, however, was one of the first breeds to start their career. In 1871, an Abyssinian made an appearance in world’s second major cat show held at London’s Crystal Palace and won third place. They were also mentioned in one of the first English cat Breed catalogs “Cats, Their Points and Characteristics” by W. Gordon Stables where the meowgical story of Zulu was captured. In 1978, an Abyssinian named Jake, started in a Walt Disney’s film “The Cat From Outer Space”.
2. The first cat DNA to be decoded was an Aby’s. In 2007, the feline genome was finally sequenced. And the star of the science was an Abyssinian cat named Cinnamon. This was a revolutionary discovery for the progress of cat science.
3. They contributed to Australia’s first pedigreed cat. The first pedigreed cat in Australia was created by Dr. Truda Straede in 1970s, who crossed an Abyssinian, Burmese and Australian domestic shorthair cats. She wanted to created a cat that will possess all her favorite feline attributes. And this resulted in the beautiful Australian Mist.
4. They are rated as the smartest cat breed. According to an intriguing list of the top 10 smartest cat breeds created by CatTime, Abyssinians are ranking highest. ” If the best way to learn is to play, these cats are some of the best learners around.” – explains CatTime.
Abyssinian kitties are truly like no other. Their exotic appearance, admirable athleticism and remarkable smarts bring together an outstanding hooman companion. Thanks to their playful and good nature, these cats are great with kids and other pets. They bring joy and spirit to every home they paw their way into.
1. Cooper RL, Drobatz KJ, Lennon EM, et al. Retrospective evaluation of risk factors and outcome predictors in cats with diabetic ketoacidosis (1997-2007): 93 cases. J Vet Emerg Crit Care (San Antonio). 2015;25(2):263-272.
2. Öhlund M, Fall T, Ström Holst B, Hansson-Hamlin H, Bonnett B, Egenvall A. Incidence of diabetes mellitus in insured Swedish cats in relation to age, breed and sex. J Vet Intern Med. 2015;29(5): 1342-1347.