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May 6, 2013 at 8:00 AMComments: 2 Faves: 0

The Abyssinian

By Erin Froehlich More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the Feline 101 Blog Series

Abyssinian CatAbyssinian Cat Stats

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Cat of the Week: The Abyssinian

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Abyssinian Cats

Abyssinian Cat

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Fun Facts About Abyssinians

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  • The Abyssinian is one of the oldest and most popular cat breeds today.
  • Though the breed is named after Abyssinia (now Ethiopia), experts don’t actually believe they originated from that country. Rather, the name refers to the first known show cat from the breed which appeared in England in 1871.  A few years later, in 1874, that prize-winning cat was featured in a cat breed guide Cats, Their Points, and Characteristics.
  • The book describes a lithographed photo as, “Zula, the property of Mrs. Captain Barrett-Lennard. This cat was brought from Abyssinia at the conclusion of the war…” British troops had just left Abyssinia 10 years prior in 1868.
  • With an appearance strikingly similar to ancient Egyptian cat depictions, curious scientists have preformed extensive genealogical studies on Abyssinian cats. They feel the most likely origin is Southeast Asia on the coast of the Indian Ocean.  At least, that’s as far back as they could be traced.
  • Famous Abyssinians include Tibs the cat from 101 Dalmatians, Jake in The Cat from Outer Space, and it is speculated that Cassandra from the Cats the Musical is also an Abyssinian.

Abyssinian Cats

Abyssinian Cat

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How to Spot an Abyssinian

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ticked hair in catsShort “Ticked” Coat. No, definitely not as in “has bugs.” It’s another one of those funny terms used by cat fanciers. “Ticked” is how fur with a combination of colors on each strand is described. All Abyssinians share this trait in a coat that is short, dense, lustrous, and silky to touch. However, there are many colors those ticked coats come in. Abyssinians can be ruddy, red, blue, fawn or a silver (meaning that white is also present) version of any of these colors.

Large Ears. The second giveaway, is the size of the ears. Abyssinians have large, broad ears that are “set as though listening.” The Aby is an active, intelligent cat and their ears only add to their alert appearance.

Lined, Almond-Shaped Eyes. According to official CFA guidelines, the ideal Abyssinian is a well balanced, sleek, yet muscular cat that is regal in appearance. Their eyes add to this feeling, with dramatic lining – fine dark line, encircled by lighter line – around large, almond shaped eyes of either gold or green. The eyes, like the ears, should appear alert and inquisitive. 

Abyssinian Kittens

Abyssinian Kitten

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What to Expect from an Abyssinian

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An Active Cat. If you’ve been following Feline 101, you may have noticed that while there is definitely variation in each type, there seem to be two basic cat personalities - the lazy lap cat, and active, curious type. The Abyssinian definitely falls into the second category. In fact, of any word used to describe these cats, “active” is probably the one I’ve seen used most. Abyssinians are almost always on the go, investigating something, or inventing a game to amuse their selves. Animal Planet warns that “no closed room or cupboard is safe from their agile paws and inquiring minds,” but so long as you give them plenty of non-destructive, active playtime (think laser pointer!) they’re great fun to have around.  

A Smart Cat. The active, playful nature of the Abyssinian is just a symptom of their highly intelligent mind. These cats do well with puzzle-type toys that require some extra effort, and some even take part in cat agility competitions.

A Social Cat. While the Abyssinian isn’t a lap cat, and doesn’t really want to have your will inflicted on them (they prefer contact be their idea!), they are actually very social cats. When you’re sitting in the living room, they’ll be close by stalking a bird they see outside the window. When you’re making dinner in the kitchen, they’ll be trying to sneak a bite. They want to be wherever you are. In fact, they love attention and being around you so much, they’d prefer not to share you with too many other animals. Most would be perfectly happy as the only pet in the house, but in exchange for your loyalty, they’ll give you theirs. In a book on the breed, Carolyn Osier attests “There is probably no breed anywhere more loyal than the Aby.”

Abyssinian Cats

Abyssinian Cat

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More Abyssinian Cats!!!

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Abyssinian Cats

Abyssinian Cat

Abyssinian Kitten

Abyssinian Kittens

SOURCE

VetStreet: Abyssinian

Animal Planet: Cat Breed Directory: Abyssinian

The Cat Fanciers’ Association: Abyssinian Breed Profile

PHOTO CREDIT

myriorama@flickr

grebo guru@flickr

The Guncle@flickr

FurLined@flickr

polandeze@flickr

isbye.@flickr

Lindsey G (modchik)@flickr

Ilovetypography.com@flickr

John Morton@flickr

HerrScmitt@flickr

Harold@flickr

More from Erin Froehlich Others Are Reading

2 Comments

  • Amazing cats... one of my favorites.

  • I keep reading that Abys aren't lap cats. The 2 I adopted a year ago, 1 boy and 1 girl kitten, were snoozing on my lap since day #3. They laid on my lap until the boy grew too big. The girl would sit in my lap like a little kid.

    Both loved rubbing their foreheads with mine. My girl grabs my face for cat nose kisses. It's amazing. Active...is an understatement. They're hyper, inquisitive, exploratory, and incredibly smart. They learn your emotional reactions and mimic human gestures. Cat + 2yr kid + puppy all in 1. Everyday is a learning experience. Keep the camera on hand.

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