Abyssinian cat's breed portrait

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Origin and breed history

The Abyssinian cat is a relatively long bred, short-haired, very elegant pedigree cat. Its name suggests that the Abyssinian cat originated in the former North African empire of Abyssinia, now Ethiopia. There is no evidence for this. Rather, like any normal domestic cat, it originally descended from the dun cat and was bred out in England as a pedigree cat. Probably under crossbreeding of Siamese cats it was bred already in the 19th century on the appearance of a desert cat. The zoology professor and cat connoisseur Friedrich Schwangart characterized already in 1954 the Abyssinian cats as "no exotics from Africa, but an English breeding product resembling in some pieces the wild cats there."

The breeding world likes to tell some exotic legends about the origin of their pedigree cats. As a rule, these stories do not stand up to scrutiny. However, this does not detract from the quality of the cats. Quite the contrary: Especially a relatively close descent from a wild cat would only bring problems for their role as a domestic cat. And one cannot deny that the Abyssinian is of impressive elegance and beauty. So she brings everything for a pleasant feline companion. Since 1935 she is also bred in the USA. Because one wanted additionally a variant with longer hair, from the Abyssinian the so-called Somali cat developed, which shares the same standard with it until today. Today, the Abyssinian cat is recognized by all major pedigree cat associations. Already at its foundation in 1949, the Fédération Internationale Féline recognized the Abyssinian cat in one of its first official acts. In Germany, however, it has remained quite rare.


The Abyssinian cat is a small to medium sized short haired cat. It has a lithe, slender but muscular build. It should have a well developed chest according to the standard. Males will weigh 4 to 5, cats 3 to 4 kilograms. The coat is short, fine and closed. It should be springy when touched. It has a special gene variant, which in the result causes the silky impression of the coat. Breeders call this ticking. In a ticked coat, each individual hair shows multiple banding. However, the coat as a whole shows no pattern except just an iridescent silky texture. Recognized colors are all wild colors as well as blue, sorrel, beige-fawn, each also with silver variations. The Abyssinian has strikingly large ears. Their head is wedge-shaped, the eyes are large.

Character and temperament

In appearance, the Abyssinian is a diva. In temperament, she is active, jumpy and persistent, virtually an athlete. She is the opposite of a couch potato among cats. Of course, she also regularly takes her sleep sessions and likes to cuddle with her master and mistress, but she prefers to be sporty. The Abyssinian is not a cat for professionals who are out of the house all day or people who want to share their rest with a cat. On the other hand, an Abyssinian cat is happy when she can play with children or dogs. She is a lot of fun if you enjoy sharing her life-affirming, lively explorations and climbs. She is not a lap cat, but can be cuddly and affectionate towards her human.


The Abyssinian cat needs suitable toys and especially plenty of climbing opportunities. In good weather she likes to roam around the garden. However, it can be kept indoors only, if it has enough climbing opportunities, toys and especially play partners. It is recommended to keep them in a group. Abyssinians are a sociable breed and get along with other animal housemates without any problems - provided both sides have the chance to get used to each other.


The Abyssinian cat is intelligent, affectionate and easy to train. If she comes from a reputable breeder who has well cared for and socialized parents and kittens, she will naturally fit into the rules and habits of her family. With a little guidance she will be housebroken quickly and easily.

Care and health

The coat of the Abyssinian cat only needs to be brushed now and then.

Diseases typical for the breed

Sometimes inbreeding can be a problem with this breed. Several hereditary diseases typical of pedigree cats can also occur in Abyssinian cats. In addition, they can suffer from hereditary pyruvate kinase deficiency (PK), a metabolic disease. Treatment is then not possible. Another metabolic disease, Renal Amyloidosis (RA) is also common as well as Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), an eye disease that can lead to blindness. However, these diseases do not necessarily occur in all cats.

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