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The Ancient Abyssinian Cat

abyssinian kitten picture

The Abyssinian cat is a strikingly beautiful cat with a mysterious, some say unknown, background. There is little doubt they are an ancient breed, for cats looking like them are portrayed in Egyptian paintings and sculptures. Abyssinians retain a “wild” look more like jungle cats than other domestic cats.

 It’s believed they were given their name due to being imported from that part of the world, not necessarily being developed there. The Abyssinian cat was refined in England and indeed a taxidermist preserved an exhibit now in a museum in Holland that is estimated to have been alive in 1834-1836. Some pedigrees in the early 1900s show unknown sires and dams as well as crosses – very unlike the Abyssinian cat of today.

 This is a people orientated breed that seems to understand much more than many cats do. Although they love people they aren’t necessarily a lap cat. Owners who are less than disciplined may find an Aby trains them rather than them training their cat!

 Abyssinian cat pictureBy the standard of perfection for showing there are 35 points awarded to color, 30 to body, 25 to head and 10 to coat. This a medium sized, muscular, lively cat with a regal appearance. A warm color to the coat with distinct ticking makes a beautiful cat not easily forgotten. Colors may be fawn, blue, red or ruddy, with the latter a dark sienna brown color.

 White anywhere except the chin, nostril or upper throat, a kinked tail, dark unbroken ‘necklace’, grey undercoat close to the skin and black hair on a red Abyssinian is a disqualification in show circles but these cats still make wonderful pets. The color and coat define the breed as distinctive.

While this is a cat that should always be balanced they tend to appear long legged. The Abyssinian is an athletic cat that while they can entertain themselves they will also think their way around a problem to get something they want. If you have things locked up or out of their reach this is worth noting! They tend to take life on their own terms. Unless eating or sleeping they are often busy – prowling for something to get into or watching their territory. This curiosity and ‘busy’ nature can make them appear easily distracted. They are happy to go UP to find things to play with or new perspectives.

This is a fairly low maintenance cat as far as grooming goes. If you enjoy knickknacks and trinkets – especially breakable ones – this might not be a cat that will go well with that. They are beautiful cats in their prime and can be incredibly independent yet loving in their own way. This is a breed that perhaps underscores knowing what you are getting into in many ways. Food and toys are major motivators and they are natural clowns, but their temperament and activity level might be too much for some people looking for a quiet lap cat.

That said, there are occasional exceptions to the rule. Overall it’s much better to select the cat for your household rather than expecting the cat to change and adapt – if they don’t there’s unhappy owners and unhappy cats! This is a wonderful breed in the right hands.


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