Abyssinian Cat

February 19, 2020
Information Details
Origin Egypt
Type Purebred
Cost $350 - $900
Life Span Up to 15 years
Size Medium
Weight 6 - 10 pounds
Temperament Active, affectionate, intelligent, loving, loyal, playful, social
Known Issues Corneal Sequestrum, Familial Amyloidosis, Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP), Gingivitis, Hip Dysplasia, Patellar Luxation, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, Progressive Rod Cone Degeneration & Rod Cone Dysplasia, Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency (PKD), Retinal Dystrophy, Thromboembolism

Abyssinian CatIf you want to learn more about the Abyssinian cat, then you'll LOVE this comprehensive article on the Abyssinian cat.

What you'll discover in this article will help you to find out if an Abyssinian cat is the right pet cat for you.

The Abyssinian cat is one of the most popular and oldest cat breeds, its origins, however, has been lost in myth and fantasy.

The cats depicted in the ancient Egyptian bronzes and paintings were said to carry a strong resemblance to the Abyssinian cat, thus, these sacred Egyptian cats were thought to be their ancestors.

Its derivation has also been suggested to have come from the British soldiers who defeated Abyssinian, a place now known as Ethiopia. From there, the soldiers imported a cat named Zula, hence marking the origin of the Abyssinian cat.

Recent research on the genetics of this cat, however, proposed that their ancestors are likely to have come from the coast of the Indian Ocean and parts of Southeast Asia.

This breed was said to be on the verge of devastation during World War II. Had they not been exported to the United States in the 1900s, the Abyssinian cat would have been wiped out.

Survivals of this cat breed had then undergone refinement and development through breeding programs. It has gained its popularity ever since and is recognized by all major cat breed registries.

Physical appearance and attributes
The very first time that the Abyssinian was ever made known in print was in a cat show report published in the January 27, 1872 issue of Harper’s weekly.

The report featured the first appearance of Abyssinian as one of the unusual breeds at the Crystal Palace Cat Show in 1871. Its unique physical attributes are most probably the factors that have helped it to clinch the third prize.

A healthy Abyssinian should weigh between 6 – 10 pounds, with the male being heavier.

One of its most striking features is its large almond-shaped eyes that usually come in an intense brilliance of gold or green; locking your attention at the very first sight. Crowning its wedge-like head is a pair of large pointed ears that gives it an unfailing alertness to its surroundings.

It possesses a medium built body that is lithe, lean and muscular. With accentuated long athletic legs and paws that are relatively smaller in comparison to its body, it appears like it is standing on its toes.

Its long and tapering tail, together with its neck that is carried with much grace, creates beautiful lines that seem to extend beyond sight.

Its body is covered with ticked fur that exhibits a unique coloration of alternating light and dark strips of bands. Being short in length and lying close to its body, such characteristics of the fur formulated a coat that is liken to the luster of satin, especially so when it moves, and is silky to the touch. The coat color can come in ruddy, red, lilac, fawn or cinnamon.

The composition of all these unique features resembles that of the African wild cat, but with an added confidence and certainty as that of a leopard and an athletic grace as that of a cheetah.

Personality and temperament
The Abyssinian cats are highly intelligent and sharp-witted. They have an insatiable sense of curiosity of their surroundings and are always on the move for new activities and engagements.

Every activity that they undertake can be larger than life and they give their fullest energy and undivided attention to any play activities with no concern for life or limb.

They can be easily amused with anything from a crumpled sheet of paper to more sophisticated and elaborated cat toys. Attention is what they persistently seek for and they know what to do to receive it.

Great heights pose no challenge for them for their adventurous nature would propel them to climb every high perches no matter how unfeasible it seems. They love the idea of space, both vertical and horizontal and hence would make full use of them.

The game of fetch usually sparks a special interest in them and they learn the trick faster than expected.

Even though they do not like to be contained and restrained, Abyssinian cats have an unusual, loving, gentle and affectionate disposition towards people. They enjoy the interactions and dislike to be left alone; being one of the few breeds that love to participate in family activities.

Once a relationship is developed with the owner, they can be devoted and loyal to the point of being possessive. They typically interact better with adults or older children who are more predictable.

Getting along with other pets in the same household should not be a challenge for Abyssinian cats if the animals are introduced slowly and properly.

The Abyssinian cat is prone to a number of health issues such as Corneal Sequestrum, Familial Amyloidosis, Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP), Gingivitis, Hip Dysplasia, Patellar Luxation, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, Progressive Rod Cone Degeneration & Rod Cone Dysplasia, Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency (PKD), Retinal Dystrophy and Thromboembolism.

Many of these diseases and health conditions are genetic. Some of these conditions, while not due to genetic, are found to occur more frequently in the Abyssinian cat than other cat breeds.

It is advisable to maintain a regular vet check throughout the life of the cat. The average life span of the Abyssinian cat is between 9 – 15 years.

Further reading:

Grooming the Abyssinian cat should not be a chore as they only require occasional brushing and bathing for their short and fine coat of fur.

However, care needs to be taken for their sharp nails. It is best to trim the nail every couple of weeks.

Dental hygiene is  also very important to prevent gingivitis, an inflammation of the gums, which is more likely to happen to the Abyssinian cat than other cat breeds.  Daily dental hygiene is highly recommended. If not possible, go for a weekly brushing.

Regular exercise and play activities is highly recommended to prevent obesity in your cat

There is no requirement for special diet for the Abyssinian cat except for the best you can give. Fresh water needs to be provided daily and milk should only serve as an occasional treat as many cat breeds are lactose intolerant.

The ideal home
A home that has enough space, preferably an enclosed garden where it can explore and hunt would be desirable for the Abyssinian cat. This would help to prevent stress that is easily caused if kept indoors and restrained. Thus, allowing direct access from the indoor to the outdoor secured area is highly considerable.

Making sure that such outdoor enclosed areas are escape-proof is necessary for this escape artist. Its active and playful nature calls for the owner to devote daily play time with it. This should be considered to prevent boredom that might lead to destructive activity in the house.

The Abyssinian cat provide a taste and a glimpse of the wild kingdom. For those who love an active and highly animated pet, this ancient cat breed would make a constant companion and would provide years of pleasure to any home.

So what do you think about the Abyssinian cat breed? Or maybe you have a question about this cat breed. Either way, let me know in the comment section below.


  • http://www.cfa.org/Breeds/BreedsAB/Abyssinian.aspx
  • http://www1.fifeweb.org/dnld/std/ABY-SOM.pdf
  • http://tica.org/cat-breeds/item/173
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abyssinian_cat
  • https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/cat-breeds/abyssinian

Editor's Note: This post was originally published in February 2008 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Image Credit
Photo by Tscherno - CC BY 2.0, Photos by Kunyi Liu - Public Domain

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