This week in our series on Getting to Know Your Cat Breed we are featuring the Abyssinian cat. The “Aby” is thought to be one of the oldest known breeds of cats and very high on the Cat Fancier’s Most Popular list.
Life expectancy: 9 – 15 years
Size: Abyssinians are on the smaller size ranging from about 6–7 pounds for females to 8–10 pounds for males, but they can be up to 2 feet in length.
Color: Abys have a distinctive ‘ticked’ coat similar to wild cats like cougars. A ticked coat has alternating light and dark bands of color on each hair shaft. The short, silky, thick fur ranges in colors from fawn to red to chocolate or black. They have distinctive almond-shaped eyes of green or gold and large pointed ears.
Origins: Like many cats, there is some controversy over their origins. Contrary to popular belief they are not from Ethiopia (formerly Abyssinia), but more likely from Asia along the Indian Ocean regions of India and Thailand. They were introduced to the west by Dutch and English traders who brought the cats back from ports such as Calcutta, India, or the islands of Indonesia.
Personality: Abys are not lap cats, so if that’s what you desire, steer clear. They are personable and love being part of the family, but they are active, inquisitive and energetic. You will need to provide them with entertainment and challenges in the form of things to climb on, puzzle toys and lasers to chase.
Health Issues: Abys show a high degree of susceptibility to periodontal disease, so proper dental care is essential for them. In addition, they are susceptible to Hyperesthesia syndrome, a neurological problem that can cause cats to excessively groom themselves, leading to hair loss and a sensitivity to touch. Patellar luxation, a hereditary dislocation of the kneecap and progressive retinal atrophy, a degenerative eye disease are also frequently seen in Abys.
Fitness/energy level: As mentioned, these are active cats and sometimes it seems like they never sleep. They are natural climbers and able to scale just about anything, so keep those vases off your high shelves. They are intelligent and can be taught to walk on the leash which would be a great form of exercise for them.
Native foods for the Abyssinian:
Beef, venison, carp, catfish, apples, beans
Good foods to feed your Abyssinian:
Fun facts about the Abyssinian:
Ancient Egyptians believed that Abyssinian cats were related to Gods. They worshiped Abyssinian cats because of their excellent hunting skills and ability to eliminate pests from the fields.
The Aby is very agile and able to jump 6 feet up in the air.
A 1978 movie from Walt Disney Productions called The Cat From Outer Space stars an extraterrestrial Abyssinian named Jake whose spaceship crash-lands on Earth.Sources: