Abyssinian Cat Breeds - Facts and Personality Traits
The Abyssinian cat is among the most popular cat breeds. Their low maintenance care, along with their affection towards both people and other pets, make them a great addition to your home.
They're active felines— you'll see them constantly playing with their toys and running around the house. Their short fur features a unique pattern that bedazzles everyone who lays eyes on your feline friend.
Considering this breed's acclaim, you might be thinking about adopting your own Abyssinian. We've written this article to help you decide whether this cat is right for you! We'll be going through the history, personality, characteristics, and everything else you need to know about the Abyssinian cat.
Abyssinian Cat Breed Origin & History
The breed is one of the oldest, with a history that spans back to the times of ancient Egypt. Mummified cats that bore a resemblance to modern Abyssinian cats were found in Egyptian tombs. There are even reports of pharaohs of old owning Abyssinian cats.
Through genetic testing, it was discovered that the breed first developed along the Indian Oceans' coast and in several places in Southeast Asia. The Abyssinian cat has roots in Great Britain as well.
The breed's name comes from Lord Robert Napier, who brought home a cat from his expedition in Abyssinia. He named the cat Zulu, and she would become the very first of what would be the line of Abyssinian cats. Zulu started the breed's lineage.
However, Zulu's coat wasn't the same as the Abyssinian cat we know today. Her unique pattern reminded people of wild rabbits. Because of her striking coat, Zulu was bred to other cats with similar patterns. These breeding efforts resulted in the trademark markings on Abyssinian cats we know today.
The breed's popularity led to its growth in Europe, and eventually the Abysininan made it across the sea to both Canada and the United States. They also had a premiere at the "Crystal Palace Cat Show" in 1871. It was the first time the public was formally introduced to these striking cats. This debut would save the breed from dying out, as large numbers were killed during the World Wars.
Another threat to these cats came in the form of the feline leukemia virus, which almost erased the breed in Britain. Abyssinians were shipped from America and other countries to increase the breeding pool and restore the cat's population.
According to the Cat Fanciers Association and the International Cat Association, these cats are among the top five most popular breeds. These distinctions should tell you that this breed's line is studded with praise from owners who welcomed these feline friends into their homes.
Other Names of the Abyssinian cat
Abyssinian cats are called "Abys" in some circles. They are also known as "bunny cats" due to their coat's close resemblance to desert bunnies.
Abyssinian Cat Breed Personality
Abyssinians are intelligent and curious cats that enjoy the company of both humans and other pets in your household. It's a good idea to give these cats some space to themselves and an area where they can run around and let loose.
This cat is a great climber, so a place with trees and high places will be much appreciated. They're playful cats, and they're so active it may even seem that they never sleep!
They meow with a soft and quiet quality while spending time with their owner. Abyssinians also love being combed or rubbed. We suggest a chamois cloth for doing this, along with any other pet combs that are safe for short-haired cats. As with any cat, you'll know you've done a good job when they give you a low, loving purr in response.
Living with these cats will require some effort on your part. Abyssinians are active and need constant exercise. They are also social cats, so it may be a good idea to have another cat or pet around to keep them company when you aren't home. They are adaptable and can fit into any home as long as they receive proper love and attention.
Abyssinian Cat Breed Characteristics (Physical)
The Abyssinian's coat is short and covered with a unique pattern. Each strand of hair has bands of color that become darker along the strand. Their fur lightens around their neck, underside, and the insides of their legs.
The breed has a round, moderately wedged head that's adorned with large, pointed ears. Their lean, well-muscled bodies are deemed "medium long" by the Cat Fanciers’ Association. The tail tapers.
Abyssinian Cat Breed Cat Size
Male Abyssinian cats can grow from 17 to 23 inches in length. Females, on the other hand, can grow from 16 to 21 inches. These cats are considered medium-sized cats, sporting a long body and muscles suited for their active lifestyle and day-to-day activities.
These cats vary in weight according to their gender. A fully grown male Abyssinian weighs between 10 and 16 pounds. Fully grown female Abyssinian cats can weigh between 9 and 15 pounds.
Abyssinian cats have a triangular-shaped head that sports a gentle dip. They also have big ears that tilt forward, making them appear alert and aware of their surroundings at all times.
Their large eyes match the alert and intelligent nature of the breed. Almond-shaped, they are expressive and accentuated by a dark line.
The Abyssinian cat's eye colors can vary from gold or green, with a difference in the color's richness.
They can be described as alert, moderately pointed, and large. The ears are broad and cupped at the base, with short hairs.
Legs and Paws
The Abyssinian cat's legs and paws are slim and fine-boned. They almost give the impression of the cat being on its tiptoes. The paws are compact and oval-shaped, with five toes on the front legs and four toes on the back.
The soft coat of the Abyssinian cat is silky and fine in texture but can be dense and resilient to a person's touch. It has a lustrous sheen, with some of the fur's strands having warm, glowing bands of color.
The coat's length is medium for cat standards but long enough that the hair strands have at least two to three bands of color. You'll need to brush your cat on occasion to keep them looking their best.
Abyssinian Cat Breed Lifespan
Typically, the Abyssinian cat will live up to 15 years. If you worry that your cat might start to slow down during its senior years, then you'd be surprised. Adult cats of this breed tend to retain their playful and active personalities. An Abyssinian cat will age beautifully and grow with its owner.
The Abyssinian cat can run into numerous health problems. It's crucial to regularly take your cat to the vet and stay up to date on all their preventative care to ensure they live a long and happy life.
Gum disease, also known as gingivitis, is one of the most common illnesses in cats. It occurs when your cat's gums become inflamed by food buildup, bacteria, and/or minerals. This buildup eventually leads to the formation of tartar, which forms when those different materials harden.
If left untreated, tartar breeds bacteria growth in the small spaces between the gums and teeth. This causes another ailment called "periodontal disease." The bacteria can then spread into the body, damaging organs like the kidneys and the liver.
Preventing this condition is as easy as providing basic dental care to your cats. Brush their teeth occasionally and feed them dry food to help combat these diseases.
As Abyssinians age, they are more susceptible to diseases in the kidneys. Abyssinians can develop chronic kidney disease caused by the gradual deterioration of their kidney functions. This condition may also be caused by other factors like blockages, tumors, exposure to toxins, infections, and natural aging.
Kidney disease is irreversible, but can a vet can treat the symptoms so your pet can lead a normal life. Treatment will depend on the severity of the condition, but it usually involves special diets, medications, and flushing out the weakened kidneys.
This breed is prone to contracting diseases in their gastrointestinal tract, a long pathway from the cat's mouth to their anus. These can develop from infections, poisoning, or objects obstructing the tract itself. Commonly, vomiting and diarrhea occur with these issues. Treatment depends on the specific cause, but a quick intervention will help your cat make a full recovery.
Abyssinians can contract lower respiratory problems such as Feline asthma. This ailment occurs when irritants in the air, or your cat's allergies, inflame the lower airways and lungs. This irritation can lead to your cat constantly coughing and wheezing. Though asthma is incurable, you can manage it with medication, tablets, and specially-made inhalers for cats.
Lastly, Abyssinian cats can suffer from diseases that are inherent within their breed. These are pyruvate kinase deficiency and progressive retinal atrophy. Pyruvate kinase deficiency can cause anemia in your cat, but a reliable testing method can detect this disease early. If you're buying from breeders, ensure that your new cat has been tested for this.
Progressive retinal atrophy causes your cat to go blind gradually. This condition is inherited and can be detected early as well. Be sure to ask your breeder if your cat has been tested for this condition, too.
How to Care for an Abyssinian Cat
Caring for an Abyssinian cat will require time, effort, and plenty of love. However, compared to other cats, they need less maintenance. This is partly due to the fact they have shorter coats that require less grooming.
In fact, grooming your Abyssinian cat isn't necessarily a daily task. You can get away with combing this cat every week to remove debris or other objects stuck in their coats. You can also bathe your Abyssinian during shedding season to reduce the amount of loose hair and dander in their fur, but this is entirely optional.
Oral hygiene is vital to cats, so developing a tooth brushing routine is essential. Daily brushing is the most ideal situation, but you'll notice positive effects even if you brush their teeth just once per week. Brushing protects them from those mouth and gum diseases that we talked about earlier.
Because Abyssinian cats have pointed ears, you have to check them often for dirt, debris, or any infections. You can do this every week. Clean anything you find in their ears with a soft, vet-approved wipe. Make sure to avoid using cotton swabs as they can damage the inner ear structures. If your cat's ears ever become red, inflamed, or develop a weird odor, make sure to contact your veterinarian.
Due to the Abyssinian's active nature, get ready to stock up on cat toys and dedicate some time to playing with your cat. Since Abyssinian cats love to perch on high places, it's a good idea to get yourself a cat tree or shelves for them to climb on.
Also, make sure to follow your vet's check-up and vaccination schedule. During these exams, the veterinarian will check your Abyssinian for any conditions that might affect their health. You could purchase pet health insurance policies, which are useful when an emergency comes up and you need to rush them over to the vet. The insurance can also help cover the cost of other medical procedures that they'll need through the course of their life.
You have to make sure that your Abyssinian cat eats a proper diet. This will keep your cat healthy and steer them away from health issues associated with the breed.
Cats can be picky about their food. They may even refuse to eat altogether if they aren't fed the right diet. For Abyssinian cats, foods that are rich in fats and proteins are the safest bet. You should avoid foods high in carbohydrates because cats can't process those properly. Carbs may also cause obesity and even diabetes down the line.
Overall, your cat's diet should mostly be composed of protein from both wet and dry foods. Meat is a rich protein source, providing energy and supporting muscle growth. Chicken and turkey are just some of the meat sources that you can give to your cat.
Portion sizes depend on your cat's size, breed, and activity level. Another factor to consider is whether your cat will be an outdoor cat, indoor cat, or a mix of both. Their lifestyle helps determine their diet, including their portion size. Consulting a veterinarian can help you identify your cat's dietary requirements.
Correct portioning is essential for maintaining your cat's weight. Abyssinians love to eat, and they might even go at it the entire day. Make sure that cat food is available at any time for your cats. You can also give them cat treats, but make sure not to feed them too much. Too many treats might give your cat less space for their nutritious foods.
Buying food for your Abyssinian cat should be simple as selecting any other pet food. An excellent way to see whether or not the cat food you're buying is up to standards is by checking if it meets the American Association of Feed Control Officials' requirements. By getting food that follows the guidelines, you can be sure that your cat gets all the nutrients they need! However, if your cat needs special foods, it's best to consult your veterinarian for choices.
You can give your Abyssinian a taste test of the food you bought and see whether they like it. This can also test to see if they will run into gastrointestinal problems later, such as flatulence. If they don't like the food, this might lead to a dangerous situation with the cat doing a hunger strike. If they decide to do this, they run the risk of liver failure or even death in some cases.
If you need to change their diet, make sure to do it gradually. This will make it easier for your Abyssinian cat to accept and adapt to the new food and reduce the chances of stomach ailments.
There's no specific time for feeding your cat, as it really depends on whether they feel hungry or not. However, it's best to keep their feeding schedule consistent. There are some things you should know about Abyssinian cats that can help you decide when it's best to give them their food:
A cat's digestive tract is short in length, meaning that food will travel through it quickly. It takes about 12-24 hours for a cat's digestive system to process food.
It's a good idea to feed your cat intermittently because of how slow the actual digestive process is. Abyssinians love to eat as soon as possible, but there will be times that you won't be able to follow that schedule.
To prevent this from negatively affecting your lovely cat, you might be interested in using automated feeders. These can be programmed to drop down a set amount of food for your cat at certain times. These can also feed your cats several times a day and are a great tool for people who are busy even at home.
Children, Family, & Other Pets
Abyssinian cats are a fantastic match for families wanting to own a cat. They are active and loyal, as well as a playful companion for young children. They're confident cats that can be quite tolerant to kids. They also don't frighten or get spooked as easily as other cats.
Get close enough with your Abyssinian, and they'll want to be involved in your everyday activities. Include your cat in your routine, and you can be sure that they'll be as playful and as affectionate as they can.
Overall, they're full of personality and are quite the busybody. They get along with other cats and dogs as long as they get a proper introduction.
More About this Breed
When caring for an Abyssinian, you may want to treat it as if they are a child. Make sure that particular doors and rooms are blocked off to keep them out of trouble. This will also keep them from jumping into places where they might not be safe and from eating anything harmful.
Other general tips for your cat are providing them with a clean litter box that they can use. Make sure that you remove any waste daily, as it can start to give out an unpleasant odor.
You may need to play with them daily to curb their desire to explore and hunt. Play sessions are important for ensuring they don't develop problematic behaviors as they age. Use high-activity toys to rouse your cat and get them in condition.
Make sure they drink the right amount of water every day. If your cat doesn't drink for any reason, try adding ice cubes into the water to entice them. You might also look into getting a cat fountain to simulate water in their natural environment.
Of course, if you want to obtain your Abyssinian from a breeder, then that's fine. Make sure that the breeder follows standards legislations and is trustworthy. Otherwise, you could go and adopt one from your local shelter. However, it might be tough to find a purebred Abyssinian cat at a shelter. Rescue groups can also be another way for you to adopt this breed.
Hopefully, this article has given you all the info and know-how you'll need if you're considering owning an Abyssinian cat. As we talked about earlier, these cats are eager companions who will accompany you in your day-to-day life inside the house. This means that you'll constantly be caring for this active and affectionate cat.
Of course, grooming won't be a problem due to their short and manageable coat. What you really need to look out for are high places that you don't want these cats anywhere near. Have a ladder on hand, just in case!
Another thing to look out for is the fact that these cats are very sociable. If you need to go to work and leave your cat alone for hours, it's a great idea to have another car or a person to keep your cat company. Any pet will do, but the best partner for your cat is another Abyssinian. This will keep them from becoming too rowdy while you're up and about.
That's all we have for you! This cat will become your very best friend, should you give the Abyssinian a chance. A historic cat, older than most breeds, they will be one of the best pets you could ever own. So make sure to think about it and find out for yourself whether or not the Abyssinian is the right choice for your home.