Affectionately known as the Aby, the Abyssinian is one of the oldest domesticated cat breeds. Although they resemble the cats depicted in artwork that dates back to ancient Egypt, Abyssinians that we know today were developed in England during the late 1800s. The original cat that was bred came from Abyssinia, the country now called Ethiopia. During the early 1900s, this breed made its debut in the United States, earning acceptance among the original breeds first recognized by the Cat Fancier’s Association.
Known for their distinct and luxurious ticked coat, Abyssinians come in red, ruddy, blue and fawn. Each hair on the cat’s coat bears two to three bands of black or dark brown, giving the overall coat the ticked appearance. The coat is short, sleek and dense.
Other distinctive features of the Abyssinian include large ears that flare at the base into a rounded, wedge-shaped head. Large almond-shaped eyes may appear green, amber, golden or copper. Their bodies are medium in stature, long, lithe and muscular. Their tails are thick at the base, long and tapered to the tip.
Abyssinians are generally healthy cats; however the breed is predisposed to the possibility of developing such conditions as gingivitis, stress-induced alopecia, progressive retinal atrophy and renal disease. The Abyssinian requires little grooming. Light combing will remove dead hair from the coat and reduce the incidence of hairballs; brushing teeth regularly will help to prevent gingivitis.
Abyssinians are in constant motion, always investigating and exploring. They are adept at opening doors, cupboards and other closures. Their minds must be occupied with the frequent introduction of new toys and interactive play with their owners. Abyssinians also appreciate the presence of high shelves, cat trees and other high surfaces to satiate their climbing desires and agile acrobatic feats. Craving human companionship, the Abyssinian consistently seeks out his or her owner and is always intrigued by the owner’s activities. Abyssinians demand attention and insist on being involved in all household projects. While not as vocal as other breeds, these cats will not hesitate to inform their owners when they want something.
Between their exotic appearance and their winning personalities, Abyssinians have claimed their rightful place among the top ten breeds in the domestic cat world. The combination of high energy and keen intelligence translates to never having another dull moment when an owner shares his or her life with an Abyssinian.