Let's talk Abyssinians

An elegant mini-mountain lion of a cat, the Abyssinian is hard to miss, with their ticked coat and lithe body. Agile to a fault, this is a cat that’s always in motion, which suits them just fine. Robust as well, the Abyssinian cat is known for vigorous health throughout their life. The breed is highly playful, earning it the nickname ‘Clown of the Cat Kingdom’. Look forward to hours of fun from this winsome cat, which they will return with loyalty and loads of affection.

Official name: Abyssinian

Other names: None

Origins: Ethiopia

Black and white portrait of an Abyssinian cat

 Shedding level:

Warm weather? Very high
 Energy level (high, low, medium)*: High Family Pet?* 
 Compatibility with other pets:

 * We advise against leaving pets alone for long stretches. Companionship can prevent emotional distress and destructive behaviour. Speak to your veterinarian for recommendations.

Every pet is different, even within a breed; this snapshot of this breed specifics should be taken as an indication.
 
For a happy healthy and well-behaved pet, we recommend educating and socializing your pet as well as covering their basic welfare needs (and their social and behavioral needs).
 
Pets should never be left unsupervised with a child.
 
Contact your breeder or veterinarian for further advice.
 
All domestic pets are sociable and prefer company.  However, they can be taught to cope with solitude from an early age.  Seek the advice of your veterinarian or trainer to help you do this.

 
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Illustration of an Abyssinian cat
Male
4 - 6 kg Weight
Female
3 - 5 kg Weight

 

 Baby cat  Birth to 4 months
 Growing kitten  4 to 12 months
 Adult  1 to 7 years
 Mature  7 to 12 years
 Senior  From 12 years

Abyssinian stood on hind legs with paw on a clay plant pot

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Get to know the Abyssinian

All you need to know about the breed

The elegant, long-limbed Abyssinian is a pleasure to behold. The breed makes for a superb pet, with their fierce loyalty to family and the ability to get along with everyone in their midst, human and animal. Of medium build, they are marked by a ticked coat, one that’s been called wash-and-wear for its quite short hair. Often called “the supermodels of the cat world” for their lean and graceful bodies, the Abyssinian surprisingly has a much heavier constitution than their looks would indicate.

Abyssinian behaviour is typified by intense curiosity and a cool intelligence. With the breed having been in existence for thousands of years, who wouldn’t be comfortable in their own skin?

The health of the Abyssinian cat is a fairly streamlined one, too. The breed is playful well into their adult years, but their high athleticism nonetheless may at times cause knee or joint conditions.

That athleticism usually plays itself out in their favorite activity: Jumping! The higher, the better. Don’t be shocked if your Abyssinian wants to perch on your shoulder or is spotted on the tippy-top of the bookshelf on a regular basis. They seem very at home ruling the roost and reaching the highest point possible in the house.

Abyssinians have been dubbed the “Clowns of the Cat Kingdom” for their hijinks and fun behaviour. A combination of their high activity level and a demand for attention, any way you slice it, they’ll outwit you if you let them.

Abyssinian cat standing on rocky ground looking to the distance

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2 facts about Abyssinians

1. Reaches for new heights

Many cats are highly athletic but the Abyssinian just might rank first when it comes to scaling heights: They’ve been known to jump as high as six feet in the air, and like to be as high as possible in their surroundings. Reserve a place for her on the top bookshelf so she feels like queen of the castle.

2. Been around a while

The first traces of the Abyssinian cat were uncovered by archaeologists as mummified versions from Ancient Egypt. Images of Abyssinian-like cats have been found on the tombs of the Pharaohs as well; even Ramses II - who reigned in the 12th Century B.C. - was said to have had an Abyssinian. 4,000 years later, the breed is still around and as popular as ever.

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History of the breed

The Abyssinian cat has a storied history, reaching back many millenia: The breed has been among us for 4,000 years, with images of similar cats found on the tombs of the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt; it’s rumoured that even Ramses II kept an Abyssinian in the 12th Century B.C. Mummified cats have also been found by archaeologists in ancient Egypt bearing a strong resemblance to the breed we know today.

Information on the Abyssinian however, is disputed, especially their origin. They are named for Abyssinia, formerly Ethiopia, whom Great Britain defeated in the Abyssinian War of 1868. One Marshall Sir Robert Napier, returned home to England with a kitten named Zula, thus launching the breed into the U.K. After the cat was exhibited in 1871 at London’s Crystal Palace, their popularity soared even further. The Abyssinian then gained official breed status in 1882 before making their way to the U.S. after the turn of the Twentieth Century.

The Abyssinian breed remains among the top five most popular in the rankings of both the Cat Fancier’s Association and the International Cat Association.

Black and white portrait of a standing Abyssinian cat

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From head to tail

Physical characteristics of Abyssinians

1. Ears

Very large, pricked ears, fairly pointed, tilted slightly forward.

2. Head

Distinctive wedge-shaped head, slightly rounded.

3. Body

Athletic, slender body.

4. Tail

Long, tapered tail, thick at base, proportional to body.

5. Coat

Coat is short, very compact, incredibly soft

Abyssinian cat sat a top a cat stand

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Things to look out for

From specific breed traits to a general health overview, here are some interesting facts about your Abyssinian
Abyssinian lying on its side on a table with a striped cloth

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Caring for your Abyssinian

Grooming, training and exercise tips

Care for your Abyssinian is easy since their very dense, short coat takes little time to groom; rubbing them down with a cold damp cloth can keep their coat shiny, and baths need be given only as-needed. Nails should be kept trim to prevent undue wear and tear. Exercise for your Abyssinian will also be a breeze since she is rarely at rest. They do enjoy jumping to high places so make sure your residence is cat-friendly - meaning cherished family heirlooms are out of reach. The Abyssinian’s dynamic personality means training them to behave won’t be hard. They do have a tender side but will require reinforcement. Highly playful and energetic, the Abyssinian has a healthy lifespan, too. Making sure they have the tallest cat tree and plenty of toys at their disposal will keep them content.

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All about Abyssinians

The Abyssinian cat is a great breed, especially for first-time cat owners. She is as cuddly as she is playful, and as a very high-energy breed, needs downtime after hours of running around. Prepare for a cat who will follow you everywhere and settle in once you sit down - but not before they’re ready.

The breed can live on average up to 15 years, which is a shorter lifespan than many, with the Abyssinians’s rambunctious personality keeping them on the go at all times. Keeping them in good health then is essential. The breed remains kitten-like into their older years.

Other breeds that might interest you.

Sources

1 - Veterinary Centers of America https://vcahospitals.com/ 

2 - Royal Canin Cat Encyclopaedia. Ed 2010 and 2020

3 - Banfield Pet Hospital https://www.banfield.com/

4 - Royal Canin BHN Product Book