The Abyssinian Cat Ultimate Guide

If you are a resident of the United States:

Chances are pretty high that you might have come across this breed of cat there.

It is known for its ticked coat and is one of the most popular domestic breeds in the region.

If you are interested in Abyssinian cats:

Then this article will serve as a complete guide for you and is something which surely will interest you a lot.

This article has been divided into several chapters and will discuss every aspect of the Abyssinian cat. Feel free to browse through the subheadings by clicking on any one in the “page contents” box.

Chapter 1: Introduction to Abyssinian cats

Origin

This cat takes its name from Abyssinia which is a region in the northeastern side of Egypt.

Today, Abyssinia is now known as Ethiopia.

However:

There is no documented proof which can back this claim.

The Abyssinian cat can be seen in the images related to the ancient art in Egypt indicating that it might have come from this region as well.

But when we talk about documented history, the Abyssinian cat’s first traces are found in the United States exclusively till 1935.

The cat gained popularity in the other regions around the world in the early twentieth century when the British soldiers who had bn deployed in North Africa would come back with its kittens to breed at home.

Today:

The Cat Fancier’s Association ranks this breed as one of the top five domestic breeds that you can have at home to make a part of your family.

Life span

The Abyssinian cats have a lifespan of around 9 to 15 years or more given that they do not run into trouble with their overly curious natures and are well-taken care of in terms of the health issues that this breed often faces.

The coat

Having a short-haired cat at home is always a good thing.

It requires very little grooming and sheds lesser hair.

This makes them low-maintenance cats that are easy to have around.

However:

This is not the only thing which makes them unique and appealing to all the pet lovers.

The cat has a distinct coat which has become a trademark for this breed.

It’s all in the details

The coat has a ticked effect throughout except for the hind legs, tail, spine’s ridge and paws where it tends to be darker.

These cats are born with darker hair that get lighter as the cats grow older.

This is something quite natural for them to exhibit.

Mostly:

Each strand of hair has a light base and every third or fourth hair band being darker as it moves to the tips: thus creating the perfect ticked effect.

However:

If you find grey extensively in the coat, then it is a matter of serious concern.

The hair around the chin do tend to go white, but this shouldn’t be too common around other body parts.

In case this happens:

Then you might want to get your cat checked by a vet for any underlying conditions that it might be battling through.

The different colors in Abyssinian cats

The fur of the coat is of medium length but is exceptionally soothing to touch with its overly silky and smooth texture.

While we have been talking excessively about the texture and the color patterns of the coat, it is essential to know in detail the color schemes that are commonly found in the Abyssinian cats.

The tones in their coats vary depending on the region that they belong to.

The ones in the United Kingdom will have a coat entirely different from the ones that live in the United States of America.

The distinctively beautiful coat that this breed is known for comes from the dominant gene Ta.

Over the years:

Many cats have been studied in detail to understand their genes and DNA details so that more variations can be introduced than the ones that are already available.

Ruddy Abyssinian cat

The standard is a reddish-brown coat with a deep undertone and a black ticking.

This is something that you will see more commonly around the United Kingdom. Here it is referred to as the “usual” tone while it is known as “ruddy” at other places.

Sorrel or Cinnamon Abyssinian cats

Another common color combination in Aby cats is cinnamon or sorrel. It has a base of light coppery color and ticking of a chocolate brown shade.

Together they both give off a mesmerizing reddish cinnamon shade which is very pleasing to the eyes.

However:

Nowadays, you can see other variants of these two colors.

This was made possible by outcrossing these cats with shorthaired cats such as Burmese.

The notable color tones you can see now include a fawn coat that has a creamy peach color at base and blue that comes with a beige base as well.

Unique colors

However:

The Cat Fancier’s Association has drawn the line at some of the color combinations that are seen now.

It doesn’t recognize the lilac and chocolate colors in Abyssinian cats, no matter how common or uncommon they might be.

These variations have been recognized fully by the Cat associations in the UK and by the prestigious TICA (The International Cat Association).

When it comes to unique colors:

The UK is a bit more accepting of some of the unique variations.

Apart from all the colors that are mentioned above, it also gives full recognition to the silver cats: silvery base coat with ticking in either black, cream or blue color.

The coat of the Abyssinian cats is their highlighting feature.

This, therefore, comes without a doubt that even as we speak:

Work is being done to create newer and more alluring color patterns for this breed.

One color that we are particularly excited about would include a patched pattern of the tortoiseshell that shall be made visible in banding with one of these colors.

The appearance of Abyssinian cats

While most cats do look the same, for people who have the eye to tell the differences apart, the Abyssinian cats have some unique features that make them stand out from the rest.

To make it easier for you to understand, we have tabulated the defining features of these cats below.

FeatureDetail
SizeMedium
StatureSlender and delicate
Bone structureFine bones
Head shapeBroad and is wedge-shaped
Nose and chinFall in a vertical line
EarsLarge and pointy
EyesAlmond shape
Colour of eyesGold, green, copper and hazel: they usually go along with the color of the coat
LegsLong slender legs with smaller oval shaped paws
TailLong and narrow
WeightSix to 10 pounds

One look at these cats and the first thing that you will notice is their muzzle, long pointed ears and an exceptionally long tail that they tend to flaunt around elegantly as they walk.

They are known for being creatures of grace, and this shows in the way they own up the place that they are made a part of.

These little powerhouses of energy weigh from nine to sixteen pounds and tend to be of medium stature.

They have an arched body and the curves that form the structure of the face are soft as well.

This gives them a stark resemblance to the cats that were once worshipped in Egypt.

The pictures of these cats can be seen throughout the history of Egypt.

These features along with its uniquely beautiful coat are enough to make it one of the most beautiful domestic cats that one can ever have.

To add to that:

You might often see an M-shaped tapered coat at the forehead of these cats which is considered as another beautifying aspect of this breed.

When talking about the appearance of this breed:

It would not be wrong to say that often it resembles an African cat but the resemblance lies in appearance only. It is an outright domestic cat by all other means.

Top 5 food products for Abyssinian cats

So, while we are talking about the importance of a well-balanced diet for the Abyssinian cats, let us take a look at some of the best cat foods that you can opt for.

  • Purina ONE Urinary Tract Health Dry Cat Food: This cat food is specifically designed for cats that may suffer from Urinary Tract Infections or are more prone to them. It helps keep the immunity to resists bacterial infections high and aids in meeting their daily dietary needs as well.
  • Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Dry Cat Food: It is one of the best-selling cat food brands that you can find today. If you feel that your Abyssinian cat can do with more protein in her diet then this is the formula that you should be looking into.
  • Hill’s Science Diet Dry Cat Food: Is your Abyssinian cat suffering from poor oral health? Oral hygiene is crucial with bunny cats and is something that you cannot ignore or sideline when taking care of its health.
  • Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Dry Cat Food: This cat food is made with a unique recipe that makes use of chicken, vegetables and all the best ingredients that you can ever feed to your cat. With 345 protein content and no added preservatives and colorings, this cat formula is designed to give complete nutrition to your Abyssinian cat in one meal.
  • Blue Buffalo Healthy Growth Natural Kitten Dry Cat Food: The demands of a kitten will always be different from that of an adult cat. This is why cat food that is made to meet these nutritional demands can’t be the same as well. This formula is designed keeping in view the needs of a growing cat. It is aimed at promoting health along with the optimum growth of your kittens.

With these cat food options, you can be assured that your Abyssinian cats are being given proper wholesome nutrition which is not only going to help with development but would also prevent most of the health concerns that are common amongst this breed.

Chapter 2: Personality Guide for Abyssinian cats

While the looks are important, one cannot deny the importance of the salient personality traits that the pets we plan on keeping at home should come with.

Depending on the kind of environment that you would plan on keeping them in, the demands might vary a little.

For example:

The Persian cats which are often pinned as one of the most popular and highly sought after cat breeds in the world are docile but require a lot of maintenance.

Siamese, on the other hand, is overly friendly and are in constant need of human companionship and attention.

Similarly:

The Abyssinian cats come with certain personality traits of their own.

If you are looking to own a cat which would come and lie on your lap once you come back from a tiring day at work and would let you pet it while it lazes around on your legs, then this breed is not meant for you.

Energy powerhouses

Despite their medium stature and fine bone structure, they are a powerhouse of energy.

These cats are always active and constantly on the lookout to play and do something highly energetic around the house.

Given their high intellectual levels, this is something that should be expected of them as well.

We have often heard the phrases where one refers to cats as being good human bosses.

Well:

The Abyssinian cats tend to live this joke too religiously.

Their intellectual levels make them a keen observer so much so that they have been known to observe their owners and then understand their attitude enough to have them do their bidding.

This is not something which is seen commonly around other cat breeds.

If you have a household filled with delicate items or intricate art pieces, then getting Abyssinian cats is not going to be a wise decision.

They are pretty active and are often seen running around the house day in and nights out.

People who have kids around or are not too active in their lifestyle might get a little annoyed by this habit of theirs. Similarly:

These cats can be a bit of a handful for the elderly if they do not take proper measures to keep them occupied and busy around the house.

Friendly nature

If you have someone around the house who can invest some time in training these cats and interacting with them, then there is no other beauty that you should think of adopting besides the Abyssinian cats.

All they require is attention and some training which when provided, can turn them into a well-groomed cat.

Unlike Persian cats which are notorious for being aloof and a bit snooty, Abyssinian cats are particularly known for their highly friendly nature.

If trained well:

They can give you the world’s most soothing and calming cuddles for as long as you might want.

While they do not require grooming as such, they make up for this in the attention department.

Attention seeking

These cats tend to bond well with people of all age groups as long as they are given the attention that they need.

In fact:

They are one of the friendliest cats to have around.

Have them around kids, old members of the family, and even other animals and they should fit in perfectly in the designated setup.

For those of you who tend to work out late and are not home too often or are gone for long hours at a stretch, having another cat around can be helpful.

Given their athletic and playful nature, they are always looking for something that would keep them occupied and busy.

This can be one way of making sure of that.

Having beautiful birds that can sit and observe might do the trick as well for they would keep them busy with their habit of observing things around them. But make sure you introduce the birds and your cat at a very young age so the Aby knows that it isn’t supposed to attack them.

Given their nature and fondness with being the center of attention, it would not be wrong to say that they work well in households where they are the only pets.

This doesn’t have them fighting for their owner’s attention and keeps them happy around the whole place.

Owning the territory

As has been discussed previously:

These cats like to explore every corner of the place that they are being kept at.

So:

When you bring home these slender looking cats with their ever so graceful walk, be prepared to have your whole house explored in ways that you hadn’t even envisioned before.

From playing with the curtains to running around the fences, Aby cats need to feel that they are a part of the household.

Thus:

They are often seen following around their owners to “help” them with everything that they are doing.

Demand space

When you have a pet, it is your foremost duty to ensure that it is happy with you and is not under stress of any sort.

We have just discussed above the inbuilt need of the Abyssinian cat to receive attention, care, and be played with every day.

If you fail to do that:

You would end up making these cats utterly stressed and unhappy.

But this is not the only thing that you need to do to ensure their happiness.

You also need to give them enough space to be able to roam out in the open and not trap them around the house.

Since Abyssinian cats are pretty playful and energetic, anything that tends to undermine their energy levels tends to bring them down.

It has also been seen the Abyssinian cats when not given attention can get depressed as well.

Petting your Abyssinian cat

An Abyssinian cat’s extra energy doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t pet it.

As much as they want to play all the time and be busy doing one thing or the other around the house, it has been seen that they are still exceptionally fond of human affection.

No matter how busy they are with a toy that they are playing with, they would always come to lie down on your lap and snuggle a little and purr as you stroke their heads gently.

This is what makes them so popular amongst the masses:

Their ability to show love and connect with the owner in such a human manner.

This being said:

You wouldn’t want to pet them too much or they will seem to be a little uptight and not the usually playful cats that they are known for.

Giving them an ample amount of playtime is essential to bring out their natural temperament.

Highly intelligent

We have been referring time after time on how these bunny cats are known for their intelligence and highly curious mindset and this is quite evident once you start training these cats.

Unlike other breeds:

These bunny cats respond to training well and are quick to pick up whatever it is that is being taught to them.

If you have the time, patience and the technique, then training these cats to do pretty much everything is not going to be difficult for you at all.

From potty training them to teaching them to walk on a fence, there is just so much that you can do and work with once you set your mind to it.

So:

If you happen to have kids around the household who can teach them a few commands of their own or maybe an elderly with the energy and the time needed to invest in an activity of such nature, then getting these bunny cats will be the best decision that you will make.

Quiet by nature

This all being said:

You would expect these cats to be overly loud but this is not the case.

While being energetic and highly active, they have a very curious and observant nature.

They like to sit and look at things happen so that they can take points from there: be it their owner’s behaviors or the birds that you have around at the house.

They would be seen quietly playing around all the time or following the owner around without being loud or overly vocal.

Abyssinian cats do not like change

As much as these cats are known for their friendly nature, they do not respond well to environmental changes.

You cannot just shift home or take these cats to a new locality and expect them to be fine with it.

They are not so adaptive when exposed to new places and thus would need you to work on them to have them get familiar with the new setting in case you change homes.

Also, when traveling, you might want to keep the cats sedated so that they can stay calm and not be attempting to run around in a frenzy merely out of confusion and their inability to adapt to the change in their surroundings.

So, as long as you are giving them attention and things to keep them busy, they will be happy living with you.

Chapter 3: Health and eating habits of Abyssinian cats

Well:

Like any other cat that there is, the Abyssinian cats tend to suffer from a variety of health issues as well that you need to be aware of before you bring one at your home.

While their coat and face structure doesn’t demand that you invest too much of time in their grooming, they can have a fairly short life span if their health is not given topmost priority.

Some of the common health concerns that these bunny cats get affected with include:

Gingivitis

It is the inflammation of the feline’s gums and is quite common amongst cats if their dental hygiene is not properly looked after.

Regular visits to the vet to have their teeth cleaned is one way of preventing it.

You can even brush your cat’s teeth at home or talk to the vet about introducing medicines that might help keep the gums healthy.

However:

Gingivitis is also associated with other health conditions like amyloidosis and if persistent, shouldn’t be something that you should ignore too easily.

Retinal Atrophy

This is a hereditary disease that causes their eye retina to degenerate.

Although it is more commonly seen amongst dogs, this disease is common in this breed of cats as well and causes blindness in them.

However:

By making the genetic tests and screenings more commonly available, the prevalence of this disease has been reduced to 4% from 45% in recent years.

Familial Renal Amyloidosis

Amyloidosis is a condition that occurs when the substance found in the abnormally folded proteins, amyloid tends to replace the normal protein and gets deposited in various parts of the body.

In Abyssinian cats:

This occurs more commonly in kidneys and can even cause kidney failures in many cases.

It can present its early symptoms even in the early years of a cat’s life and this is something you need to be on the lookout for.

Some of the common signs of this disease include:

  • Inflamed gums
  • Lack of energy
  • Poor appetite
  • Consistent weight loss
  • Poor coat
  • Excessive need to drink water
  • Dehydration

In most cases:

Cats between the age of 1 to 5 can develop this disease.

However, in most cases, the progression of the disease is slow and can show the signs very slowly as the years spread out.

Thus, there is no apparent way of detecting this disease and even of preventing it.

Urinary Tract Infections

Urinary tract infections are common amongst all feline breeds.

They might not be as common amongst Abyssinian cats but the chances of their occurring are still there.

So, when you bring home this bunny cat, make sure that you discuss with the doctor about the ways through which you can prevent a UTI and what sort of lifestyle and diet modification would you need to look into to make that happen.

Pyruvate kinase deficiency

Pyruvate Kinase is a regulatory enzyme which is needed by the red blood cells to perform energy metabolism in cats.

Its deficiency can cause intermittent anemia in cats.

It has been seen in cats as young as 6 months and as old as 12 years as well.

It is another genetic condition that the Abyssinian cats may suffer from.

It, however, can be detected through genetic screening of the cat to see if the cat is a carrier of the gene or not or whether the gene is present in its DNA structure in a recessive form.

You can then proceed to decide if you would like to have it removed or keep it there.

Food and diet

Given the right health conditions that suit their hyperactive lifestyle, there are certain dietary needs that you would have to fulfill in order to take care of your Abyssinian cats in a more holistic manner.

  • High-quality dry cat food which would cater to their health is highly recommended.
  • Supplements should also be introduced to avoid any deficiencies that these cats might have.
  • An adequate supply of drinking water to prevent dehydration and to keep their renal tracts functioning properly.

The Abyssinian cats are not much of overeaters as is seen with other breeds but you still need to make sure that your cat doesn’t overeat occasionally and has weight right for its age.

In case you detect any such issue:

It is advised that you talk to your vet about it immediately.

You might have to shift to cat food that would help manage its weight as well and would take care of its nutritional demands simultaneously, too.

Conclusion

Abyssinian cats are friendly and interactive cats that are known for their overly energetic temperaments and unique coats.

Available in many coat options, this breed of cat is not so vocal and is great for snuggling and petting.

It does demand a whole lot of attention and time and can show signs of depression if not provided with these two as per its demands.

Having kids around and elderly who can give them the attention and love they need will work in your favor. They, however, are not so adaptive and thus do not respond well to change in the locality.

Moreover, they are not happy with confined spaces and need to be given ample play space to keep them happy and occupied.

Abyssinian acts do suffer from various health concerns and thus choosing the right food and diet supplements is essential in their case.

A bit on the expensive side but this cat breed is the best domestic cat that you can have around if you are looking for a playful addition to your family.

Related Questions

What kind of diet should I be giving to an Abyssinian cat? Try to look for foods that have at least 40% of protein to ensure muscle strength and growth for your cats.

In case, canned food is not something you can afford, try finding them good quality dry food that will meet their body’s demands.

Can I have these cats around while I have other pets at home? We see no reason why you cant.

Abyssinian cats make for an affectionate breed and are known for their highly interactive and loving nature towards both humans and animals.

Would grooming the cats of this breed require a lot of dedication and time? Abyssinian cats are short-haired domestic cats that require minimalistic grooming.

If you are keeping them clean and brushing their coat once a week, the cat should remain in good shape.

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