Though the Abyssinian is an ancient breed of cat, its exact origins are largely unknown. It is thought that the earliest Abyssinians were introduced into the west from Ethiopia (formerly Abyssinia) in the late nineteenth century. These cats were most likely bred with cats such as the Siamese or the British Shorthair to create the characteristic appearance of the Abyssinian as we know it today. Abyssinians were first bred in Australia in 1959, and the breed remains popular, with many Abyssinians used for showing each year.

The appearance of the Abyssinian

Abyssinians are a mid-sized breed, and have slender legs and tufted ears. However, the most distinctive element of the Abyssinian’s appearance is its coat. The Abyssinian has a famously “ticked” coat. This means that each hair has several bands of colour, giving the coat an unusual appearance overall. Some describe it as being hare-like in appearance. Ticking is the result of a particular genetic expression.

The coat of a standard Abyssinian is short in length, and may be found in several different colours. These are tawny, cinnamon, blue, fawn, and silver. A few additional colours can be found, but these are less common. Abyssinians are usually born darker in hue than their eventual adult shade, as their coats will lighten with age. Blue Abyssinians have become the most sought after variety in recent years. While Abyssinians are short-haired in appearance, a medium-haired variety, known as the Somali, can also be found.

Breed temperament

Abyssinians are affectionate and friendly, but they do like to be around their owners. They are attention-seeking and demand affection. However, they are typically a quiet breed of cat and do not mewl or cry if lonely or left unattended. Abyssinians are active and mischievous, but get along well with other cats and animals, as well as young children. They enjoy exploring and playing, and are known for jumping and climbing. However, the breed does become more docile with age.

Caring for an Abyssinian

Abyssinians are a low-maintenance breed. They require only infrequent combing, making them an ideal pet for families or for owners who lack the time for an involved grooming regimen. Abyssinians are active and curious by nature, and if bored may become destructive. For this reason owners should ensure that their pet has adequate toys and distractions to keep them entertained. Abyssinians are friendly and caring, and are highly affectionate by nature. They are affable around children, and are a good companion cat for older owners. Abyssinians are a robust breed, with no known health problems. They usually live to around twelve years of age.

Purchasing your kitten
Abyssinians are found throughout Australia, and are available from a wide variety of breeders. There are numerous specialised organisations in Australia who can help potential buyers looking for an Abyssinian kitten. However, because of the breed’s popularity, potential buyers may need to endure a waiting period.

Veterinary Surgeon, London at Blue Cross UK | + posts

A London based Veterinary surgeon, Sanja is also an avid writer and pet advocate.