Abyssinian cat is a breed of domestic cats, bred in the UK in the late nineteenth century on the basis of native breeds of cats in Africa and Southeast Asia. Abyssinian – one of the oldest breeds of cats and at the same time one of the first breeds that received the official exhibition standard.
There are several versions of the origin of this breed of cats. None of them is fully proven, each of them has its supporters and opponents.
It is known that the first cat of the Abyssinian phenotype, which gained notoriety in Europe, was a cat named zula, brought to England from Ethiopia, then called Abyssinian. By its origin and got the name of the breed in the future. Captain Barrett-Lenard was brought home from the Anglo-Abyssinian War in 1868. It is not known whether this cat had kittens used in the formation of the breed, but it was this cat that attracted public attention to the native cats of Africa.
The fact proven by geneticists is the kinship of Abyssinian cats with the native cats of Ancient Egypt. In 1951, 192 cat mummies were found in the British Museum’s vault. It has been stored there since 1907 when it was discovered. During the autopsy and inventory, it was found that the cats were mummified between about 600 and 200 BC, and most of them had a clear phenotypic resemblance to the modern Abyssinian cat. The later similarity was proved on the genetic level, although at the moment these are very different breeds and it cannot be said that modern Abyssinian cats are direct descendants of cats of ancient Egypt. However, it can certainly be argued that the blood of these cats has historically been involved in the formation of Abyssinians.
There are similarities between the first Abyssinian cats and the wild subspecies of the Libyan steppe cat (Felis silvestris libyca), which leads some felines to lean towards the fact that Abyssinian cats originate from them.
It should also be noted that the breed is based not only On African cats, but also South Asian cats.
The fact is that in the populations of domestic cats in Africa the color of the Abyssinian tabby is very rare. But it is often found in cat populations in Singapore and Southeast Asia.
In the 19th century, England waged many colonial wars and cats of unusual wild species could be brought from different regions, crossing including along the way.
Another version of the origin of Abyssinian cats is the version that they are obtained by crossing European short-haired cats with tabby color, very common in England, with imported cats from Ethiopia native wild colors. It is likely that such interbreedings began in the 1800s.
The first cats of the Abyssinian breed were shown at the 1871 exhibition at the Crystal Palace near London. At that time, cats had strips of tabby on their limbs, but over time breeders got rid of this trait in their appearance. Also until the 1900s, cats of this breed had noticeable brushes on the ears, which increased their exoticism.
At that time, Abyssinian cats had a very diverse range of colors. It is believed that the first Abyssinian cats were mostly silvery with the remnants of the picture in the form of stripes. Some of the first officially registered Abyssinoks were named Aluminium, Quicksilver, Silver Memelik, Silver Fairy and Salt.
The appearance of an Abyssinian cat
Abyssinian cat has a slender, harmoniously folded body and has an unusual, colorful hair with a pronounced ticking (zonar coloring of the hair, when it alternates dark and light stripes). An adult cat of medium size, the weight of the animal is on average from 3 to 6 kg. The eyes of the Abyssinians have a characteristic “eyeliner” of a thin strip of light wool on the contour of the eye, which creates a feeling of large and open eyes. The coat is soft, very smooth and almost devoid of undercoat, fits tightly to the skin.
Ideally, it is a bright cat with distinct tickling on wool, medium size, royal appearance. Abyssinian cat flexible, strong, muscular, showing impatient activity and a keen interest in everything around it. Has a balanced temperament and a good physical balance proportional to the folded cat.
The head has the shape of a modified, slightly rounded wedge, without flat faces: eyebrows, cheeks, profile line gently outlined. A small rise from the nose to the forehead, which should be of a good size.
The forehead is weak- and wide between the ears, forming a smooth, unified line along with the crown and archly curved neck.
The muzzle is not pointed or square.
The chin is not beveled or protruding. An exception should be made for adult cats with a protruding chin.
Ears wary, large, moderately pointed, cup-shaped and wide at the base, set as if the cat was listening to something.
The coat on the ears is very short and thick, preferably tipped black or dark brown in Abyssinians of wild color and chocolate-brown in Abyssinians color sorrel, slate-blue – in blue abysses, light cocoa brown – in Abyssinians the color of the faun.
The eyes are almond-shaped, large, shiny and expressive. Not round or oriental, perfectly accentuated by a dark line surrounded by a light area.
The body is medium length, flexible and graceful, demonstrating a well-developed, but without coarseness, muscular strength. The type of Abyssinian addition is a cross between a short, rough and long, slender type of structure. Proportions and balance matter more than just size.
The legs and feet are proportionally thin and graceful, the Abyssinian seems to hover above the ground, touching it only with the tips of its toes.
Paws are oval, small and compact. Five fingers on the front legs and four on the hind legs.
The tail is thick at the base, long enough, narrowing towards the end.
The wool is soft, silky, fine texture, but thick and elastic to the touch, with a bright sheen. Medium length, but enough to place two or three dark stripes of ticking on one hair.
Disadvantages: non-standard, non-colored color pads of paws, long narrow head, short round head, ring marks in color on the legs and tail, dark marking on the neck in the form of a torn “necklace”. Cold or gray tones of wool. Bleached undercoat at the devils: cats of the colors of the faun and blue.
Vices leading to disqualification: white locket and other white areas on the cat’s body, except around the nostrils, on the chin and upper part of the throat. Knots, breaks, and other tail defects. Grey root undercoat, prevailing on a large part of the body.
Taking care of an Abyssinian cat
With good care and maintenance, as well as proper nutrition, can live on average up to 20 years. These are active and mobile cats.
However, the Abyssinian cat may have specific genetic diseases – atrophic retinopathy of the retina, polycystic kidney (more exposed cats blue colors, this applies to all cats with this color, regardless of breed) and disease blood associated with the violation of the integrity of red blood cells. All of these diseases are easily diagnosed with genetic tests at an early age. Almost all kennels check their producers for these diseases and remove the animal’s carriers from breeding. Like many other cats, Abyssinians may develop gingivitis. To prevent this from happening, from childhood you need to properly feed the kitten and monitor the teeth, regularly checking them with the veterinarian. There may also be problems with the chair after overeating.
Also, the Abyssinian cat may have renal amyloidosis, the breed is predisposed to hip dysplasia, periviers of the kneecap. Genetic analysis is carried out on dysplasia to avoid the risk of acquiring a knowingly ill animal.
Some Interesting facts on Abyssinian cat
In 1978, Walt Disney Productions released a film called The Cat From Outer Space. In the main role, an alien cat that fell to Earth as a result of a spacecraft breakdown was shown to be an Abyssinian cat, while two animals of this breed, a cat and a cat, were involved in the filming.
Abyssinians have a highly developed parental instinct, cats no less than cats take care of offspring and monitor kittens.