Abyssinians are medium-sized cats with long bodies and well-developed muscles. They are active cats that love jumping and playing, and are one of the top five most popular cat breeds globally.
Abyssinians are cheeky and curious yet graceful and intelligent. Because of their playful nature, Abyssinians act like kittens throughout their lives. They are loving and friendly and will follow you around when you do your household chores like curious little feline assistants. However, once they finally tire out, they will snuggle with you on the sofa.
Abyssinian cats are modest-looking in all features, with an M-shaped marking on their forehead. Their fur has a distinct "ticked" effect, one of the most defining features of this breed. They have a triangular-shaped head with slightly large ears that are slanted forward like a wildcat. This gives them an alert, attentive look. Their gorgeous large almond-shaped eyes also showcase their attentiveness and intelligence and give them a rugged but gentle appearance.
This is one of the easiest cat breeds to groom and care for. They also tend to be excellent with children, dogs, and other cats. Therefore, Abys make an exciting but low maintenance addition to the family.
- Grooming: Once a Week 2/10
- Shedding: Low 2/10
- Hypoallergenic: Low 2/10
- Activity Level: High 10/10
- Playfulness: High 10/10
- Friendliness to other pets: High 10/10
- Friendliness to children: High 10/10
- Affection towards it’s owners: High 10/10
- Vocality: Low 2/10
- Intelligence: High 10/10
- Independence: Medium 6/10
As one of the oldest cat breeds, Abyssinians have a fascinating yet mysterious history. Some people thought they were descendants of the sacred cats of ancient Egypt. This is because they look similar to the cats depicted on tomb paintings and old Egyptian papyri drawings. However, the exact origins of the cat breed remain unknown.
It is believed the first Abyssinian cat was brought to Britain in 1968 when an army captain brought it back after the war. Around this time, many returning sailors also began bringing these cats back with them.
In 1929, Abyssinian cats were recognised by the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF). Today, however, the cat breed as we know it has been developed in the United Kingdom, dating back as far as the 1890s.
Abyssinian cats are very slender looking with a wild look about them. They are muscular, agile, and medium in size. They also have well-balanced bodies and gorgeous ticked coats. Their heads are well contoured and slightly wedge-shaped, and their muzzles are a little rounded. They have a small nose break, but the nose to the chin is straight. What’s more, the males have noticeably fuller cheeks than the females.
Abyssinian cat’s ears are large, well cupped, and set well apart on the head. The inside edges are furry, and there are prominent tufts on the tips. Their eyes are almond-shaped, giving an intelligent expressive look. Their eye colour is either a deep shade of green, brown, or amber.
When it comes to their silky coat, Abyssinians have an elegant, short, dense coat. Their unique ticking means they have at least four bands of colour in their fur. Abyssinian cats are bred in various colours including, Cinnamon, Ruddy, Blue, Fawn and more uncommonly, Chocolate or Lilac. Then, there are the Silver Abyssinians, which are a separate group. For these Abys, the fur closest to their skin is icy white, followed by ticking up the hair shaft.
Abyssinian cats are famous for being curious about everything around them. They are very intelligent and quite independent. Even so, they are affectionate, loyal and very interactive. Abyssinian cats love to spend time exploring the great outdoors as well as every corner of the home. No place goes unnoticed and unexplored with this playful breed. But don't worry, they will seldom knock things off your countertops and shelves.
Abyssinians are always interested in everything around them. That's why they like a good view of their surroundings. You will most commonly find them on top of the fridge, bookcase, and even atop of doors. This cat breed can be entertained easily and will marvel at watching nature outside.
Abyssinian cats love to be around their family, so much that many follow their owner from room to room. Therefore, for their wellbeing, you should always leave your Aby with lots of toys when alone, especially if they do not have access to the outdoors. This includes scratching posts and high platforms from where they can look down on the world below. Remember that Abyssinian cats love the perspective from elevated platforms.
Abyssinian cat owners love this breed because they transform in seconds from regal and radiant to kitten-like playfulness. They have tons of energy and prefer to play games than sit and snuggle on your lap. They are also known to be engaging with people of all ages and are happiest when they are around people.
Abyssinian cats are known to be adaptable throughout their life. They can fit very well into any home where they feel loved and receive plenty of attention. This is why Abyssinian are the best fit for someone who is home all the time.
Abyssinians are outgoing, affectionate, and friendly. They are highly intelligent and can even play fetch. Many Abyssinians can master walking on a leash and harness, and some can even do cat tricks. Challenge their bright minds and keep them focused by teaching them commands, games and tricks. Give them many puzzle toys and other interactive toys that give kibbles or treats when they crack them.
Because this breed is energetic and curious, training and consistent interaction help them focus, have fun, and channel their behaviour to keep everyone happy. If appropriately socialised and trained during kitten-hood, your Aby will become a well-rounded and well-mannered feline companion.
Abyssinians have short, close-lying coats. Thus, they are low maintenance in the grooming department, and that's where they are called "wash and wear" cats. To keep their coats in excellent condition, weekly brushing and wiping them down is all you need to do. Like other cat breeds, they tend to shed the most in the Spring and Autumn when more regular brushing is necessary.
You should also check your Abyssinian cat's ears regularly and clean them when needed. If too much wax builds up, it can lead to a painful infection that may be hard to clear up if left untreated. In summary, prevention is always easier than treatment with ear infections.
Daily dental hygiene is best, but weekly brushing is efficient enough. Brushing your cat's teeth helps to prevent Gingivitis and periodontal disease. Furthermore, trim their nails twice a month or when needed. Finally, for their eyes, wipe the corners with a soft, damp cloth to eliminate any eye discharge. Make sure to use a clean part of the cloth for each eye to avoid the risk of spreading infection.
Their litter boxes should always be clean as they are very particular about bathroom hygiene. If left unclean, they tend to use other places in the house.
Although Abyssinians enjoy being outdoors, it’s safest to keep your Abyssinian as an indoor-only cat, as it will protect them from catching diseases from other outdoor cats, being attacked by dogs, or being hit by a vehicle. However, Abys are easy to leash train so you can take them out for walks.
An Abyssinian cat's average life expectancy is between 12 and 15 years when well-cared for and given a good quality diet that matches their life stage.
Abyssinian cats generally remain healthy throughout their life. However, you should be aware of a few genetic health issues if you plan to share your home with one of these gorgeous, wild-looking cats. The health conditions this cat breed is most prone to include the following:
- ● Sensitive skin or Feline hyperesthesia
- ● Gingivitis – a curable disease that appears as swelling in the gums. This is caused by calculus and plaque under the gums. If left untreated, this can lead to a more severe condition called periodontitis.
- ● Pyruvate kinase deficiency - an inherited health condition that causes anaemia.
- ● Patellar luxation – a defect where the kneecap tends to slip out of its position.
- ● Progressive Retinal Atrophy – a hereditary disease of the retina in the eye that can lead to permanent blindness.
- ● Renal Amyloidosis – a disease where an amyloid substance accumulates in their kidney cells. It can also occur in other organs such as the stomach, spleen and thyroid gland.
Pyruvate kinase deficiency and Progressive Retinal Atrophy can be diagnosed through DNA and genetic testing. It is advisable to discuss this with your veterinarian. Sadly, there is no DNA or genetic testing for Renal Amyloidosis.
Lastly, like other cats, always ensure that their drinking water is fresh and clean, encouraging them to drink regularly.
The active and social Abyssinian is excellent for families with children, other cats and cat-friendly dogs. In fact, nothing scares this cat breed. They are also known to get along with large parrots, ferrets, and other animals. Even so, it is always best to introduce pets gradually and in controlled environments until they become comfortable with each other.
Abyssinians play fetch like a retriever, learn tricks quickly, and love receiving attention from children who treat them politely and respectfully. They are smart enough to get out of the way of toddlers. Still, they love school-age children because they are a perfect fit for their energy level and curiosity. However, always supervise younger kids to prevent accidents, such as the child pulling the cat’s fur or twisting their tail.