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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Breeds > Abyssinian


Origin: England

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Short, fine and lies close to the body.
There are four colors in the Abyssinian breed: ruddy, red, blue and fawn. The defining feature of the breed is its coat pattern, or ticking, wherein each individual hair is banded with color.
Special considerations: 
Medium sized, lithe, hard and muscular; almond-shaped, large, brilliant eyes; long, tapering tail.

Some fanciers of the Abyssinian breed believe that they are the most ancient breed of cat and that they lived as companions and gods to the ancient Egyptians. In reality, their history goes back to 19th century England, to a Mrs. Captain Barrett-Lennard, who returned from Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) with a female cat named Zulu. She was most likely the inspiration for the breeding efforts going on at the time, with a Mr. H.C. Brooke at the forefront of the creation of the Abyssinian type. The first Abyssinians were registered by the National Cat Club of England in 1896. In 1907, the first Abyssinians (named Aluminum II and Salt) arrived in the United States, owned by Miss J. R. Cathcart. They gained a limited following as a very special feline, but the Abyssinian population was devastated by World War II. In the years following 1945, many British Abyssinians were imported to augment the small genetic pool of U.S. felines. They remained a feline for true connoisseurs until relatively recently, when the popularity of cat shows introduced the Abyssinian to an even wider audience that soon grew to love their special charm.

Abys, as they are known, are very intelligent, alert and mischievous cats. Always inquisitive and ready for a game, they retain their "kitten-ness" even after they mature into adults. Abys thrive on attention and are very people oriented. They display considerable sensitivity to the moods of their human companions --quiet and soulful when need be and up for playtime at any time. Abys shower their owners with love and attention and expect the same in return. These cats have a distinctive bell-like voice.
At home: 
Because of their intelligence, Abys must be given an opportunity for mental stimulation, which can be satisfied by playful interaction with toys. An active breed, they may knock over knickknacks during a mad dash from one room to another. They love high places and enjoy climbing, so they will make good use of a house's vertical space. They like lots of human interaction and do best in a home where their owners can devote time during each day to handle them. Abys expect to be included in all activities that go on in the home, including cleaning, working at the computer or watching television together.
Feed a high-quality cat food that has good sources of protein. Abys prefer to eat a little bit but often rather than consume one big meal a day. Also, they are creatures of habit, so they should be fed on a schedule.
Abys tend to strongly bond with one member of the family. The breed will not tolerate the rough handling of little children and tend to be better for families with older children or just adults. With proper introductions and socialization, they can learn to live in harmony with other pets but do need their own space.
The typical life span of the Abyssinian is 12 to 15 years. The breed is more prone to gingivitis than some other cat breeds. Renal amyloidosis can also be a problem.
Fun fact: 

After World War II, there were only 12 registered Abyssinians left in England.

Grooming blurb: 
Abys are very low maintenance. A quick going-over once a week with a medium bristle brush is all they need.
This document has been published with the intent to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter within. While every reasonable precaution has been taken in preparation of this document, the author and publisher expressly disclaim responsibility for any errors, omissions or adverse effects arising from the use or application of the information contained herein. The techniques and suggestions are used at the reader's discretion.