Abyssinian Cat 101: All You Need To Know

This cat breed is often called Aby-silly-a due to its lively personality. The Abyssinian cat was thought to be the breed that can map its roots directly to the Nile Valley, but in truth, it was developed in Great Britain. Although the Aby resembles a tiny African wildcat, it is a domestic cat breed through and through.
Abyssinian Cat 101: All You Need To Know - KittyNook Cat Company

The Abyssinian cat is thought to be the breed that can map its roots directly to the Nile Valley, but it was developed in Great Britain. There are a lot of contentions about where the Aby came from. One thing is for sure: although the Aby resembles a tiny African wildcat, it is a domestic cat breed through and through.

The History of Abyssinian Cats

an abyssinian cat in cream back ground

When the breed was first presented to an exhibition in the early 1870s, they said that the cat was captured by British Soldiers from Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) in the then-recent war. Naturally, this misconception was fossilized, giving the Abyssinian cat breed its name. However, recent studies show that the most probable origin of the Abyssinian is in parts of South East Asia and the coast of the Indian Ocean.

The ticked pattern on the coat of the Abyssinian reminded people of the camouflage pattern on the fur of the wild rabbit. People were fascinated by the breed and soon it was bred throughout Europe, the United States, and Canada. This popularity worked to its advantage because World Wars I and II practically annihilated the Abyssinian breed in Europe. New Abyssinians were then imported, and it flourished again. 

In the late 1960s, when the FIV almost destroyed the breed in Britain, more Abyssinians were brought in to re-establish it once more.

Today, the Aby is of the most popular pedigree cats. According to the Cat Fanciers' Association, it is among the top popular breed.


an abyssinian cat waiting for cuddles atop a table

Although an energetic feline, the Abyssinian is an easy cat to have in your home. They like the company of people and other pets. They enjoy a lot of interactive play with toys and people. They will certainly talk with you in a soft, peaceful voice. While their short hair is low maintenance, the Abyssinian likes being brushed or rubbed with a chamois towel.

This cat breed is often called Aby-silly-a due to its lively personality. The bright and curious Aby is also a sporty breed. They like to spend time climbing on high areas, finding every nook and cranny of the home and are ever curious of what their humans are up to. The Aby will thrive in a home that invests a lot of time engaging with them.

Physical Characteristics

photo of an abyssinian cat in a loaf position

The Abyssinian is a slender, medium-sized cat. The head is reasonably wedge-shaped, with a slight break at the muzzle. Its nose and chin virtually form a straight vertical line when they are at profile. They have sharp, relatively big, and pointed ears; the legs are also slender, adding grace to their overall look. Its eyes are almond-shaped and are usually gold, hazel, copper, or green, depending on their coat color.


an abyssinian hiding inside a brown paper bag

Seemingly always in motion, the Aby will slow down sometimes to curl up next to you on the sofa or in bed. Although independent, it does best with an additional Aby buddy to match their high energy, especially when their owners are always away.

Abyssinians are a favorite breed of cat because of their intelligence and extroverted, playful, and willful personalities. They have high chances of being depressed without constant daily activities and the attention of their owners.

The Aby has a "dog-like" attachment on its owners. Abyssinian and Burmese cats depend greatly on human attention compared with other cats. This stands, in contrast, to simply being "tolerant" that other cats have a reputation for.

Overall, the Aby is an energetic cat demanding high activity level from owners, with soft vocalizations that do not seem like the anticipated "meow." They are caring as well as friendly towards people.

Coat Colors

a serious looking abyssinian cat sitting outside

Abyssinian kittens have dark coats at birth. This gradually lightens as they age, usually over several months. The adult coat is ideally dense, close-lying, and silky to the touch. But the color is always darker along the spine and tail, rear of the hind legs, and the pads of the paws. The breed's trademark ticked coat or what we call the agouti pattern is effectively found throughout the whole body. The M-shaped marking is usually found on the temple.

The breed also comes in many colors: chocolate, cinnamon, blue, lilac, and fawn, as well as a silver variation for every one of these colors. Silver Abyssinians have an icy white coloration closest to the skin and ticks along the hair shaft.

The Basics of Abyssinian Pet Grooming

Weekly pet grooming suffices to keep your Aby's coat shiny, but you might need much more constant brushing and showering throughout shedding seasons to get rid of the falling hair. Trim the nails as needed, generally every 1 to 2 weeks. Abyssinians can develop periodontal disease, so brush their teeth at home with a vet-approved animal toothpaste and have regular vet cleanings.


Abyssinians may have a more significant threat for the following disease in cats:

  • Early periodontal disease - The breed can be vulnerable to gingivitis, resulting in more severe periodontitis and dental disease.
  • Hyperesthesia syndrome
  • Patellar luxation
  • Progressive retinal atrophy - The Abyssinian has had severe problems with blindness brought on by genetic retinal atrophy or degradation due to anomalies in the rdAc gene. However, the frequency has been minimized from 45% to less than 4% in 2008 in the country of Sweden.
  • Pyruvate kinase deficiency
  • Renal amyloidosis - A kidney disease in cats resulting from an anomaly in the AA amyloid protein genetics that has been seen in Abyssinians.

Adopting a Feline from Abyssinian Rescue or a Sanctuary

A breeder isn't the only resource for an Aby. Although Abyssinian kittens are practically never found in sanctuaries, adult Abys (pedigreed and mixed) aren't as lucky. To begin your search, have a look at respected Abyssinian rescue groups. It's likewise worth contacting neighborhood sanctuaries, along with browsing the listings on Petfinder. Despite how you get your Abyssinian, make sure that you have an excellent agreement with the vendor, shelter, or rescue team. In states with "pet lemon laws," verify that you and the person you get the Aby from both know your rights and choices.

Once you have found a perfect Aby match, take your kitten cat or adult cat to a vet immediately for a health check, in addition to establishing a preventative routine to stop future health problems.

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