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Abyssinian
Characteristics, History, and Health

Abyssinian

Western Breeds

Abyssinians have a striking coat with a ticked pattern that shows off their slim, yet athletic build. Known as one of the oldest breeds of domesticated cats, these graceful beauties have a curious and playful nature and love to climb to the highest of heights.

Main Info
Origin
Asia
Coat Pattern
Ticked
Coat Length
Shorthair
Health Issues
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM)Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM)
  • Diabetes mellitusDiabetes mellitus
  • Progressive retinal atrophyProgressive retinal atrophy
  • Pyruvate kinase deficiencyPyruvate kinase deficiency
  • Stress-related hair lossStress-related hair loss
  • GingivitisGingivitis
  • Patellar luxationPatellar luxation

Abyssinian Overview

The "miniature cougar" of the cat world, the Abyssinian is a gorgeous and energetic breed that is said to resemble the wild cats found all over North America. The Abyssinian always has a ticked coat pattern that ranges in color from ruby reds to fawn tones and silvery blues. These cats have expressive almond-shaped eyes, large ears, and a long, lean body.

Abyssinian Origin

The Abyssinian is said to be one of the oldest cat breeds. Recent genetics research offers insight into the possible origin of this breed, tracing it to the coast of the Indian Ocean and areas of Southeast Asia. Based on the genetic markers found in the Abyssinian, it is presumed that cats from both Asia and Europe were used to create the breed we know and love today.

Abyssinian Personality Traits

Notorious for their intelligence and agility, the Abyssinian is one of the most outgoing and athletic of breeds. These cats are excellent climbers, hunters, and jumpers. They thrive in environments where they can explore, climb high spaces, or simply enjoy good mischievous play with their humans and fellow cat friends. Though they aren’t known as lap cats or big cuddlers, they love spending time with their human family and have been known to suffer from depression without regular attention and affection.

Abyssinian Common Health Issues

Some published studies reveal the Abyssinian, among several other breeds, to be at a higher risk for diabetes mellitus. Two mutations related to progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) have also been identified in Abyssinian, Somali, and Ocicat breeds. Other health problems associated with the Abyssinian include gingivitis (an early stage of periodontal disease), hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, dilated cardiomyopathy, pyruvate kinase deficiency, psychogenic alopecia (stress-related hair loss), and patellar luxation (trick knee).

Abyssinian Fun Facts

  • They are one of the earliest cat stars. In 1871, an Abyssinian made an appearance in the world's second major cat show, held at London's Crystal Palace, winning third place. They were mentioned in one of the first English cat breed catalogs titled, "Cats, Their Points and Characteristics" by W. Gordon Stables. In 1978, an Abyssinian named Jake starred in Walt Disney's film "The Cat From Outer Space".

  • The first cat DNA to be decoded. In 2007, the feline genome was finally sequenced. The star of this groundbreaking scientific effort was an Abyssinian cat named Cinnamon. This was a revolutionary discovery in feline genetics.

  • They contributed to Australia's first pedigreed cat. Dr. Truda Straede crossed an Abyssinian, a Burmese, and an Australian domestic shorthair cat in the 1970s. She wanted to create a cat with all her favorite feline attributes, resulting in the beautiful “Australian Mist” cat.

  • They are rated as the smartest cat breed. According to an intriguing list of the top 10 smartest cat breeds created by CatTime, Abyssinians rank the highest.

Abyssinian Characteristics

Lifespan
10-13 years
Good with
Children, Dogs, Cats, Families
Shedding amount
Low
Playfulness
High
Affection level
High
Activity level
High
Tendency to vocalize
Low
Exercise needs
Medium

References

The International Cat Association (TICA) “Introduction to the Abyssinian”

Cat Fanciers' Association "About the Abyssinian"

FETCH by WebMD "What to Know About an Abyssinian Cat"