Nature Mikey

Nature Mikey

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Breed of the Day: Abyssinian

General Description:
    Abyssinians look like a small mountain lion or cougar with almond eyes set in a dramatically marked expressive face and a spectacularly warmly ticked coat that produces a shimmering iridescence whether still or in motion. A medium-sized cat, toms being 8-10 pounds and queens weighing 6-7 pounds, they are athletic, alert and very active. Even though they are well-muscled their movement is lithe, graceful and very quick. Their carriage is confident and regal, but their antics have caused some to call them "Aby-silly-ans"! The Somali is simply and beautifully a semi-long-haired Abyssinian. It has the same expressive face but with a shaggy ticked coat, ear tufts and a fox-like tail. The Abyssinians and Somalis are also known as the 'preposition' cats because they leave no niche unexplored; they are above, below, in, under, across, beside, between, into, over, among and through everywhere! Perhaps alliteration is an easier way to describe the Abyssinian and Somali: active, awesome, agile, astounding, alert, animated, affectionate, amusing, athletic, astute, amiable and attentive. Abys and Somalis are bred in the following coat colors: ruddy, chocolate, cinnamon, blue, lilac and fawn and a silver version of these colors where an icy-white coloration closest to the skin is followed by ticking up the hair shaft.

    The Abyssinian is one of the oldest breeds of domesticated cats, but its real ancestry is lost in time. Romantic tales call it the cat from the Blue Nile saying it is a direct descendant of the sacred cat of Ancient Egypt because it resembles the cats depicted in Egyptian murals and artifacts. Others believe British soldiers from Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) brought a cat named Zula home with them to England at the end of the Abyssinian war in 1868. So far no documentation links Zula to the cats of today and recent genetic studies identify the cats in the coastal area of the Bay of Bengal in India as the Abyssinian's potential forebears.
    The Abyssinian was developed and refined in Britain. The first Abyssinian arrived in the United States in the early 1900s and they were first exhibited in 1909. In the 1930s an effort to develop the Abyssinian in the US began and it quickly developed into one of America's favorite breeds because of its expressive eyes, unique coat pattern and personality. The Somali is the stunning long-haired descendent of the Abyssinian and is named for Somalia which borders Ethiopia, formerly Abyssinia, to represent their connection to each other.

    Abyssinians and Somalis are loyal, affectionate, highly intelligent and very interactive with their owners and environment. No place ever goes unexplored and yet seldom do they knock anything off of a shelf or counter top. They are wonderful companions who are highly interested in everything around them and what everybody is doing. They like a good view of their surroundings, so expect them to find them atop the refrigerator, doors and bookcases. They are entertained by whatever moves outside, making birdfeeders visible through a window a must. Saying they show an intense curiosity in all that surrounds them is an understatement.
    Not usually considered a lap cat due to their high energy and curiosity levels, Abys/Somalis do occasionally make visits to your lap or find a way under the covers to spend time near their beloved owners. The way they transform within seconds from a radiant and regal presence into an amazingly playful character with childlike antics and an indomitable spirit is astounding. Engaging companions for people of all ages, they are happiest in the company of others, love to play and will find ways to involve you in their activities. While exceedingly social, they are not always content in large cat populations where they have to share attention.

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