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The Governing Council of the Cat Fancy

The UK's Premier Registration body

Abyssinian

Profile

Breed Group - Foreign 

The Abyssinian is one of the top five most popular cat breeds world-wide.  It is a medium to large shorthaired cat with a lithe and muscular feel to it.  One of the most defining features of the Abyssinian is a  distinctly ticked coat, showing at least four bands of colour.   The Abyssinian is a delight to look at with it’s large ears, sometimes with tufts, resembling a lynx, its large rounded almond shaped eyes and beautiful face markings all of which  combine to give a wild but gentle expression.   It is medium  to large in build and nothing about the Abyssinian is ‘extreme’ other than its devotion to its owners!  Abyssinian Breeders are dedicated to producing healthy and as natural a looking cat as possible.

History

The Abyssinian is one of our oldest established breeds. Although Abyssinia is the former name of Ethiopia, we understand from DNA analysis that this breed originated  near the coast of the Indian Ocean.  The Abyssinian cat was recognised by the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) in 1929 and the Breed, as we know it today, was developed here in the UK by very dedicated breeders, with references reaching back to the 1890’s.  More information on the history of the Abyssinian and other information can be found on the Breed Clubs Websites.

Appearance and Colours  

The overall appearance of the Abyssinian is of a wild or jungle cat with a lithe and muscular body of medium to large build  with a tail  of sufficient length to balance the body and of itself should be broad at its base and tapering. The head shape of the Abyssinian is a medium wedge with slightly rounded contours.  The body is  carried on moderately slender and elegant legs with small oval feet. The Abyssinian coat is short, fine but not soft, dense in texture with a resilient feel to it  and lying close to the body  with  a lovely gloss.  The average weight for the breed  is 10lbs. or 4.5kilos, with females being slightly smaller than males.  The Abyssinian is now bred in many colours and all these can be found on the GCCF or Abyssinian cat clubs websites.   Whatever the colour the Abyssinians combination of striking good looks and gentle nature are a delight. 

Personality  

The Abyssinian is vocally a quiet cat with a lovely ‘chirrup’ by way of greeting. It is a delightful human companion, is very intelligent, learns very quickly what you want it to do,  quick to learn new games and quite regularly can be taught to ‘fetch’ and retrieve.  Although if it doesn’t want to do something it doesn’t do it! However there is no ‘definite’ about an Abyssinian. Some just love home and humans, many following their humans from room to room, whilst others are sensitive and independent animals and love spending time outdoors if a safe environment is available. Due to their stunning physical appearance and their safety  a secure outside space is ideal.  If  this is not possible,  given plenty of toys, scratching posts  and high spaces to view from they will adapt to  a contained home environment.   Whilst they can be extremely affectionate they can also be very wilful;  sitting on laps is for when exhausted - playing with anything is better than sitting still!  

Care  

The GCCF have strict rules as to which breeding is permitted in order to prevent inbreeding and health problems associated with it.  Kittens registered with GCCF must comply with these rules. Be sure to check that a kitten is registered and vaccinated.  It is imperative that  to maintain good health you vaccinate your Abyssinian annually.  A Veterinary Surgeon or Breeder will advise on what is required.  Abyssinians are strong and robust and  a very healthy breed, living  on average 12-16 years, and in  many cases much longer.  Abyssinians require little grooming because of their short coat, but most enjoy a soft brush run over them regularly.    It is not unusual for many breeds, including Abyssinians, to develop a build up of tartar around their teeth which can cause gingivitis.  Always get your vet to check their mouths when having their routine annual vaccinations. 

Health  

In the past there were diseases such as progressive retinal atrophy which causes blindness and has been identified in many countries but not a common problem in the Abyssinian breed.   Amyloidosis  was once present in the breed but selective breeding has made this almost unheard of now. Abyssinian cats can suffer from an inherited disease call Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency which can cause anaemia,  A reliable test is available for this and prospective owners should ask breeders if their breeding stock cats have been tested and are clear of the problem, with evidence to support this.   It is always advisable to talk to a Veterinary Surgeon before purchasing a kitten/cat as they should be up  to date with any emerging problems within the cat population as a whole.  The GCCF Website has information and advice on buying and caring for kittens and is well worth reading.  Another excellent cat information site is that of International Cat Care.