The Abyssinian is one of the top five most popular cat breeds world-wide. It is 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 three or four bands of colour. The Abyssinian is a delight to look at with it's large ears, sometime with tufts, resembling a Lynx, it has large rounded almond shaped eyes and beautiful face markings, all of which combine to give a wild but gentle expression. Nothing about the Abyssinian is "extreme" other than it's devotion to it's owners. Abyssinian breeders are dedicated to producing healthy and as natural a looking cat as possible.
The Abyssinian is one of the oldest established breeds. Although Abyssinia is the former name of Ethiopia, we believe from DNA analysis that this breed originated near the coast of the Indian Ocean. The Abyssinian cat was recognised by the Governing Council of Cat Fancy (GCCF) in 1929 and the breeds 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 and other information can be found on the Breed Club's Website.
APPEARANCE and COlOURS
The overall appearance of the Abyssinian is of a wild or jungle cat with a lithe ,muscular body medium to large build, with a tail of sufficient length to balance the body and of itself broad at the 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 4.5 kilos. 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.
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, even can be taught to 'fetch' and retrieve. Although if it don't want to do anything, it won't. However there is no 'definite' about an Abyssinian. Some just love home and humans, many following them from room to room, whilst others are more independent 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 places to view from, they will adapt to a contained home environment. Whilst they can be extremely affectionate they can be very wilful, sitting on laps is for when exhausted-playing with anything is better than sitting still.
CARE and HEALTH
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 the 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 vaccinated your Abyssinian annually. A Veterinary Surgeon or Breeder will advise on what is required. Abyssinians are strong and robust and a very healthy bred, living on average 12 - 16 years, and in many cases much longer. Abyssinian 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 Abyssinian, to develop a build up of tartar around their teeth which can cause gingivitis. Always get your vet to check theirs mouths on their annual vaccinations. 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 many breeds but selective breeding has made this almost unheard of now. Abyssinian cats can suffer from an inherited disease called 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 Vet. 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.