A Closer Look At The Abyssinian Cat: Everything You Need To Know

Even though the Abyssinian is one of the oldest breeds still in existence, there is still debate and conjecture about its origins. Abyssinians look like the elegant felines depicted in paintings and sculptures of ancient Egyptian cats, which have muscular bodies, lovely arched necks, big ears, and almond-shaped eyes. The modern-day Abys still resemble Felis lybica, the African wildcat that served as the ancestor of all domestic cats.

About The Abyssinian

The name “Abyssinians” was given to these cats because they were reportedly imported from that nation, not because Ethiopia, formerly known as Abyssinia, is thought to be where they originated. The first mention appears in Harper’s Weekly’s issue from January 27, 1872, which reports that the Abyssinian Cat, “captured in the late Abyssinian War,” won third place in the December 1871 Crystal Palace show. An image of an Abyssinian cat is included in this article. An Abyssinian is also mentioned in the 1874 British book Cats, Their Points, and Characteristics… by Gordon Stables.

A colored lithograph of a cat with a ticked coat and no tabby markings on its face, paws, or neck is displayed in the book. According to the description, Zula belongs to Mrs. Captain Barrett-Lennard. British troops left Abyssinia in May 1868, so that may be when cats with ticked coats first arrived in England. This cat was brought from Abyssinia when the war was over. Sadly, there are no written records linking the early Abyssinians to those imported cats, and many British breeders believe the breed was developed through the mating of different silver and brown tabbies with indigenous British “Bunny” ticked cats.

The Indian Ocean coast and some regions of Southeast Asia are the most likely places for the Abyssinian breed to have originated, according to recent genetic studies. In actuality, the earliest known Aby is still on display as a taxidermal specimen at the Leiden Zoological Museum in Holland. Although the Abyssinian as a breed was refined in England, its introduction to that nation and others may have been the result of colonists and merchants stopping in Calcutta, the major port for the Indian Ocean. This ruddy ticked cat was purchased from a supplier of small wild cat exhibits around 1834-1836 and labeled by the museum founder as “Patrie, domestica India.”

The first Abyssinians from England were brought to North America in the early 1900s, but it wasn’t until the late 1930s that several top-notch Abys were exported from the country, laying the groundwork for the current American breeding programs.

“Abyssinians must be one of the most intelligent animals ever created,” writes Carolyn Osier in the Abyssinian Breeders International Kitten Buyer’s Guide, adding that these cats are “a very people-oriented cat. Not a lap cat, but a cat that enjoys being around people and wants to know what you are doing to assist. The Aby is arguably the most devoted breed in the world. You will never be able to claim that no one understands you once you have an Aby as a companion. Abys are very skilled at molding people to do exactly what they want.

Abyssinians are typically priced according to type, applicable markings, and bloodlines distinguished by Grand Champion (GC), National or Regional winning parentage (NW or RW), or Distinguished Merit parentage (DM). The dam (mother) must have sired five CFA Grand Champion/Premier (alter) or DM offspring or the sire (father) must have sired fifteen CFA Grand Champion/Premier or DM offspring to earn the DM title. Typically, breeders release their kittens between the ages of twelve and sixteen weeks.

Kittens who are twelve weeks old have completed their basic vaccinations and have acquired the physical and social stability required for moving to a new location, competing in shows, or traveling by plane. The key to preserving a healthy, long, and happy life is to keep such a precious rarity indoors, neuter or spay, and provide appropriate surfaces (such as scratching posts) for the natural behavior of scratching (CFA disapproves of declawing or tendonectomy surgery). Please get in touch with this breed’s breed council secretary for more details. Click here to adopt Abyssinian.

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