The Abyssinian’s good looks personify for many people all that is natural, wild and feline in our pets.
Abyssinian cats have lively personalities showing interest in all activities around them. They enjoy being with their humans and are very intelligent, affectionate and loyal.
The Abyssinian cat is regal in appearance, medium in size with a distinctly ticked coat. This means that each hair has four or five bands of two different colours alternating from root to tip with a sparkling effect. They are also lithe and muscular cats still retaining the look of the African wildcat, the ancestry of all pedigree cats.
The Abyssinian is one of the oldest known breeds of pedigree cat. In appearance, Abyssinians resemble the paintings and sculptures of ancient Egyptian cats with a muscular body, stunning arched neck, large ears with almond shaped eyes. It is hardly surprising that legend suggests that the Abyssinian is the “Child of the Gods”, the favoured descendant of Bastet, the cat goddess worshipped on the banks of the Nile.
The Abyssinian cat is said to be descended from a cat called Zula, brought to England by Captain Barrett Leonard at the conclusion of the Abyssinian war. British troops left Abyssinia in May 1868, so that may have been the time when cats with ticked coats first entered England. There are no verifiable, written records tracing early Abyssinians to Zula, but Abyssinians were exhibited at Crystal Palace in 1871 so it is certain that all Abyssinians are descended from cats bred in the United Kingdom.
The Abyssinian comes in several colours. Usual, sorrel, fawn and blue are the most widely accepted colours in the UK while the American colour terms are ruddy, red, fawn and blue. In Australia, the popular colours are tawny, cinnamon, blue and fawn. The American Cat Association also recognises lilac and cream. Chocolate and silver colours were introduced from the Burmese, or their silver versions. The Abyssinian’s eyes are oval shaped usually green, hazel or gold and eye lined.