Abyssinian Breed Guide
Middle Age: 7 years
Life Span: 9 to 15 years
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The Abyssinian is one of the oldest domesticated cats and is loved for their beautiful coat, big, inquisitive eyes, and large ears. Abyssinians, or Abys, are playful, active, and are sure to keep a smile on their owner’s’ faces at all times.
History of Abyssinian Cats
There’s no disputing that the Aby is one of the oldest documented cats, but there is a little uncertainty of the exact origins of this beautiful kitty. Most commonly, it is accepted that the Aby is descended from the African Wildcat because of their striking similarity. This is also where this cat gets their name.
African Wildcats are native to Ethiopia, once called Abyssinia, which is where the ancestors of today’s Aby live. It is then thought that the first Aby was brought over to Europe in the 1870s and there are many illustrations of this breed winning prizes and was mentioned in the 1874 book Cats, Their Points, and Characteristics. The Aby breed made way to North America in the 1900s and gained more popularity in the 1930s.
Abyssinian Size and Physical Appearance
One of the reasons why cat fanciers think that the Aby is a direct descendent of the African Wildcat is because even today, this breed still looks like they just stepped out of the jungle. Their coat is ticked, which means that it has alternating dark and light spots like a cougar or other wild cat.
While likely not used for camouflage in your home, this coloring is beautiful and gives some indication of the wild nature of this fur baby. Abys have wedge-shaped heads, large ears, and large, golden or green eyes that express their constant curiosity. The four main coat colors in Abys are ruddy brown, red, blue, and fawn, a rose-beige. All of these colors are ticked uniquely.
Abys are also extremely athletic and have a similar body structure as Siamese cats. They are long and athletic have small, round paws. Abys love to be up high in a cat tower as their bodies are perfect for jumping, playing, and running all day.
Abyssinian Cat Personality & Temperament
Curiosity is this cat’s middle name, and with such big eyes and ears, nothing gets past their watch. Abys love being the center of attention and will follow you around, no matter what you’re doing. Your laptop, kitchen counter, or bed is never off limits for this athletic kitty.
Abys are sweet and one of the most loyal cats around. They are the perfect fit for a family that has time to engage with their cat and entertain them with plenty of toys and games. These little pets are smart, playful, and fun to have around.
Common Health Problems of Abyssinians
Abys are susceptible to many of the same diseases that plague domesticated cats, including pyruvate kinase deficiency, periodontal disease, and progressive retinal atrophy. Regular vet check ups and careful monitoring will help detect these common health problems and conditions early. Despite these common health problems, the Abyssinian cat lifespan is from 9 to 15 years.
Pyruvate Kinase (PK) Deficiency
PK deficiency is caused by a lack of an enzyme, Pyruvate Kinase, in an Aby’s red blood cells, and can cause anemia, weakness, and muscle wasting. Abys, Somali, and domestic shorthair cats are more prone to this deficiency, and it is caused by a genetic defect at birth.
Periodontal disease is a gum disease that affects a large number of cats, but Abys seem to be notoriously affected. It is the progressive inflammation of a cat’s gums and teeth and it undermines a tooth’s support system. The process is progressive, which is good news for Aby owners because with careful monitoring, you can catch it early and make sure you do preventative maintenance on your cat’s oral health.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Progressive retinal atrophy can be common in Aby cats and according to a study done by the National Center for Biotechnology, forty-five percent of cats aged 2 years old or older were affected by some level of progressive retinal atrophy. PRA is likely caused by an autosomal recessive gene (similar to Siamese cats).
Abyssinian Grooming Needs
Abys are relatively low maintenance cats and their beautiful auburn coats are short and soft. They benefit from weekly brushings to clear off dead hair and debris. Abys should be primarily indoor cats to protect from outside threats. But, this playful breed can be taught to walk on a leash outside with careful supervision.
Are Abyssinians Good with Kids?
Aby cats are one of the most loyal breeds and will teach your children about responsibility, patience, and care. They are great for kids because of their athletic nature, and if your children are looking for a constant playmate, they will find it in an Aby. Together, they will likely be seen tearing around the house with speed or playing with toys. Abys are patient with children and will enjoy the companionship.
Abyssinian Exercise Requirements
As mentioned above, Abys are curious kitties and love to explore. While they may want to cuddle after they’ve worn themselves out, they’re more likely than not to have their attention drawn to the window, cat tower, or anything else interesting.
They have more exercise needs than other house cats, and because of this, they do great with families who are willing to put in that time. But with a little love and a lot of fun, your Aby will quickly be your best friend.
Today’s Abyssinian cats are obviously descended from their ancient ancestors, and we can tell this by their distinct look and playful nature. If you want to add a good natured kitty to your family, the Aby is perfect for you.
Health Issues Associated with this Breed:
- Periodontal Disease
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy
- Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency (Hemolytic Anemia)