The Abyssinian is a breed of domestic short-haired cat with a distinctive "ticked" tabby coat with individual hairs being banded with different colours. They are named after Abyssinia which is now called Ethiopia. Later research now places its origins somewhere nearer the Egyptian coast. The Abyssinian cat as it is known today was bred in Great Britain. The name 'Abyssinian' is in reference to widely-spread stories of British soldiers deployed to North Africa in the nineteenth century returning home with kittens purchased from local traders.
9 - 15 years
Small-medium size cat weighing 3 to 5 kilo
They are a popular breed due to their unusual intelligence and generally extroverted, playful, willful personalities. They are said to become depressed without constant activity and attention. They love playing with their owners and combined with their curious intelligence have been nicknamed the "Clowns of the Cat Kingdom." They have a very outgoing nature but tend to be very quiet cats, with soft voices, but very active.
Abyssinian kittens are born with dark coats that gradually lighten as they mature, usually over several months. The adult coat should not be excessively short and is ideally fine, dense and close-lying, silky to the touch. The ticked effect that is the trademark of the breed—genetically a variant of the tabby pattern—should be uniform over the body, although the ridge of the spine and tail, back of the hind legs and the pads of the paws are always noticeably darker. Each hair has a light base with three or four bands of additional colour growing darker towards the tip. The base colour should be as clear as possible; any extensive intermingling with grey is considered a serious fault. A tendency to white on the chin is common but likewise must be minimal. The typical tabby M-shaped marking is often found on the forehead.
The breed's original color standard is a warm deep reddish-brown base with black ticking, known as "usual" in the United Kingdom and as "ruddy" elsewhere. Sorrel (also called cinnamon or red), a lighter coppery base with chocolate brown ticking, is a unique mutation of this original pattern. Other variants have been introduced by outcrossings to the Burmese and other shorthaired breeds, notably blue (on a warm beige base) and fawn (on a softer cream base). Various other colour combinations are in development, including the "torbie", in which a patched tortoiseshell pattern in any of these colours is visible under the tabby banding.
The breed owes their distinctive coat to a dominant mutant gene known as Ta. The first cat to have its entire genome published was an Abyssinian named Cinnamon.