Abyssinian - Shorthaired Cats

Who could fail to be enchanted by this wild-looking creature? Certainly not the Ancient Egyptians, who, if popular theory is to be believed, worshipped the Abyssinian’s antecedents as incarnations of the goddess Bast.

As befits its arcane aura, the Abyssinian origins have become largely hidden with time. The breed is arguably natural, possibly old, and probably descended in modern times from a cat called Zula who was imported into Britain from Ethiopia in 1868.Because Zula, of whom we have a photograph, didn’t look anything like today’s Abyssinians, there are those who believe that the cat is either a product of early breeders trying to produce an “Egyptian-like” cat. Other Abyssinian fanciers point out that the Romans are known to have imported cats from Egypt into Britain, and may therefore have introduced the gene for the “Egyptian look” into the native feline population.

The Abyssinian’s alert expression is reflected in its delightful personality. It is sweet-tempered, intelligent, and described by some as obedient.

There are number of varieties (see chart), although some are still shown in assessment classes.

Varieties Base ColourTicking Colour
UsualRudy brownBlack or dark brown
BlueWarm blue-greySteel blue
FawnMedium fawnDeep fawn
LilacLight pinkish greyDarker pinkish grey
Silver Sorrel
Silver peachChocolate
Silver BlueSilvery blue-greyDeep steel blue

Usual Abyssinian
The original variety, the Usual was at one time known as a Rabbit or Hare Cat – a reference to the similarly ticked coat, which, as in all varieties of Abyssinian, is characterized by a distinctive agouti (a form of tabby) fur that has two to three darker-colored bands along each hair.

Picture: Usual Abyssinian

Medium in length, lithe and graceful, but with a muscular appearance.

Glossy and soft, but also dense and resilient to the touch. The fur is short, but still long enough to accommodate two to three bands of black or dark brown ticking over a ruddy brown base color.

Thick at the base, fairly long and tapering with black tail tipped.

Long, slender, and fine-boned, giving the impression of being on tip-toe when standing.

The paws are small and oval-shaped with black paw pads.

Round and gently wedge-shaped, with a medium-size nose and brick-red nose pad.

Large, almond-shaped and amber, hazel or green in color. Eyes are rimmed in black or dark brown, encircled by a paler area.

Large, set wide apart, and pointed and ear tufts.

Facial Characteristics
Usual Abyssinian.

In profile, this Usual Abyssinian’s proud, Sphinx-like, bearing inevitably prompts comparison with the cats portrayed on the murals of Ancient Egypt – giving credence to the belief that this was the cat so revered by the Pharaohs.

Picture: Usual Abyssinian Kitten

Usual Abyssinian Kitten
Abyssinian litters are usually small and mostly male. The kittens mature early (although it may be eighteen months or so before the coat develops fully) and are particularly lively and friendly.

Picture: Silver Sorrel Abyssinian

Silver Sorrel Abyssinian
Chocolate ticking over a silver-peach base color gives this recently developed variety a soft, graceful, charm.

Picture: Blue Abyssinian

Blue Abyssinian
Unusually, the ticking of this naturally occurring variety is blue, over a blue-grey base color, rather than the black that might be expected.