Cat Breeds - Abyssinian

Apr 1 11:08 2015 Angela Tempest Print This Article

The Abyssinian is a breed of cat known for its distinctive ticked coat which is actually a type of tabby.  It is one of the most popular breeds of cat in the US and here is a breed profile.

The Abyssinian is a breed of domestic cat that is known for its distinctive coat pattern,Guest Posting called a ticked tabby.  It is named for the country now known as Ethiopia but there is only scant evidence that the breed originated there, now thought to have first come from the Egyptian coast.  It is one of the most popular breeds of cat in the USA.


The Abyssinian breed known around the world today was first worked on by breeders in the UK and at the time, it was believed that British soldiers had returned home with the cats after being deployed in North Africa in the 19th century.  Genetic testing on modern cats has shown that the cats actually came from Egypt before being spread with travellers around to the coast of the Indian Ocean.  Stories tell of a first cat called Zula that was brought from Alexandria to England in 1868 but there is little evidence that this cat featured in the creation of the modern breed.


Abyssinians are of medium size with a fine boned skeleton and slender body type.  Their heads have a moderate wedge shape with a vertical line running from nose to chin when viewed in profile.  Their ears are slightly pointed and eyes are almond shaped, with colour dictated by the colour of the coat.  They have graceful, long legs and small paws with a similar tail that tapers at the end.

The coat

When an Abyssinian kitten is born, their coats are universally dark but begin to lighten as they get older, usually taking a few months to show their adult colour.  The coat of the adult cat is short and fine, lying close to the skin and feeling dense and silky to the touch.

The ticked effect of their coat is also called an agouti effect and is the trademark of the breed.  It is a type of tabby pattern and should be the same all over the body, with darker areas along the spine, the tail and the back of the hind legs.  With the agouti effect, every hair has a light base colour then three or four bands of other colour, getting darker towards the tip of the hair.  The base colour should be as clear as possible and crossing of more than one colour is considered a show fault.  There is often some white under their chins and the M-shape on the forehead, the typical sign of a tabby cat, is visible.

The standard colour of the Abyssinian is a deep reddish-brown with black ticking that is known as a ‘usual’ in the UK and as a ‘ruddy’ elsewhere.  Another colour is called sorrel, or cinnamon, and features a lighter base colour that tends towards copper coloured with chocolate brown ticking.  Other colours show outcrossing with different breeds, such as blue and fawn from the Burmese while some registries accept the silver colour, where the base is a silvery white with black, blue, cream or sorrel ticking. 


Abyssinians are said by breeders to be particularly intelligent cats who have playful and extrovert personalities.  They need to be around people and can become depressed if left alone for long periods of time.  They are quiet, particularly when compared to other Oriental cat breeds such as the Siamese and tend to be shy around strangers, making them a difficult breed to show.

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Angela Tempest
Angela Tempest

For more information on this and many other breeds of cat, please see my articles at


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